Fall Loves

Julius has started the absolute cutest thing over the last couple weeks.  He has been spontaneously thanking me for helping him.  After I serve him dinner he’ll say “thank you mama” which sounds like “tutu mama”.  If I bring him some milk after he asks for it “tutu mama”.  I’ll help him open a container, “tutu mama”.  I’ll change his diaper “tutu mama”.  Every time he says it, it warms my heart.  The other day Will and I both helped him with his dinner and he said “tutu mama. Tutu dada.”  I’m in love with this little guy all over again!

You know what else I’m in love with? Fall!  Perhaps my first true love, I have always loved the crisp bite in the air, the changing color of the leaves, and of course, Halloween.  I love fall food too!  Cider, apples, winter squash make me hungry just think about them! Lately we’ve been getting lots of kale and potatoes in our farm share.  Normally I’d make Portuguese Kale Soup with this recipe from Yankee Magazine but since I’m still on my mostly vegetarian kick I had to make it up a bit differently.  (Will has informed me there is a word for people like me and that is “flexitarian”.)  If you try this recipe you won’t be disappointed!  It’s simple and delicious, and goes great with a loaf of crusty bread.

A bowl of this vegetarian kale soup, a pumpkin beer and some hot buttered bread are calling my name…

Vegetarian Kale Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 vegetable boullion cubes (I used the Knorr boullion)
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 yukon gold potatoes, chopped into large dice
  • 1 large bunch of kale
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Remove the tough stems and ribs and chop the kale leaves into 2 sq inch pieces.  Saute onion in butter or olive oil over medium heat until soft and fragrant 5 or 6 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another minute.  Add vegetable boullion and 6 cups of water.  Bring to a simmer and add kale, cooking for a few minutes until wilted.  Add the cannellini beans,  potatoes and basil and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until potatoes are tender.  Serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

If a pot of this soup doesn’t look like it will take the chill out of fall, I don’t know what will!

As Julius would say… “Tutu” to all of you for reading my blog!  I love each and every one of you!

Posted in Culinary Delights | Leave a comment

Taking Care of Business

Never do woodworking when you’re pissed off.  I feel like this should be the number one thing someone tells you when you buy a saw.  I was working on Julius’ birthday present last night and was in a bad mood over a particularly crappy router I purchased from Home Depot.  The thing was so horribly made that I spent a solid TWO HOURS trying to get the base to move above the collet and bit.  That is not an exaggeration. Anyway, I digress.

After being grumpy that I wasted my whole evening (and one of my drawer faces) I decided to cut off the portion of the drawer face that the router had ruined.  Problem was I didn’t want to remove the face from the drawer itself so I couldn’t cut it on my chop saw or band saw, and I decided the circular saw was too dangerous for this task.  Ultimately I decided to use my handsaw.  It was hard.  Repairing the side of drawer I had ruined meant I was ripping the wood by hand.  I also don’t own a rip saw, so I was using a cross cut saw (clearly in addition to forgetting to tell me the number one rule above, my saw benefactors also forgot to tell me about rip saws vs. cross cut saws).  I was about 3/4 of the ways through the wood and somehow the piece I was sawing broke off.  This did not deter me.  I lined the saw up with the broken edge and applied the same very firm pressure I had been using.  Unfortunately since I didn’t have a divet for the saw to follow the saw jumped the tracks and I got about 12 lacerations on my left hand.

The best part of the story is that I woke Will up for his ‘professional’ evaluation because I don’t trust my opinions with blood and guts.  I very quietly said “I don’t want you to freak out because it’s really not that bad, but I cut myself with the hand saw.”  I thought that was a very logical way to put it.  Will asked me to show him (which frankly I was impressed with because he doesn’t have the best track record with medical things) and when I did he exclaimed “you need to go to the hospital”!  So I went to the hospital (which is only 3 minutes from our house), and in the nicest way possible they told me that I’d probably be waiting all night for something that lame.

Another dose of realism for the day is that I’m a toddler push over.  I put Julius to bed 4/5 days last week because Will had to work late, and not once did I get Julius to bed at his bedtime. Honestly the closest I got was half an hour after his normal bedtime.  But really, how can you rush a little boy when he’s playing a ukelele while pooping on the potty?

If you feel like all you do is clean up poop all day I’ve got the perfect craft for you!  This is a little holder for your dog poop bags that you can clip onto a leash or stroller!  Will and I reuse the produce bags we get from the grocery store as dog poop bags while we’re on walks with Dany.  While we’re at home we use a giant pooper scooper to clean up the poop so we don’t waste bags.  You can fit about 15 produce bags in this little holder for when you need them.

Julius likes to show as much of the inside of his nose as possible now when saying “cheese”.

Waste Bag Carrier on the ready

Julius likes to pull out the bags for me… even when I don’t need them…

Doggy Waste Bag Carrier

What you’ll need:

  • 1 square foot of fabric
  • 1 small carabiner clip
  • Pattern here
  1. Cut out fabric following pattern.
  2. Cut a strip of fabric 1.25″x2″.  Fold in half length wise, pin and stitch.  Stitch along the 1/4″ mark.
  3. Using a chop stick turn right side out.  Press.
  4. Fold rectangle in half width wise (right side on the inside).  Pin the long end forming a tube.
  5. Fold small rectangle from step 3 in half width wise to form a loop and sandwich inside the pinned edges of the tube in step 4 about 1.5 inches down the tube.  The folded portion of the loop should be inside the tube and the unfinished edges should match the unfinished edges of the tube.
  6. Take the circle of material and place on one end of the tube, right side facing in.  Line up the edges of the circle with the edges of the tube, pinning where the circle meets the tube without any folds.
  7. Stitch.
  8. Take one of the half circles of fabric and fold the flat edge under 1/2″ and stitch.  Repeat for second half circle.
  9. Place finished edges of half circles on top of one another, overlapping slightly so they nearly form a circle.  Repeat step 6 using the circle you have created.
  10. Turn the whole thing right side out.

 

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments

Groovy

Julius learned how to hop yesterday!  He has been working SO HARD at trying to hop.  It really cracks me up.  Usually he just lifts his arms up in the air pretending to jump since he can’t quite get off the ground.  But Saturday we spent a lot of time in a bounce house.  I think that was the turning point because on Sunday he wanted to be picked up and he hopped!  Actually that was the second time.  The first time I have no idea why he was hopping, probably just being silly.  Today I asked him to ‘show me his hops’ and he got down proudly off his chair and hopped around a bunch.  I held his hands to help him with his balance while he hopped and after a few more hops he moved over and hugged my legs in what seemed like a thank you.  It was so sweet.

Julius my hopping man and mama in her new tie dye.

You know what else was pretty sweet?  The murder mystery party we just hosted!  We have been buying these ridiculous boxed murder mysteries games every time we see them at thrift stores.  Which is fairly often.  The most recent one we hosted was 1960’s themed.  They are all politically incorrect and quite silly, but they are always fun.  Even folks who aren’t theatrical can play along because they give you a set of “clues” you have to reveal about yourself during the round that are written almost like a script.  At least one person did figure out the murderer so it wasn’t a completely ridiculous plot line.  They also give you some great instructions for serving a meal while playing the game with menu suggestions.  I don’t always follow the menu, but since this one was hippie themed it was completely vegetarian, so I gave it a go.  My idea (even before opening the box) was to have special brownies for dessert and they had a silly twist on that.

Menu

  • Hummus
  • Chips
  • Crackers
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Garden Salad
  • Wild Rice Ring (see below – this was a hit – we just had another rice ring for dinner again tonight)
  • “Special” Brownies (sprinkle with dried parsley before serving)
  • Watermelon slices
  • Figs

    Some great costumes in front of the appetizer area…

    Look at this festive rice ring surrounded by heirloom tomatoes! Yum!

Decor

I spread incense burners all over the house and intended to host the appetizer round on the back porch where I had set out cushions on the ground.  Unfortunately it was very cold that evening, so we had to move the party indoors instead.  For dinner I set the table with my favorite paisley tablecloth and some fabulous dishes from the 60’s that I found ages ago at the thrift store.  Funny story – I went to show my mom the great dishes I had found and she told me they were the exact same pattern my grandma used as everyday ware when my mom was a kid.  She even found one that was left in the attic to go with my collection.

Check out those awesome plates from the actual 1960s!

Costumes

I love murder mysteries because they mean costumes!  I tie dyed my costume (because another excuse to dye something)!  Half way through the dyeing process I thought it was going to be ugly, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.  I just love how unique tie dye turns out.  E very time is another surprise.  Since I couldn’t help myself, I also tie dyed another shirt at the same time (see above), and I love that one even more!  I’ve worn both to work and around town and I’ve gotten lots of compliments.  The crown was made using a free Cricut pattern – the flowers are all cardstock.  The beads I actually bought from Michaels – they are prestrung and were only $3 for an insanely long string.  Ideally you probably want to restring them into your own love beads, but I didn’t have the time yet.

My costume is entirely home made, Will’s is entirely from the thrift shop!

View of my tie dye dress.

Side view – check out those sleeves!

Wild Rice Ring

serves 8

(slightly adapted from Tragical Mystery Tour Menu)

Ingredients

  • 2 c wild rice blend (I used Rice Select Royal Blend)
  • 3.5 c water
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 c onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 10oz package frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 c toasted sliced almonds
  • 1/4 c chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 c chopped fresh tomatoes

Bring water and 1/4 c butter to a boil in large saucepan.  Add rice, return to a boil then cover and cook for 30 minutes or until rice is tender and water has been absorbed.  While the rice is cooking, thaw spinach by rinsing under cool water in a strainer.  When rice is done, let sit covered while you prepare the rest of the recipe.  Saute onion in remaining butter until translucent, then add the garlic and saute for another minute more until fragrant.   Stir in parsley, poultry seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, salt and cayenne pepper.  Add spinach and stir.  Add beaten eggs, shredded cheese and toasted almonds, mixing well.  Finally add the rice and cooked rice and fold until incorporated.  Thoroughly grease a bundt pan or circular tube pan with butter.  Press rice mixture into ring.  At this point you can cover with aluminum foil and put the ring in the refrigerator until the party begins (I made mine the night before).  When the party begins, pop it in the oven and it will be ready by the second round.  Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes to an hour.   Serve with chopped fresh tomatoes.

Yum!

Posted in Crafts & Sewing, Culinary Delights, Parties, Thrift Finds | Leave a comment

Pretend Play

Yesterday I went to yoga in the evening.  Before I left I explained to Julius that Dada would be giving him a bath and putting him to bed because I was going to yoga.  He got super excited.  I asked him for a kiss before I left and he got all sad.  Eventually I realized he wanted to do yoga!  They have a yoga instructor come in every once in a while and teach the kids yoga.  A couple weeks ago after I saw the pictures of Julius doing yoga I asked if he liked it and he said “yeah”.  After which I took him through several yoga poses that he was pretty darn good at!  This time I did a few more and he really liked it and was smiling the whole time.  He is VERY good at following instructions!  I guess I found a new yoga buddy.

Julius doing yoga at daycare

Julius has also been doing a lot of play with his stuffed animals in the morning.  The last few days he tells me stories about his animals when I get in there.  Will said this morning Julius refused to get out of his crib when he woke up (singing).  Instead he wanted to play with his toys.  And Sunday after his nap Will sent me a picture of Cookie Monster wrapped up snug in Julius’ blanket.

Since Julius has started to get into imagination play, I decide to make him a silly bib for his “bunnies”.  (We call all his stuffed animals “bunnies” since 70% of them are actually bunnies.)  He loves to feed his animals breakfast in the morning, and even though they are pretty clean eaters, I thought a bib would be fun.  He liked it and has moved it around to different animals a couple times but now it’s almost a permanent addition to “Big Bunny”.  He does have some trouble with the velcro, so if I make more I may use snaps instead, which he is quite good at.  This project is super quick so I have no excuse for why I haven’t made more…

Pretend Play Mini Bib

What you’ll need:

  • scrap square of PUL fabric
  • 1/2″ square of velcro
  • pattern here
  1. Cut out PUL fabric using the pattern provided.
  2. Stitch hook portion of velcro to position marked on the pattern, on the top (right side) of the fabric.
  3. Stitch loop portion of velcro to position marked on the pattern, on the bottom (wrong side) of the fabric.

    Julius is feeding Big Bunny a carrot!

 

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | Leave a comment

Peppas

We’ve spent the last few days at Will’s grandparents’ house in east Tennessee celebrating Grandaddy’s birthday.  Will has a large family and Julius loved the constant attention he received.  Grandmother joked when we left that we were going to have to invite the neighborhood over when we got home to give him the same amount of attention.

Julius has been picking up words almost daily it feels like.  We can’t always understand him, but once he says it ten or twelve times we usually get it.  He can even tell us all his daycare friends’ names.  The other day Will asked him what his best friend’s name is.  He replied “Sheepy” (his favorite stuffed animal).  Will laughed and clarified with “who is your baby best friend?”  He then responded “Baby Sheepy”  (which is the name we use for the mini version of Sheepy).  Will had to ask who his “daycare best friend” is to get the final answer of “Connor”, his buddy at daycare.  I cracked up when I heard that.

As I think I’ve mentioned, I’ve been modifying some of our favorite recipes to work with our slowly developing vegetarian diet.  We have been getting LOTS of peppers this season from our CSA (awesome) and stuffed peppers is one of our favorites.  Let’s be honest though, they’re just a pile of ground beef.  Well I started making this super easy recipe that Will declared “at least as delicious as the original”.  I hope you like it too.  The best part?  It tastes even better the second day.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 15.5 oz can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15.5 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 24 oz jar of tomato sauce
  • 4 bell peppers (your choice of color)
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Saute onion in olive oil until softened and fragrant.  Add beans and tomato sauce, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Cut tops off peppers and discard the stems, ribs and seeds.  Sprinkle cheese in the bottom of each pepper, fill halfway with bean mixture, sprinkle more cheese on top and fill to the top with more bean mixture.  Top with cheese and the pepper top. Cook for 30 minutes, or until tops of peppers are slightly brown and peppers are soft.

Finished peppers

Peppers ready to be cooked

Bean mixture ready to fill the peppers

Posted in Culinary Delights | 2 Comments

Good Frame of Mind

Today Julius collected a dozen acorns on our walk with Dany.  He was getting extremely frustrated because every time he’d drop one, Dany would crunch on it and try to eat it.  When we got home he didn’t want to eat dinner and just wanted to play with his acorns.  He really just wanted to hold all his acorns at the same time, but his little hands did not allow that, and thus he was unable to do anything but drop and pick up acorns for a solid 15 minutes.  I finally convinced him to put them into a bowl, which he carried around.  Eventually I coaxed him to the sink to wash his hands by asking if he wanted to wash his acorns.  He did, and I snuck some hand washing in.

Eventually I got Julius to sit in his high chair, but only if the bowl of water and acorns sat on his tray.  I put his chicken nuggets on his tray as well as some corn, and he grabbed a chicken nugget and popped it in his mouth.  After he’d finished chewing that, I asked him to try some corn and he grabbed an acorn out of the bowl and went to pop that into his mouth.  I shouted in fright that they were not edible and he cried for a while until I convinced him that they were yucky and not safe to eat.  I sent him some serious mixed signals by letting Dany eat acorns, having him wash the acorns in a bowl just like we do the cherry tomatoes from our garden and “serving” them next to corn.  I really can’t blame him.

Julius has toned down the hitting the last couple weeks.  The other day he accidentally whacked me in the nose while he was busy doing something, and he leaned over and kissed my nose.  Now he gives me a kiss whenever he accidentally hits me.  I consider this a big improvement over the hitting.

Speaking of improvements, I’ve been contemplating a kitchen renovation of some kind.  I haven’t decided on anything yet, so to contain my urge to renovate I’ve been doing lots of very small crafts.  One such craft was a bunch of dry erase boards for my fridge.  A month or two ago I made some cute dry erase boards from frames from the thrift store.  I very cleverly replaced the glass with some acrylic I had downstairs, so when Julius inevitably drops them they don’t shatter.  The problem I realized later is that dry erase markers on acrylic do not erase.  Instead I purchased Lexan to replace the acrylic and it has been perfect!  Just like glass.  It made my project way more expensive though…

Dry Erase Fridge Frames

What you’ll need:

  • a lightweight frame
  • fun paper for background of your frame (I used recycled wrapping paper)
  • Lexan cut to the size of your frame insert (have them do this at the store you buy it from)
  • 4 heavy duty ceramic or rare earth magnets with holes
  • Screws for rare earth magnets, or E6000 for ceramic
  1. Remove all hangers and stands from the back of the frame using a flat head screwdriver.
  2. Remove the glass from your frame and insert Lexan.
  3. Cut paper to size of Lexan and place on top of Lexan so it shows through the front of the frame.  Replace backing of the frame.
  4. Depending on the size and weight of your frame, choose rare earth magnets or ceramic magnets that will fit in the corners of the frame.  Flip frame over, take the magnets and either screw into or glue onto the frame.

 

 

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments

On a Roll

Will and I celebrated our 8th anniversary last week.  We dropped Julius off at daycare and took the day off of work to do “adult” things like go karts, escape rooms and hibachi.  Okay, there was a reason I put the word adult in quotation marks.  It was one of the best days off of work I’ve had in a long time!

For dinner I made vegetarian Idaho sushi rolls after Julius went to bed.  They are tempura sweet potato and avocado wrapped in nori paper surrounded by rice.  We wanted real wasabi and sushi ginger to go with our sushi, so after our adventure filled morning we enjoyed a kid-free visit to Whole Foods, where we each even got to pick out a cookie.  (“Adult” day.)   I highly recommend the Idaho rolls.  They were amazing, and didn’t take very long, even though there are a lot of steps.  I even thought the sushi rolling was easy and fun!  According to the interwebs I did everything un-Japanese and wrong, but they still looked and tasted amazing to us!

      

Idaho Rolls

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups sushi rice
  • 1/4 c rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 small sweet potato cut into 1/8″x1/2″ strips
  • 2 avocados sliced in half and then into 1/8″ strips
  • 3 sheets of nori paper, halved using kitchen shears.

Cook sushi rice according to package directions.  When cooking is complete, microwave vinegar, sugar and salt for 1 minute or until sugar and salt has dissolved.  Pour over the hot cooked rice and gently stir.  Set aside with the cover on to keep warm while you prepare the rest.

While rice cooks, begin to prepare your tempura batter*.    Place a handful of ice cubes into the cup of water.  Sift flour into a bowl.  Chop veggies. Cut sheets of nori in half.

At this point, bring your oil to 350 – 375 degrees F.  I hate the smell of cooking oil in the house, so I’ve been deep frying things outside using the burner on my propane grill, a tip taught to me by someone on a yoga retreat.  I just wish I had a real frying thermometer.

While oil is coming to temperature, lightly beat an egg in a small bowl using chop sticks, basically just breaking up the yolks.  Straining out the ice, pour one cup of water from your ice water cup into a measuring cup.  Lightly beat the cup of water into the egg using the chop sticks.  Add flour to egg/water mixture and gently mix with chop sticks until just incorporated.  You will still see lumps of flour in the batter all over the place.

When oil is at temperature, use the chop sticks to dip a sweet potato piece into batter and then drop into the oil.  Repeat for 6 to 8 pieces.  Retrieve slices using a kitchamajig or slotted spoon after the batter looks crispy (but not brown) and have been frying for about 2 to 3 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.  Let oil come back up to temperature again then repeat until all the sweet potato is used up.

Now it’s time to get rolling!  Place rice on the bottom edge of your mat, pressing with the back of a spoon to form a rough rectangle about 7″ wide by 4″ high.  Place a half sheet of nori (shiny side up) on the rice and press down firmly to flatten out the rice a bit more.   At the bottom edge of the rice/nori place a couple layers of avocado slices, overlapping.  In front of that place 2 or 3 layers of tempura sweet potato.

Pick up the bottom edge of the mat with the heels of your hands while pressing the sweet potato and avocado into the mat with your fingers.  Roll the mat over the sweet potato and avocado while pressing the back of the mat gently.  Gently start to release the bamboo mat from the rice you just rolled by pulling gently, bamboo piece by bamboo piece, while rolling the whole thing more with the heels of your hands.  Continue, applying firm pressure until you have incorporated all the rice.  Gently pull the bamboo mat away from the rice until the entire roll has been released.

Using a very sharp knife cut into 6 to 8 1″ slices.  Repeat for other 5 rolls

Serve with sushi ginger, wasabi and soy sauce for dipping.  Makes around 6 rolls with 8 pieces each.

*(I used the tempura recipe from The Spruce Eats who I love and always has great recipes.  The amount of ads on the site make it difficult to read, so I have paraphrased the recipe here for your sanity.  I do encourage you to read the lovely article there first.)

 

Posted in Culinary Delights | 2 Comments

Ba ba banana

Sorry everyone who was awaiting my post last Tuesday morning – I had it all ready to go Monday night at 9pm (early, mind you) and apparently I didn’t hit “publish”.  I only noticed on my way to my car after work when I went to check to see if anyone had left comments and discovered it hadn’t been posted!  Kudos to those who noticed!

Will and I took vacation the last 4 days because my family was all in town!  It was so fun to see everyone again, and I am so sad it is already over.  Julius had fun playing with his cousin Finn, though I think he was a bit annoyed to not be the center of attention for once!  Ha!  As the first grand baby on both sides he is a bit spoiled.  He started recently acting out for attention, though I think he only does it to me.  He likes to hit, punch or hit me and then watch my reaction.  I hate it.  I started out saying “please don’t do that, you are hurting mama” in my no-bullshit voice, eventually I moved onto my stern voice.  Neither of those worked.  Will caught him doing it one time and hollered at him.  Julius of course started crying.  Later he hit me again.  I am hoping this is just part of the terrible two’s phase and he will outgrow it soon because it really makes me sad.

I’m secretly worried that he learned the hitting thing from this stupid video that he loves (one of only two youtube videos he has ever seen) of the minions singing Barbara Ann.  Will first showed it to him because he was eating bananas and wanted to show him a song about bananas.  Since then he asks us to play it on our phones, and we’ll each show it to him occasionally.    The other day I noticed that halfway through the video one of the minions punches another minion!  I honestly never noticed it until recently because it happens so quickly.  When I noticed it I stated that it wasn’t nice how the minion hit his friend, and that we don’t hit our friends.  I have never let him watch the video again.  Maybe someday I’ll cut the video to take out the hitting, because he really likes it and likes the little yellow guys.

After the snack scare, I decided to make Julius some cute snack bags.  Since the fabric was on clearance – they have minions on them.  The bags are nice and small for little hands and little snacks, and they have a convenient spot for a label!  Will and I had been writing his name on masking tape and attaching them to containers to label Julius’ snacks, but this is far easier.  If you’ve mastered the sandwich bags these are just as easy!

Small Reusable Snack Bags with Labels

What you’ll need:

  • 10″x7″ Eco PUL or other food safe PUL
  • 10×7″ cotton fabric of your choice
  • 7″ of 3/4″ velcro hook and loop fastener
  • 5″x2″ strip of clear flexible vinyl (mine was leftover from an old pool toy)
  • parchment paper

Follow the instructions for the sandwich bag here making a 4″x7″ pocket with a 2″x7″ flap – steps 1-8.

9. Pin the loop tape portion of the velcro to the inside edge of the bag’s flap.

10. On the outside of the flap, center your 5″ strip.  Place a piece of parchment paper over the vinyl.  You can masking tape this whole thing if desired.

11. Placing the vinyl/parchment side down, stitch along all 4 edges of velcro.

12. Remove the parchment paper.

13. Trim the vinyl close to the stitching.

14. Insert small cardboard tag into the vinyl pocket to label.

 

 

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments

Colorful Words

It is completely bizarre how Julius cannot identify colors.  Remember when I told you about the bug game where Julius was supposed to pick out the blue bug, and 90% of the time picked the white one instead – even after showing him just before the blue one?  Well that trend continues.  He has become quite enamored with my sad excuse for a garden, when I showed him how to pick tomatoes.  Every day he’s been helping me pick the ripe cherry tomatoes, and we take them inside to wash them, then Julius gets to eat them.  He loves tomatoes so he always wants to pick them.  The weird thing though is that he ALWAYS picks the green ones.  I have explained to him dozens of times that we eat the red ones, and yet he still picks the green ones.  Today there were more red than green tomatoes on the vines, and so I walked away for a bit to see what Dany was doing.  When I turned back around he’d picked 4 green tomatoes only.  I really have no idea what to do about that.

He told us this weekend that a horse is his favorite animal.  Who knew?!  He’s been hanging out with bunnies, doggies, and sheepies for his whole existence but horses are the ones he really wants to spend time with.  No wonder he loves the pony rides at David Farmland!  My parents neighbor has a horse (named Colton – no relation) so we walked over to chat with Colton.  Julius was too scared to pet him but he did smile a bunch at him and say “hi” in both English and horse.  Future equestrian?  I always wanted to learn to ride a horse (and swordfight) so that if I were thrown back in time I would be able to hold my own.  Very practical I know.

Speaking of practical, check out this extremely practical craft I made.  It’s supposed to look like  a pussy willow, but in multi colors, but it really doesn’t.  Will calls it the Dr. Seuss tree, and Julius calls it “mama tree” because I told him I made it and it is my silly tree.  Every morning of the first week it was in the upstairs landing he would go over to it and feel all the pom poms laughing at it.  (Because clearly it was silly.)  It was incredibly easy to make, so I’m almost embarrassed to post it, but hey, here it is.

Dr. Seuss Tree (Mama’s Silly Tree)

  • 3 tree branches (I collected mine about 9 months ago in the woods with Julius & Dada on a hike. Will thought I was insane.)
  • ~36 pom poms in assorted colors (I bought 2 packs of pom poms from Dollar Tree)
  • hot glue gun
  1. Strip off bottom branches until you will be able to fit each branch in the pot of your choice.
  2. Organize your pom-poms into color groups. I used pink, red, yellow, light blue, dark blue, lime green, green, black and purple.

    Branches and pom pom clusters

  3. Glue a pom pom at the end and junction of each branch.
  4. Stick in a vase and watch your child go wild.

    Julius, Gaga & the Silly Tree

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | Leave a comment

Mailed it

Julius has started asking “why?”  He seems to be using it in context, but I’m not entirely sure what he expects to get out of it.  Frequently he’ll ask “why” to which I’ll give him an answer and he’ll ask “why” again about the next thing, in an infinite chain of “whys”.  Honestly I love it.  I have been waiting for him to ask me why for months!  I know lots of parents complain about the “why” phase, so ask me in a month what I think of it, but right now it is just the bee’s knees!

The little guy is just so darn cute.  He is picking up more and more words every week.  A few weeks ago he finally started saying “Dany”.  He was saying “Deedee” because ‘n’s were difficult.  Yesterday I told him to ask Dany if she wanted to go for a walk.  He walked right up to her crate, knelt down, stuck his head all the way in and shouted “Dany”?  I could not stop laughing.  I eventually had to explain that he needed to move so Dany could get out of her crate and take a walk.  Thank goodness Dany likes him.

He of course has his negative moments as well.  Today I had to buckle him into the high chair and told him he couldn’t leave until he ate a small amount of peas and chicken.  He had eaten exactly nothing before I gave him the ultimatum and was trying to squirm out of the chair to go play.  Julius eventually ate all the required food to leave his chair, but it took 30 additional minutes.  But I won’t let that get me down – I consider the eventual eating of his dinner a win!

Another win is this mailbox makeover I completed!  I’ve been wanting to upgrade my mailbox for a while now, but I finally got the time to sit down and do it.  I created the stencil by hand sketching the line and vine art on my Lenovo yoga.  I got the laptop partially for drawing, and I’m really happy I did.  It’s fun to sketch on!  If I’d had this years ago when making mine & my friend’s wedding maps, things would have been so much easier.  I love that after sketching I can resize easily and now – send it to my cricut for cutting!  The one frustrating thing about this design was that I had to split the design in 2 so it would fit on the mailbox.  I split it into two horizontal pieces, but if I did it again I would split it on the vertical so the seam is on the top of the mailbox.

DIY Mailbox Makeover

What you’ll need:

  • Sticky vinyl – I used leftover contact paper
  • black spray paint
  • gold spray paint
  • cricut or die cutting machine (or if you are extremely adventurous an Xacto knife)
  1. Remove hardware (flag) and measure your mailbox – mine was 18″ long by 20.5″ circumnavigating the top.
  2. Set up your electronic drawing space to be proportional to your mailbox dimensions.
  3. Start by writing your name in cursive on the bottom of the page.  Add vines, leaves and flowers as desired.
  4. Thicken all lines so they are no narrower than 3/8″.
  5. Transfer your design to the Cricut and increase/decrease the size until it fits in the dimensions of your mailbox from step 2.  Split design onto two mats if necessary (I found this link helpful).  I recommend doing split between the top and bottom of the design (instead of right and left) so the seam is along the top of the mailbox where no one will see it.
  6. Use the cricut to cut out your design on sticky vinyl. (Technically you could use and Xacto knife…)
  7. Tape off the area around the mailbox and it’s pole, so nothing will accidentally get painted.
  8. Spray the mailbox black.  (I used flat paint first, but decided I hated it and switched to a glossy spray paint which I liked a lot better.)  Let dry.
  9. Apply stencil to mailbox and press firmly at the edges of all the cuts to adhere. Tape off any areas on the mailbox that you don’t want painted gold.
  10. Spray paint the stencil gold.  Let dry.
  11. Remove the stencil, admire your handiwork!

    Front view

Posted in Crafts & Sewing | 2 Comments