Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Handcuffs in the crisper

One of my favorite things is to happen upon toys left mid-play. Call it entertainment. Or call me kooky.
Just recently, after the littles were put to bed, I walked downstairs to turn off the light in the playroom. From the looks of things, there had been some intense play going on. But before I turned out the lights, I took a peek at just how Zoey & Pazely left things.

I began at the giant Barbie house, & this is what I observed...
Barbie is washing dishes at the kitchen sink.
A male doll (not Ken! *gasp*) is reclining on the couch, covered in a crocheted afghan.
The two cats, elephant, dog, & monkey have been fed.
There is a pail full of pies on the balcony.
Stuff is shoved underneath Barbie's bed—just like my own daughters' beds!
A TV is tossed on a sofa chair, like a throw pillow.
A ballerina lies motionless in a grocery cart on the 3rd floor.
The baby, wearing a romper from the 1980's, is eating donuts in the corner of the fitness room.
Two bales of hay sit atop the stairs.
A tropical bird, resting in a men's loafer, sits on a shelf next to the recycling bin in the kitchen.
Thirty-one shoes are piled in the corner of the garage.
I opened the fridge: Barbie's apron was in the crisper drawer, along with a pair of handcuffs & most of the fine china.
A raincoat rests in the crib.
Ken (so there he is!) is lying face down in a horse pasture—wearing a firefighter uniform.
A giraffe is driving the Jeep.
Out back there is a child dressed as a witch playing with her pet turtle & a giant salisbury steak.

You just can't make some of this stuff up.
(Barbie doing dishes?!?! Pfft.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Week in Review: February 18-24

I have been feeling rather lazy-like lately. While the girls have been building snow forts in the front lawn, I've been reading, puttering about the house, & just being an all-around homebody. The family did manage to get out of town on a quick (4 hour round-trip) day trip last week to Grand Island (it's not a real island), where the Mr. visited with a friend, we consumed many plates of Chinese food, found a photo booth, & ate pretzels at the mall.

What else have I been doing? 
I MUST share with you my newest addiction: Vine.
It's an iPhone app & I'm totally having tons of fun with it! Vine is kind of like Instagram, except you share 6-second videos instead of photos. You can also follow, like, or comment on other people's videos. I just recently changed my user name to 
"Nikki Mans", so come find me!!

Click HERE for a photo play-by-play.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Week in Review: February 11-17

Last week was a busy one. And pretty much four things consumed me:
Planning Knitty Night.
Planning my church Valentine Dinner Swap. (And all other Valentine related things.)
The Mr.'s birthday.
And company for the weekend.

I am so glad to have that week behind me. And, honestly, I am just now recovering. The Mr. & I have been tired little puppies these last few days. We even traded a morning of sleeping in so the other one could get up  early, help the girls get ready for school & then drive them there. Although, it does make me feel horrible when I wake up & realize the littles didn't get any hugs & kisses from their mommy to start the day.

Last week I ate way too many sweets, went crazy ordering fresh meat at the market (my fridge & freezer have never looked happier!), got to play with my Fuji Instax, sampled salsas on the Mr's birthday (his favorite snack), knitted with friends (new & old), hung one hundred & ten 3-D paper hearts (from a tute by How About Orange), read & read & read to the girls, surprised the Mr. with food from his favorite Mexican restaurant (Tacos Mexico, which is nearly 200 miles away),  had a lunch date with my kids at school (chicken patty sandwiches & chocolate milk), taught my 8 year old to knit, baked lemon bars, & tried my best to keep the stress of the week at a minimum.

Click HERE for a photo play-by-play.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jesus did not have a bachelor party.

On Valentines Day the Mr. & I showered the girls with gifts throughout the day. First, the breakfast menu contained heart-shaped pancakes & pink milk. (Scissors & red food coloring to the rescue.) I spread the table with a red gingham cloth atop a piece of vintage lace fabric. (Well, half the table. The other half is covered in that puzzle we're working on.) Real fancy plates & cloth napkins completed the look. Sweet cards from mommy & daddy sat on each of their place settings, along with a stuffed doggie. The girls sipped their pink milk from straws fashioned with lips on the end—so it looked like they had big smoochy mouths when they drank. (Hilarious!) 
After school, the girls came home to a snack of chocolate dipped Oreos that the Mr. & I had picked up at our favorite local bakery earlier in the day. 
In the evening they were surprised with a new Wii game & a box of chocolates. (I borrowed a pecan caramel cluster.)

Sometime during the day Zoey asked, "Why do we celebrate Valentines Day?" Before I could retort with an answer having to do with some Saint named Valentine, Pazely piped up: "I think it's the day Jesus got married. Today is his anniversary!" Oh my word. That child has had too much chocolate. I snorted so hard that milk almost came out of my nose. 
And I was drinking iced tea.

Yesterday the girls had the day off of school because of Presidents Day. As we sat down to breakfast this morning, I asked them, "Why did we celebrate Presidents Day?" Pazely responded, "I smell oatmeal. I don't know."

So far, I'm doing an awesome job of keeping my children in the dark about the history & origin of holidays.

So I decided to dig deeper & pulled a few random celebrations out of my hat:

Why is February called Black History Month?
Zoey {age 10} thought maybe the word "black" referred to something that was dark & sorrowful & maybe it was a month to remember a lot of sad, dark, tragic accidents.
Pazely (age 8} thought that maybe it's because pink & black looked pretty together.

Why do we celebrate St. Patrick's Day?
Zoey: "Oh, I know this one. Because of this guy who, when he was a kid, was kidnapped by pirates, then they took him to this place & he worshiped God but his master worshiped twigs. When he grew up he became famous & wise & told people about God."
Pazely: "Because little leprechauns give us presents & we get to find clovers on scavenger hunts."

What is Memorial Day?
Zoey: I think it has something to do with Abraham Lincoln.
Pazely: I don't know. What does "memorial" mean?

I don't reveal this question & answer scenario to make fun of my children. Kids say the most honest & adorably innocent things. It does make me giggle though, & it sort of reminds me of Jay Leno's 'Jaywalking' series on The Tonight Show.

There are plenty of adults who don't even know why we celebrate, commemorate or memorialize many holidays either.
I just don't want my kiddos to grow up to be one of them.

So I'm on a mission.

•Starting now, I will begin to help my munchkins understand why we have a day off of school on the 3rd Monday of every February.
•When March 17th rolls around, we will research the complete history of that green holiday. (Zoey actually had a few of the facts correct. Although I'm still stumped on the "twig worshiping" bit.)
•We will push aside the barrage of retail sales & ad flyers on Labor Day, to truly discover why it is in fact called "Labor Day".
•We will remember Mr. Columbus & find out why his epic boat ride was so important.
•We will observe, with respect, the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. & the greatness that his story tells.
And so on...

These annual rituals of  remembrance will become much more significant.
And we just might become a band of holiday history snobs.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

wee knitter

Last night was the first Knitty Night. Oh, man! It was so easy to set up in comparison to all the work that went into Crafty Night. A total of 5 knitters (including my 10 year old Zoey) plopped on couches to chat, sip wassail, knit a few, & relax. (I even got to meet a fellow knitter/Etsy shop owner/local creative momma: Christine, of Pedestrian.) Having that uninterrupted time set aside to do something you enjoy (with others who enjoy the same thing) is HUGE. Finding people with like passions & creativity is always fun. 

And last night something quite cool happened. That picture up top is Pazely at the beginning of Knitty Night. While Zoey quietly & patiently sat down knitting, Pazely was bouncing around the room, channeling the likes of a certain Captain. When I took that picture, she didn't know how to knit. An hour later, she was a girl obsessed with her new talent: knitting.

Before my knitting guests showed up, I sat the munchkin in my lap & showed her the basic stitch & now she is undeniably consumed. I think she has often envied the fact that her older sister knew how to knit & she was left out. I honestly didn't think she'd get the hang of it. But I was very wrong. 

After I got home from Knitty Night, I walked upstairs to tuck her into bed. She was propped up with pillows, holding those size 13 needles & chunky yarn....knitting like a boss. I said, "Pazely, it's time to go to bed." She pleaded: "Please, mom! Just one more row!" I about died laughing. I was surprised how intensely this yarn craft had possessed her. But then I remembered my first days of knitting–just 2 years ago. I couldn't stop. My housework was pushed to the wayside. Way, way to the wayside. I couldn't get enough of it. And I didn't even own a pair of knitting needles yet! I used pencils. And then chopsticks. 

Pazely had even carved out a clean spot on her cluttered bookshelf especially for her knitting work-in-progress. As she handed over her yarn & needles, she began telling me, "When I come home from school tomorrow, I'm going to do all my chores real fast, so I can knit."

Even this morning, she raced through all her "get ready for school" duties: bathing, dressing, making bed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, & combing hair, so she could cozy on the couch & continue knitting. Zoey also joined her sister. There they sat, racing to see who could knit the fastest. The Mr. walked by & said, "Hey, you are all yarning!!"
"It's not called 'yarning' dad! It's called knitting!" said Pazely, giggling.

Before she walked out the door, where the Mr. was in the van waiting to drive the girls to school, she asked if she could have her very own needles & some of my yarn. 

Do you know how amazing it feels to empower a little person with a new skill?
Next stop: yarn bombing with the kidlets.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Week in Review: February 4-10

Last week I...
...learned to make tortillas from scratch.
...was pretty much out for one day: in bed with blankets piled high, suffering with aches of all sorts.
...received a lovely surprise package of happy mail goodness in the form of my favorite cookies, (196 cookies to be exact) from the sweet Maddie of Sequin & Chic.
...enjoyed a 4-day weekend with the fam, 2 of the days spent in Kearney, shopping, eating & playing in the hotel pool.
...had good reports from both girls' teachers during Parent/Teacher conferences.
...played glow-in-the-dark mini golf.
...raced down super slides with the littles.
...played skee-ball at an arcade.
...set aside some crafty time on Sunday afternoon.
...had an amazing breakfast of hash & eggs at The Egg & I in Kearny, NE.
...stuffed my face with pulled pork at Skeeter Barnes.
...listened to the likes of Phil Collins, Smashing Pumpkins, & George Michael on satellite radio in the most adorable rental car (a Toyota Venza) on the way to our destination.
...wished my dad a happy birthday.
...found THIS adorable inspirational video & have watched it several times. another Roald Dahl book: "George's Marvelous Medicine".
...played around with time lapse on my iphone. This time lapse thing could be lots of fun!
...made a 2 second stop motion video with Zoey, while bored together, & waiting for the Mr. in the mall.

Click HERE for a photo play-by-play.

Monday, February 11, 2013

vintage doll head pencil toppers

I credit my 10 year old daughter for the inspiration for this idea. I have had a gravy boat full of doll heads in my art studio for a long while now. (What?!? Your gravy boats actually hold gravy?) She picked one up just recently & said, "You could make these into pencil toppers, mom!"
Fab idea! 
The only problem (which was very easy to remedy) is that when I put the doll head onto the pencil, it flopped & twirled around & didn't  stay put. 
The next series of photos will show you how to create a little tube inside the doll head, the perfect size for a pencil—& it'll stay put.

I was lucky enough to find these doll heads at a thrift store. (I think they were intended for the Christmas holiday what with the gold hair & all.) They are a super lightweight, thin plastic.
Other places to look for vintage doll heads would be ebay or Newer heads, of course, can be found at Hobby or Craft stores. (If you know of a resource for these supplies, please leave a comment with a link for other readers.) 
There is a little yard sale/crafty/vintage shop in my town & I remember seeing a whole section of mostly vintage doll parts. If anyone is seriously interested, I could check there for doll heads & list them in my etsy shop. Just let me know!

And this is where the serious fun begins. I pulled every sort of sweet looking ribbon, fabric, tulle, trim, buttons & embellishment I had. Even some old broken jewelry parts.

Since Valentines Day is fast approaching, you could certainly decorate the pencil toppers with that theme in mind. Or not, & just have an adorably vintage pencil accessory fit for all seasons.
Zoey decorated the doll all decked out in pink gingham. We found that little stitched yo-yo's made a perfect looking beret atop the doll's head. Topped with a pom-pom, it's oh-so-sweet.

Friday, February 8, 2013

fuzzy flashback

*This picture has nothing to do with the memory or event I'm about to share. But it's around the same era. That's me. And those clowns are my neighbors.

I remember, as a kid, being woken up in the middle of the night by my mother. It was pitch black. And I can't recall what she said exactly, but I do remember that she had some fear in her voice. I was sleeping on the floor in my sister's room & we were to get out of bed immediately, get some shoes on, & follow the family outside. Because I could tell my mom was trying her hardest to keep a calm voice, it made me even more afraid. I was scared & felt panic all over. I scrambled in the darkness for some shoes. I remember taking off my little pajama shirt, & as we walked out the front door, I was floundering to put a t-shirt over my head. I could see police & firetrucks & it seemed like there were a lot of people in our yard. There was even a television camera crew, which was looking right at me, putting my shirt over my head, & the only thought I had was, "Oh my gosh! They just filmed my naked chest!" I was 9 years old. So my chest was pretty much a flat board. Maybe even concave. How scandalous. 
Apparently lightning had hit an electric pole & we were supposed to get out in case something blew up. The policemen & firemen had come to rescue us! I had never been rescued before.
We drove to a hotel & that's all I remember.
Oh, except the next day at school one of my friends said, "I saw you in the newspaper." And the only thing I pictured was me with my naked chest on the front page.

During one of my recent weekly phone calls with my mother, I relayed this story to her.
She corrected me on a few points. (And, in fact, my memory of the event had been slightly misconstrued.) She shared with me a bit more detail, although not as exciting as my recollections...

My mother did, indeed, wake me up in the pitch blackness of night. The police had come pounding on our door, evacuating the whole street. There was a gas leak in the pipeline, right across from our house. There was no lightning involved. Nor an electric pole. But the power company turned off all the electricity, which is why it was so dark.

Our little family of 5 seemed to take a while to get our things together & get out. So the police came & knocked a second time. We were all in our pajamas & headed out of the house. Outside there were police cars with their blue & red lights twirling & flashing. There were firetrucks too. Almost all of the policemen & firemen had flashlights, because it was so dark. They used the flashlights to help us find our way out of the house & into our car. There was no television camera crew.

My mom recalls how odd it was that she didn't even think about our Great Dane, Jackson, left all alone at home, barking & barking over all the confusion & craziness. As we drove down our street, we came to the end of the road. Though my mother didn't remember Jackson, she suddenly grabbed my father's arm & remembered something else: 
It was November, 1984. And, if you don't recall, or have no clue, why the Cabbage Patch Dolls were so important, it's because the Cabbage Patch Dolls were a hot Christmas item that year. And my mother went through hell to get those dolls for her 3 children. The dolls were currently hidden in her room, waiting for Santa to deliver them on his big day. I heard of incidents where scratching & fighting & hair pulling & mobs & riots broke out, just so a parent could get one of those dolls for their kid that holiday.

The police wouldn't let us go back home, so we had no other alternative but to drive to a hotel, which happened to be a Holiday Inn in either Kenner or Metarie, Louisiana, where I slept on the floor in the hotel room. And in the morning for breakfast, we couldn't go eat INSIDE a restaurant because we were all in our pajamas. So we went through a drive-thru & ate in the car.
Soon after, the gas leak had been fixed & we returned home. And that was all. 

Oh, my mom & I had a good laugh over this! We decided that it must have been such a traumatic experience to the 9 year old me that somehow my brain made the ordeal even bigger than it was. But all these years I've had lies in my head.
{I was CERTAIN there was a camera crew!}
It makes me wonder what other things I KNOW are true, that really aren't.
It also validated to me that the imagination of a child is a fascinating thing.

Long live the Cabbage Patch!
*fist pump*

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Homemade Tortillas

There's a sweet lady in my church who mentioned that she makes tortillas from scratch. I have been dying to have someone teach me. I pretty much invited myself over to her house, which is how I ended up driving 22 miles to the small town of Sutherland, NE last Tuesday, learning to make flour tortillas. 

The process was much, much easier than I expected. There are very few ingredients called for in the recipe. And I use the word "recipe" loosely. My teacher was of the sort that uses measuring devices sparingly. Like all great chefs, right?
My teacher has promised to give me a recipe, but in the meantime I found THIS recipe online which is almost exact to what I made. (I'm sure they're all pretty much the same.) But it also has great pictures for each step.

Rosalee, of course, is the master of creating a perfectly round tortilla. I, on the other hand, am the master of the disproportionate. She consoled me in this way: "Don't worry. When I first started making tortillas, they looked like Africa."

You have not lived until you have tasted a fresh tortilla, hot off the comal, slathered in melty butter.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Week in Review: January 28-February 3

Last week I...
...made a cream puff birthday cake.
...performed "Happy Birthday" on the melodica for the Mr.'s administrative assistant.
...had a sick Pazely home on Thursday. to spend oodles of time with the Mr.
...tried to make this iphone projector project with Pazely. It isn't as awesome as we hoped it would be.
...helped set up a Super Bowl party for my church.
...made fruit kabobs for Super Bowl snackin'.
...made SUPER NACHOS for dinner on Saturday. Which, I decided, is pretty much TACO SALAD.
...finally finished braiding friendship bracelets for the girls class valentines. Woohoo!
...made Shepherd's Pie. Again. And pigged out.
...continued reading Anne of Green Gables to the girls. (I think this might be my favorite book I've ever read to them.)
...enjoyed a lovely Monday morning of fog & frost.

Click HERE for a photo play-by-play.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Class Valentines 2013

Cheapest. Valentines. Ever.
In fact, it cost me zero cents since I had all the supplies on hand.
This idea comes from Danyelle over at dandee. 
You can find the friendship bracelet project HERE.
(She also offers that tag in a free PDF to print on your own!)

I learned a really cool double knot technique via youtube, but I thought it it was too time consuming {for me, anyway} to make 41 of these in that way. You see, not only did I want cheap, I wanted quick & easy-peasy. 
So these bracelets are a simple braid. To make the bracelets, I took 3 different colors of embroidery floss & cut them in 2 foot lengths. Hold them end-to-end & then bring both ends together. (You'll have one end that has 6 strands & one end that has a loopy end.) Knot the side with the loopy end. Secure this loopy knotted end under the clippy part of a clipboard. This holds it in place so you can braid. Or, you can slide a large safety pin through the loopy knotted end & then pin it to your jeans while you're sitting down watching a movie or something, braiding away.
When you get to the end of braiding the strands, knot it again & clip the end straight. I left about 1" - 1 1/2" after the knot.

I love the printable tags. Dandee had a super neato scalloped punch for her tags. I used my miniature scallop scissors from ek tools. I used a smaller hole punch in the tags to slide the bracelets through. I had to do a bit of wiggling to get the knots through the holes, but I like how secure they fit.

The girls had fun helping pick out the different color combos. Though Pazely already knew how to braid, Zoey has now officially learned some mad braiding skillz.
We divided the bracelets into a boys pile & a girls pile & my munchkins can't wait to pass 'em out at their party!