Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 : Our Year in Review

: ringing it in

february : strawberries

march :
welcome, spring

april :
treasure hunt

may :
color walking

june :
soaking in the sun

july :
fiery fresh

august :
the space between

september :
finding beauty

october :

november :

december :
sweetest gifts

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, little b

My sweet little b has made two trips around the sun, and has brightened our world each day of the journey. Today we celebrated his birth and his life with special touches, our wonderful family, and good friends.

Little b awoke to his mama's singing, a warm house, and his birthday bunting hanging over the back doors.It didn't take him very long to discover the wooden toy box I found at a yard sale, refinished with vintage record jacket graphics, and filled with a ton of those really big Legos from Goodwill.
We played all morning with those, and with other special and thoughtful gifts from Papa and friends.

I sang him the song that I sang throughout my pregnancy with him; magically, I thrifted this songbook just yesterday, and opened right to this page. For a perfectly cool and bright mid-morning adventure, we headed to our local Children's Garden, one of our most favorite spots. We were blessed by the company of many friends. There little b fed fish, jumped from tree stump to tree stump, pulled wagons through tunnels and chased kitty cats. For him it was a perfect birthday morning.This evening we continued the celebration at an All-American burger joint with Grammy, Papu and Noni, who brought little b these bright balloons.
Little b, Papa and I thank you for choosing us to guide you, and for choosing Big B to be your staunch companion. We thank you for your laughter, your funny faces and your funny voices, your award-winning snuggles, your determination, your intuition, your sense of self, your made-up words, your kindness, your sweetness, and your ability to make every single person in your world... HAPPY. We wish for you the same happiness in return, a million times around the sun and back again. Happy birthday little b!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Solstice Crowns

The Winter Solstice holds a special place in the hearts of our family. Today's activity on our Advent Calendar was to make Solstice Crowns, celebrating the rebirth of the Sun King and allowing our boys to feel connected to the cycle of the seasons.

Ironically, last week my dear friend Rose posted about her own Advent Crowns, which are so beautiful I was inspired to follow her lead. I found this tutorial and collected my supplies.
I finished the crowns with each little Sun King's initial and let them go to town with glue and sequins. It is very cute, I might add, to hear little b say "bling." I think the results are darling.Happy Solstice to all of you, and may the spirit of rebirth bring you great blessings and abundance in the coming season--fit for a King!
An exceprt from The Yule Faeries, A Winter Solstice Story:

The Old Wise One touched the baby's cheek with her wrinkled hand. "
This is the great secret of the Winter Solstice. Every year the Sun King must come to the sacred grove during the darkest days of winter where he dies. I take his spirit to the Mother who gives him new life again. This is the way for all creatures, not just the Sun King."

"You mean everything lives and dies and lives again?" the Faeries looked down in wonder at the baby Sun King, nestled in the arms of the Mother.

" Yes, Little Ones," answered the Old Wise Crone. "There is never an end to life. This is the great mystical secret of the Winter Solstice."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cargo Pocket Tooth Fairy Pillow

Big B lost his first tooth yesterday! What a sweet milestone. I remember when that little tooth came in, feeling its sharpness as Big B sucked on my finger from his perch in the sling. The rite of passage was met with pure excitement in our house, and secret sadness in my heart. Nevertheless, we had to honor it in the traditionally magical way that would welcome The Tooth Fairy to Big B's pillow.

I had very little notice and many, many other projects on the sewing table when the tooth in question decided to I grabbed a pocket that had come off of Papa's shorts some time ago, grabbed some iron-on patches I had in the sewing drawers, appliqued a quick tooth cut-out and made a little pillow.It's not the fanciest Tooth Fairy Pillow ever there was, but the pocket was ready-made and the embellishments were applied with love. And it worked beautifully, for there in the pocket this morning was treasure, and a brand new very cute smile on the face of its finder.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Yard Sale Score: Vintage Christmas

Check out these adorable vintage snowglobes we found at an estate sale this morning! ...and I couldn't resist* this tutorial, circa 1941.
A great way to start our pre-Christmas weekend!

(*Edited to add: I was immediately drawn to this book, and something familiar about it has been nagging at me all day; I finally realized what it was! Mama Bird's mama, author of Hello Sunshine and a fabulous watercolorist, blogged about her copy of this book, which belonged to her mother or grandmother, in her post about re-learning to knit. What a coincidence!)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kid-Made Block Printed Gift Bags

Our oven has seen a lot of cookies in the past 48 hours, and we're not even close to being finished with our holiday baking. We did manage to make enough treats to bring to our wonderful neighbors yesterday. We needed a quick way to package up the cookies, so we grabbed some brown paper lunch bags, foam shapes, glue and glitter, and this was the result! Making the stamps was so much fun! Big B did all of the stamping and gluing and glittering while little b made our dining room table look like a snowstorm. After some silver names were added, we had some sweet little bags for our sweet friends. We'll use the stamps again (with paint) for our homemade wrapping paper, but this little batch was lovingly stuffed with our favorite fresh ginger cookies. Enjoy!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thirty Minute Pillowcase Aprons

Oh boy. What started as a simple idea for a handmade gift has grown into a mild obsession. These are the easiest, cutest, cheapest whip-ups ever, and I can't wait to make more. I found this tutorial for pillowcase aprons, and after making a prototype, I have modified it to create a snazzier binding and flap-less pocket. The possibilities are endless. Each of the three aprons below were created from $0.99 pillowcases scored from Goodwill.
From start to finish, one of these cuties takes me exactly thirty minutes. I want to go back to Goodwill right now and find more inspiration! Care to share any of your quick handmade gift ideas?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Almost as Good as Christmas Morning

It happens only once a year. The chosen have been busy for weeks creating their handmade gifts. The hustle and bustle of shoppers is abuzz with energy. I must admit, I look forward to this indie craft festival each year almost as much as Christmas Day itself.

We are so lucky to live in a community that embraces the handmade, the repurposed, the upcycled, the vintage and the offbeat. For the fourth year running, our local municipal auditorium was absolutely packed to the gills for The Atomic Holiday Bazaar. After learning my lesson last year, and with big thanks to dear Papa, I was able to go this year without the boys. The craftiness captured my complete attention, and Noni and I noticed a few new trends.

1: FEATHERS. It seemed feathers were everywhere, on hair clips, headbands and hats.2: HATS. Speaking of hats, they were everywhere too--the tinier the better. Pillbox hats are apparently back with a vengeance. There were tiny hats on large heads......and then there were just large heads. Handcrafted, totally unique creations like these are what makes the Atomic Holiday Bazaar so incredibly fabulous.3: OWLS. This is not a new trend, by any means, but these birds just keep getting hotter. Here are a few joined by other whimsical ornaments from Red Marionette.Owls were spotted on handbags, clutches, wallets, wall art, and pendants, like these upcycled spoons from Gorilla Dust.4: BEER BOTTLE CAPS. Noni and I noticed several things made from these, like magnets, pendants, and picture frames. This recyclable seemed to slip in where last year's vinyl left off.5: GIVING BACK. Enter ZimKids. What a cool idea. Each of these little dolls was created by a child in Zimbabwe. For $25, someone can take one of these handmades home, and receive a thank you from the child who created it. All of the money goes directly to helping feed the child's family. $25 can feed a family in Zimbabwe for an average of one month.
Look how sweet these are! A pop top for a belt buckle? Pretty ingenious for an eight-year-old.There were so many great vendors, perhaps it's a good thing my camera died early in the afternoon; I could actually pay attention to the creativity around me. I would like to give props to Sutara, Fat Orange Cat, and Dragonfly Crafts for especially inspiring my creative juices, as always. A new inspiration for me this year (and maybe just the kick in the pants I need to get little b's birthday bunting made) was the darling work of Shanlie.
I told myself that I would not buy any gifts at the Bazaar, in keeping with our secondhand Christmas. But Papa made me promise to treat myself to something (whatta man), so I chose these simple pendants honoring my boys, from local jewelry artist be. She stamped them right there while I waited.
I'm looking forward to next year's Bazaar already, and am freshly inspired to work on all of my own handmade gifts for the season. Off to my sewing machine!