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.)





Book Review: Leave Me Alone!

(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.) 

Today's book review is on Vera Brosgol's  Leave Me Alone! This is a visual delight. Her illustrations of children remind me of the children of Gyo Fujikawa's A to Z Picture Book and her other books. The illustrations of this book are a true treat.

This is the story of a loving grandmother with a job to do, knit sweaters for her grandchildren, except as you can see from the picture below, she's not getting the time to get her job done.

To escape her interruptions, she proceeds to go farther and farther away, being troubled by bears, mountain goats, and moon aliens, until finally she is completely and utterly alone. She finishes her work, but she realizes she is alone. This realization is told through illustrations, which an older child will easily grasp, but mine need it spelled out to them. 

As I've said, this story was a little above my children's heads (4 and 2 years old), but the story is one which will make the older and adult reader smile. As a knitter, I've had moments where I've hollered, "Leave me alone!" more than once and it always seems to be when I'm working hard to make a gift for my child. Ahh! Irony!

I'd recommend this for an older child, adult knitter or picture book collector, but I'm not sure I'd recommend this title for the younger audience. Personally, I love this book, I just don't think it's my children's favorite.