this moment...

may you be blessed with lots of good, true love in the coming year! best wishes for a safe & happy 2011!!!


this christmas...

we have pretty much officially dug ourselves out from under christmas. all original parts still in tact, i think. it was a lovely day stuffed full of family and food and thoughtful gifting--all which made us feel loved and lucky. such a full day, in fact, that i never managed to wrangle lucy and hudson into their christmas outfits. lucy's dress was thrifted--at $5.99 not such a big deal. but hudson's, oh hudson's. a vintage splurge i simply had to squeeze him into, for the simple fact that it probably won't fit next week, let alone next year.

so squeeze we did. the sun was setting on a regular monday afternoon, and i was in a mad dash to get the two of them dressed and happy and sitting still for a few moments. no small feat, i assure you. the end result was pretty far from perfect--just the way i've come to love it.

enjoy the photos. i have a couple more christmas posts planned--one to share our mostly vintage decor and one to share the loot that came from all that thoughtful giving ! the rest of the blogging world may be on to the new year and other winter delights, but we are keeping our feet firmly planted in the world of ol' st. nick for a little while longer. i mean really--have you had to explain to a 2 year-old why people are taking down their christmas lights and inflatable santas??? it's an emotional conversation to say the least!


knee-deep in christmas crafting...

we're doing another christmas without wrapping paper or bags. well, store-bought wrapping paper and bags, that is. instead i've sewed a bunch of bags from scrap fabric. some, like the one above, were made from an old bedsheet. i let lucy have fun decorating this morning--we broke out a box of paints and she pretty much did her own thing with only a bit of guidance from me. i was on cleanup patrol and trust me, it wasn't pretty. after the handprint wreath, i let her get into the cookie cutters and she did some snowflake stamping. these were long strips of sheeting that i'll probably use wrapping paper-style instead of sewing into bags.

let me tell you, lucy took a very serious approach to her task or making wrapping paper. it was quite the experience to sit on the couch and let her have at it, deciding just exactly perfectly where to place each cookie cutter. too cute.

are you wrapping creatively this year???


the dangers of shopping online...

ouch. poor hudson's christmas duckies took a beating as they made their way to the valleygirl home, it seems. this boy is obsessed with duck and geese and birds, and i didn't want to disappoint him with a duck-less holiday. luckily these vintage beauties were made fine with a bit of crazyglue, and are now waiting to be re-broken by the duck aficionado himself!


a timely find...

i stumbled across this set of vintage tom and jerry mugs at the thrift store this week and had to bring them home. i'm not much in the way of switching out dishes for christmas, but for these cuties i couldn't resist. the best part is that the tag told me they'd been there since mid-february. this is a thrift store that i visit pretty much weekly--how is it that they'd been hiding from me for so long? seven mugs for $2.50. not too shabby, i say! now somebody pass the eggnog.


this moment...

inspired by soulemama, of course.


little things...

a mountain of hair clips have been made for a (kinda) good little girl. i say "kinda" since she is not so good at keeping track of her hair clips! well, would any two-year old excel in that area? probably not. anyway, once again these clips are super simple to make--just a little ribbon and hot glue covering an alligator clip. it's fun to find all kinds of buttons--the buttons in photos 1 and 3 are from aimoobaroo on etsy. the buttons in the middle photo were pulled off of a vintage seat cushion. i'm currently swooning over a bunch of vintage buttons on etsy. like these and these and this. and not to mention these.

and of course, if you know me at all, you already know that i had a little elf sneak a few clips into her stocking as an early gift. this vintage rhinestone was just begging to be used!


old junk, made better...

we recently sorted through our crayons, picked out the broken ones and tossed them into muffin tins to get re-melted. of course, lucy had SO much fun breaking the already-broken crayons down into smaller pieces, that she totally ended up breaking crayons that were in perfect shape. eh, what can you do? i'd actually rather have 12 big crayons instead of 50,000 small ones. or, at least it feels like 50,000 when i'm the one picking them up. i'm sure you other mamas understand.

this was a super simple project, and only involved throwing the crayons into the oven (set at 350 degrees) for about 10 minutes. the finished product (which i didn't happen to get a photo of, yet) are pretty with swirls of color on the backsides. my only complaint would be that a layer of wax rose to the top, and that edge is non-writable. i did have some luck shaving it off with a sharp knife. next on the list is making a new set of crayons using beeswax, castile soap and natural colorings. the regular crayons got awfully stinky in the oven. oops--i guess that's two complaints!

the more natural beeswax crayons are slated to be one of the few stocking stuffers that santa brings to lucy and hudson. beeswax lip balm for lucy, some oranges and an organic twisted fruit or two (just lucy on that). a couple of toothbrushes and i'm calling it good. hows that for keeping it simple?


and on to the apples...

at the farmer's market last week i picked up 20 pounds of organic apples. the cosmetically challenged sort--$1/pound. i had grand plans of turning out pint after pint of applesauce and apple butter, but the reality was that 20 pounds of apples sure isn't all that much. total yield was something in the neighborhood of 8 pints of applesauce. 1 apple crisp. no apple butter. i guess you've got to count the few that the kids pilfered from the pile while the apples waited for a couple of days to meet their destiny. plus a couple in our morning oatmeal. and that's the way that 20 pounds of apples shook out.

still, it was nice to put up some applesauce, even if it was less that i expected. i used the recipe from food in jars, omitting all of the spices except for cinnamon, since my kids like a really plain flavor when it comes to applesauce. i was surprised at just how sweet the flavor was without any added sugar. though i shouldn't have been--the apples were downright delicious eaten out of hand.

my friend molly was working alonside me in the kitchen. this time, the house didn't get destroyed, as we chose to do the slicing and the cooking during naptime. novel idea, no?

when the girls got up, molly helped them put together an apple crisp for dessert. she brought along an amazing tool--the apple peeler/corer/slicer. if i ever come across one of these in my thrifting adventures, you'd better believe it's going in my cart. the only question is to why molly let me core and slice all the applesauce apples by hand when she had this tool sitting in her bag. ahem. molly?

the girls loved taking turns spinning the crank, which ran the peel off of each apple in loooooong shoestrings. too fun. and their apple crisp was delicious. i should know, i ate most of it myself! in related indulgent confessions, if you are local, do yourself a favor and pick up a quart of the straus organic eggnog. i am not an eggnog person but this stuff is pretty divine. i've even been using it in place of cream in my tea. yum!


pretty little things...

aren't these sweet little jars? a thrift store score at something like five cents each (part of a much bigger haul of regular canning jars which were also insanely inexpensive). the little lids on these cuties pop on and off, making them perfect for kiddie hands to manage. for about 2 seconds, i planned on reselling them, but immediately talked myself out of it. they're just too cheery to pass up!


how it's done...

two moms. four kids (all under the age of three). 20 pounds of organic, local pears. a short window of time--after breakfast, but before lunch--to turn that bounty into 18 pints of honey syrup-packed goodness. can it be done? yes. but not without some serious upheaval of the valley girl home. all's fair when it comes to unsupervised playtime, i suppose!

yes, that is sidewalk chalk in a mama's tea...

all's well that ends well?


my thredup experience...

have you heard about the clothes-swapping site thredup? it's fairly straightforward--members list standard size boxes of children's clothing. boxes can be searched by gender, size and season. if you come across a box you like, you pay for shipping only ($15). then, to fufill your end of the "swap," you list a box of clothing on the site. membership is free. it sounds good enough--despite the fairly high shipping charge, boxes usually contain between 10 and 15 items. boxes are sent priority mail, so they arrive quickly after purchase.

i'd been wanting to try out the site for awhile and finally sprung for a box a couple of weeks ago. after reading the details of quite a few boxes, i chose one that seemed pretty perfect for lucy--mostly 3T winter bottoms with a few summer dresses in size 4. higher end brands like gap and roxy. no mention of any of the disney princesses or dora the explorer. i waited super impatiently for my box to arrive and....

eh. this is a common case of "one man's trash..." but in this case, the situation was reversed. i was underwhelmed by the contents of my box to say the least. the majority of it just wasn't stuff i'd put on my kid. written descriptions can make things sound better than they are, obviously, even when they're staying pretty close to the truth. a picture is worth a thousand words, anyone? out of 12 pieces, i think i kept 5, 2 of which are pending some alterations. most of it, while true to style description, just looked a little worn out. and while i'm all about second (and third) hand, i do try to only buy stuff that looks fairly new.

another cause for complaint was the smell coming from the box. no, it wasn't cigarette smoke or animal fur or food. it was fabric softener. oh my goodness. it's funny how when you stop using something you become re-sensitized to it, don't you think? i used to buy my laundry detergent according to smell--the stronger the better. then i'd sweeten the deal by adding not one, not two but THREE dryer sheets to the mix. i thought my clothes (though kinda slick from all that chemical coating) smelled pretty great. what a difference a couple of years makes! at first whiff (i could smell it at the mailbox) the fabric softener on these clothes transported me right back to my laundry-folding self of yester-year. the act of opening the box gave me an almost instant headache, and prompted lucy to ask what spilled. no kidding. 3 washes and i can still smell it. i'm thinking a soak in vinegar may be in order.

anyway, that's my teeny experience with thredup. i certainly don't want to deter anyone from using the site, so i'll disclaim that i am picky and hard to please and have a high sensitivity to synthetic fragrances. if you are without these issues, you will probably love the site. especially if you are shopping for a girl and have a penchant for princesses.



this moment...

inspired, as always, by soulemama.


a bit of beaching...

hard to believe that the weather was nice enough for a bit of beach action this late in november. the kids even did a bit of bare-bottomed wading. shrieks of (chilled) delight echoed from end to end of heart's desire beach, much to my own personal enjoyment.

we've been off trying to make the most of these glorious autumn days. days which, though short, actually feel more like the summer we didn't really have. the holidays may be lurking, but i'm trying to ignore them for time being--except for a whole lot of crafting which has recently taken place in my sewing studio. partially for upcoming craft fairs, partially for some special birthday presents. along with a ton of other random projects on the pile--i' m hoping to share more as time allows.

thanks for hanging in.