Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I have *most* of my presents finished and wrapped! And I even succeeded at making a good portion of my gifts (I finished some handmade goodies for the girls last night!) And I am really excited to see my brother (from Montana) and to spend a cozy Christmas morning in our own home! I know it will be very exciting for Anastasia... and her excitement is very contagious... especially to Isabel so it should be a very fun day (even if we get ice and are "iced-in"). Tonight we are having a very traditional fancy meal... of take-out Chinese food and Cherry pie! And to top it off we are going to celebrate our midwest heritage (mine by marriage) by watching A Christmas Story while eating the Chinese food. Fah-rah-rah-rah-rah-rah. ;) So besides 2 apple, and 1 cherry pie baking today, I get the night off. But Santa will be working extra hard tonight. He totally deserves those milk and cookies.

Hope you get to share the love and joy of life and family, and rejoice in our salvation, originating in poverty... a newborn in a manger. How blessed we are to have our lives, our children, our families, our friends and our salvation. Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Window Shopping

Last week my mom and I took a stroll through downtown Fredericksburg and did a little Christmas shopping... and a little window shopping. These pictures are from the windows of a shop called Whittingham. I love the store, but the windows are just AMAZING. They always have something nice up their sleeves for Christmas!
They need a sign reading, "and this is why we bought a cat."

I also love that on the same street, there is a cat store, and a dog store. This completes the circle.

And completely besides the point, have you seen Gingerbread Snowflakes yet? And her sweet, sweet, oh. so. sweet, advent calender??????? I really am just in AWE at how beautiful it is!!! And there are pictures coordinating with holidays like St. Nicholas on the 6th, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and St Lucia!!!!!!!! Ah!!!!!!! I am so in love and want one too! And so many of her posts have a lovely, Mexican feel... which melts my heart too! *sigh* Window shopping is just so much fun! No money. No pressure. No problem.

Snowed In

(The above picture was from the previous snow.)
I cannot believe how much SNOW we got!!!! This is Virginia! And we got a blizzard on Saturday! Atleast 20 inches or so!!!! We were pretty much snowed in all weekend (except for going to church last night)! And it is so insanely deep! Here is our house in the snow:

I took Anastasia in the snow, sadly we don't have appropriate snow gear because it never snows here. It was so deep, and cold we were out for maybe 20 minutes before declaring it too cold. It was too dry for snowmen and sledding. But it was perfect for making snow ice cream (lots of snow+milk+sugar+vanilla) that tasted better when it melted a bit as a "shake". Can you believe how deep it is?

I love snow. We haven't had a blizzard here since '96. I love being cozy, and warm and "snowed in". I actually have been getting some Christmas presents finished.
And we made "gingerbread" houses out of graham crackers. I included all the details at Sylvan Hollow. So check it out!

Today is the first day of winter... and only 4days until Christmas!! Woohoo! Can you tell I am excited? We are going to probably have a white Christmas if this snow sticks around. I really want to watch "White Christmas" in the worst way too. I love snow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Traditions Swap

I participated in the Holiday Traditions Swap at Sew Liberated. I am so glad I did!! My partner, Rebecca, from California sent me this lovely package: Can you see the amazingly cute chickens on the cloth napkins? I absolutely love them. Especially because we have been trying to make the switch to cloth napkins... and have been pretty successful. It will be made easier with an extra set of super cute napkins now!! Hooray! I also recieved a recipe for potato latkes that I will have to try out sometime soon. And the girls went nuts over the dradle. Isabel laughed her little head off with every spin. It was so cute. Especially because she has fallen ill with croup the past few days. I put our two humidifiers in our room... and it helped so much last night. We slept pretty well until about 6am. But while she is awake, she just sits pathetically on my lap and won't be put down. I guess it is going to be a baby-snuggling day! Oh, and back to the swap... I made these shoes and a simple apron for Rebecca:
I used the elf clog pattern from Allsorts and shrunk the pattern by half I think. I was trying to go for the European tradition of St. Nicholas Day that we actually celebrated this year! The pattern was really easy and I want a pair in my size to wear! Last night we took the girls to a Winter Wonderland light display at a local park. It was a little chilly, so Nick gave Anastasia his warm shirt and she looked really ridiculous.

The fresh. cold air is supposed to help the croup cough, and it must be true because Isabel didn't cough once during our walk. We even got to see Santa!! A very unenthusiastic Santa. Ugh. He was the worst Santa I have ever seen to be honest, but since we missed our chance to see Santa a few weeks ago because of snow, that might be all the Santa we get. Atleast she was able to tell him what she wanted for Christmas: a Milo cat (translation: a black beanie baby cat that she lost on our trip to the dollar store). Hopefully Santa's ebay purchase makes it here by Christmas! haha.

And so it has been icky sicky around here. No storytime for us this week. I have not done any of the activities on our Christmas-countdown chain. There is always next year right? Today I am sending out one of my last two items in my shop! And I am hoping Anastasia and I can make Nick's Christmas present todady. Oh, I came up with a great gift idea for our dog: a loaf of bread shaped like a bone!! lol. I swear our dog would turn her nose up at a steak in favor of a loaf of bread, fresh from the oven. And one last picture to insure your cute quota is met today:

Happy third week of advent!!! Hope it is a good one! 9 days until Christmas! Woohoo!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday monday.

I woke this morning to the sound of Christmas ornaments crashing on the ground. I jumped out of bed, swept up the broken glass, and Anastasia came in with another glass ball, "Look mommy! I got another one!" I started the coffee, and oatmeal, and fed Isabel some cheerios and she dropped a cheerio on the cat. The food-agressive dog lunged at (and tried to eat) the cat. The dog went outside. I set out my gnomes and freshly painted mushrooms on my sewing table before I went to bed (at 1:30 am mind you) and the cat found them to be an awesome toy. The mushrooms were gone. The gnomes were scattered on the floor. UGH. The cat, and dog spent the morning outside. And Isabel is sick with a yucky cold. So it was a miserable monday morning.

It got better. We went and joined the exciting consumerist society and went shopping for new boots for Anastasia. We had no luck after walking the entire mall (and getting free rides on those moving ride things). She won't wear any shoes except these boots I found at a thrift store for $1. And the zipper got stuck on one of them... making it a huge pain. So we found boots she liked (after looking at like 20 pairs) but they didn't have her size. So after 2 hours of shopping (which was more like looking, and was lots of fun because everyone was happy) we came home and ordered the boots she wanted, in her size online. Hooray for the internet! And I saved $3. It is possibly the first pair of new shoes I have bought for her (her grandparents have bought most of her "new" shoes, and I have really good luck thrifting).

So it was a crazy day, but ended with hot cocoa and a Christmas movie for Anastasia and I. I am sort of celebrating my etsy success... 15 orders in 3 weeks! It was very exciting! Now I am taking a Christmas break, and hopefully will get some cards done, crafts made and cookies baked! And I have some great ideas for January for my shop... so hopefully the excitement isn't completely over for Little Red Whimsy. It is amusing that all the money I have made, I have not even spent any of it on myself yet... and I am itching for a little bit of new fabric for the couch pillows that I am sick of looking at! Hopefully I won't be such an absentee blogger... and I am so glad there is only one monday in every week. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...

A few weeks ago, Nick built me my own little craft space in our craft-pantry-pet lair-mudroom! My brother was getting rid of the 2 rolling carts, so I adopted them and put them to good use as well. It was perfect timing with the opening of my little etsy shop and everything! I can see my little craft nook from our kitchen, and it is very inspiring and organized looking (I can't say the same about the rest of the room). And the best thing? We have a baby gate that keeps the kids out of there. (I wish I could say the same for the cat as he has a good time knocking my projects on the floor and kicking them around a bit.) It is SO NICE having a place where I can leave projects, and I don't have to lug my machine to the kitchen for each project I have to do. It is really, really great. Everyone should have one. Sadly for everyone else, I got the only Nick like mine, who builds me stuff. And look what came in the mail!!!:
Thanks to my etsy shop's success, I was able to purchase some wool felt!!! I bought the Christmas bundle from Colonial Crafts and 2-1/2 yards of purple and green. They seemed to have the best prices around, and the colors are so earthy, wooly and just lovely!!! And the presentation made me feel like a kid on Christmas morning! And last year Anastasia recieved a really great cat-shaped tape measure in her stocking. I used it quite a bit, but she made sure it was in her toy box, not in my sewing stash. Apparently Ten Thousand Villages sells them too, and my mom picked one up for me:

So cute, it makes measuring things better than ever!! And its fair-trade to boot!
I don't know about you, but we had the lovliest snow on Saturday!!!

It is so rare in Virginia to get a decent snow this early! We rarely get snow in December, and this one was at least 6 inches!!! And so pretty! We had good sledding, and built a snow man. Even Isabel liked it (which really says a lot!!!).
On Saturday night, St. Nicholas also stopped by:Apparently you can leave carrots for his donkey but we didn't realize that. Sorry for the bad picture, the lighting in here is SO bad. We also visited friends for a gathering for the feast of St. Nicholas and because we were out so late, Isabel slept through the night!!!!!!!! It was the best sleep I have had in 14 months. Too bad Isabel is so grumpy today (and everyday we stay at home). Hopefully we can get some sledding in this afternoon... before the snow melts away! I wish you all a lovely second week of advent!! And soon I will have a break from making gnomes and pizzas and can blog more regularly again!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"...And the darkness has not understood it."

"In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." -John 1:1-5
Reading that is like that first candle in advent... the light in the darkness. One solitary light but the beginning of the "most wonderful time of the year". I finally made our advent wreatah yesterday and a chain of activities:

For a 2 1/2 year old, these were truly exciting. And my mom bought the girls the playmobil advent calender I was still secretly wanting, but unable to justify in my budget:
(The unicorn was not included.) I had high hopes of starting on Sunday, the true first day of advent, but unfortunately I just didn't have time! Today our first advent activity was to take out the manger scene:

I didn't have an actual manger that came with this nice wooden set, but our rainbow worked quite well! I am keeping my eye out at the thrift stores for a cheap manger. I LOVE DECEMBER and CHRISTMAS!!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Yes, I am somewhat back. Not as conviniently as I was when we had internet before (kitchen table convinient) but I do have the internet again in my bedroom! We ended up with a virus last week and had to wipe the ENTIRE computer. Thank goodness I had just uploaded ALL my pictures to Shutterfly the week before or it would have been very bad. Thank you Shutterfly.

On another note, we had a very nice Thanksgiving weekend, despite the family drama, computer issues and the fact that Nick spent most of his time working on a book he is editing. On Thanksgiving we went to my parents, and got to see my "little" brother for the first time since last Christmas! And after our yummy meal, we took a walk in the fog down a street near my parents house. I was hoping the horses would be out to show Anastasia, and they were! Not only were they out, but the owner was out and brought us his "wild mustang" who he had tamed and had become this very sweet horse named Willow. Anastasia was able to pet him, and then the kind man, who teaches equine science at Mary Wash and Germanna, gave us a tour of his barn and let us meet all 5 of his horses, and his 2 donkeys... all of which were "rescues". I didn't have my camera. *sigh*

And then, after teaching us a lot about horses, and horse whispering, he let Anastasia sit on one of his horses!!!!!!!!! Wow. It was just so amazing to see her, so small on the huge gentle animal! The awe mixed with fear and wonder on Anastasia's face was priceless. It was a true Thanksgiving gift and another thing to be grateful to our Heavenly Father for. It was the kind of gift that really makes a holiday magical with the only true "magic" of the Christmas Season... the kind of magic that has great kings be born in mangers, puts the stars in the sky and love in our hearts. May that magic fill your hearts this advent and Christmas season!

And hopefully more posts and even pictures will follow!

Friday, November 20, 2009

First Custom Order... and things

Aren't they so cute? I recieved a message with a request for gnomes wearing the colors of the rainbow! I think it was such a brilliant idea and they just melt my heart. Especially the red-haired gnome with the purple hat. Pricing my items is so hard! I want a balance between getting a fair dollar for my work, yet also making my handmade goods available to a broad range of people. These gnomes are easy, take very little time, can be made while watching kids, a movie, listening to music, sipping coffee, or even on the road or at a park. I doubt I will make enough to pay taxes, and I don't have to pay for gas to get to work or childcare. So now I will see how much Etsy and Paypal take from me, and re-price my goods accordingly. :)
I am so excited about advent this year! I have been reading quite a few posts and stealing other people's ideas about doing different activities and reading Christmas books for advent. Then my mom picked up the book, "Before and After Christmas" that has activities from December 1st through Epiphany. I also have been researching some Christmas traditions from our various nationalities that make up our very American mutt heritage! I had thought of buying the cute Playmobil forest advent calender, but I thought that perhaps that was a little more "materialistic" than the true spirit of Christmas that I am going for. I have seen people make Christmas Villages and I really, really think that is a lovely idea. I am thinking of putting up the nativity on day 1 and expanding on that. Some days we will bake cookies, make gingerbread houses (perhaps decorate a graham cracker one instead), see Christmas lights, and make gifts for family and friends! I have so many ideas, and want to have a very special, very simple, non-consumer Christmas. :) I hope to organize my activities this weekend, along with adopting the very Czech tradition of "cleaning one's house prior to advent."
And today it is sunny, so we have a trip to the park with a new friend. With children, the fun and "to-do" lists never end! :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Practically Perfect Day

Today I woke up at 5:30am to take the cat to Harrisonburg for a "cheap fix" (aka neuter/vaccine clinic). I was supposed to meet Tara (my BFF) and Elan (her baby) in Staunton (our halfway point) but she ended up with a flat tire (boo). So, I turned cracked eggs into omelets and went to Staunton anyway. I am so glad I did. We had an awesome day.
When we arrived in Staunton it was not even 9am, and everything, except my favorite coffee shop in Staunton, was still closed. So I grabbed a medium coffee and we went exploring, Isabel on my back, and Anastasia's hand in mine. We went to the old train station which was really neat and that took us to some stairs that went up to a rusty bridge across the tracks which ended at a path up a hill to a lookout spot:And pictures cannot do justice to the amazing beauty and feel of Staunton. Maybe it is my infatuation with old Virginia towns. Maybe it is the 1920s feeling. Maybe all of that, and the cloudiness that surrounds this town every time I visit. But today, with my girls it was pure magic.And what is a little magic without the best toy store ever? Have I mentioned Pufferbellies before? Yes? oh, well I am mentioning it again because all the hype of FAO Shwartz means nothing to me compared to this sweet little shop:Isabel had similar sentiments. A future shopper indeed... there just aren't enough hands (or enough money in her mama's wallet) for everything.
I picked up a couple wooden boats that were supposed to make a debut in the girls stockings and then we headed to Five Guys for lunch. Yum. Their french fries are a heart attack in an overflowing styrofoam cup. And the styrofoam cup starts to shrivel under the heat of the greasy fries right out of the vat of peanut oil so I am sure there is a little cancer thrown in there too.

The kids thought it was awesome since we never eat fast food. We had half a bag of fries leftover (if you have ever had Five Guys you know why!) and we figured we would share the heart-attack/cancer grease fest with some ducks at Gypsie Hill Park.Last time we went, there definately weren't swans. I love swans! They were just amazing and much bigger than I realized. They really liked the fries. I liked the grease ripples oozing out of the fries into the pond. I hope the fish aren't dead tomorrow. Isabel had fallen asleep and slept in the nearby car. Anastasia and I started racing leaves in the creek under the bridges: The leaves kept getting stuck, and inspired by Susanne's post (heck, I think I even got the same exact boats), I gave in and whipped out the boats for some serious racing. It was so much fun! And then we woke up Isabel and went to the playground for an hour or so, went to get the cat and everyone fell asleep. Even, I think, the groggy, violated cat. I realize that I had a nice time spending time with the girls because most days I am too focused on all the little things that have to be done. Today I had 7 hours to kill... and we savored them!

Monday, November 16, 2009


I am finally getting my Etsy shop up and running, and in case you haven't checked it, I just added this pencil roll: Notice the buttons that coordinate with the pencils.
And it rolls up nicely like a burrito. This is a HUGE hit with Anastasia and the one in my shop includes the easy-to-use Crayola "Write Start" pencils. This would make a lovely stocking stuffer or gift paired with a sketch book, don't you think?
We had a busy weekend including a trip to a consignment sale where I scored Christmas dresses for BOTH girls for $5. So much for making them! HA! I could never make them that cheap. We also went to a Fancy Nancy party at Borders and Anastasia had a blast. It was cute seeing all the little girls all dressed up. Anastasia just wore a tutu and I forgot to take pictures. She also was the only kid to spill their "milkshake" all down her shirt and all over the floor. Oops! Ah well. Yesterday the dollhouse usurped most of my day... so today the house is a wreck and I have great plans of putting all our pictures on Shutterfly and backing them up with discs. And handprint turkeys. hmmm. I better get busy!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Dollouse

Remember what it used to look like? Well I finally finished after a few weeks of work it looks like a whole new house!!! There was a point early on when we had really considered buying a new plastic dollhouse. I am very glad we didn't. The chimney was the biggest thing! It isn't perfect, but it looks so AWESOME!!! I actually enjoyed doing the river rock mosaic! And putting plaster of paris in all of the cracks in the "logs" was the hardest part. I HATE plaster of paris officially now. It said on the box it dries in 30 minutes... um, try 5 minutes! So I slathered the stuff into the cracks, scraped it off with a popsicle stick and then wiped it down 80 times with a sponge. It was worth it I tell you. It truly was. Overall it was SO MUCH FUN. I want to make another one!!! All of you miniature fanatics out there, I totally understand your passion!!!!!! And the inside with the new fireplace:

The entire project cost me around $30, ($12.50 was just the scalloped trim!!! But it really does make the house so sweet.) Plus my mom paid $8 for the house, so it was less than $40 total which makes it WAY cheaper than any of the dollhouses I would have otherwise bought for the girls. Up next: felted rugs, curtains, beds and a few Christmas decorations!! Sadly the girls have seen the dollhouse already since I really couldn't work on it without really watching them so I hope they forget about it until in makes is debut under the tree Christmas morning. And I bought some little battery operated Christmas lights at Michaels to put on the front, and I have a few other Christmas decorations for the outside, so it will still be a great surprise I hope!!! Oh, I can't wait for Christmas this year!!! As my babies grow up it gets more fun!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Handmade Holidays: Felt Pizza

Anastasia has been very into her play kitchen and cooks all kinds of interesting things. Our kitchen came with this tiny wooden pizza that Anastasia bakes for me EVERY DAY! I looked for a cute little wooden pizza with movable toppings and found a Melissa and Doug one (made in China) for $15, an Erzi one (made in Germany) for $21 and a soft one by Haba (made in China) for $21.50. And not one of them was precisely what I was looking for (yes I am a total snob). So I made a felt pizza myself.
I used 2 circles of tan felt for the crust, one smaller circle of red felt for the sauce and a curvy white circle of white fleece for the cheese. I then sewed the smaller pieces to the bigger pieces, sewed two lines down the middle, cut between them and did the same with each half. Make sense? Easy peasy. Then I cut the toppings out of wool felt: pepperoni: red circles, peppers: green rectangles, and the mushrooms. Wool felt is much tougher and holds its shape much better than acrylic so it was worth it to use for the toppings. And the toppings stick pretty well to the cheese. I mean, a few fall off if you hold it upside down but why would you hold a pizza upsidedown?
So I made two, one for Anastasia for Christmas, and one for my Etsy shop... I figure if I add one or two things a week that is better than nothing. Check out more felt food at One Pretty Thing. I am so inspired!!!!

PS- If you are in the market for a little play kitchen, I highly recommend the French Kitchen from Educo. It is small, but perfect for toddlers and houses with small rooms and little space. It seems to be very sturdy and well made. I like how simple it is compared with most kitchens. Anastasia plays with it every single day. On the down side it was made in china and has a natural wood finish so it doesn't clean easily. I put a coating of Grape Seed Oil on it, and it did get colored on with Crayon Rocks (which are far more vivid than Crayola) and I cleaned it up almost 100% with GooGone.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

knittin' and a kitten

I have been feeling very overwhelmed lately. Isabel is very needy. Very, very, very needy. She wants to be on the go everyday. At home she wants to be held and played with 80 % of the day (she naps for the other 20%). It has been so hard for me, as Anastasia is little Miss Independant and has been since she took her first step. So this is uncharted territory in the parenting realm. It leaves no time for crafting, little time for me. But I know they will grow up fast, and I will be stuck knitting and quilting all day just to keep from being bored. ha. Isn't the greatest irony in life that the grass is always greener on the other side? It takes getting to the other side to realize how green your grass really was. lol. Don't get me wrong, I love all the snuggles, and I LOVE being a mom of 2, I just feel like I am constantly climbing mountains of cleaning, dishes and laundry and walking through valleys of whining and fussing. So I started knitting again. I think I am at a point in my life that I need a long, mindless craft to fill the tiny spaces of breathing room I get. I wanted to make the girls matching hats with bear or cat ears... I haven't decided yet. I like bear ears for the cute factor, but I want Anastasia to wear hers ALL THE TIME... so maybe I will let her pick. Cats are really the "IN" thing around here. I love our cat, Ally O'Mally. He seems to find the nicest spots in the house to curl up and nap. He loves the woodstove and has a nice little hiding place right behind it where the kids can't get him, and he is so cozy and warm finding little spots of sunlight to bask in.

Yesterday I cleaned Anastasia's room and made her bed, and she excitedly exclaimed, "Mommy! Thank you for making my bed, it looks SOOOO great!" She then proceeded to jump on it. The obviouse thing to do on a freshly made bed. I love how toddlers and cats know not to take anything to seriously. I always think our children are a gift from God to teach us just that. To love life, and to have fun when and as much as you can. To not stress the small things because laundry folded in drawers is highly overrated and clean dishes are not as neccissary as they might seem. Carrot sticks and cereal make a good meal. Yes children are awesome. Even when we go crazy raising them. And this verse is very meaningful to me:

"Remind us that our days are numbered, that we may have wisdom of heart." -Psalm 90:12