Our crafting table cloth is a laminated piece of fabric from Anna Maria Horner and it always makes me happy. Doesn't it makes these eggs come to life!
Our crafting table cloth is a laminated piece of fabric from Anna Maria Horner and it always makes me happy. Doesn't it makes these eggs come to life!
I'm so please with how this year's Valentine's Day cards turned out. Best of all so is the Chickpea and she is really looking forward to giving them out to all of her buddies tomorrow. She had such a good time making them and they kept her busy for nearly an hour of fun filled yet focused time. These cards are brilliantly easy because we found 4" cardstock hearts that had a peel off sticky side. Add pre-cut squares of tissue paper and you get pretty little mosaic hearts. I then stamped them with a few little words on front. On the back she wrote her friend's names and we attached a little heart shaped notepad.
We gave each of the Chickpea's teachers a little homemade holiday gift this year. We made vanilla extract a few months back and then made some vanilla sugar - general recipe here. I also stopped by Miette, one of our favorite bakeries, and picked up little packages of walnut shortbread cookies. We bundled everything up in these sweet muslin bags that we stamped and punched out little tags with a message for each teacher.
While they aren't strictly made by the kiddo she helped in every part of the process and they were made over many days of crafting. It really helped to spread things out over several days.
We packed up a few more of these for friends. We'll be making another batch of this killer fudge from Martha. I made some for a Christmas party and I'm totally adicted to this easy confection.
Despite my lack of posting we've actually had a lot of crafting going on here. With a 17 month old cruzing around the house this year we only put up the non-breakable ornament on the tree. While the little distructor was napping her sister and I made ornaments with salt dough. It was a first for me and the results were really satisfying.
We rolled out several batches to cut up. More than I was really expecting.
After they were baked we painted them with our new glitter paint. Who doesn't like glitter on a tree. I think they are adorable and I'd love to make some garlands out of them next year. There is something satisfying about making decorations that are not meant to be permanent. Try it out, here's the recipe.
1 cup salt
2 cups flour
1 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Mix salt and flour in a bowl. Stir in water and oil little at a time. Next knead with your hands until you get smooth clay like dough.
Roll your dough about 1/4 inch thick and cut out your shapes with cookie cutter. Poke a hole with a wooden skewer for hanging.
Put your shapes onto an a cookie sheet with parchment and bake at 300 degrees for 1-2 hours until hard. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Once dry paint with water based paints, glue, glitter etc.
A little holiday crafting has begun. It's never to early to get into the spirit. And slow and steady is my pace now days when it comes to crafting. See if you can guess what we're making. I'm not going to give it away.... but you can take a peek here. And make a note that children of friends make an excellent assembly line!
Here is the birthday bunting I made for Apple's first birthday which is on July 5th. I figured if we were going to have decorations up this time of year they might as well be festive. It's not completely red, white and blue but there are pink, brown, green and orange spots in there too. I think it turned out beautifully and it such a pretty combination of what I already had hanging around. Her older sister was quite the little sewing helper too!
More of our water color circles in a garland for Valentine's Day. The little Chickpea painted this wooden heart from the craft store and then dusted it with a mighty hand of sparkles. It looks pretty sweet I must say.
I wanted to share the silhoettes of the girls that I made for their Great Grandmother for Christmas this year. (Pardon the terrible photos) I've had these reclaimed wood picture frames for ages but I haven't ever had the right image to put in them. So I took pictures of the girls that were backlit for ease,removed the background and filled their profile with black in Photoshop, added their names and birthdates, then printed them out on a handmade paper. I'm really pleased with how they turned out and they will look perfect once I find the time to hang them. The baby looks a bit like a blob (a cute one at that) but what a sweet treasure for them if I do these every Christmas and they can see how they grow and change. Grandma loved them and wants to frame them in swirly gold like the ones she has hanging of relatives long ago.
I'm brainstorming about holiday crafts. What's easy, what's practical, what's been done before and what's simply lovely. This wreath is a great twist, a non-traditional interpretation that would give me a smile as I came home.
I'm starting to get the Holidays on the brain now. I pulled out some Christmas fabric I've had stashed for awhile when I saw it on sale off season. I love the not so traditional color tones. Below are some beautiful napkins from the Purl Bee that are made with a really easy technique and linen is always a classy addition to any patterned print. I'm hoping if I start early I can make a set for the festivities this year.
Seriously, it's February, how did that happen? The plum tree out in front of my house is almost in full pink bloom and the dafodils are pushing their way up and even starting to bloom too. Spring has just begun here in California and I've been too busy to notice. Wait, it's still winter?
So I've just remembered that I need to think about Valentine's Day. The husband and I have never been big on celebrating this comercial holiday. It always seems like such a forced day - pressure is on. If you need a special day to say "I love you" and do something nice for your sweetie then just pick any day of the week. But none the less we'll be heading to this restaurant over the weekend. We've been wanting to go and had an offer for babysitting - excellent plan.
But I remember as a kid waking up in the morning and finding a special treat at my place at the table on Valentine's Day. My parents started a tradition of giving me a heart shaped box each year. I still have many of them wrapped up tight somewhere.... Then there was the exchanging of cards at school. Ah, the adventure has just begun for me on the parent side. What do I do for Valentine's Day cards?
I spotted these downloadable cards over at Bunny Cakes. She has a bunch of adorable cards available for free you should check out. I may use these cuties if I don't get my act together this week to make our own. Plus here is a great link for 30 Printable Valentines from the long thread.
I've never been a fan of New Years. It seems like a raucous holiday where people allow themselves to be loud and drunken. Perhaps it has just been years of urban living that has made me a little bitter. We'd prefer to go to bed early than to listen to air horns and gun shots leading up to midnight. Don't get me wrong, I love champagne and toasting to a prosperous future and fortunate past. But that doesn't fit with family life with a young child. But beginning a new year does seem like a significant point in time to acknowledge. It's not just another holiday or a day off of work but a time to reflect and open ourselves up to the new opportunities we'll come across in a fresh year.
So I was looking around for some unknown to me New Years traditions that would fit our family (NO fireworks or red underware). That brought me back to food and the constant theme of prosperity. There is a great article here on some of the traditional foods and mythology behind them for New Years around the world. I'm burnt out on sweets after Christmas so that left out some wonderful baked goods. Hoppin' John is the American dish but I don't really feel like I have any southern roots to celebrate so I think I'll go Italian this year and try this recipe below.
Some other ideas from friends: eating 12 grapes, a crab feast, lighting candles or lanterns outside your front door, a night of boardgames. Any more suggestions?
Sausage With LentilsOur recipe forsalsiccia e lenticchie is a modern and convenient take on the traditional lentils and zampone. This recipe should serve 4 to 6 people and should be accompanied by mashed potatoes for the full Capodanno effect!
We were in need of some thank you notes and I got the idea for these color your own cards over here. I found some black and white illustrations and threw them into PhotoShop and added the text for both thank you and happy birthday so we'd have some in hand. I printed them on card stock and the file is saved so we can print more or adjust the text later. On the back is my daughter's name and a space to write in her age. She has had a great time drawing on them but with so many people to thank we're doing them in small batches when the mood suits her. There is another similar idea over here for slightly older kids. I bet you could even make a gift set with pretty envelopes and a new set of crayons for another child. I'll definitely have to try that for an easy birthday gift.
Next up: Pizza Dough, and Chicken Tortilla Soup
I took my friend Katherine's lead on this little craft project after she mentioned the non-material traditions she was starting with her daughter for the holidays. It's such a great idea to give the birds their gift for Christmas too. So the day after Christmas we all went for a hike up in Tilden and The Chickpea and Daddy happily forged for pine cones off the trails (thank goodness the poison oak is dormant).
We brought them home and set up a place to get messy. She just lit up with excitement at the idea and execution of this project that I am already craving more. A creative nature based project was different than just pulling out the crayons and paint. I'm not going to lie, getting messy in the house is a bit of a challenge for me although I like to think that I'm all for it - artist that I am. It's easier to reserve the mess for warm summer weather outside where a garden hose does the clean up or preschool where the teachers have saintly patience. But when I asked her to help slather the pine cones and sprinkle the seeds she was so happy to dive in, although she did look at me like "Really? You sure? Okay, I'm game!" And then began the song... "We're painting with peanut butter... We're painting with peanut butter..." over and over. The whole day made me pick up my copy of The Creative Family and start looking for more ideas.
So while I'm at work today Chickpea and Daddy are going to find special places to hang them outside. I hope the squirrels don't sabotage our hard work. I'm sure we'll get some nibbles.
I realized that the ornaments that I thought weren't breakable actually are when put to the toddler test. So I whipped these up in an evening with some extra wool felt, cookie cutters as stencils and some lonely souls in the button jar. There is a great blanket stitch tutorial here and I think I'm going to stitching everything up this way it was so easy. Another tid-bit learned, yea! I can't remember where I saw a similar tree ornament but it's such a good idea and I'm pleased with the results.
If you work in a corporate environment like I do, any office setting for that matter, the surfaces are dripping with chocolate and dusted with sugar by the time December 24th rolls around. Now I'm never one to turn down chocolate, but this is the season when I do. Our coworkers and vendors are very generous and thoughtful when they send a box of chocolates, petite fours, caramel turtles, popcorn balls, fudge and brownies… And I must say that I do get a little excited when a gem is sent like a box of Vosges Chocolates, which I would never kick down for myself. But please people, 3 boxes of See's chocolates lurking on top of 3 different filing cabinets, I have to turn up my nose and walk away. If I'm going to be consuming a fare amount of sugar over the holidays I need to choose wisely and make it worth it. So far, the mantra that has served me well through December in office land is “only eat it if it’s homemade”. So while I may still be eating more than my share of sugar in December, at least it’s not crap and it’s probably made with a good amount of love and probably some more wholesome ingredients.
So this year with a tight budget I’m making cookies for my friends and neighbors. And since they may be as exhausted of chocolate as I am, they will all be sans chocolate. I made the above spicy molasses cookies with all organic ingredients (yes, I had to test a few), balled up all the dough and tucked it neatly in the freezer to bake a little later. And since I’m got going to be a martyr and I found a killer deal, I’ll be baking some of these peanut butter and oatmeal raisin cookies. If you haven’t tried them, they’re all organic and support a good cause, so don’t resist. I’ll put a sampling of all the cookies in a nice little clear bag with a few bags of organic chamomile tea and tie it with a bow. There you have, a little quality teatime to pass along.
Last month I was in our newly glamed-up and questionably re-branded Michaels ohh-ing and ahh-ing over all the new holiday items they had. I've been so tempted to start some little art projects with my daughter although she's a wee-bit young at 19 months. But, the over ambitious person that I am grabbed up all the supplies that I needed with a vision and a mission in mind. It did take me a little while to drum up the courage to start the mess (my house is already messy enough without giving my toddler a paintbrush).I think the results were quite charming though. We'll add one as a final touch on our gift bags this year or as a simple hostess gift.
Supplies we used:
Paper mache or unfinished wood ornaments
Non-toxic poster paint
Deer stickers, ribbon and glitter from Martha
Acrylic matte medium
If it cleans up with soap and water - there's no excuse for getting dirty!
I'm a December kid, the 9th to be exact. So that means every year my birthday has to fight the thick haze that is the holidays. Me and thousands of other people who try not to feel cheated. I'll admit it, I'm down right grumpy about it. I remember as a kid that it was actually special. My family went to great efforts to celebrate my birthday as an exception to the holidays. I'd get a double dose of presents when the boxes from the East Coast family arrived with Christmas presents in early December. I know my brother was always a little jealous of my haul come December. But there would be gifts in birthday paper and gifts in Christmas paper and it would make me feel so special. Or I would would bestow upon me the glorious "combined" birthday/Christmas present that was always worth it. Looking back at it I never remember my birthday even being near the holidays as I was growing up.
I was out running some errands the day after Halloween this year and wouldn't you know it, there were Christmas carols blaring everywhere. Slow it down people, one holiday at a time!! In our house I make it a point to take this season slow and recognize each event, in order. I'm a stickler about it. Thanksgiving menu plans mean mulling over stacks of back issues of magazines to try new dishes and techniques. That's a chore I savor and enjoy for weeks even if I don't cook any of them. And there is a rule that we don't put any Christmas decorations up until after my birthday.
I have been thinking about the advent calendar that I had as a kid and trying the find one for my daughter, or the inspiration to make one. I want her to savor each day of December as it should be, one day at a time. I remember coming down in the morning to find the exciting little treasure awaiting us in the pocket of that felt wall calendar that my Mom made. I want the responsibility of searching out those little treasures for my little chickpea, a little charm, a hand written note, a smooth rock - for her to stop an appreciate a little gift each day. I love the one above for it's modern flair and bright colors.This one below is a great idea with a new twist and is just a lovely decoration. I think I could love with it even around a little earlier than the 9th.
I’m trying my best to be less of a consumer over the holidays this year. Something I try to do every year but the days get away from me or I feel so much pressure to give. I should be giving out of the kindness of my heart – which I do, and I love to do – but my wallet doesn’t always agree with me. I feel like I give out of expectation and appearances sometimes – that’s stressful. Now that I have my own family, the holidays and the act of giving are being reevaluated around here. Why do we give? What do we give? How are we represented in what we choose to give? What are the gifts that we receive?
There is a reason why everyone loves the spirit Thanksgiving. Our expectation is to share a bountiful meal with our friends and family and even a few strangers and to just be gracious, thankful and well fed. What could be better than that? It’s the gift giving of Christmas that unsettles me, there is so much consumerism wrapped up in what should be a day of reflection, celebration, gratitude, peace and giving. I want to make sure our Christmas is filled with these values every year
So around our house we’ve tried to emphasize a few ground rules:
1. Gift giving should be modest and in your means.
2. Handmade gifts are appreciated and valued.
3. Experiences are great gifts instead of objects.
4. Shop your local community
That said I’m going to try and make (or order - I'm only human - and a full time working Mom) as many of gifts as possible this year and I’ve set a deadline to be done before Thanksgiving so I can sit back and truly enjoy the festivities. Plus I’m going to try to make the year a little greener and not to use any wrapping paper!
Here are some of my gift ideas this year and from years past:
1. Donations to your friend or family’s favorite cause. Remember it’s tax deductible for you! There’s no wrapping involved. Here's where we donated this year: Aid to Artisans, A Better Way, Lakeside's River Park Conservancy.
2. Edible gifts from a local farm. I gave beautiful bay laurel wreaths from McFadden Farm to everyone on my list one year. Send it early in the season and they can cook with it too. Again now wrapping or shopping malls involve here. You can also find farms with ams, fruit, herbs, honey, lavender, even a weekly CSA..... all good stuff.
3. Personalized canvas bags from L.L. Bean. I gave these to all my family one year in different mix-matched colors. You can put fun words or nicknames on them instead of frumpy initials and they have some fun colors to work with. Best of all they are reusable for many years to come.
4. Gift certificates. While I'm not a huge fan of these because they never seem personal - what are you going to give a teenager, seriously. But you can give the gift of an experience at a restaurant, class or a spa instead of goods. A cooking class, a manicure, drinks at a new restaurant... think outside the box.
5. Baked something and put it in a pretty box. Last year I made these amazing cookies and toffee much like this . I was over at Michael's the other day and they have so many easy ways to dress edibles up.
6. Sew something up. For the kids on my list I'm making a little apron (as you see above) for crafting or baking messes. I'll send them with either a box of crayons or markers.For the others on my list I'm sewing a drawstring bag instead of using wrapping paper (from fabric and ribbon in my stash). The bag will be reusable for lots of other things. Inside I'm including 2-3 mixes from King Arthur Flour . So people can enjoy their baked goods when they please on their own time. They do have a good selection of organic mixes too. A set of 4-6 napkins is an easy project with your scrap fabric too.
7. Magazine subscriptions. Maybe not the greenest gift but I like 'em. Amazon is always having sales and there are some good crafting or cooking magazines that people don't want to spend the money on but buy as a guilty pleasure every once and a while.Home Companion, Selvedge, Vanity Fair, Ready Made. Domino, Real Simple, Gourmet, Cook's Illustrated, Saveur, Craft, Everyday Food....