Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Fun

For some reason I haven't been quite as excited about Halloween this year as other years. Maybe it's the early snow that has put my brain in "winter mode" about a month too early. Anyway, I decided this week that it was time to stop being a Halloween scrooge and have a little fun. Thanks to Valerie's excellent idea I saved myself some money by making Halloween gift bags out of envelopes. Mine aren' quite as fancy as hers as I lack the ability to fold corners and just left them bottomless. They look really cute and the girls both loved them.

Cheyenne and Isabella have been having spooky playdough fun with google eyes and my Halloween cookie cutters. I love this bat.

I have replaced one cup of my morning coffee with a homemade version of a Hot Apple Blast. We got the apple cider at an apple orchard this Sunday when we went on an adventure. We took a road we had never taken before and ended up in Red Wing, a cute little river town south of the Twin Cities. Along the way we stopped at an apple orchard. In addition to the cider we got some of their homemade honey roasted peanut butter. Amazing! The hot apple blast is just hot apple cider with whipped cream and caramel ice cream syrup.

Tonight we are having a friend over to make jack-o-lantern pizzas, Halloween cupcakes and Purple Mermaid Punch.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

For Aunt Fran

This post is entirely for the benefit of Zach's Aunt Fran, who I just e-mailed the link to my blog. I knew I had been bad last year about correspondence, but apparently I've been worse than I thought. It turns out we had neglected to inform Fran of the birth of the newest Griffith baby! Really. What kind of niece does that?

Anyway, I promised that the blog would be chock full of pictures of my kids and then realized that, since school started, I haven't posted many pictures of them. I'd post more of James, but I'm not kidding, he never sits still and they're almost all a blur.

So here you go, Aunt Fran. Can you even believe how big they've gotten.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Well, Fall finally arrived. I think the leaves were utterly confused. We went from 75 degrees and sunny to snow to 50 degrees and rainy in the span of about a week. Fall is my absolute favourite season even though it lasts, at best, for about six weeks. This week it was more like two. Some of the trees are already bare. I did manage to get out and capture a few nice fall shots though.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Outsourcing my DIY Holiday

Knowing my limits is not something I've ever been good at. That's why I was forced to give up Martyrdom for lent last year. I tend to take on too many tasks and then end up throwing myself an ice cream and hot fudge pity party for myself at 3AM trying to pull everything together.

No where has this been more true than Christmas. I love handmade Christmas gifts. Every fall I get crafty little daydreams and create big lists of things I will make by December 25th, like the year I decided to hand embroider monogrammed tea towels for each of my coworkers in their favourite colour.

This year I have had to concede that my DIY basment remodel isn't going to leave me adequate time for an entirely DIY Christmas, so I've decided to outsource some of the crafting and just buy stuff on Etsy. The first of my treasures arrived today. I bought two of these mermaid soaps, one in purple for Cheyenne and one in pink for Isabella. This is going to be a Santa gift.

This is the year the girls decided to ask if Santa was real. I wish they would have asked their father. I give entirely too much information. It turned into a big explanation about how Santa Claus is really a third century bishop from what is now called Turkey who supposedly gave dowry money to a poor man who had three daughters. Which led to the inevitable questions, "what is a dowry?" and "so Santa Claus is dead?" Neither of which, I am sad to say, had a handy sugar coated explanation. Suffice it to say my cheerfully morbid little girls have been gleefully showing off their newfound knowledge by telling just about everyone they meet that "Santa is dead!" Why couldn't I have left it at "yes?" It wouldn't be a lie. He was real, and if I'd thought of that in time I'd probably have spared a few of their little friends some trauma.

On a lighter note, I also ordered this lovely for two of my closest friends. That's right. It's glow in the dark Eric Northman soap. Mmmmm.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Swim with the Fishes

Last week Zach took a 10 year old kid he mentors to the Mall of America's Underwater Adventures Aquarium to participate in their Swim with the Fishes program where people 10 and older get the chace to snorkle in the Rainbow Reef tank with a guide from Underwater Adventures.

The kid, who I'll call G, wants to be a marine biologist when he grows up, but he doesn't have a lot of confidence and he struggles some with school and friendships. In my opinion nothing motivates a kid to learn more than excitement and this kind of experience would give him a taste for the real thing.

The staff were great. When I called to reserve a spot they made note of his interest in marine biology so the people helping him could encourage him and answer any questions he might have. As the woman on the phone said, "there's nothing like a stingray swimming right by you to get you excited about the ocean."
I'm a little jealous, really. Maybe someday I'll give it a try. It could be a good birthday or Christmas present for the kids when they get older too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

He Finally Sat Still Long Enough to Get a Photo!

This post is really nothing but a shameless "look at how stinkin' adorable my baby is" post. I have nothing useful to say. Just sit back and enjoy the cuteness.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Party at the Park

The first Friday our new neighbors, Silverwood Park, host their Fireside First Fridays event. It's an evening time party with a nature theme. This month's theme was The Moon. We gathered in the by the gallery fireplace to sing songs and watch a shadow puppet show about the moon.

This was followed by a chance to make our own shadow puppets and try them out with the moon shaped shadow puppet theaters that had been placed in the event hall. Bella made a bat. Cheyenne made a bunny, a girl and a tractor. The moons were made of freezer paper taped onto a big wooden circle. I bet I could do this using one of my very large embroidery hoops and one of Zach's LED shop lights as a light source. The puppets are made of construction paper, brads (to make the parts move) and bamboo skewers. They were really easy and we had a lot of fun. Even our neighbor, a woman about my mom's age who's kids are grown and gone, had a great time making them.
Finally we roasted marshmallows in the patio fireplace. We will definitely be attending more of these Fireside First Fridays. It was a great chance to get out of the house and meet the community and it was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Experimenting with Applique

I've never done applique before, but I have a couple of tea towels that have been sitting in my UFO basket ever since I messed up the iron on embroidery pattern on them and I decided that, one way or another, it was time to deal with them. Since pattern ink doesn't really wash out, applique seemed like the way to go.

It was ridiculously easy and cheap. I used a scrap of fabric I had leftover from another project and a free printed template from the internet. It worked like a charm. I think I may have found a new hobby. Because I really needed another one.

So Wrong

This was the scene I woke up to on Monday. OK, I know I live in Minnesota, where it has snowed in every month except July, but this is just wrong. I haven't even taken my fall photos yet! Luckily, not everyone shares my negative attitude. Cheyenne woke up, looked outside and proclaimed, "It's snowing! Goodness this is a wonderful world!"

Birthday Sewing

When it comes to birthday presents my husband and I can be pretty unromantic. Neither of us really understands the ins and outs of each others hobbies, so we often just buy our own birthday presents. As nice a gesture as it would be for him to go to Crafty Planet, buy something and wrap it, it's actually more fun for me to do it myself. So that's what I did and I spent the weekend in sewing bliss.
I decided it was time to make myself some cloth napkins. I just love these two fabrics. They are so kitchy and cute. The napkin pattern came from Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing. It's essentially just a hemmed rectangle of fabric. I have seen other patterns that are double sided, but I decided this was just as cute and much easier. Really, they're a utilitarian object. They don't have to be complicated. The bowl covers are just a circle of fabric with an elastic band.
I have enough fabric to make napkins and a bowl cover for my mom for Christmas too. I think these could be cute in a gift basket also. Maybe a breakfast basket with fresh hot muffins or caramel rolls and whipped butter. Wouldn't that be a lovely treat some chilly winter morning?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

National Novel Writing Month

So I signed up to participate in National Novel Writing Month because, God knows, I need more to do. Actually I am really excited. I've been hanging out on the forums reading posts like "Can you make cheese from dolphin milk" and "How many stains can I work into one novel" and I'm thinking I've found my people. I don't really care if my novel entertains anyone but me. I think the experience will be fun.

The Year of Temperance

Sorry about the lack of a photo. I really can't think of what to photograph that aptly represents Temperance. Intemperance, sure, I have a blog full of pictures of that, but temperance is a stumper.

Anyway, my 31st birthday is on Friday and, as I've mentioned before, this is the Year of Temperance. Just a little background if anyone needs it, temperance, is one of the four cardinal virtues along with prudence, justice and fortitude. It's essentially moderation, or the taming of unhealthy desires.

This is going to be a hard one for me. At first, when I was contemplating this theme, I thought about all of the practical things. I broke down the areas where I am most likely to be intemperate; food, coffee, the internet, pulp fiction, and made a list of strategies to go with each one. For example, for every two pulp fiction novels, I have to read something of substance. I was pretty proud of my efforts, but I'm getting old enough to recognize when I'm BS-ing myself and as I looked at my neatly ordered list the alarms were quietly sounding. If it were really that simple, I'd have done it by now.

I have a love/hate relationship with those moments, the ones where I realize that I can continue to pussyfoot around the truth, but it isn't going to get me anywhere and the only way through it is to roll up my sleeves and really do what I need to do. They're an odd mixture of overwhelming and freeing.

The truth is that the habits that have led to things like overeating and drinking a half a pot of coffee a day are my safe havens. They're what I use to cope in times of crisis and fear. They're the morphine masking the pain of old wounds that I don't want to admit haven't really healed. My neat and tidy little list of strategies isn't going to be much help if I'm not being honest with myself.

So maybe I am gaining a little wisdom with age. I'm pretty sure that at 21 I would have swallowed my own BS whole and gone about my business checking off my strategies for two or three months before I gave up and reverted to my old ways. Maybe it's not so much wisdom as a lack of energy. I'm young yet, but I'm too old to be building houses on sand and pounding nails in with my head. If I'm going to do this I'm going to do it right.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Early Birthday Present

My birthday isn't until Friday, but Isabella couldn't wait. I woke up to find her already awake and working on a secret birthday surprise for me. "Happy Birthday Mommy! It has crayons inside so you can colour!" How cute is that? I am definitely saving this one.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall Leaf Books

I made these last week as a way of dealing with Cheyenne and Isabella's daily "collection" of fall leaves brought in from outside. We did something similar to this in elementary school and I figured I could google the directions.

The books themselves were simple. I used scrapbooking paper as the cover and cut printer paper down to size for the pages.

The directions for leaf pressing can be found , but it essentially involves pressing the leaves between two sheets of wax paper.

Here's the final result. The girls and their friend were thrilled with these and I am thrilled to no longer have the leaf collection on the dining room table.