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

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Handmade Holidays, a cat, a bad dog and a chicken.

I love the idea of giving all (or most) handmade gifts for Christmas and birthdays. It sounds so sweet doesn't it? Yes indeed. The reality is, if it isn't done by the second week in December, it probably won't get made. My goal this year is to have most of my Christmas shopping and crafting completed by December 13th. I have a couple edible ideas to make in bulk for people, but other than that, I am trying to come up with a few things to sew/knit/paint/etc. Usually my good intentions end up flying out the window as soon as the climax of the holidays are upon us. Another reason I love Etsy is that if you don't have time to make something yourself, you can buy something handmade from another crafter. I love the above rainbow from Chubbas 'n Boop on Etsy. It was one of Isabel's really late birthday gifts and has already received a lot of use! As for the girls I think my re-vamped dollhouse counts as Handmade. Here is a sneak peak: It is looking SO AMAZING... and I still have so many things to do, and Nick is hopefully going to make some furniture for it. I have been consumed with this project the past 3 days... and today seems no different. Housework Shmouswork! This is so much more rewarding! And I found a great little dollhouse/miniature/antique store locally in Stephens City called "Bill's Barn". It is very home-towny but Bill is fantastic and was SO entirely helpful. I was able to get shutters and scalloped trim, and for the real miniature fanatic, there were all kinds of tiny versions of household items to feast your eyes upon. Oh, and Bill listens to Rush. So you get educated on the idiocracy of our current administration while looking at cuckoo clocks and tiny homes for dolls. And you can sit on the front porch swing for free. It doesn't get any better than that I assure you.

And our new cat, Ally O'Mally is settling in fine. He prefers the coziness of the indoors curled in someones lap than the porch or the great outdoors. And last night neither Nick, nor myself had the heart to put him outside:
He spent the night curled next to Anastasia. To protect her from spiders and mice while she sleeps. Good kitten. He adores Anastasia. He doesn't even TRY to run when she torments him. He eats it up, and from the look in his eyes and the purr that fills the entire room I think he believes he is the luckiest cat in the entire world!
How was every one's Halloween? Ours was AWESOME. You think Halloween is great fun when you are a kid... and then you become a parent and it becomes even more wonderful!! Our road was perfectly sized for children our age. There were only 7 houses and we met a few new neighbors, handed out cookies, and Anastasia invited herself into every neighbor's house for a tour. Most of our neighbors were happy to accommodate the whims of our sweet fairy.

And we met one new neighbor on Halloween night and Leia decided to visit them yesterday while running free (bad dog) with our next-door neighbor's Jack Russel... I guess she assumed they didn't really want all their chickens so she caught one, killed it, and brought it home (VERY BAD DOG!). How embarrassing is that? So I went down the street and offered to buy it from them... and they were really nice about it... but with all the deer and bobcat on their walls, I wouldn't put it past them to want a beautiful, blue-eyed husky on their wall. Especially one who eats chicken. I think I will make them some cookies as a great apology. Or maybe some chicken soup? lol. And wow this post has gotten very, very long.