Thursday, July 13, 2017

San Diego Comic Con!

I'd love to say I were going to SDCC, but sadly it's not in the cards for me this year, or likely ever, because children and cross-country travel. But my little dolls will be making the trip! Yay!

Each year, Cindy Wang, of Geeky Hooker, drops her darling creations around the convention center, leaving hints on her twitter feed where they are located and the person who gets there first gets to keep the doll.

I emailed Cindy and asked if she would be willing to drop a few of my dolls and she graciously agreed! So the nine dolls in the photo above will hiding out in San Diego!

If you'd like to follow along with the fun, please be sure to follow Geeky Hooker on Twitter or Facebook. I will also be sharing all of her posts on my own Twitter account.

Now, let's be real. If you're unlucky enough to not be going to an amazing convention or just really unlucky with winning things like I am, you can always contact me about a custom doll. I love remaking designs. My shop is currently a little light in dolls due to preparations for a DC convention I will be attending in August. So please, don't be shy! I love to make dolls which will make others smile.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Back to School Sales, already!!!

Ahhh! I'm still trying to get into summer mode over here an noticed, while going through the Sunday paper, all the back to school sales. Crazy talk! Our homeschool is mostly a year-round school, because Bear and Bun start begging for school when we take too long of a break. (Let's cross our fingers they're still like that when they are teenagers.)

Usually I try to hold off on back to school shopping until our state offers a tax free weekend to buy school supplies, but last year the stores were nearly sold out by the time that date came around. (August 4-6 for Virginia residents btw.)

Personally, I'm weak for office supplies. It makes me so giddy buying things like pens and notebooks. The smell of fresh office supplies. Ahhh!! It's too good. To try to keep me from going overboard and within budget, I have to take inventory on what we still have and what we need or need to replace. Usually glue, oh my goodness, our family flies through glue sticks.

I really don't believe we need much this year (aside from glue sticks), but I hear that siren's call from the stationary section of every store I visit. Maybe one extra notebooks won't hurt.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Dinosaur Camp Prep

Sorry for being so crazy busy!
I'm putting together a curriculum for my children I call Dinosaur Camp. After homeschooling through the year,we take it easy with a two week long unit based on dinosaurs. Bear LOVES dinosaurs (poor Bun, not so much, but she's a good sport as long as the activities are fun.)

Today I'm laminating so many pages, but it will be worth it. Once we get things all together, I'll make a huge post of exactly what we did with links to curriculum. I also need to intensively clean our house over the next two weeks in preparation for family to visit. Oh, and make product to sell at an Anime Convention in Washington, DC. Ahhhh!!! Not enough time!

I hope you're having a good weekend!

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Great Chicken

Over the Fourth of July weekend, this amazing specimen appeared in a neighbor's yard and I can't stop laughing. I mean look at that monster sized chicken! It's huge and the most patriotic chicken I've ever seen. Happy Birthday, America! Cock-a-doodle-doo!

I wonder if the person who put this gigantic chicken in honor of our country is a fan of The Bloggess or if they just really, really love gigantic metal patriotic chickens.

If you haven't read The Bloggess' account of giant metallic chickens, please read on.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Fly-by posting

Posting a quick post today!
My husband, The Dude, has a new job! Hooray! He has this week off while and will be starting his new job on Monday. But that also means our school and home schedule has been dumped on its ear.

I was going to write a big post, but my children are determined to test every fiber of my patience today. I'll post tomorrow instead.

Love and hugs,

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


I'm not sure about you, but I love podcasts! Today, I wanted to take the time to share some of my favorites!

99% Invisible
99% Invisible is a delightful podcast presented by Roman Mars. It covers a variety all the unnoticed architecture and design in every day life. There are so many interesting things I've learned from this program. I tried to go back and choose my favorite episode, but there are so many, including McMansions (and what it is that makes us crazy about them), the Mojave Phone Booth, Chinese Food, and Milk Carton children. There are just too many good episodes! 

Gastopod is a podcast co-hosted by Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley. This is one of the longer podcasts I listen to, because let's face it, having children means I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to listening to anything but squabbling children, however this one is one I need to listen to. I always learn something new about the history of food. 

I found Lore early on in my podcast listening and it is definitely one of my favorite podcasts. I must download each episode as soon as possible and I hungrily look forward to my children's nap time so I can listen to it. Lore is like having Aaron Mahnke read a storybook to you about the strange side of the world. They are artfully crafted stories accompanied by beautifully haunting piano pieces. Some stories are a little graphic, so please mind listening around the little ones.

Myths and Legends
If you're like me, you love mythology and Myths and Legends is one of the best mythological podcasts.  I really enjoy Jason's retelling of myths and fairy tales with a modern eye and never fail to laugh. I've even learned of a few stories I've never heard before. I also enjoy The Creature of the Week, where a mythological creature is introduced. Most episodes are ok for children, though thoughtfully Jason will let you know before hand if there is any questionable content.

The Adventure Zone
Out of curiosity I've started listening to this series and have to admit I'm loving it! The Adventure Zone is a podcast of 3 brothers and their father playing Dungeons and Dragons. The family is hilarious to listen to and makes me dearly wish I had the opportunity to play a table top game. This is one that is definitely not for children.


Ok, so I've already gushed a bit about Lore, but I really love this podcast. I even am a proud Patreon Patron of this series. Well, if you're not familiar with this series, there is so much going on. Firstly, there will be a television series released on Amazon Prime later this year!

Aaron Mahnke, who is a writer first, is publishing his first Lore book! It's called The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures and you'd better believe I've already pre-ordered my copy.

(By the way, on accident I've learned that if you preorder items from Amazon you eceive the lowest price offered from the time you've purchased the item to the time the item is released. This includes movies, books, and video games! No heavy lifting on your part! Gosh, I love automatic savings!)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Book Review: "_____ to the Rescue!" by John Himmelman

(The links in this post are affiliate links. If you purchase an item, I may get a paid a small amount. I am not being paid for a favorable review, I really do like reading picture books and sharing gems with you.)

When Bear was just beginning to go to our Library's story time, we were introduced to a wonderful series. We recently revisited it along with the last two in the series we had never read before and oh my gosh! These books are too fun!

The first in the series is Chickens to the Rescue (Barnyard Rescue). In this delightfully illustrated book, the Greenstalk family and barnyard animals are all having problems. They are saved by a flock of very helpful chickens. Each page has lots of little tidbits inside, so reading again and again is encouraged.

The second book in the series is Pigs to the Rescue: A Picture Book. This one is my personal favorite. While the chickens were so helpful, the pigs are a bit ... over helpful. They always try to help, but they do a little too much each time. My children loved finding "baby pig" as they named the piglet. (You can see baby pig on the cover hanging off the ladder.)

After a bit of a disastrous rescue, it's now the cows' turn in Cows to the Rescue (Barnyard Rescue). In this book, the cows help everyone at the county fair. This one is also very cute, but it just wasn't my favorite.  Maybe I'm not a big cow fan, though my son declares this is his absolute favorite.

Lastly, it's Duck to the Rescue (Barnyard Rescue). Poor Ernie the Duck wants to be helpful too, but nothing goes right for him, until a helpful little sheep steps in to make Ernie the hero he longs to be.

I LOVE this series. Like really and truly love it. The story is absolutely silly and the illustrations are so fun to look at. I swear, every time I reread a book, I discover some new aspect of a page. So, 2 thumbs up from me, especially for Pigs to the Rescue. This is a winner of a series.


As I'm sure you've noticed, I had to phone it in with the photographs and link to Amazon today. Sorry about that, but it kinda works, because I wasn't sure if you have heard about Amazon's Prime Day on July 11th. I usually miss out on these kinda sales, so I wanted to be sure you guys knew about it ahead of time. It's a 30 hour period of big sales and some are going on now. I've picked up a few things for my business already. If you'd like, I can try to highlight some of the deals I see.

Don't have prime? You can Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial! Just in time for Prime Day! Amazon is already offering a variety of cool giveaways. Sadly, I haven't been very lucky, but maybe you will be!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Featured Artisan: Holls Knit

Ah, I feel so absolutely terrible about being crazy late on my posts. It's crazy how a small class can throw off my entire day. But fear not! I'm back to my regular blogging. 

Today I wanted to highlight another artist, Holly from Holls Knit. Holly is an artist from Peterborough, Ontario in Canada. She is a stay at home mom of two of the best boys. She mostly knits, but lately I've seen her dabbling with crochet in her portfolio. (And if she's reading this, Holly! I want more crochet dolls in your shop! They're so cute!)

Today, she's letting me share some of her great products! Please click the pictures to follow to her store.
 Pancreas Plush! Aw, I love cute things that aren't usually cute, like guts. Those widdle beady eyes. Aw!
Here's an N7 Mass Effect hat. I love her color work! Knit color work is one of my weakest skills, so mad props to her for her nice clean lines.
These are sold pieces, but really! Look at that color work. This one is a Mario hat and when I first saw it, I thought it was just an abstract pattern, but look again and it's little mushrooms and fire flowers! Cute!
This hat features a design from the anime One Piece. I've never watched it and been chastised by anyone who has. Maybe one day.

You can find her shop again on Etsy at Holls Knit or see more of her portfolio on Deviant Art. I have a few of her knit items and they are really well made and super warm. If you're in the market for geeky wearables, maybe give her a hollar!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Oh my daughter...

"I don't want to see a picture of me."

My little girl is the most determined little ladies I have ever met. She wants things just her way and lord help you if she gets the least bit hungry or tired. Today she woke up quite a bit tired. I'm not sure how, since she went to bed on time and was out by 8 pm, but needless to say, she was tired.

While at swimming class for Bear, she informed me she wanted to go home. I said we would be going home in the car as soon as Bear finished. You see the fatal mistake I made? I said "in the car." She began to shout that she didn't want to go home in the car. I asked her to please stop making a scene. We'd be going home soon.

She then told me to stop looking at her. I told her she was making everyone at the pool look at her, because she was making a scene. Then she kept shouting (as loud as she could), "I'M NOT MAKING A SCENE!!!"

Luckily, I am surrounded by other mothers who apparently have been there, because I only received the "sympathetic smile" or  the "I've been there giggle."

She's still clearly tired and still won't take a nap. If we both survive today, it will be a miracle.

Edited to add:
And as I was finishing another blog's post she demanded I hold her and she fell asleep in my arms. What are the odds? Bun is currently resting! Let's hope she's a happier girl when she wakes up.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

I haven't abandoned you!!!

 (Bear taking a jump into the pool.)

Hi! Hi!
Oh my lovely blog! I promise I haven't abandoned you. It's been intensely busy in our house with swim classes, doll making, and the regular daily chores and school.

We all need a laugh, so I thought I'd share a bit of my morning failures of the day.

This morning, I let Bun choose breakfast and she asked for oatmeal. No problem! I can make oatmeal. I start everything to bubbling and turn to my oatmeal canister, which contains 1/4 cup of oatmeal. Yeah, no chance of that working out. What can they eat? Oh I know! How about cereal?  

I reach into the cupboard and check and, oh no!!!

That's right, I have only one bowl worth of cereal, which won't work for two hungry children. What am I going to do????

I ended up making them a french toast mug recipe for the microwave. It's really not tasty. Kinda like a dry bread pudding only salvaged by syrup, but the children must have picked up on my frazzled state and said it was good.

Whew! Luckily today was grocery day, so I've replenished everything.

The Children's Favorite Oatmeal Recipe
My children used to hate oatmeal, but I've managed to make a recipe they love. Here's my recipe! It is one adult serving, but fills up two children nicely. I love oatmeal, because it means no grumble bellies before  lunch.

1 cup of milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 overripe banana
1/4 c raisins
1/2 c oatmeal
1 tbsp ground flaxseed (optional)

Place the milk, cinnamon, vanilla, banana, and raisins into a small pot. Heat over medium.

Once the liquids are bubbling, add the oatmeal and flax seed. Turn the burner down to low. 

Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, divide between two bowls and stir like crazy to cool it down to child temperatures.

Another option I use is if I have some apple juice hanging around, I'll replace 1/4 cup of milk for 1/4 cup of apple juice. 

We have done all sorts of crazy things with this oatmeal to make it more magical, such as a drop of food coloring per bowl or rainbow sprinkles.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Our First Swim Class

Today was Bear's very first swim class!

And of course we were late, because really? I'm the worst person about being late. At least we were only a minute or two late. Bear had such a good time, he didn't want to leave.

Bun was miserable, because she wanted to get in the pool too, however lately she's decided she hates baths, so... yeah. I'm not going to make some poor woman put up with a screaming, flailing Bun.

Bear is in class for 2 weeks, so I hope he will continue loving the pool and eventually swimming.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Father's Day

Ah, Father's Day!
I hate Father's Day. My husband is the worst to buy things for. He hates useless gifts. The gift needs to have a purpose or why bother getting it. He also has expensive taste.

It's especially hard to get the children to make him "useful" gifts. I figure those of you who visit this blog may appreciate having a handy list of what the children are making for their papa this year. (It will also serve to help me remember what I've already given him.
 Sorry for the toothpicks I wanted to edit their names out.

The children drew themselves on Shrinky Dinks Creative Pack 10 Sheets Frosted Ruff n' Ready plastic with sharpies. I then write their name and the year on the plastic. (WARNING: Don't be like me! Remember to write things backwards, so your writing is legible.)

Last year's self portraits
Next, punch a hole in the plastic and cook them up in the toaster oven. A jump ring and a key ring finish the little project up. Tada! A quick little project and now Papa can carry his children with him wherever he goes.We did this last year and I love the idea of updating the pictures each year as their skills in art improve.

Last Christmas, we tried that whole sharpie mug project and we had less than stellar results. Despite using the oil based markers and following all the directions, the precious drawings were washed away.

To hopefully make up for that disappointment, we are making hand prints using FolkArt Enamel Glass & Ceramic Paint in Assorted Colors. I painted each child's hand in their favorite color and pressed them against the mug. I think this would be a really cute idea to do with a larger family and use thumbprints instead.

I also interview each child, making a video recording, and transcribing their answers. The questions ask what they know about their papa and it's always a source of giggles and delight for our family. (I'll put the questions down at the bottom if you're interested.)

Finally the children are working on a banner. I'm an obsessive packaging hoarder and I received a package with kraft paper instead of packing peanuts or those air bag thingies. I knew it would be the perfect Father's Day banner material. The children love drawing different things on the banner and their papa feels appreciated win-win!

So there you go! I make one actual Father's Day purchase and we hope we make The Dude feel as appreciated as he is.

All About My Papa

My Papa’s name is
My Papa is ____ years old.

My Papa has ____ hair and ____ eyes.
My Papa’s job is  
My Papa’s favorite food is
My Papa’s favorite treat is
My Papa’s favorite color is
My Papa likes to wear
My Papa laughs when
My Papa is happy when
My Papa gets mad when
My Papa always says
My Papa calls me

My favorite thing about my Papa is 
I love my Papa because
My Papa loves me because

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Homeschool Convention and Children: The Power of the Busy Bag

We only went to a few workshops this convention. Most were at times which didn't suit our family, or the topic was not used to our homeschool curriculum. So in the end, I created a lot of little baggies of activities for my children to play with for nothing, but I will share the ones that worked amazingly well for my family.

I always keep what are called "busy bags" in my purse for waiting room times when we go to the doctor. My mother used to have a zippered pouch with all sorts of tiny charms inside. I loved waiting rooms, because that was the only time I was allowed to play with those special toys. In fact, last year my mother offered me the pouch and I was so excited to own those tiny toys.

Apparently, I've passed my love of itty bitty toys to my son. He is crazy for little animals. Specifically those animal toobs by the Safari company. So while packing up for the convention, I made sure we had some little animals, because I knew if he had a handful, he will sit for hours and play relatively quietly. (The only time he gets loud is if there happens to be a particularly intense battle.

He was most excited about the Safari Good Luck Minis Fantasy Fun Pack.
I'm not sure what's light the fire in the boy's heart over dragons lately, but he is all about dragons.

I also wanted to make something a little educational, so I took photos of a few of his mini dinosaurs. I then printed and laminated the pictures and cut them in half, so they were a puzzle.

Here he is putting the puzzles together and then matching the dinosaur toy to the puzzle. He was using this toob pack by the way: Safari LTD Dinos Toob

I had so much fun making these cards, I think I'm going to make more of them for him. However, first things first, I really to sort through the toys. I haven't had the time to sort through their toy box in forever and I'm pretty sure 80% of their toys currently live under the couch. *sigh*

PS. There is a chipmunk who has found our bird feeder and he is adorable!!
 (Please ignore the junky state of my deck. It's a mess. I'm not even bothered by it. I've got enough to clean up in the house.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Another Sock Day!

Haha! This blog is seriously going to end up just being socks isn't it.

My dear friend, Katie, sent me the sweetest box of assorted birthday gifts. Some of those gifts were the coolest socks I've ever seen.

These were the first things I pulled from the box and I was very confused at first as to what they were. The Salmon socks are so cutely folded, I thought they were some sort of screen cleaners or something. Isn't the strawberry shortcake so cute! I love the little layers.

Wanna see how they look unfolded?


Also there were these adorable Kokeshi Doll-styled socks. I was sad to open them, because they're so adorable (and yes, I did indeed keep the little cardboard dolls from inside. Too cute! Can't throw away!)

But I'm so glad I opened them. Look at those Daruma socks! Gah! I'm a nut for Daruma dolls.

I feel so wealthy in socks lately! I don't think I've owned this many pairs of pretty socks ever in my entire life. I can't wait to wear them! I think I need a few extra pairs of feet. haha!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Packing for Young Children

Our family recently went to a local Home School convention and I'm going to toot my own horn on how well my children handled things, thanks to their mama's planning. I hope these down-to-earth tips may help other mom's of littles who struggle with traveling with their children.

Today, I wanted to address packing. I hate packing. It takes me days to pack myself for any destination, because I'm terrified I'll forget something and goodness knows I can't ever stop at a store to replace the one thing I forgot. Yeah, I get a little crazy.

So! To calm my crazies, I have a simple solution to packing, at least when my children are concerned.

First, I pack their clothing on wash day. The clothes come out of the drier, are matched into outfits, and folded right there. Everything is fresh and planned out.

Secondly, gallon zip bags! Each outfit, complete with underpants, socks, and accessories (if necessary), is put into a zip bag. I did put pajamas from both children into the same baggie, but that's because I was running out of baggies.

Here they are! Three outfits per child and one bag with pajamas. Now are you ready for the brilliant part?

When you put the clothing back in your suitcase, don't put them back into the zip bag. Instead, toss them back in your suitcase! The clean clothing that wasn't worn can stay nice and clean in their bags. When you get home, pull out the zip bags to put the clean clothing away, and toss the rest in the hamper. Easy peasy! 

Another bonus to the zip bags is on the off chance something liquid opens (once my foundation exploded in our suitcase) the clothing stays nice and clean.

Monday, June 5, 2017

My Daughter's "friend," Inky Dink

(She enjoys being a girl)

My daughter loves pink. LOVES pink. Everything must be pink. She will throw a fit if she does not receive something pink. Pink is the answer to everything. Before we were hit with the news The Dude was being laid off, she'd convinced me to let her have a wall painted pink in her bedroom.

This past week, I've discovered she's made her first imaginary friend. Her name is Inky Dink. She loves pink too and lives in Bun's pink house, in the woods, where they have to drive to in her pink car. (Please understand she doesn't own any of these things, but apparently Bun has created this elaborate world where she does have a pink car and house in the woods somewhere.)

I love children's minds and listening to the stories they make up. I remember when I would play for hours making up stories with my toys.

This week, I'm going to be a little in and out. We're going to a homeschool convention and I need to get packed and prepared. While I'm more of a loosey goosey traveler, The Dude is type-A all the way, so itineraries must be planned out in advance and submitted for approval. (I joke.)

It's my goal to make a few posts about what we do to keep our children occupied and us sane. We shall see. Right now I've got to run and get things together for packing. Ahhhhh!!!!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Feature: June Gilbank, aka Planet June

(Links in this post are affiliate link, which means I may make a tiny amount of money if you make a purchase by clicking through. I am not being compensated for a favorable review, I just really like talking about books.) 

If you've ever wanted to learn how to crochet, but weren't lucky enough to have a family member teach you, then let me introduce you to June Gilbank. She is an amazingly talented artist and one of the greatest teachers currently online.

She runs a fantastic site, Planet June, where people can learn crochet basics with clear illustrations and videos as well as find some adorable patterns.

Reaching over to my pattern shelf, I have two books by June. The first is Crochet (Idiot's Guides).

I crochet mostly on what I half-remember from what my mother taught me when I was a child, so adding this reference to my book shelf has been invaluable. It gives all the basics, clearly explained and illustrated in full-color photographs. There are also some lovely patterns included to test your new found skills. 

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amigurumi (Complete Idiot's Guides (Lifestyle Paperback)) is awesome for anyone who is looking to crochet their own amigurumi designs. The book explains how to transform a vision into crocheted doll. Some of this information you can find on the Planet June website, but I like to have a hard copy on hand while I'm working. There are also some cute patterns!

Now you have the biggest leg up to becoming an amigurumi superstar! Go forth and make your tiny crocheted army!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Free Classics for your Kindle!

Are you a fan of classic books?
I am!

I'm always excited to read a classic book. When I was a teenager, I was reading classic books instead of the teen literature. When I started working at a bookstore, I bought up all the classics I felt I'd missed out on reading because I was assigned other books, while lucky people were reading The Great Gatsby. (Ps. I highly recommend if you read this as a teen, re-read this as an adult! Such a different story!)

I admit! I've got an addiction! It's an addiction to classic books!

Lately, I've discovered Amazon offers Kindle versions of some classic books for free! You heard me, FREE!

Below are just a small handful, but I've already added them to my Kindle App (which is free to use from Apple and Android users.)