Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Santa's Workshop

Christmas (and all of December) has gone by in a whirl. For weeks before I was busy making, enhancing and buying other handmade things.

Ava and her cousin brothers each got a personalized tote bag filled with books and art supplies.

Connor, who is practicing his handwriting, also got some personalized stationery.

And Grady, who is too young for art supplies, got a handsome new outfit and some special blocks.

For my best friend, I made a desktop pin board and ordered a 2010 planner from Kate Spade.

I also made some ornaments, then stained a wooden box and used some evergreen boughs for padding (for some reason, I could not take a good photo of these...)

This one had a tiny mistletoe sprig. Some of the others had tiny pine cones or cuttings of pine boughs.

Santa filled this adorable bag (from Shim and Sons) with a matching tissue holder, lip smackers, and what Ava deemed "the most beautiful polish in the world" and left it in Ava's stocking.

She also got this adorable little set in her stocking (from Goose Grease Undone). I think I may have to paint a few of these little guys, you know, for instructional purposes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Cards

Are in the mail! I ran out of time and didn't design them myself. Instead I went the quick/cheap route and ordered from KodakGallery.com

But, I think it turned out pretty cute.

Family that doesn't live too far away will also be getting these:

We hope everyone can make it! Ava is especially excited that her cousin brothers might be coming to our house for Christmas. The plan is to have all the kiddies eat at the little table and I think it would be so much fun to have a "sleep over" with all the kids in one room together. Although, Ava may keep her cousin brothers up because she's not the best at going to sleep when told.

Now, on to finishing my Christmas shopping/making and planning the menu for Christmas brunch. Is there really only 10 days until Christmas??

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rethinking Christmas Toys

There are so many amazing toys out there now, it's easy to go overboard. And this is the first year that Ava's started to really express a desire for a particular toy (I'll give you a hint, it rhymes with Garbie). But she also has a bedroom and a playroom filled with so (so, so, so) many toys. Many of which she barely plays with.

So this year I've really been focusing on quality, not quanity, and on really well made, well designed toys, especially those that are also educational. I've also been buying things she needs like books and clothes, and even jewelry and hair accessories instead of toys. I even filled a bag with toys she doesn't play with to take to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

And, I've begun to look into better storage options for her toys, so she can find the ones she wants to play with and knows where to put them away when shes done (cleaning up is something we really need to work on with Ava). For this, I'm taking a page from her daycare's play book. They have different areas set up for different kinds of toys or types of play and everything has a particular place so the kids know where to put it back.

These are some of the toys I'm thinking about this year. A Puppet Theater, adorable Dollhouse Furniture to go in Ava's dollhouse, a Paper Doll Game that's won lots of awards, Magnetic Dress-Up Dolls, and Ivy and Bean books.

The Ivy and Bean books are for a bit of an older audience, but Ava's nickname is Bean and we've also started reading the Junie B Jones books, which she loves. I think it's actually good to sometimes read books to younger kids that don't have illustations on every page because it encourages them to use their imaginations.

I also love all the Wooden Play Food from Melissa and Doug (also available at Land of Nod and Target) and this adorable Art Easel from Ikea for only $15 (plus a Splat Mat from Land of Nod to catch any spills)

For storage, I'm thinking bins, baskets, shelves, and jars all labeled and easy to spot.

I'd like to add rub-on numbers (from the craft store) onto the jars and use them to store small toys like Darby accessories, legos, Playmobil and Little People. The candy jar style ones are only $5 at Target, but are only available in stores. The baskets (these ones are from World Market) would be great for under bed storage or on a bookshelf and could hold things like play food, blocks, etc. I would add tags painted with chalkboard paint. The bins are great for doll storage (especially the cute paper doll bins from DwellStudio) or stuffed animals.

I'm also trying to focus more on handmade/homemade gifts this year to cut down on consumersim and to give our loved ones something we really put our hearts in. More on this later.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

First Snow

We got our first accumulation of the season this weekend. Ava couldn't wait to get outside and build a snowman, so David finally relented and they did their best.

I thought they were going to have to borrow snow from the neighbors. : )

They were pretty proud of this guy. Ava named him Yuleton and she kept telling me how handsome he was.

Afterwards we had hot chocolate and opened today's square on the advent calendar.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Yesterday, my company had it's annual Children's Christmas Party at the local movie theatre. We got free tickets to Planet 51 and snacks, plus Ava got to see this guy.

She's telling him she wants a Princess Darby with gold and silver shoes and a mask and a stuffed puppy dog with a hairbow and earrings.

After she told him what she wanted, he gave her a candy cane. Ava doesn't like mint, but she always wants to try it. So we unwrapped it and she put a piece in her mouth, then promptly spit it out and told me it was too spicy.


We had a great Thanksgiving. We went to visit my parents and Ava got to play with all three of her cousin brothers. Ava said she was thankful for birthdays, but I know she's also thankful for cousin brothers. Almost everyday we're not with them she tells me how much she misses them.

Jamie is running at full speed in almost every photo I took of him.

After we all froze our buns outside, we went inside for hot chocolate and pie.

Look at this rascally guy. Can you tell his middle name is Danger?

Photo Party

We invited some friends over recently and had a professional photographer come and share tips on how to take better photos (especially of kids). She taught us things like how to get that cool blurred background (I'm still practicing this) and why you should never use flash or the automatic setting. So, of course, the next day my sister and I staged a photo shoot. It didn't hurt that our models were so adorable.

While the adults were upstairs improving our shutterbug skills, the kids were downstairs having a party of their own (with a babysitter to monitor sugar intake).

Stationery Design

I've been picking up a few design jobs for friends here and there. These are some of the pieces I've done lately.

Nick and Nicole wanted Ben's announcements to look like baseball cards, so I suggested adding a stick of gum and a little glassine envelope. The photo doesn't do them justice, the packets were so cute in a person!

Gayle needed an invite for her annual family Christmas party. She wanted something traditional, with a fun spin. I love polka dots.

And this one I designed as a baby gift for my friend Amy. After Ava was born, we never got around to sending out announcements, so I wanted to help Amy avoid the same fate.

I have so much fun designing stationery. I'm sure there will be more to share soon.

Book Sales

I love library book sales. They are probably most defintely one of my favorite weekend pastimes. This was a particularly good haul a couple weekends ago. I think all of this cost about $10.

But, I must not be the only one who loves book sales because there's a website devoted to finding them. It's fittingly called Book Sale Finder.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I love all holidays, but the holidays this time of year are my favorite. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. I think it's something about the chill in the air that makes them just a bit more exciting. These photos are from some of our Halloween festivities this year. I'll post Thanksgiving photos next.

We were up north at my Grandparent's house and it actually snowed on Halloween, so we called Ava our Artic Mermaid.


Our first year in our home, our neighbors included us in a fun Halloween tradition called "Boo-ing" your neighbors. You leave a bag of goodies, a poem explaining the tradition, and a ghost to hang in the window and show they've been booed. Then they have to do the same to two other neighbors. Last year, no one started the booing, so this year we decided to be the first.

I found these cute tags online at the Blonde Designs Blog.

My lovely assistant (who insisted on being included in a photo).

After we filled the bags with goodies, my helpers dropped them on our neighbors doorsteps and ran away.