Thursday, December 24, 2009

Finally, Christmas for the Sisters

After several cancellations, we finally pulled it off!  You may remember that last year the "sisters" had a gift exchange.  The rules were: the gift had to be hand-made, and it had to cost no more than $10 in materials, less is better!   This year, we are mixing it up, and decided to make ornaments for one another. You'd think that this would be easy. NOT. It seemed exceptionally hard for some of us to settle on an idea.  Several had failed attempts, and scrapped projects, I'd like to share the finished projects with you:

The Treat Girl Made this sweet framed photo of all of us.  The back is Hand Stamped, AND she threw in a Thankful Jar.  More on that later!

Juniper over at Hope Studios painted a light bulb, Yes, a light make this super sweet snowman!

Girl in the Sticks looked high and low for paper that was shiny on one side to print our picture on, THEN, cafefully cut it into strips to make this beautiful ornament.

Marzipan said that she made knew right away what she was going to make.  She used to make these when she was a child out of Christmas Cards that her family had received.  What a nice rememberance.

I picked up these cute birdhouses from the dollar store.

Found some hemlock pine cones and birch bark in my backyard, then got the glue gun going.

With a little mod podge, glitter and a sweet sparkly bird that I found in a cute shop, my birdhouse ornaments were done!

I'm always awed by the creativity in this group. Thank You, Thank you! I will treasure these ornaments, and your friendship forever.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Get a Personal Message from The Big Guy for your Little Ones

The Treat Girl told me about this site.  It's pretty cute, after completing a simple questionare, a personal video message is emailed to you directly from The Big Guy.  That's right, Santa himself sits down and has a little chat with your little ones.  The personal details are sure to make a believer out of the skeptics out there!

Click HERE to make your own.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Easy Snowman Christmas Ornament Tutorial

Now this would make any Grandama smile.  Especially if it was given to her by her sweet grandchild. 

And, it would make a Mom smile if it bought a few extra minutes to wrap that last gift or bake one last batch of cookies!

Here's what you'll need:  Clear Christmas Balls.  Mine are Iridescent.

You'll need some puffy fabric paint to make a snowman face.  The puffy paint is great because it adds an extra dimension.  A Sharpie works just fine too.

Finish drawing your face, and then you are ready to stuff.
I found this easter grass that is iridescent and matched well with my ornament.  I just took a small bunch and pushed it into the open end of the ornament with a pencil eraser.

I had the kids stuff theirs with mini marshmallows.

I'd add some ribbon details, and maybe even a top hat made from a toilet parer roll if I had more time.
The kids LOVE these. 

If you have a fun Christmas Ornament that you've made, LINK UP to the Party over at Hope Studios!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Trip to Marcus Studio

Have you ever just discovered an artist that is just so fresh and inspiring that you just want to tell everyone about your new discovery? 

And then you find out that this artist has been doing this for years.  Their art is WHO THEY ARE.  And that's even more impressive.  They are not chasing a trend, they design and build from their soul. 

Such is the story of furniture maker and artist Craig Marcus.  He has a beautiful showroom in Pittsburgh's East End.  He makes custom made furniture with an artist's eye.  He builds tables and chairs from woods that you can't even pronounce.  His work gleams in his modern and completely comfortable gallery.
Craig also expresses himself on paper.  I am lucky enough to have recieved as a gift a print of one of his first paintings.  I was thrilled when I saw a whole wall filled with similar paintings (see the top photo.)  The print always makes me happy, and I'm so glad that he is persuing what makes him happy too. 

A trip to the 6545 Gallery is sure to offer inspiration. (Call ahead for a personal appointment).  CLICK HERE for directions, hours, and an opportunity to browse his latest works.

The DIY Showoff Has a Winner

I'm so pleased to have contributed to the DIY Showoff's HUGE Giveaway
We have a winner, and she's getting this ring2sisters2gether is sure to love this chunky, one of a kind wooden ring with a fused glass flower.  The best part is that one sister won, and she's giving it to the OTHER sister!  Now that is one great sister! 
These rings are available in my Etsy Shop!  CLICK HERE for last minute Holiday Gifts!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nothing Says "Merry Christmas" Better than a Hot Steaming Pile of Poo

I had to stop my car in the middle of the street for this one.  Yes, I checked to make sure that I wasn't going to get rear ended!  What a comment on the whole Christmas season, yet how festive. 

I'm not sure how many of you out there would immediately recognize a manure spreader. This family really has a sense of humor.  I love the effect with the lights...the green "pile" in the spreader is...well, you know.  And, the most precious part is all of the lighted loop-de-loops as the "manure" gets hurled off of the back! 

What an ingenious way to showcase great old farm machinery, and to SPREAD holiday cheer!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'm Making Friends at The Library Again

My kids beg me to go to the library.  This is a good thing, I've made going there part of their childhood.  We go there for storytime, we participate in the summer reading program, we know the librarians by name. 

The thing is, when we go, my kids go crazy picking out books.  The maximum number of books that you are allowed to check out at one time used to be 20. I was so pleased when they raised that number to 25.  The books the kids choose are usually picture books, short stories from the children's section.  And, the thing is, at least one of my kids usually reads them all!  The librarians just force a smile and make comments like: "What good readers". 

If you'd really like to get the stink-eye from a sweet librarian, go over your 25 book maximum, and THEN pull out one of your kid's library cards, and start loading that up!  I always do feel a tinge of guilt at all of that re-sorting and re-shelving that those ladies have to do beacuse of me.  But then again, maybe it's job security!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Psst...Want Some Good Make It Yourself Christmas Gift Ideas?

Head on over to Hope Studios today.  She's having a linky party, and there are tons of great ideas to make and do. Link one up from your collection.  We all need good ideas! I'd love to try some of her Lemoncello. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hello Lego...

My guys play a lot with Lego. I have issues with keeping all of the sets together.  All Moms know that if you lose a piece, (or vaccuum one, perhaps), that boyhood devistation follows.  I have a friend that diligently buys dollar store bins for each set.  Oh, how I wish I were that organized.  I've got ripped open lego boxes, taped together with flaps agape.  I wonder why we have a stray piece now and then?

My favorite part of my boys playing with lego is this:  They both call the instructions "CONSTRUCTIONS".  It's the perfect word for lego instructions!  Now, I'm off to trademark the word and when Lego wants to buy it from me.....Hello, New Car!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Still Working on 10,000 Hours

I'm reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  It's just the kind of social psychology that I love. 
One of the things that he talks about a lot is that most exceptional people (like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and many, less well known but equally successful people) have put in a minimum of  10,000 hours to perfect their expertise, their craft, their area of study. 

The things that make a job fulfilling are: "autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward".  I would agree wholeheartedly.  The only thing wrong with the 10,000 hours that I've already put in (it takes a pretty intense 10 years)  is that they are SO SCATTERED!  How do you get really good at anything when you are doing 1000 things?  Any Mom will tell you that her job description is as long as her forearm.  Does this mean it takes 20,000 hours for a Mom to be exceptional?  That sounds about right...the kids will be out of the house by then, and I'll just be hitting my stride.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Groovy, Baby.

Our big family outing this weekend was to visit a new store to the area: Five Below.  It's sort of like a dollar store, except, well, everything is $5 or less.  A fun jaunt, but I wished that I had gone alone, for a few reasons. 

1.)  I could have gotten some great stocking stuffers in there if my kids hadn't gone aisle to ailse, memorizing all of the contents of the store. 

2.)  My 5th child, my husband, came along, and he's easily swayed by the kid's percieved needs.

So that's how we ended up with a rainbow of lava lamps sitting on the kitchen counter.  Five of them, one for each kid and one for THE "kid".  So, 25 dollars later, I now have a permanent lava lamp collection on my counter.  Although each was purchased individually, and each lamp looks groovy individually, collectively, they are a show stopper.  So, it was decided by the owners that the collection must remain intact.  To move the collection to a kid's room would surely cause anarchy.  The "It's Not Fair"s are ringing in my head already.  So, neutral turf is the kitchen counter.  To be equally enjoyed by all. 

Now, I'm pretty groovy and all, but I'm not sure this really fits with my decor.  My question is this:  I know you all have beautiful homes, and very well co-ordinated interiors.  What do you do when a rainbow of lava lamps throws you a curve?

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Carrot Cake Emergency

I'm not sure how I got so lucky.  I think about it alot.  I think that to a great extent, you decide that you are blessed, and then you will be.  Well, I am lucky, and blessed, and fortunate, I am sure of that.

I have been under some larger than normal amounts of stress and a great deal of waffling indecision in my life lately, and I must have seemed like I was right on the edge.  My Beautiful girlfriends surprized me with a full-on Carrot Cake Emergency Intervention.  They all know that Carrot Cake is my favorite, and that even if I haven't eaten anything for two days, I'd force down some delicious, moist, too good to be true carrot cake.

  To have such  love and strength on my side makes it easier for me to make the big decisions.  My girlfriends all teach me so much.  In times of trouble and unrest, the best of them rally around with Carrot Cake.  And, for that, I am ever so grateful.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hey- Let's Have a Picnik!

I know, you are thinking "It's November, and Thankgiving..she wants us to go out and have lunch at the park...what is she thinking?".  Not that kind of Picnic, silly!  I'm talking about : the photo editing site. 

As we are all scrambling to upload and order our photo Holiday cards, I'm here to tell you about this great site. In addition to many fun photo effects, it has a shine-be-gone button, a blemish removal option, a teeth whitener, an eylash highlight, an eye color enhancer,  it even has a "Slenderize" feature!  Yeah, that's right, after having a little too much turkey at Thanksgiving, just hit the "Slenderize" button, and you've lost 5 lbs.  Couldn't be easier. 

I made the above collage in a few minutes.  I love the variety of font options. Many of the features are FREE, but to have access to an even larger library of photo editing , they have a few very inexpensive options.

Picnik will allow you to save photos after editing to many different sites (your computer, flickr, photbucket, etc.) So, you can order those cards in no time. 

If you Picnik, invite me!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quick and Easy Thanksgiving Banner

Here are the supplies you'll need:  Some pressed leaves, a sharpie, some string, scissors and a hot glue gun.

You can do this project in less than 5 minutes.  If the kids want to "help", it may take 10, but it's still super easy.  The results are fantastic.  Take your pressed leaves, and write on them with Sharpie.  I wrote "Thanks", but you could write: Happy Thansgiving, Give Thanks, your Family Name, whatever.

Then, take the leaves and put a bit of hot glue at the base of the stem, then stick them to the twine or string.  I added a few extra leaves with no letters at the ends just to add more color.  You can stack the leaves for more texture, too.

If you make a fall banner, be sure to link back, I'd love to see it!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Do Yourself a Favor...

If you like amazing transformations, and who doesn't? Take a peek over at DIY Showoff today. In fact, add her to your favorites and get some daily inspiration. 

And there's one more thing in it for YOU:  She's having an amazing give-away!  Go check it out!  Here's a sneak peek:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Try Hand/Eye

HAND/EYE Magazine bridges the worlds of art, design, craft, philanthropy, retailing, and socio-environmental sustainability.

To get a feel for what this Magazine is all about, read this article about some women in West Africa who are recovering from complications due to childbirth and the jewelry they make to support themselves.  The goals of this magazine are lofty and global in nature, but you'll quickly see how easily the writers make each feature feel like the town (or villiage, or settlement) next door.

The magazine promises to connect you to cultures near and far, and inspire you to support people, projects and products that create the change that you want to see in the world. 

I'm ALL FOR inspiration AND shopping with a purpose.

Subsriptions are only $30 for the beautiful, oversized magazine. I encourgae you to take a look at what we all can do.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 2009 Getaway!

soul sisters nov 2009
Originally uploaded by joybeadworks
It really just doesn't get much better than a weekend away. Add to that a weekend full of chatty catch-up with friends, a perfect woodland cabin feel, wine, a roaring fire, games, manicures, food, shopping, and tons of creative ideas.

The re-entry is tough. Dishes stacked in the sink when I got home. No dinner, counters piled high with school papers, bills, and stuff to read. I'm getting woosy just thinking about it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

How to Make Native American Outfits for Your Little Indians

My Children learn all about the Native Americans this month, as we aproach Thanksgiving.  They learn about how they lived, and what they ate.  The kids also learn about what they wore.  The teacher has the kids sing and read to some elderly folks at a nearby retirement home.  The kids also take a trip this month to visit the Native American hall at the Museum.  So, the teacher thought it would be nice to have the kids dress in "skins" for these two events. 

It was so easy to make these little vests and loin cloths.  Maybe your little ones want to dress the part this Thanksgiving?  First, you'll need a pattern.  A paper bag will do as raw material.  Cut the bag into a  basic vest shape, (more or less a rectangle with arm holes.)  Then, you'll need two front panels.  Use the vest back as a guide for a side front panel.  You may want to fold the vest back in half to get the correct sizing for the side panel.  Once you have cut a shape that you are happy with, flip it over, and outline in pencil the pattern for the opposite side.  This way, you'll have matching sides. 

If you are making loin cloths, just cut two squares (sizing is adjustable with the velcro straps).

The next thing you'll need is the fabric.  Take special care that anything you use will not fray. (Polarfleece and felt are good options, but there are some others).  You'll also need some ribbon and some velcro.

Cut all of your pieces and sew the four seams for the vest: one up each side, and the two at the shoulders. You won't need to hem anything if you've chosen a fabric that won't fray. Easy.

As shown in the photo above, add velcro straps at the waist of the loin cloths.  These make it easy for the boys to adjust for size, and it's easy to get them on and off. 

A little trick to save some time is to use a flame to melt the edges of a polyester ribbon.  This will stop any fraying. Sew this ribbon onto the loin cloths, across the waist, on the front only. 

Snip along the bottom edges of both pieces for a frayed effect. 

The kids will decorate their "skins" with some Native American symbols.  These outfits are a great, meaningful project that helps the kids tie together what they are learning about. And, anythime they get to wear a costume, they get excited about it!

Check Out the Giveaways at DIY Showoff!

The Diy Girl, Roeshel, has  a new look!  It's worth checking her out just for that, but seriously, check out her Giveaway!  She's asked to feature one of my wooden rings, you'll get your choice of size and design from my collection.

If you are looking for inspiration, the DIY Showoff is a great place to add to your favorites.  There is a linky party today too!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween is Like The Prom for Little Kids

I love Halloween.  I love it for the kids, their excitement is contagious.  I remember as a kid feeling sort of sick with excitement the night of Halloween.  Mom always made us eat dinner before we went, it was always spaghetti (because prep time was fast), and I can remember that full, queezy feeling. 

I was thinking this year that Halloween is like the Prom for Little Kids:  You start thinking about what you are going to wear in August, you plan and plan about who you are going to go with, you get to wear something special, something unlike yourself.  And, you get to decide what kind of presentation you'll make.   

It's also a little like Prom because the excitement is in the planning, and the anticipation.  Sure, there is fun the night of, but sometimes things don't go as planned.  Even the littlest thing can cause disappointment.
My kids are already planning for next year, when it will be bigger and better!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Brilliant, Beautiful and Delicious Cake

There are 5 family birthdays in the month of October, and I hosted a giant birthday party for all of them.  I was pretty stressed out, and handed over the cake responsibility to Marzipan.  I gave her a general "calendar" kind of theme, and just LOOK what came out of her kitchen!

To feed 20 or so, Marzipan made a double layer square cake.  The bottom layer was chocolate with an amazing vanilla icing, the top was vanilla cake with scruptious milk chocolate icing.  She tried to tell me how much butter was in it, but I plugged my ears. 

Since she had the 4 sides to work with on the bottom layer, she wrote (a word per side) "Happy Birthdays In October" and for the top cake with 5 sides, she wrote each person's name, and their birthday date.  We call the kid's grandfather "Pop", so for him, she wrote "Pop On Top", since he is the family's patriarch.  It was so perfect.  So delicious.  Everyone asked for business cards. 

Marzipan takes orders, you know!  Email her for some truly amazing baked goods for your next event.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Autumn Glory Animoto Style

Don't you just love this time of year? Here are some of my favorite photos so far.

And, if you haven't tried Animoto yet, what are you waiting for? You could be sending your Dad a video greeting right now, or how about a thank you card to someone who did something nice for you? (like I just did).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'd Like You to Meet Alabama

Well, actually, Natalie Chanin. Her company is Alabama Chanin. This brave and true Mom runs a company that inspires, awes and humbles me.

Natalie began her journey with a documentary that sought to tell the story behind quilt squares. She's a collector of the spoken word. This project put her in touch with so many talented women whose craft has been handed down for generations.

From this acquaintance, her company began. She employs local women from a economically depressed part of Alabama that has generations worth of history in textile mills. The women work at their own pace, with their own work hours, and get paid by the piece. Each article is handmade.

In addition to using organic materials, and promoting a sustainable lifestyle, she practices what she preaches. AND, she's a success. She was just recently featured in Vogue, and Google.

She has a few books, such as Studio Style (above).

But the one I want is the Stitch book. I want to make this skirt. Did I mention that she also sells DIY kits, has classes and workshops, and she sells supplies, patterns, and raw materials.

You truly need to visit her site to get a full appreciation of how this woman is living her dream, and what an inspiration she is to us all.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hey, I'm Featured Over at The DIY Showoff!

Roeshel over at DIY Showoff is featuring some sweet, frilly, girly projects today, and she featured my corsage scarf! Go check it out!

I know you have some girly project you'd like to show off: She's having a linky party too...I can't wait to check back for some great ideas!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Little Girl's Birthday Spa Party Tutorial

I asked my little girl what kind of Birthday Party she'd like to have this year. She thought about it for awhile, and settled on the idea of having a Spa Party. Here's how the spa all came together:

First, I had my recent 7 year old spell out a sign for her spa. One letter to each 9X11 sheet of paper. I then used a paper punch at the top corners of the sheets and strung them from some yarn across the doorway to the "Spa". We added a wall of walk-through streamers for a fun "doorway". I then strung a piece of plastic tablecloth across the front, and Birthday Girl made a "closed" sign, so that I could work in secret behind the curtain.

I taped 3 plastic tablecloths (from the dollar store) to the floor to protect the rug from nail polish and bubbly foot baths. I then used painter's tape in different colors to spell out the name of the Spa. I added some balloons and sprinkled dollar store rose petals.

I used an old school desk as a manicure station. Note the use of the plastic tablecloth again, for color and for protection from polish spills. I also had a pedicure station. (I used disposable aluminum pans as foot baths.) The girls got facials. (I applied a clay mask and cucumber slices to their eyes as they relaxed to the soft music.)

I put together treat bags in the form of cosmetic bags (Found them at (guess where?!) the dollar store..Pretty cute, huh?) I included some soap, a puff, lip glosses, and a tiny pedicure set.

I made a special party drink by combining equal parts of lemonade and sprite, then I floated some lemon slices in the container. I served the refreshments in sparkly plastic water glasses with a strawberry garnish.
The girls all had such a great time, relaxing and chatting about all that is important in the world of a 7 year old. This was a great, inexpensive party idea that the girls just loved.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I Convinced the Pizza Shop to Open Early and Other Tales From This Week

My Sister in Law sent me an email last night just to ask how things are going. How sweet of her to ask. My random and rambling response caused me to assess the chaos around here. Here's How It's Going:

-I had a birthday party for my 11 year old daughter last week. YES, it was a sleepover (is there any other kind when you are 11?) I had to take special care with the presents (what to get: no one had any idea), the cake (no pink roses this time), the decorations (not fru-fru), and the activities. Actually, she wanted exactly zero planned activities. I strong-armed her to agree to a few "back-up" crafts and games. (All of which we used, by the way, although some girls were more "into" them than others).

-My husband had a birthday. With very little fan-fare (and he sort of likes fan-fare-in a quiet, "just-us" sort of way). He got exactly what he asked for: a Penguins Jersey and a book. I hate it when I don't have a decent surprise gift for the people in my life that mean the most to me.

-I'm co-chairing the big fund raising auction at my kid's school. I have been busy meeting people, co-ordinating class projects and visiting possible venues for two weeks straight.

-My 7 year old daughter has a birthday this weekend. I have a clue what she wants, I have purchased it, but, it remains unwrapped. The party, of course,is a sleepover. She wanted a "Spa Party". I have some grand plans. I'm hoping that they'll all sit through the manicures, pedicures and facials that I will be doing as I transform myself into an Employee at the Spa. I even have the babysitter coming over (she's cool and hip, after all) to do hair.

-The soon to be 7 year old wanted to have pizza with her class on Friday. This is a common occurrence at our school. The birthday kid brings pizza for the whole class at lunch. My daughter told me that they have lunch at 1pm. It's a good thing that I asked the teacher: lunch is at 11am. (Hey, there is a 1 in it!). So, after I have committed to get pizza for the class, I start calling pizza places. They don't open till 11:30! Argh. I sweet talked (or bullied, or begged) a local place to open a little early for me on Friday. Then browbeat them to make sure that the pizza would be delivered at exactly 11am. (The kids only have 1/2 hour for lunch after all.) I ordered an extra pizza that I'm sure we won't need just to make it worth their while. Looks like I'll be feeding the 1st grade teachers Friday too.

-Since 3 of my immediate family members have birthdays in October, I am hosting a "Family" birthday party Saturday. A few other family members have birthdays this month too. So, we are celebrating for 5 birthdays. I have only the vaguest idea of what I'll be serving to 20 people Saturday. I ordered a huge sandwich from the grocery store yesterday. I have Marzipan baking the cake. Beyond that, I am completely unprepared.

-My dear sweet husband got the Halloween stuff out of the attic this past weekend because the kids begged him. Let's just say that it looks like Halloween threw-up all over their rooms. There are bins with lids askew, costumes from years past flung, I'm stepping on spiky spider rings. I may have to shovel it back into the boxes and have my dear sweet husband return to to where it came from.

-I'm making fire-engine cookies with my littlest guy at school today. Somehow, long ago, I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for cooking today. The teacher called me last night to remind me, and give me a list of the things I'd need.

-The laundry....Oh. Ok, at least the clothes are clean. They just need sorted from the giant heap that they are currently in, folded, and put away. The kids have been digging through the pile for outfits for a week and a half (scattering it all in the process). It would make me feel so much better if you admitted that this happens at your house too. Feel free to comment below.

-It goes without saying that the kitchen floor, and many other surfaces, need cleaned.

I'll be skidding to a complete stop on Sunday. Maybe someone should let my family know that I need a day off. Oh, that's right, Moms don't get "Days off".

Friday, October 9, 2009

If You Have Never Tried Costco's Chocolate Cake...

Go now and get yourself $16 worth of bliss. This cake is huge..triple layer and 10 inches round, but not a crumb is wasted at my house. The plastic tray is licked clean. It's hard to describe how moist that cake is, and how intoxicating the icing is, you just must try it.

My daughter loves it, and requested it for her 11th birthday. I was trying to find a way to "jazz" it up. I've tried piping my own icing on, but it always looks so amateurish. I saw this marzipan at Joann's and wondered if it could be just that easy. The box contains 4 colors of ready to roll out marzipan. Just use a rolling pin, wax paper and cookie cutters.

Look at the polka dots that we added to her cake. She loved that I got her the cake, and she loved that she decorated it. The marzipan WAS just that easy. The colors were obnoxiously bright, and I wouldn't recommend eating a huge wad of the stuff at one sitting, but it worked well.

Apparently it's at age 11 when the cake must get a little more sophisticated. Pink flowers by the dozens will no longer do. (In fact, anything pink will no longer do.) This was a great fix for us, maybe it could work for you too?