March 31, 2023

A Belated Birthday Gift

A friend of ours {Kelly!} kindly gave SoJo a set of beautiful handmade wooden cars made by a local man. So perfect because it's been cars, trucks and buses here all the time lately.
She works with my husband and she and another co-worker often come over for lunch with us. I felt bad that SoJo was napping when they came, since she wanted to give them to him herself.
I wanted to post the photos so she could see his reaction (next best thing). He's checking them out in the doorway between the kitchen and laundry room (his favorite spot of the moment...I think it's the checkerboard floor).
They're a hit! Especially since he just brought both of them to me moments ago while doing this post. And if he ever gets bored of them, they'd make nice back massagers for us! Thank you Kelly!

March 30, 2023

First Birthday Party Recap

So much to write about! It was a wonderful party, and actually the first one that Mr. Geek and I have hosted in our house. Everyone had a great time, including the birthday boy, whom I thought would be overwhelmed by all of the activity.

I decorated on Friday, hanging up the banner, as you see below. I thought it looked great, and will be bringing it out every year, and maybe again in the summer for Mr. Geek's birthday.
I also decorated the high chair with a paper banner, but that didn't last beyond the cake. And there's the bib I made, which I showed you a few posts ago.
We had flowers, even though it was a boy's party, it was still a special day for mama too!
I wanted to hang crepe paper from the ceiling, like a red/white striped tent, but we were out of tape and I was too tired to do it. I did weave some (messily) along with ribbon through our stair railing...
...and hung up more paper banners throughout the kitchen and living room. I've saved these for future use too.I may have mentioned that I loosely worked with a circus theme, so I thought some boxes of popcorn would be cute. I set up the snacks on the dresser in the living room.In the kitchen, where the real goodies were, the star of the show was my mother-in-law's beautiful cupcakes, including the giant cupcake which we all go nuts over.
I also made the favor bags, as seen on the left in the wire basket. I packaged together animal crackers, M&Ms, and other cookies.She made not only chocolate and vanilla ones, but carrot too, which is Mr. Geek's favorite. Fortunately, my niece's birthday party is this coming Saturday, so we'll get to have cupcakes all over again. We also had a Carvel ice cream cake, which is a tradition in my family. And SoJo loves his ice cream.

I made veggie hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls. They were yummy, especially for the vegetarians at the party. Soooo easy to make.
I should have taken some shots of the counter on the other side of the room. I made some macaroni and cheese in the crock pot, and we also had baked beans, my mom's barbecue, quinoa salad (made by Shana and super-yummy!), cheese, veggies, etc. We were drowning in food...and beer!

The moment you've all been waiting for! Sojo's first bite of cake!
He enjoyed it, after snuffing out the lit candle with his fingers (I'll post the video later), he dug into the cake. Mr. Geek and I still laugh at how he was rubbing the icing in his hands like it was hand lotion. Of course it ended up on his bib overalls, which were handed down to us from Jasper and Naomi. Everyone thought they were so cute Naomi!
Post-cake sugar-letdown
Looking sleepy with Uncle JeffOn to the presents! He got some nice stuff, including many trucks and tractors. No school buses, though, which are his favorite since the bus stops right outside our house each morning. He always runs to see it.
All in all, it was a wonderful day, and we're thankful to everyone who came to celebrate with us.

March 25, 2023

Wordful Wednesday: Evening on the Front Porch

Not much to write here, except for the light was beautiful, my child was happy, and although it's technically Spring, it was freezing here in the Quaker state yesterday.
But at least we got outside!
And to quote Robert Frost "that has made all the difference."

For more Wordful Wednesday, visit

March 24, 2023

One Year Ago

All parents say this: I can't believe how fast they grow! Well, add me to the bunch as I reminisce about SoJo's first year on this wonderful earth. I can't say that it's all been puppies and kittens, but I am thankful every day (usually at the end of it, when he's in bed and not tearing through the house like a tornado) for that sweet little boy. I say it all the time, the days are long, but the weeks and months fly by!

How lucky we are to have him in our lives, words cannot even express it.
Last year at this time, SoJo was well overdue, by 11 days in fact, and was already looking to be a 9 lb+ baby. With no sign of contractions, the doctors scheduled an induction to get things moving, and looking back, I should have resisted it, since labor started naturally 5 hours before I was supposed to be induced. However, the hospital staff insisted on proceeding with the pitocin, otherwise I'd have to go home until the later stages of labor. And at that point, I was having intense contractions that were less than a minute apart. So I didn't want to make the 20 minute trip home, not knowing how I was progressing. The short version: pitocin is evil!

But after S's heartrate kept dropping and they were concerned about his size, I had a c-section and got this out of all that pain and fatigue...
Check out that cone head! Poor guy was wedged in the birth canal for some time. I look at these photos in awe, as I can't believe that is the little boy who I know and love so well now.

A day old and a bit jaundiced

2 months old (cat--9 years old)

4 months old

6 months old

7 months old

Taking his first unassisted steps at 9 months

And a few days ago

We'll be spending the day together as a family, giving him lots of hugs and kisses and counting our blessings. And then we have a little party on Saturday to celebrate with extended family and friends.

We love you little S! You have given us purpose, taught us about patience, and filled our home with laughter and love. Happy Birthday SoJo!

Homemade Pizza!

One of the best things I've purchased in the last year is a breadmaker, which was a great buy at $35 from Circuit City. I've saved quite a bit of money by making my own bread and also my own pizza dough. It's not cheap to buy a pizza every week, even frozen ones, so I know I've definitely gotten my money's worth from this bread machine. Granted, it's not a top-of-the-line model, but it has enough features to make a variety of items like quick breads, jam, and bread dough. Which brings me to the pizza.
I make this usually every week, and it's so easy! It requires time in that the dough needs kneading and rising, but the machine takes care of that part. You just need to assemble the ingredients, and once the dough is ready, stretch it in the pan and add the toppings. I make a mean spinach and tomato pizza, the leftovers from lunch below are packed away for dinner tonight.
In summer, I can definitely see putting basil from my herb garden on this, and if we had a grill, I'd even cook this on there. You could also turn the dough into foccaccia or a calzone.

Crusty/Herby Pizza Dough Recipe for a Bread Machine
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1. Combine the water and olive oil in the bread machine pan. Add the dry ingredients (except for the yeast) on top. I like to rub the herbs between my palms (not for magic) so that you release the oils before adding them to the mix.
2. Make a little well in the dry ingredients, and put the yeast in there.
3. Turn the bread machine on to the "dough" setting (which is an hour and a half on mine)
4. Wait until the dough is ready. It would be a good time to put away your ingredients, get your pizza pans ready, have some coffee, watch one of those judge/courtroom shows that dominate the TV channels during the day.
5. After about an hour and 15 minutes, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
6. Lightly oil your pan(s) and sprinkle with cornmeal.
7. When the dough is ready, stretch it out onto the pan. I can usually make two pizzas from this batch of dough.
8. Add the sauce and toppings, including the cheese.
9. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown.


March 23, 2023

Monday Musing: Creativity

Yesterday, Mr. Geek gave me the best present--an afternoon to myself! It was glorious, dear friends, and I spent the time sewing, redecorating, and watching a PBS documentary about Eastern European immigrants in the coal region of PA while I had some coffee. Mind you, we don't have many channels since cable has been decreased, but it was compelling nonetheless, since I'm only a generation removed from Polish peasant stock.

But I digress...I spent some time in the guest room/interim studio redecorating it and working on a small project for Soren's birthday party--a bib! I knew it was something I could handle easily, and it only took me an hour, well, maybe two because I had to keep stopping the machine so I could listen to This American Life (my old Kenmore is loud!).
So that's the front of the bib, which is appliqued onto chenille using a zigzag stitch. Humor me with my stitching, because I'm really not the most patient, meticulous sewer. Despite the nagging I used to give my art students about process being more important than product, this doesn't apply to my sewing. I just want the damn thing done ASAP.
The back is simple, just a cute dot fabric I found at a local fabric store. I'd like to trim the bib with red binding, but the stuff I bought is too narrow for the thick chenille. I'm also thinking of making a party hat to match, using the dot fabric as the background. We'll see if I get to it. And I thought I'd add flowers to the photo in lieu of the basket (did you notice my old switcheroo?).

On creativity: I need to be creative in order to be happy. I remember in Health class in 8th grade, Mr. Elder (sounds like a made-up name, but it was his real one) asked us to rank our life needs, and I always remember that creativity was pretty high on my list. And it still is! My blog is a creative outlet when I can't be knitting or painting, and it's a lot less messy to clean up (another life need for me is order). How are you being creative in your life? Do you need it to survive? I view creativity as a more broad thing, not just arts/crafts, but an approach to living. Cooking can be creative. Gardening is creative. Child rearing is certainly creative (who hasn't improvised with their kids?) I find problem solving in general to be creative, and since we're always trying to fix a problem, we're creative all the time.

March 20, 2023

Kitchen Table Crafts: Birthday Banner Tutorial

Kitchen Table Crafts is back, baby! This tutorial is for a festive banner, perfect for birthday and other special occasions. This one is for my son's first birthday next week, but you can really make these for any occasion.

Today I'm sharing with you a tutorial on making one of those cute banners that you see frequently on Etsy and other blogs. This was really easy to make, albeit a little time consuming with all the cutting, pasting and tying. I like that it can be saved and reused every year, so it was worth all of the trouble.
~Scrapbook papers in coordinating colors (at least half as many sheets as you have letters)
~Cardstock or stiff paper
~Glue stick or adhesive tape (acid free is best if you want to keep this for a few years)
~A few rolls of ribbon
~Hole Punch

1. If you're looking for some great, FREE fonts, go to the Scraptivity website (a great online scrapbooking resource) and go to the section for Fonts and find a font that you like. I used "Circus" but unfortunately, that one is not on that site. You can get it HERE, which isn't where I got it, but it should work just fine.

2. Download your font, and save it to your desktop.

3. Move the file (.ttf) into the font folder of your control panel. This will ensure that the font appears in Word.

4. Open Microsoft Word, type the phrase (in capital letters if using Circus, since lowercase ones don't show up) that you want to put on your banner, such as "Happy Birthday", "Happy First Day of School", "Happy Halloween", etc. Then select it and change the size until the letters are big enough for you.
I was able to fit 2 letters per page on the "landscape" setting (horizontal paper). I believe my font size was 350.

5. Cut out your letters and set aside.

6. Now you'll be cutting the background circles from your scrapbook papers. You should be able to get 2 circles per sheet, plus 4 triangles from the leftover corners that can be used to make a little banner.
I used a bowl to trace the circles on the paper, then cut them out, saving the scraps for later.

7. Glue your letter to the circle, using a glue stick or adhesive strips. Elmer's glue is too wet and will create bubbles in the paper.
I also cut out some extra circles to serve as "spacers" between the letters, so it wouldn't read "happybirthday".

8. Since scrapbooking paper is so thin, I wanted to stiffen it up so it wouldn't sag when I hung the banner. I had some cardstock (you can get it at an office supply store--it's just a little stiffer than copy paper), that I decided to paste onto the back. I took another high tech circle maker, in this case the lid to a jar
and traced another, slightly larger circle. You can make it the same size as the decorative circle, but I wanted a bit of a border around my circles. Just cut it out, then glue it to the backs of the scrapbook paper circles.

9. Once you've assembled all of your circles, it's time to punch holes in the sides to tie them together. I started with one and eyeballed the center of the circle, making sure the letter was lined up how I wanted. After I made the first one, I used it as a template to punch the holes in the other circles.

10. On to the ribbon! A high chair tray serves as a wonderful ribbon corral, that is, when a certain little boy is not sitting in it.
It's easier to cut all your ribbon at once, rather than doing it as you go along. But do you think I did that? Of course not!
I used 3 pieces of different colored ribbon per loop. I like how that it looks more festive and fuller that way. The pieces were roughly 8 inches, and some of them I trimmed shorter after they were tied. Be careful not to knot them too tightly or you might rip the paper.
I found some really sweet coordinating ribbons, including one that said Happy Birthday. They were only $1 at AC Moore. Once you've tied them all together, you're done! Just add some ties on the ends to hang it up.

11. Before I show you the final result, I want to jump back to those leftover scraps. As I mentioned, you can get at least 4 triangles out of them to make some mini banners.
Just punch two holes on the top, and thread a ribbon through. They would be great party accents, and would carry the color theme throughout your home.
Here it is! I decided to break up the words into a few separate banners, rather than just having one really long banner. You can do whatever you'd like.
Update: the completed banner hanging at the party.

Enjoy! And Happy First Day of Spring! You need a banner for that now, don't you?
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