Thursday, December 30, 2010

Art Journals

Current Book: Artful Journals by Janet Takahashi

this beautiful journal was found on etsy - but I am sorry, I don't remember the artist's name

My current obsession is art journaling. I have decided to start taking my creative self to the next level. It is a big part of my life that gives me joy. So why haven't I embraced it more fully? I know why... when I make something I put myself on the line for criticism. What if they don't like it? which translates to What if they don't like me? I've got to grow up and just get over it.
How do I go about doing that? I am starting a year long project of art journaling. A Year in the Life of an Art Journal provides twice monthly prompts to help get your creative neurons firing. The first prompt is "vision."
What is my vision for the year?
I have also been pouring over Artful Journals by Janet Takahashi. I have been wanting to make my own mixed-media art journal for several weeks but I didn't know how to correctly make one. This book gives you step-by-step instructions and definitions of the technical language. Did you know that the middle section of a journal is called the signature?
My creative light bulb is on bright.
Normally, I use a little notebook to make notes about the day, keep track of information, and keep my "to do" list. Why don't I make my own journal?
I had been thinking about my journal and I knew I wanted it to be made of recycled repurposed paper; however, I didn't know where I would find enough paper that was interesting enough to make the cut. I know now... I am going to use all those beautiful pictures that my girls draw for me. You know the ones... they are so creative but you can be gifted 5-6 a day and you can't keep them all.
This meager little journal will be a great keepsake as well as a daily record of this time in our lives.
The girls better get to creating! I have a big "to do" list waiting for a journal.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010

Shoveling Snow
Cookies for Santa

Sledding in the Snow

Dry Erase Masterpieces

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bookmarks & Mixed Media Fiber Art

These two are extras. I think I will have to keep one for myself.

I chose a word that best describes the person and their job at the school. I only wish I had a set of small font stamps to do the lettering. Squirmy material is difficult to write on.

Felted wool rosettes.

I have this growing obsession with mixed media art - fiber and textile art in particular. If it is a bit vintage and grungy, (is that a word?) it is for me. I pour over the Sew Somerset magazines. Their whole line of publications rock but they are a bit pricey. Hmmmm, I should ask for some for Christmas.

Back to the topic on hand... the bookmarks

I still have scraps of left over from my attempts at felting... and tons of material scraps... and tons of ribbon scraps... even some pleather scraps (I know, who has scraps of pleather sitting around? Now you know.)... odds and ends buttons... I could go on and on. So, I made bookmarks to give as Christmas gifts to the "extra teachers" at school.

My next project is a handmade sewn journal. I am still working out the kinks and trying to find all recycled material. I have to hurry on this one because the journal/day planner I use now is filled to the brim. I started writing in the margins yesterday.

Oh ya', I threw in a picture of the felted rosettes I made. I don't love-love them but they are much cuter on something.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Good Bread

While Gene and Gigi played video games this afternoon Greta and I kept busy in the kitchen... YUM!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Felted Wool Scarf

I tried my hand at felting wool. It took some reconfiguring of my initial ideas to come up with something wearable. Now I love it.

Gene and the girls went with me to Goodwill and we scoured the store for wool sweaters. I brought home about 6 sweaters for about $20. I washed them in super hot soap and water twice. That was my first mistake. I ended out with toddler size sweaters and really stiff material. OOOPS!

Initially I wanted to make a messenger bag... but I wanted one bigger than a dollar bill. So, I cut the sweaters into strips and sewed them together. My original design had unfinished rough edges but it looked so bad... I thought the trash was my only option left. It was a depressing thought because I had put a couple of hours of work into this failed idea. So I set the hunk of material to the side and brainstormed. This is what I ended out with... a lined scarf with lots of cool do-dads and stitching. The loops and buttons are positioned so I can wear the scarf in several different styles.

Now I am using the felted scraps to make rosette pins and hair-bobs (that's what we call a hair accessory in my house). I'll show some of those later.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The First Snow

What could be more perfect?!? We had our first snow on the day we were picking up our Christmas tree. Driving was a little sketchy and slow but it was also fun and exciting. I do admit that it took me a few minutes to calm myself and stop giving unsolicited advice to Gene while he was driving. I am positive he appreciated my helpful suggestions. ha ha
Our tree came from Trees for Troops. It is beautiful. I can't wait to post a picture of it when the girls are finished decorating it. I also have to mention the soldiers who volunteered to help load the trees. They where exceptionally outgoing and eager to help. They even had a stocking full of candy canes for the kids... and Gene.

Christmas and the treasured traditions we have reminds me to pray for the families who have a spouse that is deployed or has been lost. We know how tough it can be.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Little Things

It is the little things that really make me smile.
If you think that you are witty, even if no one else in your family thinks you are, then you need to share your brilliance with the world. Or, at least with the unlucky few who come to your front door.

November's message was about thanks... and for a friend who I am so thankful to have in my life (however, she did leave me and move to Seattle). I hope she enjoys it.
I don't have anything for Christmas yet but I am thinking.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reusable Lunch Stuff

What to do with some leftover fabric? How about reusable lunch bags?

I made these lunch baggies in a jiffy. The liner is waterproof and food safe (it is the lining used for making diaper covers). It has a Velcro closure so it is easy for the kids to open and close. Now I don't have to add more plastic baggies to the landfill. If you start out with an 8x8 square it will end out the exact size of a sandwich bag.

Guess what a couple of dishtowels can make? Reusable napkins for the lunch box. One dish towel makes about six 5x6 napkins. The girls love them.

Off Road Biking

Don't cry sweetie pie. (I'd cry too if I had gravel in my palm. She loves to ride her bike so I think it hurt her spirit as much as her hand.)
Not rugged.

They love exploring.


Skipping rocks.

There goes what makes up my heart.

Cool pic, huh?

Gene loves to go trail riding... it makes him happy. Now he has the girls hooked on it and they like to go on early-out Wednesdays after school.

They always come home so pumped and proud of themselves. I had to reclaim some cool points so I told them that until I had married their Dad that I had only ridden my bike on trails and gravel roads. Oops - now I had to put my money where my mouth was.

I agreed to go riding with them. It wasn't as serene as the pictures - there were a few wrecks. I walked or rode away with a few sprains and pulled muscles. But hey - it's all good. I'll try again in the spring (once I have given my body time to heal).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Swinging & Joyful

Some days I wish I could capture the feeling I had when I was swinging at the playground when I was a little girl.

Do remember what that felt like? Isn't that what we want to feel like everyday?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veteran's Day "Your Soldier. Your love."

Veteran's Day was yesterday. Gene put on his uniform and went to the school to participate in a flag raising ceremony, hand out pencils, and enjoy the choir singing America the Beautiful. I didn't go. I joked with my friends that I didn't go because I wanted to shower and have some free time.

The truth is that I can't see a soldier, especially Gene, listen to children singing America the Beautiful. I can't watch my soldier interact with all those smiling grateful children. I can't observe Boy Scouts taking special care when handling the American flag. Being a part of the celebration would open a hole in my heart.

I would have been forced to remember all the times that he missed out on important unforgettable moments with the girls;
all the times the girls fell apart because they needed their Daddy;

all the nights I heard a creak in the house and didn't sleep while I imagined ways I would protect my little family;
all the times I wondered if I would be enough if Gene didn't make it home.

My pride and gratitude is great but some moments my pain is greater. Moments that trigger my emotions make me feel weak - even though I know God has given me strength. I would have sobbed through the morning and I chose a shower instead.

This morning my friend, who is also a military wife, posted this article on her Facebook page. The author of the article wrote a part of my heart. It is good to know that these feelings I have are not mine alone.

The first part of the article talks about deployments and is quite poignant.

When my husband was deployed, I repeatedly pictured myself at his funeral, speaking through tears to the sad assemblage in West Point's Old Cadet Chapel. I mediated the chaos of potential loss by embracing it. Fantasizing about it. Playacting it.

This next section is the mirror image of what it feels like when I look for Gene.

First there is the broad category of pride: the singular distinction of loving, and being loved by, an American soldier. Then, golden glimpses so brief, if you blink, you'll miss them, like the moment you approach a group of soldiers, knowing that your man is among them. Somewhere. You start scanning the crowd. And suddenly, within the uniform, uniformed mass, he appears. Your soldier. Your love.

As you draw closer, your blood races, each pulsing beat saying, "Mine, mine, mine," though you know he's never entirely yours, for the Army has its hold on him, too. But as you come near, he sees you right back and in that brilliant instant of recognition, the guard drops, and there he is, the he of him: the laugh, the posture, the distinguishing quirk. As your gazes hold, maybe he smiles a little, or a lot, and there is a palpable exchange - my heart for yours - made without a single word.

Enough said.

If you would like to read all of this article here it is
The Quiet Side of Being A Soldier's Other Half it's only two pages but she gets to the heart, my heart, of the matter.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Gigi was a part of the Harrison Choir's presentation of Possibilities. There were ninety 4th and 5th graders willing to miss recess for two months to sing this program. It was beautiful and they all did so well.
Gigi even wore a skirt for the event. You know she is serious when she wants to dress-up!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Some days I am needed more than others.

Greta has yelled for me five times so far during her shower.


What soap do I use? (there is only one container of body wash)

I can't use that. Dad uses it and I am a woman!!!!


What do I do next? (uhmmm, have you washed your hair or your body?)


What do I wash my hair with? (shampoo? The one and only bottle of shampoo in the shower. The girl can read!)


My band aid fell off. (it would be a shame if soap and water got on that boo-boo)

COULDN'T YOU COME HERE FASTER SO I DON'T HAVE TO YELL!!! (she says this while yelling at me)

Now she is sitting beside me crying because she has to put on pajamas after her shower.

I have been thinking a lot about gratitude. Let's see, I have a clean little girl who has a good set of lungs. Thank you God. No really, I mean it... or I will as soon I peak in on her tonight while she is asleep.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Where to go?

Seoul, Korea

Vicenza, Italy

Huntsville, Alabama

Honolulu, Hawaii

It is finally November!
Why do you think I am so excited about November? It's not the turkey or the pumpkin pie. It's not the falling leaves and crisp sunny days, although I really enjoy this weather. This is the month that the Army is supposed to send us our options for our next PCS.

There will be so many. I had no idea there would be so many. Gene informed me today that there will 200 or so "opportunities". Many of those jobs aren't appropriate for Gene and others are places that we don't want to live. But there will be enough to be excited about. I have zero desire to live at Ft. Bragg or Ft. Hood. Those are GIANT military posts. I want to live someplace where military people normally don't live. How about a place we would like to go for a vacation but could never afford to go... a place we haven't been... a place where we can dream. I want an adventure. We want an adventure... a safe adventure that might involve another country. But then again, Iowa has been an adventure that we have truly enjoyed.
Home is where the Army send us.

Gene has to rate all 200 or so choices and then we wait, and wait, and wait until January. Then we find out our fate. The Army may or may not consider what we rank as number one. We may end out with number 199. It is all a gamble. Either way, we will move some place new and make it an adventure. I just can't wait to see what's out there waiting for us.

Monday, November 1, 2010


The thing about Halloween costumes is that if allowed - without my input - the girls will represent themselves perfectly. They did exactly that this year.

Last year, against her will, Gigi went as a mermaid - only because I found an amazing costume at Goodwill. This year she was a viking. Nothing frilly, glittery, or poofy - just strong. It fit her to a tee.

Greta loves extravagance but she is also practical. She likes to pick a costume that she can use for the rest of year as she plays dress-up. All hail to the Majestic Queen. She wasn't just a queen but a majestic queen! I think it took her a week of practicing the pronunciation of majestic before she said it correctly.

I wonder what my costume would be if I got to choose....

Monday, October 18, 2010

Creepy Eyeball Cake Pops

These were so fun and easy to make. You can find ideas and directions by googling cake pops or looking up Bakerella.
Here are a few tips -
Wait for the cake and icing mix to cool before you form the balls. It will help keep them on the stick.
Don't make them as big as we did. A one inch in diameter pop is easier to dip in the melted chocolate.
The details were made with store bought gel icing. It looks great but it never really dries. When I did a trial of wrapping one it still looked fantastic but when the wrapper came off it was a sticky blob - but still delicious.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What's for lunch?

yogurt, cheez-its, fortune cookies, and cherries

mac'n'cheese, peaches, pretzels, and pumpkin cookies

cottage cheese, cheez its, and pears

raviolis, banana, Z-bar

Ahhhh, the age old question "What do I pack my kids for lunch?" I started packing my kids lunch when Greta started kindergarten. Up until then Gigi always had the hot lunch at school and took her lunchbox on occasion. When Greta started school she didn't like the hot lunches and always got the alternative - which had very little nutritional value. I also volunteered for lunch duty and actually saw the lunches provided. I knew I could give my kids a healthier meal.

Now, Gigi picks one hot lunch a week from the school menu and takes her lunchbox on the other days. Greta almost always has a home packed lunch. I feel better about what they are eating and I try to make it interesting and easy.

At a friend's request, I kept track of what the girls had in a week. So, this is what the girls would normally get in their lunches but it has changed a bit. Both girls have braces and foods that I may have packed last month are off limits - such as carrots with ranch dressing or an apple. Salt eggs are favorite - salted boiled egg whites - as well as leftovers from dinner that are kept warm in the thermos.

On a different note, even though we reuse our sandwich bags whenever possible, the number of sandwich baggies that go in the trash makes me break out in a cold sweat. I started using reusable containers last year but my new goal for this year is to try to eliminate the useage of the ever mulitplying baggies. Would it be innapropriate to make a joke about rabbits multiplying? Anyhoo... ETSY has a ton of reusable sandwich bags for sale and they are super cute; however, I am one of those people who look at something and think "I can make that." So, I am in the process of sewing my own. I'll post them with a tutorial at a later date.

I hope this post inspires you to pack some crazy lunches. I'd love to hear about the inventive lunch items you send to school.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Easy Pumpkin Cookies

It's time to break out the pumpkin recipes. This is one of my favorite and is from my dear friend Elizabeth.

1 can of pumpkin

1 box of Spice Cake Mix (or any other flavor - you can add the cloves, cinnamon, etc. just read the back of the can of pumpkin for measurements)

chocolate chips (optional)

mix the ingredients

drop the cookies on a cookie sheet

bake at 350 for 15 minutes

I have also made pumpkin bars and topped it with cream cheese icing.