Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In Which I Had a Happy Halloween

Oh, dear. I have been absent, haven't I?  You know how life gets busy and some things have to fall by the wayside?  The computer has been one of those things for me, lately.  BUT, it's not November without posting my Halloween decorations. 

We had the usuals: apothecary jars, ancestor photos, copious amounts of cobwebs.

I added in paper crows, a cat, and a glittery "Boo".  The spooky looking photo is a printing block from when my great grandfather was in the newspaper way back when. 

Paper mache skulls, a paper pumpkin, more crows and a real fossil spine.  (and yes, the cloche on the right is empty except for some moss.  Still is.  My decorations were all too big.  I'll have to make something next year for it.
 I just realized that I neglected to get a photo of my centerpiece!  Fie!  Imagine painted spellbooks with illuminated covers stacked under a big, triangular cloche with a skull, mice, and ratty, old bluejay feathers covered with cobwebs.  It looked AWESOME.  Boo.  No photo.

The ancestors got dressed up thanks to dry erase crayons.

There were garlands.  Copious amounts of garlands.  And bats.  (Huzzah for Cricut!)

The beautiful spider woman print below was a gift Esther made during one of her printmaking classes.  I love it!

I piled the piano with candlesticks, which looked amazing all lit up.  For Christmas, I'm keeping them, just adding baubles for a totally different look. 

My pumpkins this year were inspired by Day of the Dead sugar skulls.  I'm really into Day of the Dead decor.  Another thing I made, but failed to photograph, was bunting that says "los muertos andan" (the dead walk).  I love the mix of macabre & fun.

My china was hidden away by more ancestor photos, which I liked so much, when I cleaned up after the party, I put the photos behind the china to cover the outdated mirror in the back of my hutch.

I made "crystal balls" from gutted snowglobes, tissue paper, flameless candles, and a dry erase marker.  In one of the photos above, you can see where my dumb, dumb, adorable dog broke one just hours before the party and I had to replace the globe with a cloche.  I actually quite liked it.
Also forgot to photograph: huge yarn spiderwebs on the front porch & in the family room.  Well, I suppose I have to have something to show you next year. 

I have so much fun decorating for Halloween.  I don't really let myself go all out very often, so it's a great creative release.  Plus, it doesn't hurt my ego at all to make something my friends will ooh & aah over.  It makes me feel like I'm doing something to at least make a little bit of a mark in the world.  Besides cleaning up poop.

We had a great time.

The morning after our big party, I cleaned up all of the decorations while Dan was at work.  He came home around noon (Saturday) and said, "Wow, you got it all cleaned up!  That's awesome!  You do realize it's still 3 days 'til Halloween?"

Good times.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

In Which Boys Deserve Paper Dolls

Here in Nicholslandia, we love paper dolls. We recognize boys like imaginative play, too, and we celebrate it! We have special paper dolls at our house that are only played with during church and other quiet places.  I put them on magnet paper so that they stick to our dry erase boards (with the backgrounds drawn on) or the folding chair in the row in front of us.

Yesterday, my friend, Shana leaned over to me at church and whispered,"Where did you get those great paper dolls?"  "I'll write it down," I whispered back.  Then I realized that this was the third time I had compiled the same list, so we decided I'd write it down here instead.  So, with no further ado, here are some of our favorites:
Paper City (free), by Joel Henriques.  This man is a genius.  He's an illustrator/stay-at-home-dad with a penchant for paper.  And he's from Portland, so there you have it!  He has a paper Paris & Sydney (along with his regular ol' city) that are to die for!  Ours saved us during a weekend quarantine, and is our homage to NYC's East Village.
The Toymaker.  How I love thee!  We have many of her paper dolls:

Charles & Brook Otter (free).  Seriously, otters in Elizabethan costume?  The toymaker lives up my alley!

Mister Groundhog (free).  Groundhog's day is my birthday, so we all know a paper Punxsutawney Phil was in the cards for us.  And yes, I did look up how to spell Punxsutawney, darned New England naming.

The Tiny Littles (free).  You can print up the boys, the girls, or both.  They all come with a historical costume and a Halloween costume.

The Halloweenies (free).  these don't come with clothes, but they're so fun to play with!

Betsy McCall (free).  From 1951-1995, McCall's magazine printed paper dolls on the back page.  You can find the first ten years here, and the rest here.  I haven't printed Betsy up for the boys, but really, "Betsy Visits an Intergalactic Space Station" is not to be missed.

Sarahjane Studios ($10.00) Sarahjane's paper dolls are probably my favorites.  Her 1950's style drawings really capture the innocence of childhood.  They come with six children, school clothes, Halloween costumes, and winter clothes.  Now and then she will give away freebies that go with them on her blog.  We printed up two of Jack & colored one's hair red, so now the boys each have a little Mini Me.

One last set.  Homemade ($1.00).  I found a matryoshka doll stamp at the dollar store and stamped her onto several sheets of scrap patterned paper.  Then, I cut them apart so now the dress, head/kerchief, and apron are interchangeable for each.  It's a good sorting exercise for Castle.  I'll mix them up, and he puts them back together so they all match.

So that's part of what keeps us quiet & sane during reverent time.  Do you have any other good paper doll sites?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In Which Homesteaders Rock

We are on day two of Canning Week here in Nicholslandia. I have a counter full of peaches, a pot full of peach mush for peach butter, a windowsill full of jars, and a freezer full of berries to be jammed.  Huzzah!  I love Canning Week.  It is exhausting and may require a full mani/pedi to recover, but I love the feeling of providing for my family.  Dan told me this morning that he loves how I homestead for our family.  How awesome is that?  I thought I was just making jam!

So here's the plan:

Monday--peach butter, cut up peaches for freezing (I decided not to can this year because of the sugar content.)--DONE
Tuesday--More peaches & peach butter.  If time permits, get more peaches to freeze.
Wednesday--strawberry freezer jam
Thursday--Blackberry freezer jam
Friday--pick more blackberries for freezing.

If I had my druthers, I would love to go pick blackberries every 2 days until my freezer is full.  I mean the big freezer in the garage, y'all.  The berries are free, healthy, and a great way to supplement our family's grocery needs.  Especially since I've been on a smoothie kick lately. 

Canning later this year--apple pie in a jar, pears, need to check if I'm past green bean season.  I think maybe so.  I'm open to other veggies. 

What are your feelings on home preservation?  Are you a believer?

Monday, August 29, 2011

In Which Our Big Brains Could Learn from Their Nonexistent Ones

About a year and a half ago, we came up to Portland to sign the papers on the house & preview our new ward. There we were sitting in church, when Rogue turned to me and asked, "Mama, are we at a funeral?"  "No, we're at church.  ?"  "Then why is everyone wearing black?" 
I looked around us, and sure enough, everyone was in black.  We were the only spot of color.  My first thought was "I don't know if I can do this."  Fortunately, they had a quilting group, so I stuck it out, because my ward is fantastic!  (and "wear black week" was an anomaly)  But that experience gave me plenty of food for thought.
We were at the Newport Aquarium, my eyes boggling at the huge variety of gorgeousness, and the question came to me, "Why do we try so hard to blend in?"

Here we have all of these sea animals that are soft, squishy, & so easily destroyed, but they don't hide.  They just show their colors and take it like it is.  Meanwhile, we, the dominant species on the planet, worry so much about fitting in that often we don't show our true colors.

Mint green in a field of red--love it!

(I'm always so proud of Rogue when he puts aside his fears & feels the critters in the touch tank.)

What if our true color is orange? Purple? Green?  Even a touch of fuschia?

I think if we all showed our true selves, we wouldn't stick out as much as we think we would. (Lavender sea stars?  Swoon!)

It would be awesome.  There would be a riot of beauty all around & I think we'd be a lot less concerned about who's judging whom.
So I am determined to be myself.  My friends call me a "free spirit," which is something I would never have used to describe myself before.  Now, however, I just smile at the wonder of it all. 
I'm me.  Take me or leave me.  Lucky girl that I am, most of the people in my life have the same attitude.  I'll take them! And I love that while I'm a pink & green striped anemone kind of girl,

my soulmate could spend all day watching a school of sardines swim their brilliant dance.  Dan is also a take me or leave me kind of guy.  It works for us.

How's it working out for you?  What's something you really love about yourself?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In Which I am Thinking of My Sister

Dear Krissy,

I picked blackberries last evening.  I love blackberry season.  They grow as weeds here, and there's a huge meadow of them behind my friend's house, so it's free food for the jam pot & freezer.  But that's not why I love it so much.  I love it because it takes me back.
You probably don't remember picking blackberries when we were little, Krissy, but I wish you did. I was 5-6, so you were 2-3, and the others weren't born yet.  We would drive out into the country to a spot where there weren't many exhaust fumes to contaminate the berries, then Daddy would park at the side of the road and Mom would give us buckets and set us loose.  We were picking berries for jam, but of course we had to make sure they passed the taste tests! I remember there was no quarrelling between us, just lots of giggles and all those blackberries!  I remember them being sweet and full of the most glorious juice I had ever tasted.
So I think of you whenever I pick blackberries.  You & Mother Debbie, who made them into the best jam in the world.  There's something in the air of a blackberry meadow that smells like my very young childhood.  Probably blackberries, ha!  But also the tall grass & Queen Anne's Lace, which I never truly appreciated until I moved here.
Now I love them for their blankets of snowflakes in August.

Amidst all of the prickles, there is so much softness.

And every weed is a precious flower.

Although, when you think about it,

is there such a thing as a weed

in a summer meadow?

I love you, dear one. 



(for the blog) NB: these pictures are from last year.  I can't post them without adding some cuties of my boys.  (Rogue was non-stop that day & appeared only as an orange blur.  Perhaps that was his weekly super power.)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

In Which We Live off the Land

Blueberry season is ending.  Last year, our patch brought in 5 pints every 2 days.  This year it fed hordes of wee ones, relatives, and friends, though relatively few berries actually made it into the house.

Blueberry season, we love you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In Which I Live Vicariously Through My Neighbors

Life's rough for a girly girl living in a world of boys.  So rough.  So when my neighbor's little girl has a birthday, I get to make girly stuff!  Huzzah!

You can get the pattern for this doll here.  I elongated the arms & legs, made the arms separate from the body, and made a basic doll face instead of the more folk art-y face on the pattern.

I also gave her awesome pink hair.  I want streaks in my hair of this exact shade of pink.  Like I said, living vicariously.

Her dress is reversible because that's easier than hemming it.  Plus, it's fun.

Okay, here's my favorite part.  Soup (yes, that's what we call her, long story) calls me Tomato.  (When we met, I always had grape tomatoes on hand for her.  What?!?  She was, like, 13 months old!) It's become "Mamo" due to toddler pronunciation, and I love it!  So, of course, I had to embroider a tomato on the doll's bum!  Ha!

I also love the pink, polka dotted tights! 

"Lolly Dolly" (named after the pink-polka-dotted-tights-wearing doll I got when I was her age) may get some wardrobe updates throughout the year.  Halloween, Christmas, I'm just saying.

Soup's brothers have pronounced Lolly to be "awesome, because she's the only doll with a head like a hammerhead shark."  That's what I was going for, boys.
Mmm, hooray for girly times!