December 25, 2023


Wishing you a very merry Christmas with your friends and family.  I hope you can relax and enjoy your day surrounded by the ones you love.
Blessings to you and yours!

December 20, 2023

Decoupaged Pottery Barn Knock-Off Tray

Whenever I flip through a Pottery Barn catalog, I often think "I can make that, and for a lot cheaper."  Just this week, I saw a vintage-looking decoupaged typography tray, and thought I could definitely replicate this for a few bucks.
Pottery Barn Trays
My Knock-Off Trays. Tres Manifique, eh?
As a member of the #GlueNGlitter group at Social Fabric, I had the chance to play around with some of Elmer's Memory Keeping products and create a knock-off item of my choosing.  How fun, shopping for craft supplies and making something.  I've mentioned before that I'm a big Elmer's fan here, so I knew I'd find exactly what I needed to make this project.

I headed to Walmart to find what I needed.  First off, the glass trays.  I picked up 3 square candle trays, $3 for the large, $1.50 each for the small ones.
Then I headed to the Elmer's Memory Keeping Aisle, which was a little hard to find, since it's not in the Crafts section.  Instead, I found it near the greeting cards, stationary and gift wrap.
There were lots of possibilities for adhesives, glues, and cutting agents.  And it looked like a lot of people were either crafting with or gifting these items, since there were some empty spaces too.
I wanted to pick up a CraftBond Dual-tip Flexible Pen, a CraftBond Flexible Dual Tip Glue Pen,and X-ACTO templates, as well as an X-ACTO Knife and Self-Healing cutting mat.
There were so many nice products, including Precision scissors and larger scissors, including ones with decorative edges.
 The adhesives were not limited to the typical Elmer's glue, but included glue dots and runners,   adhesive spot stampers and refills.  It was a little overwhelming, figuring out the best products to buy, especially that I'm not into scrapbooking.  Though as an artist, I do appreciate how many acid-free options there are when it comes to adhesives and creating archival items.

Everything you need for creating paper memories, save for the photos.

Once I got home, I gathered the materials and got to work.  Here's what I used:
Three Square glass candle plates (1 large, 2 small), Elmer's Dual Tip Glue Pen, Retractable X-ACTO Knife, X-ACTO Stainless Steel Scissors, X-ACTO Basic Shapes Templates, and the Dual Tip Flexible Pen in black (they were out of silver, which is the one I wanted).
I also created a template similar to the Pottery Barn one using Photoshop and printed it onto copy paper using a laser printer.  Unfortunately, one cannot use an Ink jet printer because the ink will smear when in contact with the glue.
I'm uploading my template for you HERE, as a free printable. 

I used my scissors to cut out the paper so it fit the larger glass plate.
Using the pen,  I traced over some of the decorative flourishes along the edges, to make them stand out a little more.  This would have looked prettier with the silver pen, but alas, my store was out of them.
Alternatively, you could use the X-ACTO Shape Templates to draw an original border around the edges.  There are so many possibilities.
Once I finished preparing the paper, I turned my glass plate over (I made sure to remove the stickers and wash the glass of any residue first) and spread the glue from the Elmer's Glue Pen on the back.
I then spread it evenly with a foam brush
 I carefully laid the paper on top, making sure it was evenly placed, then smoothed it down.
Next, add another layer of glue, and keep spreading the paper down with your fingers or the brush.
Any bubbles can be popped with an X-ACTO knife, then smoothed out.
While the larger plate was drying, I moved onto the smaller trays. I found the images here and here.

I used the self-healing mat and X-ACTO knife to cut out the picture by tracing around the edges.
I used the Marker to create a black border around the image before gluing it on the glass.
Then I followed the same steps as above, and got three really cute trays to use as gifts.
And it cost under $20 to make them, compared with$14 and $29 each at Pottery Barn.

They can hold trinkets, jewelery or even dry food, though only the top should be wiped clean. Submerging it will take the paper off.

Hope you make some of your own! They would make a great collage project for kids using magazine clippings or even stickers or their own artwork.

You can read more about my shopping experience via my Google+ post.
Disclosure: This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #ElmersHoliday #gluenglitter #Looks4Less #collectivebias#CBias


'Tis that time of year when we elves are busy busy busy making making making.

From cookies (I made peppermint snowballs and dark chocolate espresso ones)
to homemade gifts like our Peppermint Playdough (real-life friends, look away!)
The playdough was super-simple to make, and S and I had fun creating it to give to our little friends.
I used this recipe and it yielded 8 pints of the dough, enough for 8 friends.

We even made some gifts for the dads, like these popsicle stick frames, which are waiting for photos.
And here are my ever-present takeout boxes, waiting to be filled with Spicy Party Mix (forgive the awful photos in that post--it was pre-DSLR camera) for Chris' co-workers.  Yum!

Despite the chaos in the house, I love having spools of ribbon and scraps of paper underfoot.
I'm still behind in a few gifts for Soren, as well as a few knitted gifts and teacher "breakfast" baskets with homemade pancake mix and cocoa.

What are you busy making this week?

December 15, 2023

Jude at 5 Months

Where does the time go?  Diaper changes, nursing, forever changing clothes that have been spit-upon or are soaked with drool, that's where it goes.  My Baby Kickies is 5+ months!

Yeah, I neglected to take both the 4 month and 5 month white-onesie-wearing-lying-on-the-carpet photos, but I knew that streak would end eventually. I don't know how some moms do it, taking those monthly pics in the similar outfit/setting regularly.  I can barely find time to comb my hair or pee.

At 5 months, Jude is really blossoming in his personality.  He is constantly scanning the room for Mama, and either gets excited or upset when he sees me (when he wants to nurse or be held, all molecules of Jude WANT MAMA!).
He's such an incredible baby; in fact Chris and I were just whispering about that this morning (side note: both of us have lost our voices due to a lingering cold--it's hilarious and annoying), how we can't believe how easy he is.  He was yawning and rubbing his eyes, Chris put him in his crib and he went right to sleep.  In general, this is how he is with sleeping, once he finds his thumb.

This month we've also introduced solid foods to him, which has lit up a whole new area of pleasure in the prefrontal cortex of his brain (here I am getting all scientific on you).  He grabs for the spoon, gobbling pears, rice cereal, and most recently, spinach and rutabaga.   That was SO not like Soren. To this day no molecule of rutabaga has come across S's tongue.
He's so excited about eating that he'll even sit forward and pull himself up toward the spoon.  Is this kind of baby gusto about food normal?

On the sleeping front, he still is not sleeping through the night. Some nights he's even up 3-4 times, wanting to nurse.  It has been a rough month for him, with battling 2 colds and teething. Like his brother, Jude is a chronic teether. It seemed like Soren was always fussy, weeks before finally cutting teeth. It seems that way for Jude too.

The sleeping has been tough on me.  Five+ months of interrupted sleep has made me prone to getting sick more often, and has made me a bit of an insomniac. It takes forever for me to fall asleep, I think because I'm anticipating being woken up right as I drop off (it has happened often).  I'm hoping that once Jude is feeling better, I'll work on sleep learning.  This book was helpful with Soren, and is a great approach for helping your child sleep without letting them cry it out.

In general, it's been a good month for our smiley boy.  I love hearing his coos and vocalizing, and oh those cheeks!  We're looking forward to enjoying our first Christmas with this delightful little guy.

December 14, 2023

Wordless Wednesay: Avoiding Housework

The house is a wreck, but who cares when there's a delicious baby smiling and kicking on the floor.
Happy Wednesday!

December 12, 2023

Letting Go: Perfection

Despite daily efforts of practicing mindfulness (emphasis on the word "effort"), I have a lot of trouble with letting go.  I'm human, after all (shocking, I know), but I'm thinking about posting from time to time about my struggles with letting go of stuff.  Not things like baby clothes and never-worn shoes, but of attachments to ideas, habits, petty annoyances, and character flaws.

One such thing that has been burdening my mind of late, well, really, of years, has been this need for perfection.  Perfection in our home with tidiness and order, perfection in keeping Soren in line, perfection in action, like saying or doing the right thing at the right time.  It's exhausting, and more pointedly, frustrating, but each day I still hop on that trick pony and keep up the act.  It's a habit that I SO want to let go of.

But the truth is, I'm an utter failure at achieving it; pursing it, I'm pretty good, but perfection is so fleeting that it frustrates me.  The house, though clean and orderly for all of 5 minutes, soon becomes sticky and toy-strewn.

Just today, I was visiting a friend who insisted that I sit down, relax, let the boys play, though every ounce of my being was wanting to hover, making sure my boy didn't destroy the place.  He was certainly in the mode of doing so.  I sometimes forget that, well, he's three, and he's a boy.  His energy is overwhelming to a slug like myself.  However, I really did try to mindfully let go of fussing over his every move, and then sat with my back to the kids.  Yeah, they made a mess with playdough littering the floor (and walls!), but they had fun.  And I even encouraged S to jump in an icy puddle on the way home.  Why not?  We were just walking back, and he could take off his shoes when we got inside.

One day at a time, breath by breath, I tell myself.  Who knows what craziness with ensue tomorrow, maybe we'll rearrange the furniture or ice skate on paper plates around the kitchen.  But you can be sure that I'll be still working on letting go.

December 8, 2023

Spirited Away

This post has been incubating in the back of my head for quite some time.  Yet I'm not really sure why I'm finally writing it this morning, since I'm not struck by creative inspiration or a profound moment.  Maybe because it's been a rough morning with SoJo, and now that he's at school, I needed some sort of release from the "raaaahhhhhs" that I've been living with all morning (well, truthfully, most of the week).

Anyway, you're probably wondering what in the world this is about.  Chris and I had a "eureka" moment last month when we were finally able to put a name to our challenges with our first born--he's a "Spirited" child. 
The energy, adventurousness, and curiosity of this boy are incredible!  And no less than half of our photos of him turn out like the one above.

I stumbled upon this book at the library, and it's really opened up a window into our son's personality and behavior.  I can honestly say the last 3 years with Soren have been challenging, frustrating, tearful, and have called into question my skills as a parent.  I often wondered what was wrong with me, and why my experience of parenthood was so lackluster compared with other parents that I know.

For a long time, I blamed myself, thinking I was just not cut out to be a mother, and that I was incapable of finding joy in the livelihood of being a parent.  But then Jude came along, and Chris and I continually say "wow, so THIS is why people love babies and being parents!"  Don't get me wrong, we're not playing favorites or idealizing life with our second-born; it's simply that he's just so much less demanding and so much more easy going and please-able. It really makes a difference in the level of stress in the house, thank goodness.

This realization has certainly made me have a deeper appreciation of all of those parents that I secretly judged prior to having kids myself, you know, when you're in line at the grocery store and a child is having a meltdown.  The tendency is to blame the parents, however, as you parent-readers wisely know, it's a crap-shoot of everything, genetics, environment, mood, other influences, etc.  You just never know what kind of kid you see or what the situation of the day was.

School has had its challenges, especially now that Soren is comfortable there and is showing his true colors.  While he is enthusiastic and helpful to his teachers, I can tell that he's also a handful for them too.  Yep, I had my first "can I talk to you" moment recently, when I picked him up from school.   And yes, my heart sank, hearing those words.

But things are ok, and we're working on some issues, like we're continually working on issues.  Parents of spirited kids are forever working, moment after moment after moment.  I find that I don't have much of a break with keeping an eye on him, even at 3 1/2 years old.  His persistence about things is a core trait of a spirited child. 

Knowing what I now know via that book, it's comforting that I'm not alone in this, and that about 20% of kids are considered spirited.  One of my brothers is what I'd now define as spirited, and I often wonder how my mom made it through his childhood (broken bones, broken furnishings, etc).  Luckily for her, she had experience with her older children, who weren't so spirited, so I doubt she struggled with questions of her worth as a mother as I have.

Thankfully, this book has been helpful in suggesting ways of raising a child like Soren without breaking his spirit and encouraging his wonderful traits, which he has so many of.  I love that he's so enthusiastic, curious, and filled with such joy (though his emotions in general are much more intense, so his lows are really low too).  I hope that by parenting him moment by moment, mindfully, that Chris and I can bring out the best in him.

Do you have experience with a spirited child? What has worked for you?

December 6, 2023

Home for the Holidays

What a busy month so far! Between decorating, making gifts, and making this time of year magical for my sons, it's been a fun week.  As of right now, I'm just sipping tea, enjoying the Christmas lights on this dreary, rainy day while the boys nap.

Since I love peeking in homes this time of year, both online and sometimes on evening walks (shhhhh, don't tell! Though I could care less what the people are doing, I just like seeing what it looks like inside their homes), I thought I'd share some photos of our decorations.
It's really hard photographing the tree with our Northern-facing windows.  But believe me, this tree is so pretty, even if it does look like it's leaning in the photo. Here's Soren below, right after putting the star on top.
This is the first year we went with a Frasier Fir instead of a Douglas Fir, and it's so much nicer. The needles aren't all over the floor like in Christmases past.  Below is my homemade tree skirt, embroidered wool felt with dyed industrial wool felt pieces glued onto it (my fingers couldn't handle piercing that thick industrial felt).
Those little ceramic houses were once my uncle's; he collected them from a local department store each year, and now Soren plays with them under the tree.

I decorated the tree in bright colors, to go with the tree skirt and also the felt balls that I made a few years ago.
The stockings, while not hung by the chimney, go up our stair rail along with some fresh pine garland and white lights.
And of course I hung the Christmas Card holder wreath again this year. It's hungry for cards (so far there's just one on there), though I need to locate the missing clothespin at the bottom.
I also filled the Rwandan basket with a mix of pinecones, greens and fake berries (I just don't trust my son to have real ones around)
In the kitchen, we still have the gingerbread house, minus a few candies and nibbles,
and the Nativity set, a gift from the grandparents a few years ago.  Soren and his friends really enjoy playing with it.
Also in the kitchen, a few odds and ends like the paper garland I sewed hanging on the windows
and a little Christmas tree on a wall shelf.
We have an odd bathroom off of the kitchen that I decorate too, with mini pennants and paper trees that I made
as well as the kids' tree, decorated with ornaments Soren and I have made together along with other ones he wanted to add to this small tree.
I intend on continuing to add more things on it as we make them this season.
Here's another photo of the felt garland I made this week. I never tire of looking at it hanging above the doorway between the kitchen and living room.
So that's the basic tour.  It's a far cry from inviting you in for a hot cup of tea or coffee, but the sentiment is there.  Have you decorated for the holidays?  Leave me a link if you posted some photos on your blog. I'd love to "visit"!
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