Sunday, November 18, 2012

Daddy's New Wheels!

PJ has been working on this bike since summer. It started as a regular two wheel bike that was about as old as the bike that PJ made for me.

He made it into a three wheel bike so that it could accommodate the baby. That's Joshua's actual car seat and it clicks in just like it clicks into the base in the car!

That light, apparently it is a headlight off an old car!

Those wheels aren't just white walked tires, they are solid white tires! We will see how they look after a few miles, but they are awful pretty for now.

The bike is a copper rust metallic color with orange accents.

It still has an old decal that is original to the bike.

There are these futuristic bullet shaped blinkers on either side of the car seat in the back.

Both Joshua and PJ seem content with the stylish new ride!

Friday, November 16, 2012

 For the past two years, my Christmas cards have been printed by Shutterfly and I have been SO happy with the results.  Our 2010 family card was exactly what I wanted AND Shutterfly did a promotion where bloggers could get a major discount on their cards if they wrote about their experiences with Shutterfly.
 Last year, I knew that I was making a VERY SPECIAL Christmas card that was going to announce a VERY Special surprise to family and friends.  I wanted it to look like a normal family card on the outside, but have a special picture telling our good news on the inside.  It was a HUGE success!  I loved watching friends ooooh and ahhhh at the front of the card, then open it, look for a moment and then squeal at the inside!
Not only did Shutterfly allow us to place a picture on the INSIDE of a card, they allowed us to place multiple pictures inside the card.  I had hoped to get a photo of all three of us holding our signs, but when that didn't work out, I was able to use two separate photos of Lydia with her sign and PJ and I with our signs.  I actually like it this way SO much better than what I originally envisioned, but it wouldn't have been possible with out Shutterfly's flexible layouts.
One final wonderful thing about last year's card was that I was even able to add a picture to teh BACK of the card.  Our whole idea for our Christmas photo shoot was to show off the station wagon that my husband rebuilt.  However, when I switched to 2 pictures on the inside, that switched it to a vertical layout for the card and I chose the closer vertical view of our family.  Again, I actually liked that better than my original idea because you could see us better.  But, I still wanted to show off the car.  So I was able to put this horizontal image on the back of the card, such a fun detail!
 Speaking of fun, its time to plan THIS year's Christmas card!  Can you guess what I am thinking about?  I've been collecting images from the internet to inspire what I hope to do with my own kids.
 We now have TWO kids to factor into the picture.  Working with the dog is also an option.  I am also open to the idea that the grown ups may sit this one out.  Who knows what will actually happen on the day we take the pictures!  I like the idea of a paper backdrop like the picture above, because then at least I don't have to worry about the weather on the day we take our pictures!
I am planning on sewing a few choice pieces of clothing for this year's photos.
And I have to come up with some poses that work with a baby who can't hold himself up yet....
Next will come the difficult job of selecting just the right design from all the amazing layouts at Shutterfly.  What I won't have to do is worry about the price, because today on Zulily they had a dead for about half off your holiday card order!!! Thanks Zulily and thanks Shutterfly for reminding me that it is time to get my holiday cards started!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Crafty Catch Up

How is it that Thanksgiving is just around the corner already?!? Somehow I have lost a few days or weeks. I have all these pictures on my phone to remind me of all that has been going on, but there has been little blogging, face booking, tweeting, emailing, or texting of any of it. So, here is a little catch up, with a lot of cute but very little crafty. Sorry.

Baby update: Joshua is now four months old, thirteen pounds, and still completely bald! He is holding his head up well enough to try out a few fun toys, like the doorway bouncer seat.

I shared lots about our homemade circus costumes, but never showed our family all dressed up. PJ was out of town on Halloween, so that makes the group shot a little harder. Thankfully we had one dress up event before he left.

We took a trip to the pumpkin patch in mid October. I fantasized about getting good pictures of Lydia and Joshua in the pumpkin patch, but it just wasn't happening!

Here's a good picture of the Lydia and Joshua pumpkins. I placed an order with Name Bubbles for labels for Joshua's daycare items and got free pumpkin stickers. Lydia absolutely loved it!

We had our last soccer game... Which was also our first rainy game. We went home and stayed by the fireplace all day after that!

Another first; we went Trick or Treating in a real neighborhood for the first time! Lydia decided to be Tinker Bell with items from her dress up dresses.

Finally, Joshua got all dressed up for election day. Unfortunately he was all dressed up with nowhere to go due to a bad cold, but he looked good watching the election results at home.

And that should just about catch us up for late October and Early November.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thanksgiving Kids' Table Crafts!

As seen on WBIR's Live at Five at Four, here are the directions for crafting up a Thanksgiving Kids Table guaranteed to entertain and engage the little ones.

Get a brown paper lunch bag and a white piece of paper. I rolled the paper around a marker to get it the right size. I used the whole piece of paper on this example, but found it was too long (it is 11 inches as shown). I suggest cutting the paper in half and rolling it do that the finished paper tube is 5.5 inches. You can leave the marker inside the paper roll. Glue or tape the paper to stay rolled up.

Cut 2-3 inches off the top of the bag and save it for later.

Gather some goodies and was them up in a ball of tissue paper. Place the treat ball inside the paper bag.

Here's the tricky part. You need to push in the corners at the bottom of the bag so it looks less square and more round. I put one hand inside the bag and pushed in with my finger. I also used my thumb and index finger to push two corners in at once. Push in all four corners.

Insert the white paper tube into the bag. Then crumple the open end of the brown bag around the tube.

Cut the extra paper from the top of the bag into a one inch strip and use it to glue the open end closed by wrapping it around the paper bag that is gathered around the tube.

Glue two cotton balls to the end of the paper tube to create the end of the bone. The treat filled turkey leg is complete.

For the corn, select treats that fit the corn shape, basically rectangular. I used a pack of crackers and some markers. Wrap them in a rectangle of yellow tissue paper. Use a little glue to hold it together and twist the ends.

Take a rectangle of green tissue paper and cut the end into multiple points. Add a little glue to hold it together and twist the end to finish.

Set your kids table with paper placemats, a real plate, and silverware. The kids can play with the pretend food and then enjoy tearing it open and playing with what's inside!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I'm back!

Well, I went back to work this week! I work exactly four days and then I needed to be gone for an art teacher's conference. It was good timing because I was exhausted! The conference was held at Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, one of my favorite places in the world (Arrowmont.... Not Gainburg.)

I got to talk to other art teachers, check out new art materials, learn new techniques from well known artists......and (because of the baby) I got to pump and pump and pump.

My workshop was taught by Nan Jacobson, and was about bas relief tiles like the horse tile she designed.

I wanted to do something with a bee to represent our last name. I would also have liked to create an original design, but I was exhausted from returning to work and being up every night with the baby. So I found a picture that I liked on the Internet and recreated it in sculptural tile.

This is my background tile slab. I decided to add a honey comb pattern ( my one and only creative addition) by rolling a small cardboard shape into the clay over and over.

Next we added a second slab cut to the shape of our highest level, in mine it's the flower shape.

Then we just kept carving away and carving away to create areas of high relief and different textures.

At this point the background, petals, and the bee are basically done. I haven't really settled on the design for the center of the flower. I need to finish it soon, before it dries out. Lets see if I can get to it anytime soon.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cooking Crusty Bread and Cheesy Chicken Chili

I have always liked the idea of making my own bread, but I am barely a cook and bread seemed like it was beyond my skill set. Then I found a recipe on Pinterest based on Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and I thought I would give it a try.

The blog post connected to the recipe that I found first really made it sound easy. She gave the recipe ( 3 cups flour, 1 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp yeast, and 1 1/2 cups water) and some suggestions about how and when to mix it, what kind of pot to use, even several flavor variations to try. Mostly, she made it sound fool proof!
Here is a slight variation on the recipe I have been using. This one points out that it is so easy the author's four year old son can do it!

I only needed to buy a pan that had a lid and could go to 400 degrees (I found a Paula Dean ceramic casserole at Walmart for around $25). I have now made 3 loves if bread and I am totally addicted! I have let it sit for as little as 10 hours and as long as 20. I have followed the directions precisely, but I have also experimented with wheat flour, almond flour, cheese, and herbs. The flour always stays at the same amount and I have mixed the new varieties with half white flour. The herbs and cheese I haven't measured and it hasn't caused any problems. I keep thinking up new combinations that I want to try. Next I think I will experiment with different flavors in the liquid, like using part orange juice with the water.

The first time I made the bread, it was SO good and warm that I was inspired to mix up some leftovers and canned vegetables into a chicken chili to eat with the bread. Everything tasted AMAZING and both were SO easy! Here's the basic idea of the soup that I made. Mostly, I felt like after making bread so easy, I could tackle anything. I hope you feel the same. Seriously, check out the full details of the recipe. In 12 hours you could be eating artisan bread!

Cheesy Chicken Chili
1-2 cooked cubed chicken breasts
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 can cream of chicken soup
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2-4 Tbs Chopped fresh Cilantro
2-4 Tbs chili powder
2-4 Tbs chopped red onion
About a fourth cup salsa,
a splash of lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste
Enough Water to make it the consistency you want.
Dump everything in a crock pot or sauce pan and cook until the cheese melts and the flavors mix.