Thursday, December 29, 2011

A little more Christmas love

We had such a nice Christmas Eve/Christmas day at our house. My family and Bill's parents came over and we all enjoyed relaxing and celebrating together.
Santa came! He took the carrots for the reindeer, gobbled up the chocolate chip cookies and chocolate milk, and left some special red bags for the kids and stuffed stockings for everyone.
Kenley was in heaven with her own phone, purse (vintage!) and new babies and other stuffed animals. Actually, the gift she spent the most time with was a box of Scooby Doo band-aids that she kept unpacking and repacking. Ha!
Lachlan got his wish for a "Batman set-up", and Kenley got in on the action.
We played card games, Wii, and hung out together.
We had a midday meal on the 25th before Thor and Caeli headed off to Wisconsin.
Potato head playtime with Pop Po - she must have spent an hour on the couch taking pieces in and out. Amazing.
Thor and Grandma Cleo.
Watching Uncle Zach play Mario.

The rest of the photos are here on Flickr. Hope your holiday was joyful and memorable!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

L posing by part of his homemade Angry Birds game, made by the Aschims

Kenley with her pull-along puppy from Santa

Hope you had a wonderful and very Merry Christmas! Decided to end my day by looking through today's photos and filling out a little Christmas quiz.

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? hard choice...Hot chocolate!
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? wraps them in fabric bags from the North Pole
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? colored this year
4. Do you hang mistletoe? not yet, maybe next year?
5. When do you put your decorations up? first week in December
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? ham balls and cheesy corn casserole
7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? decorating the tree together and picking out gifts for parents and siblings
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? hmm, don't remember
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? new Christmas pjs for the kiddos
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? two trees - one with homemade and family ornaments, one with red, silver, and black decorations
11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Love it, and wish we had some this year!
12. Can you ice skate? no way, but I haven't had much practice.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? I do remember getting a Brooke Shields Barbie when I was a little girl, then she got lost within a few days!
14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you? Spending time with family and creating sweet traditions
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Christmas cookies and chocolate covered pretzels
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? decorating the tree and our new book reading tradition
17. What tops your tree? A star
18. Which do you prefer: giving or receiving? Giving, especially when I can make the gift myself and/or the receiver is surprised and delighted!
19. Candy canes: yuck or yummy? Yummy
20. Favorite Christmas show? A Christmas Story
21. Saddest Christmas song? River by Joni Mitchell (if that counts?)
22. What is your favorite Christmas song? lots and lots of favorites - probably Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant, favorite album (this year) is Ella's Swinging Christmas

spotted this quiz here

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas book advent tradition

photo via Instagram on my iPhone. My username is kirstenw.
I still love Hipstamatic, but the social aspect of Instagram is such fun, and it is a very user-friendly app.


I've seen this tradition popping up on several blogs I read, and we have started it this year, as well. Each day in December, we read a Christmas book together. Last January I purchased enough clearance fabric to sew 24 reuseable gift bags to use year after year for wrapping the books. Well, the fabric has not been made into anything yet, so that part of the plan will have to wait until next December. Then I planned to wrap all 24 with wrapping paper, but that only lasted the first couple weeks - now I'm just grabbing one off the stack each day.

I had a few books in my collection, and I picked up a few more with after-Christmas sales last year. I also ordered a few online recently to complete the collection. There are a few board books in the mix for Kenley, but mostly it is for Lachlan right now. We're all enjoying the festive stories.

Here's the list, in no particular order:
1. Who's Coming to our House? : Sweet, and good for baby.
2. The Little Drummer Boy : the song lyrics, illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
3. Room for a Little One : from the point of view of the animals in the stable
4. Christmas in the Manger : another nice board book for baby about the Christmas story
5. The Christmas Magic : Santa prepares for Christmas, in a more quiet, reflective way than most stories
6. Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree: a fun story about a tree that gets shared by a series of grateful creatures
7. Home for Christmas : Jan Brett's newest holiday tale, about a troll who loses his tail.
8. Gingerbread Baby: a fun retelling of the Gingerbread Boy story
9. Gingerbread Friends : the sequel to Gingerbread Baby (can you tell I love Jan Brett? The Three Snow Bears is another favorite, and the Mitten, and the Hat...)
10. It's Christmas David! : a mischevious boy waits impatiently for Christmas. Yeah, we're relating to this one this year ;)
11. The Little Fir Tree : a heartwarming, timeless story
12. Bear Stays Up For Christmas : If you aren't familiar with Bear and friends stories, check them out. Just nice stories about friendship and caring for each other.
13. Merry Christmas, a Storybook Collection : our favorite is "Merry Christmas, Stinky Face!"
14. Snowmen at Christmas : Another series that I love. Whimsical and fun to imagine.
15. The Sweet Smell of Christmas : one of Bill's childhood favorites, he suggested I order it. Scratch and Sniff!
16. The Polar Express : Classic.
17. Bear's First Christmas : another delightfully illustrated book about a bear who wakes from hibernation to celebrate Christmas
18. Olive, the other reindeer : Seriously fun and entertaining! a new favorite
19. The Grinch : Lachlan likes this one, but doesn't want to keep it in his room because "the cover is scary"
20. The Nutcracker : Another classic, more beautiful illustrations
21. Shall I Knit You a Hat? : another fun story about handmade gift-giving
22. O Little Town of Bethlehem : we received this last year, a board book with music and lights!
23. The Christmas Star : Another board book, a nice, simple retelling of Christ's birth.
24. The Night Before Christmas (we have that copy, but there are so many fun choices!) : Seems appropriate for the 24th!

We've also receive a few new books this week that will probably make it into the rotation next year:
That's Not My Reindeer - Kenley loves this one, but insists it is a "puppy"
The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear - gotta love Brother and Sister
A Charlie Brown Christmas - with music!

If you're looking for more ideas to build your collection, check out Dana's post and all the comments! Plus she has good ideas for saving money on the books. I think I could double or triple our collection with all those listed! There are so many great children's books out there.

for sale at Home Ec

I dropped off a baby blanket and a few tag blankets at Home Ec Workshop earlier this week, so go check them out if you're still in the market for a baby gift! There are many other lovely gifts in the shop, not to mention that a Home Ec gift certificate is a great gift for any local sewer/crafter!

Monday, December 12, 2011

December Daily

I spent some time working on my December Daily album over the weekend. It works best for me to work on about a week at a time. I can't manage to work on it everyday, but if I wait too long, it feels overwhelming, and I forget the little details of our days.
I'm trying to keep it simple and repeat a few design elements (like the tags with stamped titles) to make the album more cohesive. I'm using a 4x6" mixed paper book by Elise Blaha, along with some ephemera - such as calendar pages, our Christmas card, etc. I'm also adding in 3x5" photos cropped to approx. 3 1/4" x 6" and taped back to back. I'm loving that mini alphabet stamp set (from the Michael's $1 section) and mini alphabet letters from my stash (mostly Making Memories) and the number circles I bought last year (from Living Room Floor). I'm printing 2.5" square Instagram photos at home, taking a few photos with my Instax mini, and adding in prints from my SLR as I mentioned above.
It seems like this project would feel like "one more thing" to do in a busy December, but actually I find that it keeps me focused on the festive activities and traditions that I want to focus on during the holidays. Also, I love looking back to the albums I made in 2008 and 2010 (wish I had made one in '09! darn!)
I'm finding lots of inspiration in these talented scrappers participating in December Daily -
Ali Edwards
Elise Blaha
Robyn Meierotto
Molly Irwin

You can see the rest of my pages so far in my December Daily set on Flickr.

Hope you're all having a great December so far!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Craft and Fancy 4

I've been busy this week, recovering from our Thanksgiving trip to Disneyworld, taking care of sick kiddos, and getting ready for Craft and Fancy 4 at Home Ec tomorrow! It is my first time to have a table at this local mini craft fair. I'm thrilled to be included with the other talented local artists and crafters.
I'll be bringing along special handmade gifts for babies and little ones, including tag blankets, patchwork baby quilts and Tooth Fairy pillows. Check out the event's page to see some of the other treats to be had. I'm looking forward to picking up a few unique handmade gifts for my friends and family!
I hope you will stop by and say hello if you are in the Iowa City Area!
Craft and Fancy 4 at Home Ec Workshop
Saturday, December 4th, 10 am - 5 pm

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mmm, donuts

We visited my family in Des Moines this weekend, and had a fun couple days! Lachlan's highlight was going with papa to pick out donuts this morning. He chose frosted with sprinkles, and claimed the 2 sprinkled donuts in the box for himself.
I put Kenley in the high chair and offered her a plain donut. Well, I didn't get a photo of her tantrum, but let's just say that she had other plans. She was not happy until she was sitting in a big chair with a sprinkled donut of her own.
Luckily, Lachlan was in a sharing mood and settled for a chocolate frosted donut as number 2.
Yep, she's already pretty good at getting her way.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pomegranate Love

Pomegranates. It seems like a fruit for a special occasion, because of the effort it takes to get the arils out. Slicing one open is like finding a treasure, and I love the vibrant red color. I remember when Mrs. Ellerhoff, my English teacher in high school, brought pomegranates in to class one day so that those of us who had never tasted one could try them.
The easiest way I have found to separate the seeds from the rest of the flesh is to work in a bowl of water, then strain off the pith. It keeps things from getting so messy, and keeps my fingers from getting dyed red.
I picked up a couple pomegranates last week because I wanted to try this recipe I saw on Made. Although my Hipstamatic photo of the cookies doesn't make them look very appetizing, I assure you that they were a success! The baked cookies were very good, but I agree with Dana that the cold cookie dough was especially delicious! Yum!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween 2011: Trick or Treat

Our trick-or-treaters, ready for action!

my trick or treat banner via Martha Stewart at JoAnn's
We went trick or treating with our favorite neighbors - Peter & Tinkerbelle, the Tin Man & the Lion.
The big boys were SO excited and ran from house to house. It took about half as much time for us to make it through the neighborhood as it did last year!
Kenley spent the trip in the stroller, saying "hiiii" to passersby and giggling at the boys running.
Spooky alien!
We had such a fun evening and collected enough candy to last us a loooong time!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011: the treats

Lachlan and I made ghostly treats for his preschool class snack.
We had leftover almond bark, so we made ghost pretzels in addition to the ghost cookies.
Jack-o-lantern clementines, decorated with my food-safe marker, also for preschool snack
Lachlan's Halloween lunch for preschool (he didn't eat his sandwich, but Kenley did when he brought it home!)
Lachlan's trick-or-treating haul, organized with help from his dad

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween 2011: the costumes

my Peter Pan pair via Hipstamatic

Back in August and September, our Peter Pan book was in high rotation. Then we rented the Disney animated Peter Pan movie, and Lachlan decided that Peter Pan would be his costume for this year. Of course, his sister had to be Tinkerbell, mom would be Tigerlily, and dad would be Captain Hook. Well, Bill and I didn't get our act together for matching costumes, but we had Peter Pan and Tinkerbell ready to go several weeks ago. I would normally still be working on them until the last minute, but we were lucky to be invited to 2 costume birthday parties in the last month, so that was a good reason to be ahead of schedule.

I found a Peter Pan costume tutorial here, and used it especially to make his hat. The tunic was just one piece of green fabric, folded in half, cut to the shape, sewn along the side seams (leaving the sleeves open, of course. Then I cut an opening for his head, cut a slit down the front, folded it open and tacked the corners for a collar. I made the belt with brown cotton belt ribbon stuff (??) and a couple belt loops (both found at the fabric store). The leggings are olive green girls' leggings from Old Navy online (he would love to wear them every day if I let him, they must be comfy!). The shoes are Minnetonka moccasins. He did get called Robin Hood several times while trick or treating in Des Moines, but I'm not sure how I could have avoided that, they are just similarly dressed characters.

I couldn't tell you much about making Kenley's costume because I just made it up as I went along. I actually had to cut it back in half after I was done and add side panels, because the first version was too tight. But I think it turned out pretty cute! The wings (and both green fabrics) I found at JoAnn's. She was not a fan of the wings, but I'm glad I got a few photos, because she looks sweet in them! White tights and moccasins from Old Navy online. Her amber teething necklace (unrelated to the costume) is from Etsy, but I think the shop must not be around anymore. There are several Etsy shops that sell them, if you're interested. I do think it has helped her with recent teething pain.

Halloween 2011: Fun in DSM

Last weekend the kids and I made a quick trip to Des Moines for some early Halloween fun. We started at Living History Farms on Friday night. This place holds lots of great memories for me, since I attended summer camp there each year until I was old enough to become a camp counselor. I also remember visiting at Halloween (or at least I remember going with my younger siblings). It was super fun to bring Lachlan and Kenley here. We thought we would be bundling up with puffy coats and scarves, but it turned out to be mild and perfect for trick-or-treating on Main Street.
Later (after it got too dark for photos) we went on a horse-drawn wagon ride (Kenley was entranced by the big horses), stopped for pop and popcorn (and to assess our candy collection), and listened to a storyteller in the big barn. We also enjoyed walking through a path of Halloween lights and jack-o-lanterns carved by Boy Scouts and stopping to toast marshmallows.



Saturday night, we went to Night Eyes at the Blank Park Zoo - along with many other families in Des Moines - it was crowded! I was happy to see the big crowd, because we love the zoo and popular events like this help them make improvements to the animal exhibits! It was also too dark for photos once we got there, but we did enjoy seeing the big cats lumbering around their cages as we trick-or-treated. My favorite homemade costume we saw was a boy dressed as a lego man, seriously cute and clever! Kenley rode on my back in the Ergo for prime people watching, and Lachlan did a great job with all the waiting in line we had to do. It was a fun and memorable weekend!