Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Greetings from South Carolina!

Lydia, Auntie Jen, and I are visiting a friend in South Carolina. We wandered past this art gallery looking place the other day and the sign said Kapla toys and the windows were filled with giant displays made from little wood plank like blocks. I couldn't resist going inside (I am a sucker for wooden toys)! Once inside we discovered a huge carpet filled with THOUSANDS of Kapla blocks for kids to play with however they liked. For more information on the blocks go to The only request was that we not touch the amazing inspiration statues filling the walls of the gallery as none of them were glued. You can see some of the Eiffel Tower made out of Kapla blocks in one if the photos if Lydia playing. The blocks are SO pretty, all a uniform size and shape and beautiful colors. We bought a multi colored set and have pulled it out at every restaurant so far. Apparently the store in Charleston is the first in the US. What a cool souvenir to discover at the start of our trip!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Our Christmas Card

In case you haven't seen it yet, here is the front of our Christmas card.......
.......and here is the surprise photo waiting inside!

 Merry Christmas from PJ, Cherl, Lydia, and Baby-to-Be!

PS.  You can see previous Christmas photos and the initial ideas for this shoot here.  You can find more images from this photo shoot, here

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Paper Coterie Product Credit!

One of my favorite blogs, Design Mom, is offering readers $30 in credit to Paper Coterie.  Go to Design Mom's Babble Post to get the details and then get over to Paper Coterie to shop!  They have very well designed cards, photo books, photos transferred to canvass, etc.  Since I had just ordered my Christmas cards before seeing this deal, here is what I used my credit to buy.

These "swatch cards" are six 3x3 inch photo cards that are hole punched and joined together with a little chain.  They get $18 for a set of six and I think that they mean the six cards in the one book and not 6 books.  That is a little pricey, but I suppose you get 6 cards and each can be customized in tons of different ways.  That's what, $3 per card, um.... yeah, kind of steep, unless you have $30 in credit from Design Mom!  I bought 2 so I was $6 over my credit and then had to pay shipping.  I think I will use them as ornaments or gift tags and probably not keep them as a set.   Below you can see my designs, using our recent Christmas photo shoot with the family station wagon.
 This is the front of one card.
 The backs are all this plain blue with snowflakes.  I could have added text or even pictures, but I like the idea of keeping them simple.  I can always write on them with a pen if I make them gift tags. Below are the rest of the front sides.  All the backs look the same.

And here is a little mock-up of what the finished book might look like. Thanks Design Mom!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Warm Woolen and Wonderful

So, I found this pink wool sweater at a thrift store.  I think it was misplaced in the kid's section of my favorite store which means I got it for 89 cents!  I also had this plain brown hat that needed a little something extra added to it's band.
First I cut the sleeves off.  I'm still not sure what else I will make out of the sweater, but this way I still have a big rectangle of fabric available.
Next, I cut the sleeve into 2 pieces.  I don't think there was any reason for the place that I divided it, maybe just close to halfway.  It didn't really matter because I had no idea how big of a flower I wanted to make.
So here is what the shoulder part of the sleeve looked like before I did anything and after I started cutting it into a scalloped shape for the petals.
I would fold the scallop back on itself and use it as a pattern for the next few scallops.
When I got back to the start, I decided that I was finished cutting.
I got a needle and thread and started sewing as I gathered and wrapped the petals.
It didn't take long until my felted wool flower was finished and my hat was decorated!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Last Weekend's Griswald Family Pictures

Last weekend, I completely neglected my laundry and dishes to prepare for our family Christmas photo shoot.  I had been thinking of ideas for a while (blog posts about it here and here), but by the time I called our photographer friend, the same friend this year as last year, it was quickly determined that the best date would be that same weekend, about 4 days after we set it all up.  In those four days, I found a location that looked like a shopping area, but was mostly vacant buildings so there wouldn't be anyone in our way.......right?  WRONG!  Apparently the ONLY occupied business was a theater and they had a performance scheduled.  Luckily there was ONE empty parking space and we took it!

 I got Auntie Jen to come help distract Lydia while we set up the shot.  I don't think she minded much!

I wrapped a TON of boxes, some empty and some containing our gifts, in the colors of the photo shoot.  This was actually where the planning began.  I couldn't quite figure out what we were wearing until I found some really cheerful wrapping paper in turquoise and red with lime green and pink accents.  Suddenly I had my color pallet and it all came together.
 There I am stacking all those boxes on top of the car.  I would get them just about perfect and then the wind would blow and knock over all the empty boxes.  Next time, I will wrap up a few rock filled boxes if I need gifts for an outdoor photo!
 Speaking of stacking things on top of the car.... we put Lydia on top of the roof got a few shots of her with the gifts.
Lydia acting excited about a gift.
 Lydia getting a little TOO interested in a gift.  This one was a real gift that I now have to wrap for a second time.  Fortunately it was something for a kitchen, so Lydia wasn't too attached to it once she got it open.
 This is the shot that I had in mind when I planned the whole photo session.  I really really like this picture, but we actually had a few that I hadn't planned on that I liked even more.  I want SO badly to show my favorites off to everyone that I know, but I just ordered them and really want our family and very close friends (sorry ya'll, this year's cards weren't free like last year so I ordered the minimum!) to get the real thing in the mail before everyone sees them online.
 I wanted to do a few pictures that took advantage of the car's windows.  PJ wanted to take advantage of a moment when I wasn't paying attention to be his regular goofy self!
 He apologized.
 We kissed and made up.... or maybe this is when he bit my nose!  Silly boy!
 Here is one last one of our family in and around the windows of the car.
Finally, we did some pictures of the whole family on the tailgate with all the gifts piled in the back.  These ended up being some of my favorites because you can see the car and a lot of the different wrapping on the gifts.  This is not my favorite picture from this pose,but the best ones are on the card, which I will reveal, SOON! Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Picture Preview

I am one HAPPY girl!  We just took out family Christmas pictures and I am really feeling like we should have some good shots.  It seemed like everything came together, despite the fact that we got a late start, Lydia hadn't had her full nap, and one major prop jumped ship at about 50 miles an hour (more on that later!)  It might be a little while before I have the picture files in my possession, and then an extended amount of time as I turn them into our Christmas card, so here is a little background info on the major elements of the photo-shoot.  PJ had the winning idea for our wardrobe selections.  He wanted RED to pop against the turquoise of the "daddy wagon".  I already had a red jacket and I knew I wanted layers to create more of an "out-doorsy" feeling. It ended up being in the high 60's this afternoon, so the thin layers were plenty!  I bought a new teal top and through on another green shirt and a coral necklace.  Then I remembered that I had one peacock feather left over from the circus top hat that I made for Lydia.
I also had a couple of teal feathers from a different project and those light blue feathers in back actually came out of our feather duster! (Hey I was desperate!)  I glued it all to a scrap of cardboard and glued a fancy button to the end.  On the back I glued a hair clip.  I wanted it to be multi-functional and I figured a hair clip would get more use.  To attach it to my jacket lapel, I just ran a safety pin through the back of the lapel and then clipped the hair clip onto the metal bar.
Lydia wore a red and orange patterned shirt.  It is one of my FAVORITE tops on her.
 Here is a better view of the top.....
....worn as a DRESS when Lydia was 18 months old. Way back in 2009,  I bought a 3T on sale ($3 at Children's Place!) and have been able to enjoy it on Lydia for 3 different fall seasons.  This year will be the last opportunity to wear it, so I am glad it worked so well in our photos today.

Here you can see PJ in his red sweater, with our photographer friend and the other key elements; the car and the location.  I was initially looking for a rustic location with evergreen trees for the photoshoot.  The photographer suggested an area that looked like downtown shops, since I wanted to pile the car full of gifts and packages.  I thought it was a GREAT idea!  The problem was, stores meant people and cars and that would not work for our pictures.  So, I found this area of mostly empty store fronts across from a vacant restaurant in downtown Knoxville, right near the mission, in a somewhat sketchy part of town.  I though there wouldn't be any cars, since all the businesses are closed.  I was WRONG!  One building is a theater and they apparently had a good crowd today!  So on the good side, we weren't in danger of getting mugged, but we were in danger of getting run over a few times.  I don't care.  I LOVE the red and green on that one building!  I hate the KIA that was parked in the prime spot in front of that green and red building.  Oh well!  Oh, you can also see the Christmas tree that will hopefully make our "Griswald" style Christmas complete.  In true Giswald style, it careened off the top of the "daddy wagon" at near freeway speeds and had to be rescued from the middle of Ashville Highway.  Fortunately, that was the only thing to go wrong that I am aware of. Here are some finished pictures so you can see for yourself.!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sort of Simple Snowmen!

I had been told that Lydia's school was doing some sort of Christmas program/party on Friday night.  It had sort of slipped my mind, but wasn't a big deal because the event is right at the time I would be picking Lydia up that day.  Only then the lady starts mentioning the home made cookies we are each supposed to bring... with a recipe!  Apparently the "event" is a cookie exchange and I only had one evening, with about an hour and a half to find a recipe, buy groceries, and make something.  Enter Pinterest with the perfect idea!

I called my sister on my way home from work and she looked up a few quick holiday cookie ideas.  We settled on doughnut snowmen because they only required 3 ingredients, they only required one step in assembling, and then a little decorating.
You start with those miniature powdered doughnuts.

Then insert one candy corn into the center of each doughnut, for the carrot nose.  I was worried that teh candy corn would be loose, so I bought some orange frosting just in case.  I didn't need it, partly because the corns fit all the holes perfectly and partly because there was an issue with the icing sticking to the powdered doughnuts anyway.

Finally use black icing to make the coal eyes and smile.  This was the hardest part! Black icing does NOT want to stick to a powdered surface.  NOTHING wants to stick to a powdered surface.  I would pipe out a ball of frosting and it would come right back away again as I moved the icing bag away from the surface.  I ended up wiping off the powdered icing and trying again.  After one or two tries, enough powder would be removed to allow the icing to stick.  Frustrating, but that was the ONLY time consuming part.  They would have been Simple Snowmen, but the icing issue makes them only sort of simple, you have been warned!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Make Up Make Over

My Pink Papaya make-up order (from the party I hosted) has arrived!  I am SO excited about one particular product that I wanted to share what I got.... and what I have done to CUSTOMIZE what I got.
This is the standard Pink Papaya six well makeup palette. It is designed to hold a large object, like a foundation, two medium objects, like blush, and three small objects, like eye shadow.
What I love about this product is they designed it so that the divider is removable, making the pallet completely customizable!!!  The make up pans are all magnetic, so you can arrange them how ever you want and they stay in place.  For a long time I used the Mary Kay make up palette and really liked that it held my blush, eyeshadow, and lipstick.  Unfortunately, they changed the shape of the Mary Kay palette and my old eye shadows (oval on one end) no longer fit.  I eventually bought the newer Mary Kay palette with the rectangle shaped  pieces.  I realized that the new Mary Kay shadows were also magnetic!  So I didn't have to completely replace anything.  I simply moved my Mary Kay magnetic products into the customizable Pink Papaya case.  I bought a Pink Papaya foundation (since MK didn't fit foundation in their pallet) and ordered one shade of eye shadow to replace one that is almost out.
And then I noticed all the pretty eyeshadow colors in the old Mary Kay palette shape.  They are plastic and not magnetic.  They were a little too thick for my new palette.  They have been collecting dust for years because they didn't fit in any system anymore.  Then I had an idea.
When I looked really close, there seemed to be a metal rim inside the plastic part.
I decided I could attempt popping the metal part out of the plastic with a pair of tweezers. If it broke the shadow, I figured I wasn't really using these colors anyway.
I was able to push the tweezers in just the tiniest little bit.
Then I could use my finger to pull the shadow out of the plastic case.
Now that they were separate, the eye shadow would be thin enough to fit in my new make up palette.
There was a little sticky gunk on the back of the shadow that needed to be wiped off the back before I placed it in my palette.  These are not magnetic, but if I placed them so that a magnetic object was on the side of these, then it didn't matter.
One final adjustment.  Pink Papaya sells some beautiful brushes, but they are expensive and they take up a LOT of room in the palette.  I found this travel set of brushes at Target.  They are thin and short and perfect for my needs.
And here is my finished make up kit, all made over and ready to start my day.  It holds everything I need except for eye and brow liner and lip stick and it is totally customized to my needs.  This morning I woke up late and it was so easy to grab this one kit and do my face in Lydia's bathroom while she brushed her teeth and got dressed.