Mama, All I Want For Christmas...

Josie made mention, quite some time ago, that she'd love to have a handmade doll. It was random and she'd never expressed interest before- so I didn't take it as much more than just another "I want that" after seeing it or reading about it somewhere. Then the week before Christmas, she mentions it again. Only this time it was "I want a doll made by YOU for Christmas, Mama". "All I want for Christmas is a homemade doll". "You'd make a perfect doll for me, I know it!"..... yes...no pressure. None at all. Especially for someone who's never made a doll. Someone who not only doesn't know how to sew but is frankly SCARED of her sewing machine. Someone who had only days before Christmas but could not shrug this fanciful notion of her daughters any longer..and was suddenly overwhelmed with the potential guilt of NOT making one.

I'd seen the Black Apple dolls on Etsy and their creator demo them on Martha Stewart- but I didn't think I'd ever be doing it myself. And then a family friend recommended the use of that template & gave me a glimmer of hope- so I downloaded it and prayed for the best outcome possible.

It took me hours- fighting with my machine & re-do's due to inexperience, but suddenly this adorable creature began to emerge. And then, with a few final stitches and the snip of the last thread, she was complete. Granted, she's a bit wonky and not altogether symmetrical but it's charming, okay?! I gently wrapped her in tissue paper and tucked her in with the stocking goodies and anxiously awaited her grand reveal Christmas morning.

Nestled in the stocking..a wish come true.

And then it was time. She unwrapped her and well...she loved it. I searched for politeness & overly eager remarks- ready to make promises of a re-do now that I'd muddled through the first one...


..but she was quietly thrilled, with this adorable smile on her face- stroking her & squeezing her and occasionally looking up at me with that smile...

She said she was perfect and named her Lily.


And Lily has been her constant companion since she opened her. She received a bathtub for her American Girl dolls this year from her brother, but instead of using them to play with it- she used Lily. And throughout the day, she asked me to take pictures of Lily & told me what a good job I'd done...
Mission Successful!
I see the lack of skill in the stitching and such, but the glow in my baby girls face and seeing that she so obviously truly DOES adore it makes Lily perfect in my eyes too. I'm so glad I forged ahead of my fear & apprehension- it's made this Christmas priceless.

Meet Lily!



The last day of November.

Aack! I cannot *believe* we're flipping the calendar to the LAST month of 2009 tomorrow! Is that crazy or what?! Where on earth did this year go?
I've got plenty that I could share... but for this evening- just a post to ease my conscience and get a few peeps off my back (wink,wink -you know who you are & I love you).

Our Thanksgiving was lovely and as usual- it flew by much too fast. The food was delicious but I think I savored little family moments captured forever much more... I wish I would've had my camera out more but it was nice to just "be". TONS of leftovers between three Thanksgiving dinners with family... Have I mentioned how much I *LOVE* turkey sandwiches??? I do. very much. And it's a good thing. We will be living off turkey for a good while. Turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey pot pie...

photo: Annie Schlechter

I'll try and post again with more news tomorrow.
I have a new laptop coming in a few days and I cannot BEGIN to tell you how excited I am! The timing couldn't be better because the other one is on the fritz. I feel as though I've lost an appendage and don't know what to do with myself. *giggle* Sad, right?



Catch Up...

Attempting to get things caught up, as I sit here watching BattleStar Galactica with my brood. Aren't laptops one of the best inventions ever?! I certainly think so!

So what's been happening around here lately?

  • AWANA's Harvest Party at church. SUCH a nice evening for us all.
  • All of us have been on the verge of getting sick but nothing full fledged yet.. just achey, sporadic fever here and there, dizziness. Then the symptoms go away after a few hours and we're left feeling tired but otherwise fine. We've been like this for a week now. I'm trying to keep us home as much as possible and pumped with fluids, vitamins and rest but...this flu season causes some anxiety.
  • This business of it being dark at 4:30pm is a bit crazy. I'd be perfectly content to roll into bed an hour or two later!
  • The hubsters father has moved into the neighborhood and the littles have loved walking over in the later afternon to visit for a little while and we've had him over for dinner and movies a couple times now. It's been nice to have him close by.
  • Perplexed about upcoming birthdays of my littles. They're only a few days apart so we typically combine them but it's always crazy. And what to do this year?? WHere? Without costing an absolute fortune, I might add. That's a key issue, really.
  • A smidge of rearranging furniture in the living/dining room area. Nothing drastic but it's nice to improve on functionality. Especially since we use the dining room for our schooling.
  • I'm over the concept of boxing up our school work, projects, etc at the end of everyday so it wouldn't get in the way of our home decor... I realized that I enjoy leaving out the kids jars of pencils and crayons. I stopped posting our timeline in a notebook and put it up on the wall so we can all view it on a regular basis- school "time" or not. Leaving our posters up... it's a part of our lives- an integral part right now. To foster a love of learning- and pique the interest- I've already discovered that it's beneficial! Leaving out books on our current topics in History, the littles thumb through them at their leisure, and get sucked in! I've caught them doodling stories about people living in Egypt. It's these little things that affirm!
  • Starting to get some requests for photo shoots. Cannot tell you how exciting this is. Working on business cards and other things. I'm building my portfolio right now, so if you know anyone wanting photos but not able to afford a lot- this is the perfect opportunity! Email me for details!
  • Thankful for God's hand in my life. So many things have been going on recently- yet I see His faithfulness and guideance through it all. Even very unpleasant, emotional situations. Situations where I have to make the decision to step up when it's much more comfortable to sit back & remain acceptable in others eyes. But I know its best to be more concerned with being acceptable in Gods eyes versus those of others. Seeing and experiencing the consequences though... that's a tough one. I will say it's taught me about strength and truth of character- both in myself and in others.
  • Holidays are rapidly approaching. We started listening to Christmas music today... going to remember to focus on what's truly important instad of getting wrapped up in the marketing, the scheduling and the emptiness of it all. When you focus on the surface, the holiday passes and you're left with this melancholy, hollow feeling like "All that work. All that time thinking about it. Working toward it----and just like that. It's over". I don't know how many years I've had this feeling but I *hate* feeling like that and it's up to me to change that- for my family and myself.
  • I could ramble about bits and pieces and thoughts on this and that for a long. long. time.
  • See all that cereal and hair product down there? Essentially free. Used Target Gift Cards earned from previous deals to buy this and earned two more Gift Cards...so I spent nothing and they paid me to take the cereal. Gotta love that! I used coupons to maximize the hair products- it only came to $1.49 for the three (but again, I used a gift card!). I've said it before and I'll say it again, these things make me giddy!!

Enough rambling for now.....


Pumpkin Spice. Bayberry & Books

A low key Halloween evening.
Around 3pm my little man suddenly came down with fever, chills and aches. White as a ghost...
The irony?
I had decided to keep us all home from trick-or-treating due to all the germs out there right now. I know that sounds a bit extreme but so far we've been spared and I'd like to keep it that way...well. Until now!
Somewhere, somehow- my boy picked up a germ and he's currently moaning in his sleep in the next room.
No silly dress up. No games. No movie marathons.

So we invited my father-in-law over, who's just moved into the neighborhood, for take out and a movie. Carne Asada nachos (which were soooooo delicious!)and ice cold coke with candy for dessert. Matthew nibbled on dinner, sucked down Airbourne and water, laid on the couch moaning and took a bath.

Other than having a little one down for the count, the rest of this day has been quite leisurely and enjoyable. Got up a bit late, drank a cup of coffee doused with Pumpkin Spice creamer and did my Bible Study. God has been SO amazingly faithful in providing reassurance and clarity for me and my life situations. Not that He hasn't been faithful in doing so in the past- but you sort of take it for granted and then BAM! The realization of what He's putting before you just knocks you on your tail! Anyway- I've been eating it up and truly focusing on the truth and steadfastness of His Word. One piece of my current study is this AMAZING book by John MacArthur, "The Jesus You Can't Ignore". It's a must read! A vivid portrait of the Messaiah- declaring truth without apology, with clarity and love. I truly feel Jesus has been turned into this fluffy marshmallow... I don't know how else to describe it! *laugh* But the church today in general, the culture today- view Him as this accepting, tolerant entity that has nothing bad to say about anyone or anything. Just "it's all good, everyone is good" bunk. And in reading the Bible, anyone truly IN the Word knows this is NOT a Biblical Jesus. This book scripturally reintroduces us to Him. And it's good,good stuff.


Okay- I went off on a tangent there... but it was worthy of one, wasn't it??
ANYwho.... after coffee and Bible study I got ready and went thrifting. Then came home and we all helped my father-in-law get moved into his new apartment. Afterward- got cleaned up. again. and Josie and I went to TARGET to take advantage of some coupons I had expiring today. In using coupons I had on hand, I came home with a TON of candles and all of them for $5 out of pocket! I left the store with $15 in Target Gift Cards in my wallet too! LOVE it!! This supply should last us until the New Year I think. I burn a lot of candles in the Fall/Winter and these burn quickly- so we'll see! I've already burned several of the Bayberry scent- they smell SO good!! Oh- and there's some dishwashing tablets back there too-- another coupon expiring. Normally $3.99, after coupons the detergent tablets were $2.21. Not too shabby.

Here's our new audio book we've begun. The littles giggle like mad and we're just a few chapters in. It's a nice way to ease into our afternoons after lunchtime. Snuggling on the couch under quilts, doodling in notebooks and listening to this entertaining story.


Well-- better wrap this up. We're visiting a church with family tomorrow and then celebrating a birthday at Red Robin. Then evening service and Christmas play practice. Another busy day lined up!


try,try again!

Photo: Skye Hardwick/Work of Heart

Currently, a photographer I'm rather in awe of is hosting a giveaway of her photography workbook. I've been a fan of her work for some time now and seeing her pictures inspires me to continue pursuing my own dream. I don't want pictures that look EXACTLY like hers- then they would not be my own- but I would appreciate the insight from a fellow photographer; food for thought on something I'm passionate about! Skye Hardwick has had several giveaways and I've either been gone or wasn't able to participate for some other reason-- but this one.. I'm ALL over it! I've heard rave reviews of the workbook so I'm itching to have a copy of my own! The way to win this is posting it in your blog, tweet, etc.etc. sharing the info... Keep your fingers crossed for me!




Just past mid-week and so far it's been pretty a-ok!

Crossed enough items off my TO DO list on Wednesday to about burst from pride.
Sad but true.
Ironically, Josie's verse in her lessons today was Proverbs 16:18

"Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall."

Moving On!

School went well. Much focus on the layout of a story- the main idea, supporting sentences, paragraph structure,etc. Both of them are learning the same things which makes it nice for me!
After school we munched on apples and peanut butter..and spiced cider.

The weather was wavering all day- the sun would peak from behind the clouds for a minute or two and then go back into hiding. And goodness, was it ever CRISP. The breeze was VERY chilly.
It seems as though we may have a brief Fall season and a lengthy Winter one...

Wednesday evening was the kids AWANAs Harvest Party. We stayed for the festivities and I'll share some pictures once I download them. It was a nice evening and the littles had a BALL.

Bob's spaghetti for dinner & a little tv and Wednesday was over before we knew it!

I'm trying to woo my first born into a photo shoot that resembles a shoot versus a wrestling/pleading session. lol. I do believe bribery will get me...somewhere. We shall see.
Fotunately I usually have another willing subject at my beck and call. She's good that way.

Feeling thankful. Hopeful. Blessed.
and since it's 2am ... a smidge bleary and tired.
Gee. Wonder why...?


October thus far...

Harvest time.
Love it all...

I need to go to the Farmers Market this weekend and get some dahlias.
I try to buy at least one bouquet of them this time of year EVERY year but haven't yet.
They're my favorite flower so it's a high priority!


I've been trying to get back into the FlyLady routine and I've found it's easy to do now that they're on Facebook! They post their daily missions and routines each day- and no more trying to filter through a bazillion emails in my box each day! They've begun posting missions for the Holiday season as well- so I'm rolling on that. One of the first things was to create a notebook for all the brainstorming, lists,etc. I took a spiral notebook we had lying around and waded through the cobwebs of my scrapbook stash to decorate it a bit. Voila! Mission accomplished.


Josie has been working on decorating our home with pumpkins and leaves of her own design. She asked that I not post a picture of her decorated area until it's complete...so I'll leave you in suspense! I haven't told her yet but I have a few art projects coming up that will add to her concept. If I made mention of it at all she'd beg to do them all the live long day- so mum's the word...

We were loaned this copy of Tim Hawkins and it was nice to be able to sit and watch it as a family and not have to worry about language or crass behavior. It's a rarity these days. Another family favorite is BRIAN REGAN. Definitely worth checking out if he tours your town- or just visit YouTube to get an idea...
Watched Ree (The Pioneer Woman) on The Bonnie Hunt Show today.... it was brief but enjoyable. I want her new cookbook SOOOOOOO badly!!!! Definitely on my Christmas list.
If you happened to miss the segment today(Mom!)....you're in luck. You can watch the funniest part of the segment here! Bonnie Hunt & Ree played so well of each other. Quick wit...love it!

and...there seems to be some technical issues. So go to this LINK and you'll see a 2minute video on the right side for Ree and Bonnie. It's worth it for a few laughs!

MORE spiced cider. Had to go to the store and literally scraped the bottom of the bulk barrel of cinnamon sticks...they were almost out. I grabbed the last seven sticks! (whew!) Bulk is a beautiful thing for items like cinnamon sticks (6 cents spent) and whole cloves (a snack baggie size for 11 cents). Someone asked how I make the cider. I buy a huge jug of apple cider, pour it into my crock pot (about 1/2 full), toss in a couple cinnamon sticks and sprinkle some cloves and a dash of allspice. I like to put a few slices of an orange in there too- but it's just as delish without. It just adds that sumpin' sumpin'...Put the lid on and let it heat up. Pretty soon your whole house will smell soooo good! Ladle into a cup, spray in your whipped cream and drizzle with caramel sauce (we just use a squeezeable ice cream topping bottle). It's Fab.U.losso!

Here's the kids, right before their mother almost thoroughly humiliated them at AWANAS. I've been a little off on my dates and I thought last Wednesday was the 28th. ahem. So we get the kids ready for their Harvest Party at AWANAS and we head down to the church. We get out of the car and start to walk in but I catch sight of the inside of the gym. There's nothing set up. I see someone pull into the parking lot and out pops their munchkin- in their AWANAS vest...
We hightailed it back to the car with Josie hissing "Mom you almost totally embarassed ussss!"
I felt SO bad! And just a smidge like a dork.
BUT! We're ready to roll for the AWANAS Harvest Party that's THIS week, ya'll. I gots it togethaaahhhhh. (eye roll)
Fortunately my children are quick to forgive (well, nothing a little trip to Wendy's and Blockbuster couldn't fix anywho.).




Goodness, things are busy lately. But full of good things. God has been revealing SO many blessings- and though I still catch myself questioning "why" to some experiences- I know it's for good. I know He's using me...what a feeling!

School is going well (reminder to self: need to update homeschool blog). The kids are reading up a storm and continuing their studies on ancient Egypt, learning to use a thesauraus, write equations, etc.etc. They're both doing well!

Autumn is beautiful here in the Northwest- and it's as though I slightly forget every year until the season rolls around again. The trees GLOW with oranges and reds- against the bright green grasses- it's SO lovely! Droves of Canadian Geese have been flying overhead all day EVERY day, driving our pug crazy. He snorts and growls, trotting around the house, trying to find them.

Making the decision to dwell in an apartment for a while has been worth it. There have certainly been hassles and annoyances, but financially it was the best decision! We're beginning to see fruit from our sacrifices and it gives me such hope and peace to know we're being blessed for our steadfastness in this area of our lives. Yay for progress!!

We've been meeting new people and though it's hard to put yourself out there and be the "new girl", I've found I am met with warmth and enthusiasm- putting my anxiousness at ease. It's a comfort to see our children make new friends as well. I can handle the idea of not having many friends (though it appears that's a non-issue) myself- but it's so important for the kids to have a social connection outside the home, it was foremost on my mind. And we're seeing it happen...awesome stuff.

Shooting a lot but not as much as I'd like to. I try to carry my camera with me at all times so I don't miss anything. There have been a few times where I've stopped short in doing something around the house because the light was simply TOO good to miss out on! I'm toying with branding, business card ideas and the like right now too...

And that's a brief update, folksies.
I'll post something a bit more colorful soon!




Thinking back...

This same time of year, in 2005... it seems like so long ago!
A different house- but very much a home. Josie decided to give herself a haircut and sobbed for me to "put it back onnnnn!". A lovely homemade neck cozy from my mom that I just pulled out to wear again the other day. And sibling love...my goodness. These two have always been loving and kind toward one another for the most part; but looking at pictures from back then- I have SO many where they're hugging, looking at each other with love and admiration. It makes my heart spill over with joy when I realize that hasn't changed today.






random love.

Lots of rambling thoughts, ideas, wishes and prayers swirling about in my brain.
Nothing is within my grasp as far as putting it into words, so I'll spare you from the attempt!
How about some things I'm loving?
I've got a habit of seeing something online and saying/thinking "Oooh! LOVE! Must save to share later!" and it sits in my computer...oh, forever. Also, I'm horrible at recording where said things were found online for reference..I must get better about that if I'm indeed to share them!
So forgive the lack of links for these but they're lovely all the same. Bits of visual eye candy- for me anyway...

LOVE this bicycle basket. I know this is one pic that's been sitting in my computer for a very long time. I see it mentioned on various blogs and drool all over again..it's perfection. Well- when it comes to a bicycle basket, it's perfection.

This ad from a cooking magazine. Love Stanley Tucci. Love the border collie- reminds me of our own childhood dog, Molly. And just the warmth of AUTUMN in this shot...yummy. Makes me want to hop up, go gather pumpkins and leaves, light candles all over the home, read, bake, cuddle under quilts, drink apple cider... It's got THAT kind of magical "it" for an ad campaign. Kudos to the person who schemed that one up. They earned their paycheck.

Below, a most adoreable little munchkin traipsing along in Amsterdam or Paris- can't recall which. This one was from a Euro kids fashion blog...just not sure which one off my mile-long list. Let's not dwell on that... dwell on the cuteness. It's abundant in just one little picture! The tiny piggytail, the coat (the COAT!!!), the boots.. the sweet little profile... You want to scoop her up and squeeze her to pieces.

I know these are from Urban Outfitters... totally diggin' these.

And that's that.
Perhaps my muddled collective currently doing twirls in my cranium will settle down into a nice, cohesive melody...until then... enjoy your day.

Thought for the day: Savor the moments. And think on your actions for today...you were a witness in some capacity. With that in mind, would you change something you did today??



Blog Linkage & Daydreaming

Just found myself daydreaming a bit this morning...
We're going to be looking for a house a little after New Years and so I'm doing what I love to do.
Wistful daydreaming of the possibilities. Wondering what sort of house we'll find. Thinking of how much room we'll want/need and what we'll fill it with. We have quite a bit of our belongings in storage and it will be a thrill to not contend with that anymore. Driving to a storage unit that's 40 minutes away just to pick up a box or two of holiday decor or to put bicycles away for the season.. it's a smidge annoying. Not the end of the world by any means, but irksome nonetheless!

One item we don't own (yet) that I've been daydreaming about A LOT is a buffet for our dining room. I've discovered one I'm completely in love with. Completely. Today, HOUSE OBSESSION posted a pic of her dining room. While I'm enamored with the paint-by-numbers and the wall paint...my eyes latched onto the buffet and I knew it was the EXACT style I'm hoping to acquire someday... Time to start scouring Craigslist and thrifts.. I'm on a mission.

In reading Ohdeedoh this morning, I was reminded of this idea. This isn't the first time I've seen the Ikea curtain wire system called Dignitet used in this fashion but I can't place what blog it was discovered either... regardless, I *love* the idea! We have an abundance of projects, drawings and love notes from our littles and I hate to tuck them all away. This is the perfect solution and inexpensive to boot. I could see hanging a couple somewhere in the dining room or living room and then another in the littles room, so they may hang what they deem their favorite pieces as well as random things like the cool new LEGO set they tore out a catalog. A picture of their friend. AWANA verses and the like...

IKEA is a little over an hour drive but I'll have to put this on our list of things to purchase on our next trip.

It looks as though multiple wire hangings can be made from one purchase...

This time of year, I daydream daily on ways to make our home comfortable, inviting and reflect US. Fall instantly makes me think of a cozy nest for my brood and I enjoy making it so- especially if I can do things frugally and with ideas that make my heart sing.

Another thing about this time of year that makes my heart sing...
Caramel Apple Cider

...Caramel Apple Cider. And all things pumpkin... but that's another post...



That's the way the Cookie Crumbles...

I'm sooooo bummed! First, Cottage Living. Then DOMINO. Now Cookie...all my favorite publications are officially gone! Conde Naste announced the halting of Cookie as well as Gourmet magazine just a few days ago. Needless to say- another source of inspiration is gone and I'm none too happy about it.

That is all.
Happy Moooonnnnnndayyyy everyone. bahhhh!



feeling Gods hand...

I'm so thankful for the little things that God gives each day, to bless us!
We forget to look around to recognize them- to see things for what they are.
The sun warming your face.
The gentle breeze that airs out your home.
An encouraging email from a true friend.
The sloppy kisses from your child.
An unexpected check in the mail.
Being healthy!

There are SO many...
Tonite I saw it. I felt it.
Abundant blessings in a few moments time.
I saw the joy of my child in making a new friend.
I felt the kinship of a fellow homeschool mom and sister-in-Christ.
Just really cool.
In a matter of minutes, I felt showered with undeserving blessing and kindness.

He is truly SO very good to us.



crushing on clothes...

another foofy post...
but I cannot help myself.
I must let the ooze of new Fall collections seep out and be shared!!
I've been getting emails and magazines with the new Autumn fashion and it's
Especially the kids stuff!

I give you Philip Lim's Fall '09 Collection...

Howzabout J.Crew's Crewcuts Fall '09 line....?

That peachy pink is SO 80's yummy...

Enough dreaminess for one day.



around town...

photo love from our little city.


Have you seen some of the recent Matilda Jane clothing??!
I'm in serious. serious. Loooovvvve.

gorgeous. colorful. whimsical and most of all- girly.
No mature, tweenish, fad-filled junk.
But instead flowers and ruffles and color.
So lovely.

kill me now...look at these adorable oatmeal legwarmers! SOOOO cute!!!!

Here's one of our big time favorites...Josie wants this badly.
It IS pretty darn cute. And she'd look great in it...

And lastly- look! Grown up stuff now too!!!!
I adore this Libby shirt...

The internet is such a fun place to "window" shop!


Lisa Leonard Giveaway @ Simple Mom!

I've seen Lisa's designs in Wondertime before..and the simplicity & charm of her work appeals to me! Her website is filled with unique, whimsical pieces- many can be customized as well. I appreciate the fact she's a busy mother of two boys and runs her businesss DEBT FREE and is living a creative yet fruitful life. What's not to like about that?? It's an inspiration to me.

Simple Mom is having a giveaway today and there are three chances to win something from Lisa's website. I've posted pics of two of my favorite pieces...I'd LOVE to own either of these, though if I had to pick just one, I'd say the teenie tiny initials necklace so I could wear my littles next to my heart everyday. The little pearl just *makes* it too...love that.



long week...

Is it just me- this week feels like it should be over by now.
It's been a long one.
Enjoying our heat wave part deux, however!
100 degrees today!

I received an email from PaperSource today and boy-oh-boy...
they have some adorable things for sale right now.
Here's a couple I was salivating over...

And this 2010 Cavallini Farmer's Market Calendar...LOVE it! Perfect kitchen calendar.