Mom, don’t read this.

Sorry guys, my mom checks my blog and I don’t want to spoil her surprise.  Well, it’s probably not much of a surprise anymore, but anyway…

Everyone besides my mom, there’s still time, and you would feel very happy if you made time for this little project.

When my youngest was in first grade, he announced that he doesn’t believe in Valentine’s Day.  I was puzzled, because I could not understand the rejection of chocolate.  He said he didn’t like it because it was a made-up holiday that forces people to spend money, and that it probably made his grandma (my mom) feel lonely and left out.  My dad died in 2000, and my mom has recovered.  She has a fulfilling life.  She has lots of friends and family, and we love her.  But my son is right.  Single people, people not in a romantic relationship, widows and widowers can easily feel lonely on a day like Valentine’s Day.

We’ve started making stuff for people who might feel left out, because that just stinks!

Here’s a sneak peek at this year’s goodies:

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We made some of it ourselves, and some of it is from Dollar Tree.

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Chocolate candy and red rose soap thingies come in heart-shaped boxes, so of course my kids wanted these.

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We make memory wire bracelets by the zillions around here.  I like them for gifts because they expand to fit just about any size of wrist.  Plus, making them is fun!

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Banana muffin, mmmmmmm!

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A little origami here.  We made some baskets with red heart bookmarks and some with cranes.

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And last, a sweet little card.

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Then we popped everything into a Dollar Tree basket and used a little plastic wrap to hold it all together.  These little baskets fit into a priority mail 7x7x6 box, and weigh just around a pound, so shipping is pretty low.  We’ll be dropping off the local baskets in person today.

My poor son thinks he’s being all un-romantic and rebellious by rejecting contrived romance in favor of authentic love.  Of course, he is doing just the opposite.  It turns all of us to mush!  He’s a little teddy bear, and all the girls know it, to his great chagrin.

Please take a peek around your life and see if you know anyone who might feel left out on Saturday.  It doesn’t have to be a gift basket – just a card or phone call or invitation to coffee or a walk is nice.  We could all use a little love!

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Birthday, birthday, birthday!

My youngest turned eleven today.  He had a pretty terrific day.  School lunch today was pizza.  Then they had a positive behavior reward party and he won a little statue with a duck on it.  Then we had pizza for dinner because that’s his favorite.  And (of course) birthday cake.  We made a chocolate cake and decorated it with Sly Cooper, his favorite video game.

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I rolled out some fondant and then cut it to look like the video game logo.  He requested chocolate birthday cake with icing, plus cool whip, and ice cream too.  He forgot to ask for sprinkles, so I didn’t mention it.

He got some very nice gifts.  One of them was homemade (by me) so I’ll show you that one.

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The gift is the red snuggle robe he is wearing.  I made it out of a blanket.  He is snuggling with his brother’s teddy bear on the giant beanbag chair with a couple of regular blankets, plus a quilt made by his grandmother and a tie-dye pillowcase made by his cousins.  He has always been such a cuddler!  Any time you see him, he’s buried in blankets.

It only took about a hundred tries to get a halfway decent photo.  I don’t know why, but he really loves photobombing himself.  (That’s what he calls it.)

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Oh good, I got him to pose nicely at bed time.

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Awesome!  But it looks like I need to clip a few threads.  And maybe sweep up the playroom!

Music Stand Carry Bag

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My daughter is in her school band, and they had a concert last week.  Of course, it was wonderful.  Our whole family went, and we had a great time.

My daughter’s band teacher gives the students extra credit if they bring in their music stands before the concert.  When we bought her music stand, it came in a cardboard box.  Practical, but boring.  My daughter is into all things origami and all things Japanese.  I used an upholstery fabric remnant to crank out a quick little bag for her music stand.  I put 2mm polyester satin ties along the side with the seam near the top so that she could snug it up.  I also attached some loops to the top so she could carry it easily.  It may have been more practical to put the handle along the long side so that she could carry it without the bag dragging on the ground.  But oh well, she seems to like it enough to be a little careful.  If it doesn’t work out, I can always change it.

Thanks for looking!

Clay Menagerie of Friends and Foes

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My younger son will not be outdone by his sister!

He got into the polymer clay and sculpted, baked, and painted himself up a whole little zoo.

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First up is a piranha.  Notice the bloodthirsty mouth.

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Next is the shark.  We can tell it’s a shark because it has two dorsal fins.  Science, boys and girls!

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Moving on into the movies, we have Jabba the Hut and his horrible pet, Salacious Crumb.  I love that little guy.  He’s so icky!

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Here’s a big black spider.

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A blue whale.  He really nailed the shape of the body, I think.

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And now we get a little more personal.  Here’s Porky

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…and Lucky!

The sculpture of Lucky just about started WWIII around here.  My older son spotted the baked-and-cooling duck and banged on it, breaking off the wings.  Not cool at all!  Negotiations ensued and a cease fire (and apology) were issued, and the last of the Sculpey was used to mend the duck.  A few more minutes in the oven and a cooldown under lock and key got everyone back on track.  I think it looks even nicer with the repairs, and it surely is more sturdy.  If the truth must be told (and it must!) the wings were already starting to crack off simply from their own weight before the hostilities.  Most importantly, the boys are back on the best of terms.

 

 

 

 

My daughter’s unnamed mountains painting and a word on creativity

My daughter got all independent the other day once she remembered my stash of painting canvasses and acrylic paint from a rummage sale this summer.

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When the kids were little, we had regular paintfests in the kitchen.  Sometimes they made galleries of dozens of paintings.  Of course in those days, it was printer paper and washable watercolors.  My older son liked to paint while he was nude so that he always had a surface for his art, even when I was not fast enough switching out papers.  Then he could hop directly in the tub when he was done.  He also liked to paint himself and then roll around on a big sheet of kraft paper.  There was no keeping up with that child!

Now that they are a little older, we don’t rip through quite so many paintings.  I don’t have to lock up the paint and brushes to discourage unauthorized artistic expressions.  They even (mostly) clean up after themselves!

My daughter was quite inspired by the gold acrylic paint. It was probably pretty expensive originally, but at rummage sale prices…go for it!  I like the 3D thing she’s got going on there.  It looks to me like rocks tumbling down the mountain.  And check out the shading of that sky.

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Her first attempt at this painting didn’t go quite the way she wanted.  Her sky got smeared.  She tried to wipe it off, but that didn’t work, so she dunked the whole thing in the sink and started over.

When the kids work on art projects, I try to stay out of it unless they ask me for help.  Well, except for household management and safety issues.  I don’t want them to try to please me – I want them to just get whatever is in their brain out here where the rest of us can see it.  All three of my kids are pretty quirky, which makes for some wonderful art.

When I was young, I liked to write stories.  Sometimes I turned them in for my school projects.  Once, my teacher read my story in front of the class and said that it was very creative.  One of my classmates got all ugly with me and whispered that creative was just a nice word for weird.  Eh, middle school!  I tell my kids that weird is just a nasty, jealous word for creative.

I was weird though.  I am weird now too.  Oftentimes I don’t know I’m being creative until someone tells me.  I do what seems to be the most obvious, natural thing, and then I get these looks.  Oops, my creative is showing.

It’s gotten easier to handle as I’ve gotten older.  I’m just myself – I couldn’t be normal if I tried, so I focus on being kind and loving and responsible, etc.  I work to improve my character, and otherwise accept myself the way I am.  Life would be boring if everyone were normal.  Plus, we wouldn’t have art, and we’d still be wandering around foraging for food.  Nothing would get invented.  We would die young and sick and miserable.  Creative is good.

Here it is, all done except for the signing.  I love it and I’m so proud of her!

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Magic Circle, where have you been all my life???

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I’ve been crocheting practically all my life, but I don’t remember patterns like this when I was young.  I got it from Planet June, which is the cutest place on the internet.

When I was a kid, I made some granny squares, but I hated them.  Of course all those loose ends drove me bananas, but most especially the chain ring in the middle frustrated me to no end.  I always made it either so loose it looked ridiculous or so tight I couldn’t use it and there was just no “just right.”  Even if it looked just right, I knew it was not (knot, ha ha) and I couldn’t stand it.

Just who invented this magic ring, and why is this the first I’ve ever heard of it?

The yarn I used for this little guy is from some secondhand yarn that I bought.  Lots of times when I go thrifting for yarn, I end up with 3 balls of nice yarn, and then 1-1/2 cuffs and 6 inches of a scarf.  Sometimes I use the yarn and sometimes I sell it, but I never know what to do with those little worked bits.  Glad I saved them, because now I know!  I see quite a few of these little guys in my future…

I did notice that all of June’s guys have adorable pointy little noses, and everybody else’s guys on Ravelry using the same pattern also have cute little noses.  I must have messed up somewhere, but I like him anyway.  I didn’t put any eyes on him because my eldest is scared of eyes (because they have “ert things.”)  It’s nice to be able to make your own toys when you have issues like this!

I have a love/hate relationship with eyelash yarn.  I love the fuzz, but I can’t see what I am doing and I get frustrated with the fuzz too.  I used some black eyelash yarn with a little bit of white running through the center, and I think that helps a bit.  I’ve got a little more in my shop too, and I’ll definitely keep my eye out for more.

More Freestyle Needle Felting

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I finished up our teamwork Porky project yesterday.  I grabbed a stick from the yard and snapped it to the right length.  I cut the wool into a rectangle shape with tabs at the top, then hand stitched the flaps over the stick.  I had to finish it myself because my daughter was off doing something else.

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She got all independent on me.  She printed out this photo of Lucky for inspiration…

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…and just look at what she made!  She even made little orange feet and black speckles on his head.  His caruncle looks nice and lumpy too.  I’m so proud!

I’m afraid we have found a new hobby.  🙂   🙂   :0)

Unfortunately, it seems to be the sort of hobby where we collect all sorts of little bits of things and save scraps of all kinds because they might become useful someday.  We both already have major packrat tendencies.  Does anyone have any ideas for how to organize/control ourselves?  I really am serious here!

Adding a little something to our needle felting project

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With all the talk of violence yesterday, I thought it best to add a little bit of Porky to our project.  I used some little bits of roving that we had.  I like using the roving.  It’s easier to poke than the sweater seam trimmings.  But the seam trimmings are nice too.  They are less subtle, more dramatic.

We still need to figure out what to make out of this thing.

Ridiculous Cabbage Patch Kids Snow Globes

I stopped by a rummage sale the other day and picked up the most awful pair of earrings I have ever seen.  Here they are: CPK earrings!

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They were completely dirty, maybe a little bit chewed-on, and one of them was broken.  But they only cost me a quarter.  I bought them just for the experience of it!

My daughter and I decided some crafts were in order.

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I cut the top off the earring that wasn’t already broken, and that left a little white spot on top of her head.

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A little red nail polish took care of that.

You’ll have to (please) excuse our blurry photos.  Were were laughing so hard, we couldn’t hold the camera steady.

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All better!  Well, not exactly all better, more like a little better.  After the polish dried, we scrubbed the dirt off.

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We had some cheap little containers we bought at the dollar store.

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We put some contact cement on the lids and on the feet of the dolls.  Then we waited a few minutes so they would get tacky.  Tacky like sticky, I mean.  The CPKs were already tacky like cheesy!

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Then we stuck the dolls onto the lids and let them dry for a few hours.

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We put some nail polish tiny glitter into the cups.  It didn’t look tacky enough, so we also dumped in some regular big glitter.

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Then we filled the cups with water.

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We put contact cement around the edge of the cups…

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…and around the lids too.  We waited a few minutes until they got tacky.  Same joke, but I’m too lazy to type it again.

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Then we stuck the lids on and waited for the glue to dry.

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Wow!  How glamorous!  How exciting!  How…interesting.

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But look what happened a couple of days later.  Looks like the glue holding the dolls to the lids dissolved in the water.  Now we have Cabbage Patch Glitter Snow Globes with Unconscious Girls, how excellent!

My daughter’s girl scout service unit is decorating a tree at the mall tomorrow, and she is supposed to bring a couple of homemade ornaments.  Do you think these look homemade enough??

Porky’s “Bite me!” Birthday Cake

We have a couple of pets at our house.  You can see Lucky the duck all over the place around here.  But today we are celebrating our other little bird’s birthday.

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Porky came to live with us thirteen years ago today.  It played out like this:  Some kind people called our local SPCA to tell them there was a bird on her neighbor’s garage roof that had been hanging out up there screaming for at least three days.  She was worried about him.  They went to check out the situation and saw that he was a conure.  Conures are pretty tough little birds, but they definitely should not be living outdoors around here in the fall and winter.  There are no wild conures around here, so this little green sweetie must have gotten loose and lost or something like that.

They took him back to the SPCA and cared for him there while they tried to find his family.  They normally care for only dogs and cats at this SPCA and they weren’t sure exactly what a bird needed.  One of the workers there happened to be a student of my husband’s, and so she asked him about it.  One thing led to another, and now Porky lives with us!  We love him like crazy, and we are very glad to have him as part of our family.

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That being said, Porky is a bit of a problem child.  🙂  When he first came to live with us, he liked everybody and so we let him fly around the house all he wanted.  He was friendly.  But then over time, he came to prefer my husband.  Then one day, I made the foolish mistake of kissing my husband in front of the bird.  Uh-oh!  He decided to defend his relationship with my husband by fighting off the intruder.  But hey!  I live here!

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Ideally, I would have increased my time with Porky to make sure that he bonded with both of us.  But his behavior got worse and most of the time I was hanging around the house, I was also caring for one or more babies, so it seemed safest to let my husband handle the social concerns of Porky.  And over the years, our children have grown up with Porky and loved him like nobody else.  I love him too.  But…Porky hates me.  Every chance he gets, it’s bite, bite, bite.  He gets hold of my neck and goes for the blood.  It’s quite shocking, really.  Around me, he’s four ounces of perky green fury.  It’s become one of our family jokes.

Porky does most of his living now in my daughter’s bedroom.  He gets to fly around and socialize with anyone who dares to enter.  He sleeps in his cage at night.  And when he needs to come downstairs and be with others (like me), he has a travel kennel.  That’s his little Hannibal Lecter setup, just like in the movies.

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A couple of years ago, I couldn’t decide how to decorate Porky’s birthday cake, so I just wrote “Bite me!” on it and threw a bunch of sprinkles all around.  The cake was a huge hit, so we have continued the tradition.  This year, my daughter did the honors.  I baked the cake, then gave her full access to the cake-decorating area.  She went to town, as you can see.

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Porky’s beak is normally a pinkish-tan color.  She made it red from the “blood.”  I like how she made Porky say “Bite me!” as he contemplates the blood – my blood – dripping down his chin.  Aww, how sweet.

Porky came downstairs for the party and we all had a blast.  Happy birthday, Porky!