Sunday, October 26, 2008

Back hurts... ow.

I've been moving furniture. For days and days and days. Why? Because I am crazy and I think that if my house is so organized that I can bounce a quarter off my life, then I won't be crazy anymore. Make sense? No, not really to me either, so I try not to think about it too much as I am moving the rooms around.

Seriously though. I really am organizing everything. I am seriously doing ALL the projects on the secret list in the back of the journal. The 'someday' list. Someday is now, baby, and the agony in my back proves it.

To celebrate the halfway point of my big project, (yes, only half done, sigh), the girl and I got crafty tonight. I've been lax on Halloween festivities, except for the annual 'practice' trick or treat game my kids like to play. The one where they pretend to trick or treat and then I give them candy and then they leave me alone for a half hour so I can organize playmobil toys. Good game. I'll be sad to see Halloween end. But other than the 'dentist loves me game', I've been a holiday dud. I haven't put up decorations, done the usual printing of halloween games and color sheets, halloween crafts, etc. The girl put my mind to ease tonight though when she came up with a cool halloween collage all on her own.

Here she is working on the picture. Notice the fact that she is too old for a sippy cup and too young to use permanent markers and how I am oddly proud of capturing her using both on film.

In production.

Finished piece. That little skeleton guy is so darn cute.

I finally got my paints out and played tonight. I've been wanting to paint for so long, (something other than walls and bookshelves), so I dragged out the stuff and wrestled the canvas board away from my daughter, because she has a weird cool-craft-supply radar and is suddenly RIGHT THERE as soon as I pull something new out of my hat. Of course, I love this about her.

You know those folksy coffee/tea cup art pictures that are always up in coffee shops? Every time I see those pictures I always want them and want to paint one myself. So that was my goal. My own coffee cup art. The best part was it didn't have to be anything near perfect because that is part of the charm. They always look homemade and cute.

I titled it "Sanity".

I have a goal of both creating more art for my family to keep, and to actually hang the art I have on my walls. The coffee picture will either go in my kitchen or my art room. One more check off my big long list of things to get done, but an enjoyable project. The next art project I have in mind involves a map of the US and making all the states out of polymer clay. But that might have to wait until the lazy days of winter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Feeling Inspired

For whatever reason I've been inspired over the last few days and I am tackling all those project that are usually ignored. I've been moving furniture around the house, painting bookshelves, rearranging everything, everything, everything. It is great and horrible all at once. And I have been cooking with the kids every day. That has been a blast. My husband has been working long hours and never has a clue what to expect when he gets home anymore. Poor guy.

So blogging has been light. I miss it and will be back to it. But it will be after I put my house back together again. OMG it is BAD right now. But bad in a good way. That sounds crazy, doesn't it? It is.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I am in love...

With recipe software.

Seriously. I love it.

I was sent an email that was offering MacGourmet at a discount price. So I downloaded a trial version and played around a bit. What I discovered is it does exactly what I have been doing by hand and wasting 5+ hours every week on. So once I plug in all my tried and true recipes it will take me like 10 minutes tops to do my weekly menu and maybe 20 minutes to do a monthly menu.

Not only will the software send my menu choices to my iCalendar software, but I have the option to print out more detailed weekly menus as well. Perfect for the front of fridge. I used to print out a blank calendar page from iCalendar and then handwrite my menu choices. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but it is when you change your mind as much as I do once I see it all spread out in front of me and realize I don't want to eat that much hamburger in a month. This will save a lot of paper and time. Oh, and there is a shopping list option that rocks my world. After I select my weekly menu, I can print out a shopping list that will let me know everything I need for my planned meals.

I also love the clipping option. I can copy a recipe I find on the internet and use the little clipping thing to turn it into a fully functioning recipe that I can import into my recipe library. That way I can put it in categories and be able to find it through ingredients, type of meal, etc.

The final bit of cool is the option to download recipes onto my ipod. That way I don't have to print out the recipe I plan to use for a meal. Since I am not cool enough to have a kitchen computer, I usually print out my recipes then put them into a binder once I am done with them. Seems reasonable enough. But this is even better. No paper to get all messy and then have to store. Just download my weekly recipes and grab my ipod.

All this and I am still learning the software. I am so geekily excited. I save so much money when I plan my month out ahead of time. I can then check the sale papers, and compare coupons and then don't get tempted by extra junk if I know exactly what we will be eating. But oh man, I HATE the time this takes. So happily, this little purchase will save me both time and money, which in my world equals SANITY. Yay!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My little Jedi Knights

Well. I had wonderful intentions to make costumes for Halloween. But a couple days ago the husband got online with the kids and some secret Jedi mind trick took place and I was informed my services were no longer required in the costume department. It appears that Daddy can be persuaded to buy overpriced Jedi costumes. This sweet weakness of my husband is why daddy doesn't get to go grocery shopping anymore. There are way to many bright and shiny things at the grocery store. Sweet exasperation.

Oh well. I haven't cut the material yet for the fairy costume, just washed it so far. I might go ahead and make it in secret and give it for Christmas as a dress-up costume.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Camperdown Elm

This is my favorite tree and I am lucky enough to have it live in my yard. Someone wanted this tree to be here. A Camperdown Elm is not a tree that will grow naturally in the wild. It is a man-made tree.

I wonder who made it.

And why it ended up in my yard.

I wonder if they thought about the people who would love this tree.

I wonder if they ever got to see it huge and gorgeous like it is now.

Here are some shots I took of the tree this last winter.


Just awesome.

Caterpillar Photo Safari

The girl has been itching to take pictures of the caterpillars that are thriving around our favorite trail. First we took a hike by the dam to watch the salmon run, then while the boys hiked the Skyline Trail, (yes, the name is apt and it has a million stairs, so I got the best assignment here), the girls took some nature photos. (I took these pics, I haven't downloaded hers yet.)

The little guys that my girl has been talking about for weeks now. True love.

Can you find the frog?

Zoomed in... He's still hard to see, isn't he?

I think this is an American Cutter Moth Larva. It is what I have found so far in my google search. I will alter this post later if I find out differently. If anyone knows, please comment :)

She thinks of them as the stuffed animals of bugs I think.

Outdoor theater. This view reminded me of when I was in Teotihuacan, in Mexico. View of the pyramid stairs.

The daughter at the top of the 'pyramid'. I know, I am a dork.

Jaunty little photog shot. :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

This is so cool!

Paper Toy Transformer - Transformer De Papel - For more funny movies, click here

I can't wait to try this with my kids! Now I just need to watch the video a few thousand times to figure it out :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Paper Clay Mask, part II


Last year I started to write about the paper clay mask I made my boy for Halloween. I abandoned the post because I made a major error in making the mask and had to scramble to come up with an alternative. But since it is costume time again I thought I would post what I did and what I learned for anyone else wanting to try.

First I would like to say that I LOVE paper clay for masks. It is so fun to work with. Dries relatively light, so wearing isn't too uncomfortable. It also paints up beautifully. Here is the link to when I started to post about it last year.


Steps I used to make the mask:

1. I found a picture of the mask I wanted to make on the internet. In this case "The Blue Spirit" from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

2. I bought a cheap latex mask from the dollar store to use as a pattern. I modified the dollar store mask to fit the general shape of The Blue Spirit and enlarged the eye holes. Then I stuffed the back of the mask with newspaper wrapped in aluminum foil for it to keep its shape when I add the paperclay.

3. I smooshed (technical term) the paperclay right on top of the latex mask. Making a plain smooth mask surface and uniform thickness first, then building up the mask to look like my desired character. I used a bit of water to smooth the clay after I was finished.

4. I let it dry for a couple days and then painted it with acrylic paint.

5. HERE IS WHERE I MESSED UP: I glued a tight fitting hat to the forehead so it wouldn't slip around while my kid wore it. This would have worked beautifully if I had done it months before hand, because the only glue that would hold the paperclay and material together strongly enough for a four year old was E6000 and Oh. Lord. The. Smell. The smell goes away, but not in time for that Halloween. We could have drilled holes and tied string, but even after I removed the material, the smell of the glue stayed. Sooooo....

I did this.
A felt mask. Which to be honest was better for the little guy anyway. More comfy, lightweight.
For the felt mask I printed out pictures of The Blue Spirit at the exact size I wanted the mask and literally cut them up and used the shapes as pattern pieces for the felt. I then assembled the mask with a combo of fabric glue and handsewing. I put some lightweight wire in the cheek and forehead areas to give it some shape. Attached it with elastic. Voila!

Here is what they look like on:

Notice this mask wasn't totally finished. I had planned on adding the white 'ear' type things with a cardstock covered in modpodge, but the glue incident interfered.

Yes, I realize that this is a bit overboard for Halloween. But hey! It only comes around once a year :) Thank goodness.

A Momentous Event

Hi, my name is Sage, and I am a tape addict. That is, I was. Today I have learned the folly in my silly obsession to smother my crafts in various types of tape. My mom captured the event on camera. Most moms take pictures of their kid's first steps. Not my mom, that is a garden variety milestone. Besides, when I learned to walk she was a working zombie and either wasn't there or didn't notice. Don't worry. She is working that pain out. We have therapists in the family. Anyway... my mom captures the true moments when life changes for the better.

Always the gemstones. Seriously, can you buy these things in bulk?

Notice the choice of tape or glue. Glue added by the mother, in hope it might someday get noticed and used.

(Insert sharp intake of breath here...) Wait for it.....

YES! Glue is on the menu folks. What we save in tape dollars, we can use for more tiny fake gems.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


My kids were going to be easy on me this Halloween. My daughter wanted to assemble her own costume from assorted dress-up clothes she already has. She has been 'coloring' her fake jewelry using my permanent & gel markers for weeks now in anticipation of whatever costume this was going to be. I was very proud of this. But then I got a new sewing machine! So of course, we had to check out the costume patterns.


Needless to say, plans changed, and to be honest I am glad. We are having a blast figuring this costume out. We are using the above pattern. The little pant things on the orange fairy and the dress from the tinkerbell fairy. Underneath will be some rockin' striped socks that I got at the Renaissance Fair.

You know window seat type benches that are in most of my pictures? They hold material stash. Sort of an extravagance when we live in such a small space. But it does come in handy. The girl had a lot of fun digging through the collection and picking out stuff to match her choice of striped socks. (Obviously the striped things in the photo).


Close up of the fabric for the main dress. It has a bit of sparkle to it.
The blue material will be the underskirt and maybe the wings.

I'm sewing again! Yay!

Oh, my boy wants to be a skeleton. And he very specifically wants me to paint NOT sew the bones onto his costume. I am looking forward to this costume just as much. Sigh... I love Halloween.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Today we had...

Illness :(

Basically a change from one pair of pajamas into another sort of day.

Crafts. Look at this crazy little flower box the girl created for her dollhouse. She used styrofoam she 'recycled' from my sewing machine box, pipe cleaners, paper and little puff balls. I love that kid. She's always doing these odd little spontaneous crafts.

And I started to teach the girl how to read patterns, which she took to really quickly. She even had the awesome observation that she could cut out the tiny examples of the pattern pieces from the instruction sheet and sew doll clothes from them. We agreed it would be better to scan them onto the computer and blow them up a bit first. But, what a cool idea!

Oh, and the kids learned by watching me how to use my sewing machine. How do I know this? Because when I returned to the room after starting their bath they had sewn decorative lines onto a bunch of card stock to make cards for 'best friends day'. YIKES!!! Mimicking when I did this when I was testing out the machine.
Not that I am against kids sewing, I am all for it. But I am realizing I should have given them lessons (and WARNINGS!) before I left them alone with the big tempting machine, huh? Luckily nothing was pierced or sewn together that should not have been due to my negligence.

Now I am trying to figure out if I can stand to watch the debate after today. I think I am going to pass and rest up for tomorrow. Daddy is still finishing a 14 hour work day and mommy needs a drink and a pillow.

Supporting the Military

An open letter to any Republican who feels the need to scream at a Democrat about "abandoning the troops".

Please acknowledge that not all of our troops are Republicans. Also, be careful in your assumption that just because we are cursed 'liberals' that we do not have close family in the military. I am an Obama supporter that happens to have two members of my family that have served and are serving in Iraq. I also have a seventeen year old boy that is gung-ho to join the army when he graduates this year.

Within the last two weeks I have encountered such horrible, literally SCREAMING prejudice about this issue and I am so frustrated. People. Republicans don't have the frickin claim on the military. Last I checked we are the USA and I was under the impression that means we are entitled to our opinion. That is, in fact, what we have military for, to protect our freedoms.

So quit yelling at me as if this statement was a deal closer. It is NOT. I support our troops. Obama supports our troops. I don't know one 'liberal' who does not support our troops. So stop sounding STUPID, and THINK, before you offend the next military family you come across with your Fox News-propaganda, Palin-ish racism, blind-faith, dogma-filled, fear-based, messed-up view of the world that you feel the need to inflict on random people that surround you.

Okay, off my soap-box. For now.

New Joy


Sister reading to brother. :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

I have one piece of advice about textured wall paint... AVOID IT!

First we had to do this...

Then went from this... (this was after we already painted the walls with the horrible textured paint and gave up about a month ago. I guess I didn't take a proper before picture when the walls were still green. At least not that I can find.)

To this.

It doesn't look like much from the pictures but we actually painted the walls again with the texture paint. We used fat rollers, thin rollers, brushes, then finally I was just smearing the stupid stuff on with my hands. Which worked the best. Finally we gave up and bought regular paint and covered up the whole darn mess. Whew! You can't look too close because it seriously looks like some of our walls have bad cellulite. But hey, at this point, much like my thighs I am embracing it as a sign of surviving far enough to make life interesting.

We actually have one more shelf unit built and up. Just forgot to take a picture. The brown on the shelf was us trying out color. We went with a kraft paper brownish instead. So far so good. By the end of next weekend this project should be OVER.

Just in time for new projects where I can use....

My early birthday/Christmas present! Yay!

My old sewing machine gave out Sept. 2007 and I have been hand sewing whenever the need arises. Including the kid's halloween costumes last year. Yikes! My kids' dance teacher asked me to sew a couple costumes this year so I cashed in on the gifting season early. Besides, with the way the economy is, come winter we might not have the money to buy one! Gosh that is so bad to joke about isn't it? Oh well. I am tired. I'll blame that :)

Happy not Monday everyone!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My little choreographer...






Old dog... New tricks


I have always wanted to garden, but was born without the natural talent to keep plants alive. Over the years many, many plants have suffered under my ungreen thumbs. I gave up.

But one day we were at the store and told my daughter she could spend some of her money. Instead of being seduced by some new shiny toy, she chose a small plant. She is determined to plant a garden next spring and even picked out a book about flowers that thrive in Michigan that she studies daily. So I figured I would learn with her, starting with that little plant she clutched so proudly. Later, our friend gave me a baby from his spider plant and told me they were 'easy'. Then our friend died, so I have this intense need to see his little spider plant thrive. So that is two plants I've been mother to this summer. Two plants that have lived to see the fall.

So far so good. I have even had to transplant them both since they've grown so much. I think that is a good sign. A week ago my mom gave me a new plant. So I guess I am onto something.

A crafty little bouquet my kids made for me the other day while I was swamped with freelancing. The only types I've been trusted with in the past.

While I love crafty flowers, I look forward to growing the real thing and finally I have confidence it will happen. I know it is weird to change my opinion of my skills based on three hearty plants. But for me, this is a definite change. It makes me happy. I look forward to learning along side my children to get the feel for the earth, and to nurture plants that will in turn nourish us.