Wednesday, June 4, 2014

DIY Dinosaur Air Plant Holders

There's something about going to Walmart that's inspiring.  Usually I'm inspired to never go back.

This time though, I stumbled upon plastic dinosaurs and was inspire to craft.  (And to never ever go back, though I'm sure it'll happen again.)  I've stumbled across planters made out of plastic animals and I think the idea is hilariously awesome--and dinosaurs just seemed right.  Originally I intended to make these planters for some succulent cuttings from my wildly successful succulent garden (finally, I've kept plants alive!) but my husband and I found ourselves on a kid-free trip last weekend where I found an air plant vendor at a Farmer's Market.  I've always been intrigued by air plants and I'm stoked to have some of my own.  In hollowed-out plastic dinosaurs, nonetheless.  Can life get any better?

I found these hollow plastic dinosaurs at Walmart for a dollar each while searching for a slinky as a gift for a kiddo birthday party.  (When in doubt for what to give a kid, a slinky is awesome, right?!  Inexpensive, loved by generations, and made in the good ol' USA.)

Making the dinosaur transition from toy to planter is as simple as cutting a hole with an Exacto knife.  A box cutter would probably work, too.  Maybe even a steak knife.  I'm pretty sure there aren't rules on what you can and can't use to cut into dinosaur toys when you're a grown-up.

Since I'd intended to use this with dirt and succulents, I made a drainage hole.  And yes, I laughed at the placement...but it just seemed like an obvious place for a drainage hole. 

Then I spray painted those bad boys for good measure.  Ever wondered what caused dinosaurs to go extinct?  My current theory is spray paint fumes.

Since I went with the air plants, all I had to do was stick the plants into the holes I'd created.  Bam.  Pretty awesome, right?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

When Mother's Day isn't happy.

With the recent celebration of Mother's day here in the U.S., I've been reflecting a lot on my catapult into motherhood.  It's hard for me to comprehend that I've been a mother for almost five years.  On one hand, I can't remember how it feels not to be a mom and on the other hand, it all feels so new.  I still feel like a novice who is treading water in this role that feels like uncharted territory.

In my five years of motherhood, I've learned and adapted, and most of all, I've changed.  Like completely and drastically changed to the core.

I just remember how easy motherhood was before I had my first baby.  Moms, you know what I mean.  I had this idea that it wasn't so hard (and why was every mom I know exhausted and complaining?!) to mother a child.

And then I had one.

For anyone in the throes of postpartum depression, Mother's Day can be a terrible day.  Rather than being a day to celebrate who you are as a central figure in your child's life, it can really feel like a time that highlights your failures and lack of enthusiasm for your role.  I understand; I've been there.  The beautiful images of flowers and pastels that we're inundated with from every department store didn't jive with the darkness I once associated with the holiday.

Things just didn't "click" instantaneously for me in the motherhood department.  I didn't feel an immediate bond with my baby, I didn't like having someone whose needs were so intertwined with my body, and I just felt that every move I made was wrong.  I felt hopeless, and for every well-meaning person who commented on how precious my little baby was, I just sank further into the feeling of inadequacy.  Why didn't I see how precious my little one was? Why couldn't I handle an infant?  Why was it so hard for me when people with far fewer blessings and a lot less support could handle mothering without batting an eye? Why couldn't I just be happy?  Why did I want to leave it all behind?  Was it worth sticking around for?

I guess I still don't know the answers to most of those questions, but I DO know that motherhood was worth sticking around for.  I do know now, after baby #2, that even without the depression, extreme sleep-deprivation makes me a crazy-woman who cries all the time, and there's no way around that! I know that babies are not my forte, but I love love love being the mom of a four year old.  I know that a different birth experience the second time around made me happy.  I know that it was worth doing all over again. I know that there is no such thing as a perfect mother.  I learned that even on the best of days, the emotional baggage that a mother carries can be terribly burdensome.  I've learned that sometimes putting the baby books down and following your instincts is the way to go.  I've learned that I don't regret any of the hard work and sacrifices, as I'm (slowly) seeing the effort pay off.  I've learned that post-partum depression made me a better person because I'm more empathetic of others in their struggles.  I've learned that sharing my failings and inadequacies is often far more important than talking about my successes.

To all of you moms who are in the midst of what can be a very hard time, try to put a smile on your face and keep on chugging forward--sometimes that's a step in the right direction.  You're not alone in your struggle.  Share your feelings with someone you trust.  Sharing your feelings with a doctor may be helpful, too.

Hang in there, my friend.  There are better days ahead.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Preschool Lunchtime Favorite {Creamy Macaroni with Veggies}

I've taken such a break from blogging regularly over the last two years that it seems silly to say that I'm taking a break from crafty posts to share with you a recipe.  But nonetheless, yes, I'm sharing a "recipe" and not a craft on this odd occasion of actually posting.  So sue me.  (Please, don't.)

While I know many moms who are in the "I don't serve my kids PB&Js for lunch" camp, I'm totally a PB&J makin' fool for weekday lunches.  I'd say my girls enjoy the quintessential childhood sandwich at least twice a week for lunch and often dinner leftovers make it onto their lunch plates, too.  What can I say?  I'm practical that way.  Don't feel too bad for the little ladies, though--we switch things up enough to keep things interesting.

I'm not going to knock the blue box of mac-n-cheese, as it's one of my ultimate guilty pleasures.  Seriously.  Maybe you want chocolates on Valentine's Day but my knows-no-shame tastebuds would gladly take a serving of Kraft mac-n-cheese as a substitute.  Perhaps it's the fact that I didn't grow up eating it that makes it such a novelty.  Anyhow, this momma can't be trusted with boxes of macaroni-and-cheese in the house, so I've created a kid-pleasing alternative that my kids love so I can keep the blue-box macaroni out of my pantry (and off of my thighs).  I'm guessing that like me, their deprivation of boxed mac-n-cheese will one day result in a torrid secret love affair with the stuff but if that's the worst emotional scarring I cause them as a mother, I'll call it a success.

1 cup macaroni ($ .20)
2 oz. cream cheese (1/4 of a brick) ($ .30)
1 carrot, shredded ($. 8)
1/4 cup frozen peas ($ .15)

Cook pasta according to box directions, adding the carrot and peas to the boiling pasta during the last minute of cooking.  Drain; return to the hot pan and immediately add the cream cheese, allowing the residual heat of the pan and the pasta/veggies melt the cheese into a nice creamy coating.  (This recipe makes 2 large preschool-sized portions. It's easy to double or triple, based on your kids' needs and whether or not Momma wants to join in on the macaroni binge).

I love that the total cost of the recipe is $ .73 (please note that I do not 'coupon' but I do buy things in bulk so my prices tend to be lower than the average supermarket). Some fruit alongside the pasta rounds out lunch quite nicely, but if you have some leftover diced ham or chicken, it'd be awesome to throw in to the pasta, too.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Oliver & S Popover Sundress

I was recently asked by a lady from church "So, do you sew clothing very often for your girls?"

In an ideal world, my answer would be: "Yes, everything they wear is handmade with love".

The real answer is something like this: "No way José."

How's that for honesty?  I'll go even further and explain why in unnecessary details, because what is a blog without unnecessary detail?

1. Elliott initially hates anything I make for her.  No joke.  (Proof: see here and here.  Just because she's aged doesn't mean she's any better.)
2. We're given SO much clothing by family and friends.  It's kind of a waste to have more.
3. I'll flip if it gets ruined.  And you probably wouldn't want to witness that.
4. Typically costs WAY more that buying off the rack. (Anyone love the Gap Kids clearance racks like I do?  Holla!)
5. No guarantee of quality or cuteness.  (That's a lot of pressure!)
6. Whenever I sew, my world crashes down around me.  I forget to feed my family, I don't do dishes or keep up with housework, and then...after all the trouble... see #1.   

Last year though, I made the Oliver and S Popover Sundress  for Elliott.  The pattern is free (yay!) and it is quick and simple to sew.  She wore it once (begrudgingly) and apparently it has been shoved into the back of a drawer ever since, wadded up and forgotten.  

When I was picking through her clothing this morning, I stumbled across a hint of familiar green seersucker and decided that this dress would be worn a second time. I prepared myself mentally for a massive throwdown, and I kid you not, I walked into the living room and handed Elliott her clothing and she replied "Oh, I looooooove this dress!".


So, here, after months have gone by, someone appreciates my hard work.  Naturally, this had to be documented.

Little sister is modeling her big sister's hand-me-down Target mix-n-matches, which, despite their cheapness are virtually indestructible, and again this is very demoralizing in the sewing arena.  The bunny that Bennett has shoved in her mouth is affectionately (and truthfully) called "stinky bunny".  It's rarely very far from her grasp, which is unfortunate, because it sure could stand to be washed daily based on the amount of love it receives.

You know, the human spirit never fails to amaze me.  After just one little glimmer of Elliott's appreciation, all I can think about is sewing.

(For the sake of details--I purchased the seersucker at Joann a few years ago and used scraps of navy blue cotton for the yoke.  I had a small scrap of white piping and added it under the yoke for detail.  I used the 3T size with a 4T length, as the dress is very easy to customize.)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Oh, the things your kids will say.

(Note: I've had this post drafted in part for a few weeks, and after reading Maybe Matilda's post today, I got off my big rumpus and finished it up.  Rachel is truly a kindred spirit of mine.)

Seriously.  I feel like I read all of these wonderful blogs where these wonderful mothers dote on their children and photograph them beautifully and talk about how insightful and darling their children are... and I'm like, yeah, I get it, but how many seconds of the day are really like that?  On average, I'd say about 6.5.

The rest are something like this...

On our 7-minute drive to school:
Elliott: Mom, what pants are you wearing?
Me: Jeans.
Elliott: Oh, so not your black ones that you sleep in?
Me: No, I'm wearing jeans.
Elliott: ((Sigh of relief)) Oh, okay. You shouldn't wear those black ones that you sleep in.
(For the record, the "black ones that I sleep in" are yoga pants.  Heaven forbid that I drop off a four-year old to preschool in yoga pants!  And also for the record, I rarely wear my yoga pants in public.)

Here's me in my black pants with the Fashion Police hot on my tail.

Speaking of children's commentary on our clothing... do your kids ever comment on your body?  It's a blast, right?  I have this mole on the back of my leg that I'm totally self-conscious about and both of my kids mess with it whenever they have the opportunity.  They just relish any opportunity to touch it and really point it out.

And you KNOW you've made it into full-blown motherhood when you have to hold your finger up to your mouth and shoosh your children while trying on swimsuits at Target.  Heaven forbid any other fitting room patrons hear the commentary that your four-year old is about to provide. Or the questions.

Occasionally, I get on my high horse and ask for privacy in the bathroom.  On more than one occasion, Elliott has granted my request by shutting herself into the bathroom with me.  Yep, that's definitely what I meant.

For the record, the Fashion Police thinks that wiping her nose with her shirt is an acceptable alternative to a tissue.  I'm beginning to seriously question her authority on matters of proper fashion.
I recently had the great fortune of finding a one-piece bathing suit that I really love.  For me, it was a big day!  Because I stand in at just under 5 feet tall, it's not easy to find a reasonably priced one-piece suit that is flattering, modest, or even passable as appropriate swim-attire.  But shoved amidst a sea of XS string bikinis was an adorable online-return retro-styled one piece bathing suit that caught my eye... and after trying it on (please see reference above) I was practically giddy to buy it.

The first day I put my new bathing suit on to wear it out, Elliott stopped in to give her feedback.

"Mom, you look SO beautiful in your new bathing suit.

((Wait for it...))

Your bottom looks SOO BIG!"

And on that note, I'm off to crunch some celery and run a few miles in a rubber suit.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I jumped on the Project Life bandwagon!

I totally love my memories, but I've never been the best memory keeper.  A glaring reminder of my failures is two small jars of sand that I keep in an old suitcase.  When my husband and I were married a decade ago on Siesta Key in Sarasota, the wedding planner gave me a small amount of sand that was scooped from the very ground where we were forever joined.  Aww, just look at those two kids...

I thought it was pretty cool to have that sand, so I decided to get sand from every beach we visited on our honeymoon cruise.  I missed the first beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico--got some sand in Barbados--and then missed every other St. Whatever island that we visited, because, you know, collecting sand is just SO complicated.  And in those ten years, there have been dozens of other islands and beaches.  And no, I've not since collected a bit of sand intentionally. (For the record, however, my car always has good ol' Melbourne sand in it...)

That said, one night I was up at 2am with a discontented wee nursling, naturally perusing Pinterest , and stumbled across something called "Project Life".  I.was.blown.away.  It's like a plain photo album on crack--in the sweetest of ways--of course.  I've admitted a million times that I love scrapbook paper but not scrapbooking, and it's because scrapbooking is too daunting a task.  Coming up with an effective layout is just more than I can handle--but with Project Life, the layout is done for you and you just fill in the slots.  Here's what one of my Project Life pages (dedicated to Elliott's 3rd birthday) looks like:

I think it's important for moms (okay, and dads, too) to be memory keepers in some capacity--we all find our own way to do so.  Up to the point that I started Project Life I had a memory box for each of my girls, and I have a notebook in which I keep a timeline and random funny things.  I'm not excellent at keeping up with writing things down, but I'm getting better, in part because I started keeping a sentence-a-day-journal.  (Sounds exactly like it is--write one sentence daily. Bam.  That's your journal.)

Project Life is technically a brand, but I like to think of it more as a memory-keeping springboard.  You can buy all of their fancy cards and such, but for me I've settled into using the PicMonkey editor to create the majority of my book.  Though I do have the Project Life album and page inserts, in addition to a handful of the ancillary cards that make the books pretty, I am finding my own "style".  I prefer, for instance, using one font throughout my book with lots of white borders around my pictures.  Trial and error have definitely led me to that discovery, but clean and simple is working for me. {Not to mention I'm kind of cheap, so going crazy and buying a bunch of stuff just isn't my style.}

Lately, I've been using my Instagram photos to catch snippets of daily life and it's pretty easy to edit those into photos to add to my PL Album.  There's a digital version of Project Life, but for me I've always wanted something tangible.  In fact, my tech-nerd husband is on board with this memory-keeping system because he thought it was kind of a shame that we had ten years of pictures stored on our computer but it was never easily accessible for our family's enjoyment.  Project Life has allowed me to print just the highlights of our lives (I average about one page to document each month).  Elliott loves looking through the photos and I love sharing our book with family and friends.  As a kid, I adored looking at the photo albums my mom kept, but I, like most people these days, never did anything with our family's photos beyond downloading them from the camera to computer.

Now I do--and I'm so very happy.  Have any of you tried Project Life?  What are your thoughts?  Or better yet, how do you keep your family's memories?

Much love,

(I hope you're looking forward to some more Project Life posts... they're forthcoming!)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Puff Stitch End Table Topper

One thing's for sure--my home is a hodpodge of new things, used things, handmade things, and store-bought things.  In May, I'll celebrate 10 years of marriage and I must say that my style has morphed and evolved over this past decade--and I can only imagine that the cycle will continue.  With that understanding, I really don't put a whole lot of money into a lot of the smaller pieces of furniture that I buy.  All of our end tables are thrift store finds, and as you know, thrift store finds often come with their own... character.  (Read: flaws, nicks, dents, scratches.)  

I'm grateful to buy things that have been pre-loved, because then I don't feel the pressure of perfection.  It's a nice burden to be free of.  

The table topper I crocheted (last year) covers a cute little cast-off end table that I bought at Goodwill for $13.50.  It was a Target reject (still had the Target label attached) that has one tiny flaw in the veneer on the table top.  A vase of faux flowers has covered the flaw for a few years, but last year I made a puff stitch table topper, mostly because I just LOVE little puff stitches.   

I started with these instructions as the first rounds, and just kept going--increasing appropriately, of course.  So, yeah, pretty easy, and it was made only using yarn I had on hand.  It's all Lion Brand Vanna's Choice, in case you're curious.

I'm sure I should add some more details or some funny anecdote to end this post, but it's Spring Break and my eldest just woke from a nap--so, I'm checking out! Go forth and crochet!

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