Friday, February 25, 2011

No-Sew Kid's Bunting

Here's another of my tentative forays into interior decorating - I'm really not a natural at making the house cute, nor do I have the budget to buy, well, anything. Thinking about redecorating is so overwhelming that I end up frozen in fear, so I've taken to thinking of things in terms of walls. This time I turned my attention to the "wall above the dressers," which has been an ugly area for a long time. Next I figure out what problem I'm trying to solve, which in this case is the fact that there are two completely different dressers crammed right next to each other and this corner is kind of dark. My solution: add color and fun to distract from the dresser situation and bring a feeling of brightness. Enter the banners: I didn't have any money to spend on new decorations, so I decided to make something. I had fabric (of course) and some of this great baker's twine, so I made several strands of bunting to add some color and whimsy.

Next I chose fabric and cut out triangles. I kind of winged it from this point on. I chose fabrics in bright colors that worked in the boys' room but weren't too matchy-matchy. I cut out 3 different sizes of triangles, keeping them pretty small, though you could make them any size you want depending on the space you are hanging the bunting.

The last step is stringing the triangles on the twine (I should really call these low-sew bunting banners since you do have to sew, but no machine is needed and you basically just need the ability to thread a needle and have decent aim). I used the biggest embroidery needle I had so that the twine would fit through the eye. I used lengths of twine about 5 feet long but of course you could make them any length you want. After cutting the twine, I poked my needle through the front upper-right-hand corner of a triangle and then back through the back of the upper left-hand corner. This way the twine runs along the back of the fabric and you don't see it when the bunting is hanging.

I made about 7 different banners using different shape and fabric combinations because I like the circus look of having a big bundle hanging together. Here's the new look - of course I didn't take a before picture because I'd rather forget how this area looked when it was piled with dusty lego cars and orphaned socks.

I had originally planned on hanging these more straight, but I used some pre-existing nails in the wall (seriously, this area was a disaster) and really like how it looks hanging skewy (is that a word?). The street signs are courtesy of my brother's rebellious phase as a teenager, and the button bouquet is something I made a few years ago as a baby shower decoration. The lamp and clock were purchased from Target a few years ago.

I'm pretty excited that I managed to tackle this difficult space without spending any money. Let me know if you decide to make some of these banners - I'd love to see pictures! I'm seeing bunting everywhere in kids room lately and I don't picture myself ever getting tired of it. :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Goat Birthday Party

Lest you begin to think we are high-brow around here after my last post, I thought I'd share what we did after we got home from our weekend at the W in San Francisco. We went to a goat's birthday party. Yep. Little Man turned one, and we were invited - got an invitation in the mail and everything. Of course we brought a gift - Saltines would have been better, but Ritz crackers are a close second when it comes to goat gifts. Here is Moses presenting the birthday boy with his present.

Little Man was a very gracious host - he even shared his birthday cake with his Aunt Angelina and allowed his other goat friends to eat the decorations. We weren't the only guests, either. All of the other "hill people" (that's what we humans call ourselves up here) came bearing gifts as well. The only snafoo occurred when Lamb Chop (who is MUCH bigger than Little Man and Angelina) decided to take a running charge at Moses, who went flying into a shed, banging up his elbow pretty good. Maybe she was jealous or something, but I sure was tempted to turn her name into something a little more literal. Ah, home... :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekend in San Francisco

Did I mention we didn't bring our kids? That's right - for the first time EVER since having kids (that's 5 1/2 years) Brett and I went away for the weekend by ourselves. It was awesome! Since the weather was rainy, we decided San Francisco would be a good destination, since there is still plenty to do even though you can't be outside. Our first stop, and by far the highlight of our weekend, was the farmer's market at the Ferry building. If you are ever in San Francisco and you like to eat, you MUST go here! Outside they have the traditional farmer's market set up with all kinds of wonderful in-season fruits and veggies, and inside they have tons of other vendors selling fresh, locally made meats, cheeses, coffee, breads, pastries... it was unbelievable.
My first stop was a Chinese tea shop where they had tons of different unique teas for sale. The lady at the counter was extremely helpful when I asked her about green teas, and even brewed me up a cup without burning it, a feat that it seems even Peet's coffee employees can't master.

I'm tempted to say that Brett was the only one who liked our next stop, but I was just as excited about the "tasty salted pig parts" as he was. We bought a cup of meat. It is literally a cup filled up with meat. Fresh cured meat that was grown and "harvested" locally and cured right there in the little shop. Yum.

I think we went into every little shop at least twice - we were in some sort of locally-grown food heaven. I don't know why, but I was really excited about this display of lettuce and books - two of my favorite things! Together! If there had been an adjacent fabric display I might not have been able to pull myself away.

Another highlight of the trip was Pier 23 Cafe's crab and shrimp sandwich. It takes a lot to get me to eat a mayonaise-laden sandwich on buttered toasted bread covered in french fries (especially after being romanced by a lettuce display) but this did the trick. This sucker is GOOD. So if you are ever in the vicinity of the Ferry building and somehow have room in your stomach after sampling all it has to offer, walk south and get this for yourself.

We stayed at the W hotel, which I wasn't able to get any good pictures of, but is really swanky with bright pink and turquoise accents and orchids everywhere and 3D floral pictures in the elevators and a pet menu in the room where you can order your dog a $20 steak in the middle of the night. To be honest, I felt a bit out of my element there, even though I was wearing my tall black boots and lots of eye makeup. Neither of us slept very well because we aren't used to having down pillows or a down feather bed, so we both woke up with sore backs wishing we had slept on our good ol' couch bed with our crappy Target pillows instead. Ironic, isn't it? We actually got a pretty good laugh about it this morning - I mean, we sleep on a COUCH BED in the living room, and the W sells their mattresses and pillows via a catalogue in every hotel room. So, we decided that the next time we take a weekend to ourselves, we'll spend the day out and sleep at home where we can wake up to our own stuff. And save a bunch of money.

Of course, I am not complaining! It was a great weekend, full of lots of rest, eating good food and laughing together about non-kid-related things. I didn't have to feed anyone or wipe juice off anything or get boogers on my clothes for a full 24 hours. It was great. But after breakfast this morning when we were deciding what to do next, we looked at each other and said at the same time "Let's get our kids." So we came home early to our wonderful life feeling rested and grateful that this is what we get to do every day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


A search on etsy for "terrarium" turned up this beauty. Isn't this awesome? Can't you just picture spending hundreds of dollars on it and setting it up in your house and having your kids crash into it, sending it shattering glass and dirt and moss across your entire house? Yep, me too. So for now I will just drool over it. And maybe buy myself a smaller terrarium that I can put up VERY high on a shelf.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Winter's End

The weather seems to be trying out "winter" today, after a few weeks of what definitely felt like spring. The boys woke up early and are drinking hot chocolate out of sippy cups. I have my mug of tea and just saw a flock of geese flying south in a perfect V formation. I am actually relieved to feel the cold air - I wasn't quite ready for spring yet. I made this batch of sachets in icy winter colors - just in time for winter's end. Get yours in the shop.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! Are you doing something special today? Is somebody doing something special for you? I have a few little plans for the 3 men in my life, nothing fancy and certainly nothing girly. *sigh* But I'm not going to let the lack of estrogen around here stop me from having a frilly pink Valentine's Day! I painted my fingernails last night, and today I'm sharing a few of my favorite Valentine's Day inspired finds with you. I'm not usually a huge fan of pink, but I've fallen in love with this vintage tea set. So simple and frilly.

Continuing the tea theme, I love this photo by Elle Moss - makes me think of all things girly. You can purchase one for yourself here. (Psst - she's having a 40% off sale on prints through Valentine's Day - that's something to love!)

This tiny cake stand is just too cute - wouldn't it make your Valentine feel special?

Speaking of cake, isn't this the cutest idea ever? I'm definitely going to put bunting on the next cake I make.
And of course I can't let you go without mentioning my lavender sachets - the perfect little way to spoil yourself or a friend. I have tons of these in my "unmentionables" drawer and it makes me feel pampered every time I see them.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Trouble with Chickens

That's right, I said trouble with chickens.

Since getting my own "flock," I've been pretty snobby about the fact that ours are true Free Range hens. Legally speaking, someone can claim to be raising free range hens as long as their chickens aren't confined to a tiny cage - if they never see the light of day, have their beaks clipped to keep them from pecking their eggs, and are injected full of hormones, they can still be called "free range," and everyone thinks that their meat and eggs are completely healthy. Anyhow, my chickens get let outside every morning to range around the 3 acres eating bugs and grass and rolling in the dust (chickens LOVE to roll in the dust) and having all sorts of other chicken shenanigans. From what I've read, this produces much healthier eggs, and of course the chickens are happier.

Well. Over the last month I have realized why anybody hoping to make money off their eggs, or anybody hoping to have eggs for their family, or basically just anybody hoping to preserve their sanity might consider caging their chickens into tiny boxes. We've got chicken trouble. It all started when one hen, my most faithful layer, decided that after she laid an egg, it made perfect sense to take her sharp beak and punch a huge hole in it. This annoying behavior quickly snowballed into her punching holes in everybody else's eggs too. You can't eat an egg with a chicken-beak hole in it - gross. So every day I was collecting maybe one intact egg, and 4 broken ones, not to mention cleaning raw egg out of the hay and chicken food that it had run into.

Attempt number one at extinguishing this behavior was to modify the nesting boxes. Chickens are very instinctual and will lay their eggs in nesting boxes (boxes full of hay) without even being trained - it is like getting a cat to use a litter box. This way you can control where they lay their eggs, which makes life much easier for everybody. Brett decided to give our existing nesting boxes slanted floors so that when the chickens laid an egg, the egg would roll to the back of the box into a little compartment that the naughty chicken couldn't fit her beak into. This was a great concept - except that the eggs rolled only if there was no hay in the nesting box. Kind of like trying to get your cat to use an empty litter box. Not gonna happen. Only, we didn't realize this until about 2 weeks later. At first we thought we had succeeded - all of my eggs were intact! Gradually, however, I went from collecting 5 eggs a day to 4, and eventually I was down to only 1 egg per day. Where were the other eggs going?

Well, let me shorten the story for you: the eggs were going EVERYWHERE. My chickens have gone wild and now lay their eggs anywhere in the heck they feel like it all over their glorious free ranging 3 acres because the nesting boxes no longer feel like nests to them. And chickens are not like the Easter Bunny, either. They aren't laying their eggs where somebody is sure to find them, and they are not laying fluorescent blue eggs. They lay brown eggs inside of bushes or under rocks or in holes that they dig in the sand. It is almost impossible to find these eggs, and once you DO find one and take it out of the nest, the chicken won't lay another egg in that same spot because it is obviously not a safe location (never mind the fact that she laid the egg and promptly got up and left it there unattended for an entire 24 hours). Are you getting a feel for how our afternoons have been going? Yep, we have a daily egg hunt. The kids love it. I hate it.

Oh, and did I mention that "stupid chicken lady" (that's the one who pecks the eggs, not me) is still punching holes in eggs, whenever she manages to find them before we do. Now that we ruined the nesting boxes by making them peck-proof, all the eggs are vulnerable again and she's on the prowl. I plan on turning her into dinner soon, but the problem is that she looks exactly like all my other black hens and I haven't been fast enough to mark her before she escapes. That's right - I've been stalking a chicken around my dad's property for weeks with a can of spray paint hoping to identify her for later slaughter. These chickens are turning me into a maniac.

SO, if you are reading this and happen to have any experience with chickens, particularly with wild egg-laying ones, or the egg eating type, could you give me some advice? I'd sure appreciate it...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Primary Delight

LinkInspired by all the beautiful weather we've been having in California, here is a sunny little patchwork play mat. I have had all these bright fabrics lying around from previous projects and couldn't resist putting them together. It is available in my shop...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Handmade Kids Valentines

This year I have enough experience to make Moses' class valentines a few weeks ahead of time. Making him sign his name on 15-plus cards the night before he has to take them to class seems more like punishment than a fun activity. So this year he's going to do a few each day and hopefully it won't feel like a chore.

I made little heart-shaped lacing cards which he's going to lace up and sign. Very simple. It occurred to me that we could include a piece of yarn with each one and let the recipients lace the card themselves, but Moses is excited about the "sewing part," so I'm going to let him do it.
While I was cutting these out and he was deciding which little hearts to glue on which big hearts, I realized that I only have a few more years before making pretty Valentine's will seem pretty uncool to him. How sad! I have to take advantage of these innocent years while I can and he's sitll not afraid to admit that the purple paper is his favorite.

Here are a few more handmade Valentine ideas that can be done with kids - even young ones:

Flower Lollipops
Thumb print Valentines
Popsicle Stick Heart Puppets
Fabric & Yarn Cards
... and more!

Are you making Valentine's Day cards this year? I certainly haven't done it every year - years when I've been either pregnant or had a new baby I've LOVED the simplicity of picking up a box of cards at the drug store. :) But I think Moses likes giving handmade ones more - they are more special to him.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Underwear Power!

Somebody is on day two of potty training, and I am glad that I had the wisdom NOT to blog yesterday, because today I can say that I am thankful for potty training. I am thankful that potty training kept us at home all day today, resulting in one of the most relaxing, fun days we have had in a long time. I am thankful that potty training forces me to spend hours sitting on the floor next to my little guys (one on the potty, the other on the floor) playing Legos rather than cleaning. And I am thankful that we live where there is lots of grass that needs to be, *ahem*, watered.

We found a tree in the far corner of the property that we had actually never played under and it was the best discovery of the day. I love the colors of the lichen growing on the weathered grey bark.

The boys ended up having an hour-long wrestling match in the long shiny grass while the dogs dug a huge hole in search for gophers and I sat in the sun. Seriously the perfect day. Thanks potty training!