Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

From my beautiful mother yesterday--a cinnamon sachet that's hanging on my front door right now. That woman does fine work!

(It arrived yesterday with Reuben's birthday--!!!!--present, a pecan roll, and home dried apples. A perfect autumn package).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

crafting emergency

Sunday morning Nathan woke me up early, something he LOVES to do and I really really hate him for, but am always eager to help because I love that annoying man too and I am a firm believer that love is shown through helping (something we argue about because he likes to help less than I do. sigh). Complicated, like all good relationships. Anyway, I popped up a bit more quickly than usual because these were his words:

"Valerie, I have a crafting emergency."

Could he have tempted me more?
I am all over that.

He had good prizey plans for his (almost) half world championships, that he organized because he loves that cycling activism sort of thing, but couldn't attend because they were rain-postponed to Sunday and he had meetings because he does show his love through helping sometimes, and so kept his church obligations. But he slept in a bit. And needed help.

See our joint efforts here. There was some irony in mind.

I always want him to craft with me, but have to accept getting to craft with him, on his terms.

It's a start.

Friday, October 23, 2009

spooky acorn babies

I love love love little people figures, and I think my favorite sorts are acorn babies. I think I saw the idea, using hazelnuts instead of acorns, in Feltcraft. Maybe not (all my books are still packed up, pending a bit more shelf building around here, so I can't check), but you wouldn't regret buying that fantastic little book... Anyway, the base is a wooden bead hot-glued to an acorn. I'm not usually a hot-glue fan, but the quick-dry and bulky qualities make it perfect for this project. The hole in a wood bead fits neatly onto the pointy end of an acorn, but it needs a bit of support to stay there. Some acorn varieties sit nicely in their original state (see photos in my last post for a happy example), but many, as liz r. commented in the last post, won't. I've found that just sanding the base a bit will usually provide a nice steady base; the acorn is thick enough at that point to stand up to it, structurally (aren't I punny?).

Acorn babies as nativities here (2008).
Acorn babies as little cute dudes here (2007).

But acorn babies as spookily cute Halloween figures right HERE (2009)!

Audrey made the ghost (a circle of white cotton), I the mummy (1/8" bias strips), and Marian this cheery little witch. I'm still hoping for a scarecrow...

We took a couple of process shots for the witch's little hat; they're mostly self-explanatory. I twisted the half-circle into a cone shape & inserted it in the ring (I traced a bottle cap for the outer circumference of the rim, snipped out the center, and cut the half circle just a bit larger. A bigger half circle would give you a taller crown; a smaller half circle would yield a shorter one. You may adjust the overlap to fit the cone into the rim at your desired height, so the measurements are quite flexible.), stitching them together into a sweet wee hat. The orange bow was, of course, Marian's idea.
I love how straggly Marian made her hair. At first, she glued individual strands of green string hair down in very neat bangs-and-back rows, then wanted it shorter, so trimmed. Then wanted it thicker, so added scattered staggers of strings for a deliciously witchy look.
Abby started a witchy, too. Guesses as to whether I'll make it to the post office with that and the outgrown baby clothes I'm sending her before Halloween? Afraid I won't be betting on me... I was such a better mailer when I had little stacks of etsy packages going off twice weekly. We did make her a wee hat, too.Oh, look how seasonal she looks next to our bright orange stack of parking tickets! (we always forget the street sweepers...)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

acorn craft: pumpkins

The first acorn craft of the season is a reprisal of the acorn pumpkins Shannon & I did a couple of years ago. I saw the idea in a Family Fun magazine. In that first batch, I was displeased with the paint; we used craft acrylic and it didn't adhere well to the acorns. This year, I used spray paint, and was also careful to polish the natural velvet off of the pumpkins to provide a better surface. Acorn polishing was, for me, highly addictive, and Abby and I surprised ourselves a bit with our buffing passion. I sorted out an assortment of sizes for a nice little tableau. I badly want to let Reuben play with acorns, but he's still in the instantly-pop-in-mouth stage (and is more frantic about it than either of his sisters ever were), so I have to just give him short, oh-so-monitored visits with my stashes. Doesn't he look like he might share his mama's acorn love, given the chance?Getting glossy orange.
I left them out to dry, and half were stolen by that chipmunk of ours!
(the next batch were more carefully monitored).
Since I like everyone to play, I forced my brother into a crafty corner, too, and he handily utilized one of our cracked friends:Oh, such a crafty family are we!
(D is in medical residency now, and planning a wound care fellowship, so this is totally up his alley :)!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Thanks to my sister Camie and her scanner (and can-do-and-right-now attitude), the girls and I finally made fonts of our handwriting. We used, which is free and instant and awfully cool.our fonts pdf
edit to add: I just put my Christmas list word document into "valerieprint" and now I feel awesome.

Mikal: acorns for you!

We have a chipmunk that lives in our garage. Our sweetie-pie hamster, Fleur, died this spring (a ripe old age for a hamster), and we miss her and the chipmunk flitting about reminds us of her when she was sneaky and escaped and ran along the baseboards and looked cute and stripey, so we kind of encourage it.

Today, though, she's in a bit of trouble: I saw that she feasted on the acorns Ellee and I gathered. For her, I'm sure she thought.... I just laughed and grabbed my camera. But moved those babies inside (I love them! Plus, tempting her up on my workbench meant also bringing little chipmunk droppings--no thank you!) Certainly there are enough left to fill a box to mail off to my acorn giveaway winner. It's right here in front of me.

Mikal? Audrey randomly chose your number. Would you please e-mail me your address so I can send them to you in the acorn-free desert?

Apologies for the lateness. That baby of mine had a wicked bad weekend, bringing mouth sores and fevers and bruising and nursing strikes (pumping at the dinner table, pumping while I rock him, pumping...) and precious little sleep and a lot of sadness and I was good for NOTHING. We gave him some nice fluids and platelets into his handy port yesterday and I'm happy to report that he started nursing again last night (yes, I did cry with joy), is now eating more solids, and is feeling so much better that he's tearing this house apart! I think there are good things to report soon on the horizon, like the looming end of chemo??!! Fingers crossed for us. More acorn project and costume posts soon to come!

Friday, October 16, 2009

this post

So many of my amazing revelations lately are, to my chagrin, already aphorisms, the sort that come prepackaged in inanities like Chicken Soup for the Soul:

"The joy is in the journey, not the destination"
"What's the purpose of life?" "I don't know, to live a good life, I guess." (that one came from Six Feet Under, because TV is my embarrassing muse. Don't even get me started on what I'm learning from Felicity...(daytime TV at the hospital lousy? bring your own from the library!)...for another day)
It's the kindness that counts.

I love cjane enjoy it because she makes the same old drama sound fresh. Like here.

I think I'd better get up from the computer and attack my house (ie, its unfinished projects) with a little ferocity.

I loved this from one commenter:
"I'm guilty of lamenting how I used to be. But you're right. That's when I was a girl and I can be proud of that and have fond memories, but now it's time to do my best as a woman."

Sheesh, I can't even say "I'm a woman" without feeling all fidgety, because like I'm really a woman. But guess what, woman? I'm 35 and have 3 kids and a sagging face and (dare I admit?) cellulite. Grow up, already, and be proud of it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesdays in the woods

Today was full, but we squeezed in a bit of woods in the afternoon. After Audrey's guitar lesson, which brought us to country roads, I drove a bit farther to the edge of Michaux, our closest state forest. I chose the first fire road I saw, and stopped the car once the woods were all around. It was cold and the kids were hungry and the baby finally asleep after fighting it in a particularly thrashing way, so we were not getting out. I rolled down the windows to let the smell and the sound in and we were silent for a few minutes. I asked the girls to notice.

Audrey saw the different thicknesses of the tree trunks, and how, after a length of bare trunk, the branches would suddenly spread and the leaves make a one-layer carpet in the air. She heard water.

I saw the translucent brightness of the leaves, as if they captured all the sunlight to share. And looked beyond the near trees to see those in deeper. I identified the water as a just-starting rain, falling on a million leaves.

Marian was carsick after doing a math worksheet and wouldn't talk.

toy tragic

I'm starting to think about Reuben's first birthday and Christmas gifts (first big gift-giving occasions right in a row), and feeling a mite tragic that he is past being satisfied with the grab-and-stare toys. So I couldn't quite justify buying him this (so beautiful!). Or...

That store (The Wooden Wagon) literally makes me salivate. Must quell the covetous beast!

Any ideas on the best toys for a one-year-old boy? I'm looking for just the right ball pounder, which I remember as a much-fought-over toy from Audrey's church nursery days. The Wooden Wagon does, in fact, have one, but I want one with ramps.


We have been spoiled with visitors this month. Tomorrow I take Nathan's brother, Eldon, to the airport after a warm visit, and my brother Devn and his wife Abby were here for most of the week before that with their delicious children, Ellee and Will. Devn is my doctor brother, and the oldest of the Frandsen boys; he started a residency in Arkansas this summer and we scored their first vacation. I loved every second we had with them, and appreciated their help during the 3 days of it Reuben and I had to spend a'hospitaling (chemo). We've been aching for a chance to have Reuben and Will (4 months older) together.
Ellee's every move is part of a theatrical production titled "Meet this darling 3-year-old." She came down the stairs each morning with a head tilt and smile worthy of a seasoned stage actress--Here I Am, World!, filling our house with too-perfectly-adorable-child chatter--what might be scripted for her to develop a perfect small character. I was fascinated with how she filled in the gaps of her still-developing vocabulary with strings of prepositional phrases that clearly expressed her requests and spot-on observations. Her bright-eyed blondeness was so reminiscent of Audrey as a toddler that I was particularly susceptible to her charms, and certainly her willingness to buy into my drama won my continual favor: Ellee was all about the acorn hunting.

Hunt #1: our neighborhoodDevn and Abby are champion people, so of course they hunted, too.
tiny girl and mighty oak!
The babies were, um, less excited. And the autumn sun so bright...luckily Uncle D was even willing to walk backwards to help.Some of those very acorns will be in the giveaway batch. I know, it's almost too good. But you deserve it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

acorns: GIVEAWAY!

I might go so far as to say that my biggest delight with living EAST, among these great deciduous woods, is the abundance of oak trees. Which means acorns. I am crazy nuts about these little beauties (and the nuts came out through my typing fingers before I even realized what an awesome punny phrase that was). If you, like the former Western me, have the misfortune (acorn speaking, that is) to live where a walk around the block doesn't fill your pockets with autumnal decorating and crafting possibilities of the acorn sort, I am feeling generous this week.

It's an acorn giveaway. I will walk around my personal acorn mecca of a neighborhood and fill a small flat-rate USPS Priority mailing box with a nice all-sizes variety of acorns and send them to a lucky one-of-you. Comment that you, too, love acorns, and on SATURDAY NIGHT (let's say 7 pm ET) I will chose one (in a properly random fashion) and mail it off on Monday, so you can get it in time for some good seasonal crafting and tactile joy.

This giveaway will become even more valuable after you read the great acorn crafting and gathering posts that are soon to come. Good times, my friends.

Friday, October 2, 2009

displaying kids' art: part 1

My girls are art prolific.
I am a saver.
We're drowning.

One wall upstairs in the wide hall that will (soon!) be their very cool creative space is devoted to displaying their art. I have clips and a long ledge, but I'd like a couple of these:
Clear and excellent instructions here at Bloesem Kids.

And maybe one downstairs. A very clever idea--the sort that seems obvious in its clear brilliance.

How do you manage the mass of art projects? Save? Archive? Record? Display?