Happy Christmas to all!

At the last minute Santa could not make it to Joseph's school Christmas party. The kids didn't let it phase them ... they ate cookies and ran around drunk on sugar like always. After a few laps, I threw the boys in the van and headed down to the local Bass Pro. Built like a huge log cabin, Joseph declared it was the North Pole. Whatever kid, let's go see Santa and get our free picture.

Here's Will with Santa. A very nice Santa who tried to get Joseph closer with a candy cane bribe. Joseph wanted nothing to do with Santa or getting his picture taken. After forcing Joseph last year and getting the classic money shot, I had promised not to do that to him ever again. Oh well.

Joseph did however draw a picture of what he wanted and mailed it to Santa. He asked for some kind of bad shark thing that eats cars (what?!). Before we left, I demanded the kids pose for pictures hoping to get at least one decent shot for the Christmas New Years cards.


Wishing you the joy of the season and a happy new year!


Owl cupcakes

By now you may have noticed I haven't been able to do more than short little posts here and there this year. Here's another one ...

Aren't these cute?! My neighbor Christine made them for her daughter's recent birthday. I think she found the idea on Pinterest because Christine loves the site as much as I do. I'm posting the picture here so 1. I remember how Christine did it when I go to make some and 2. So I can pin this image on my little birdies board. 

We've got a pair of Barred Owls that like the woods at the end of our street. I love hearing them call back and forth at dusk and then a little later before midnight. Joseph did NOT like hearing them at first but now it's all cool and he can step out of the house when it's dark. I would have thrown Joseph an owl birthday party but the idea didn't fly with the boys.*

*Go ahead and groan ツ


(Free) Thanksgiving activities for the kiddos

Activity Place Mat

Turkey Feathers Game

Sticker Activity Book

Roll a Turkey Game (two versions)

Turkey Leg Placecard (fill with goodies)

Decorate the Whole Table


Friday find — Southern Love written in cement

Adrienne Applegate

This is not my picture, nor is it my story BUT I love the poem so I asked to share both the picture and the story. On a recent trip to Wisconsin with her parents, Joseph's friend Odetta found a poem in a Madison sidewalk and being a toddler, stopped to read the letters. The author of the poem, Fabu, happened to drive by, saw an adorable red-head lying on the sidewalk and pulled over. How cool is that?! Fabu hails from down South and was Madison's poet laureate from 2008-2011.

Southern Love

I want love
to be like a good pot of greens
pick the tenderest parts
separate from the hard stem
wash gently and thoroughly 
removing every bit of dirt and grime
rinsing over and over and over 
with the clear, clean water of forgiveness 
season with savory meat, herbs and spices 
and then simmer, simmer, simmer.

I think it's a great description of what has to happen in a long, successful relationship — finding the good in each other, putting in the time and effort necessary to form a lasting bond. 

I'm a fan of poetry and have put several books on the boys' bookshelves. Our favorites include "The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders" by Jack Prelutsky and "Dirt on My Shirt" by Jeff Foxworthy. Then there are the classics, "A Child's Garden of Verses" by Robert Louis Sevenson and anything by Aileen Fisher. 

Favorite poems? poet? for adults? for children? Please share.


B is for building blocks

When Will was still a wee lad, one of our fabulous neighbors handed down a rather well-loved and rather big block set their boy had outgrown. By big I mean when one of those blocks lands on a toe, you know it! I was worried about such injuries at first but not many have occurred. What has occurred is many, many hours of creative play. Forts and towers and roads and castles ... learning about balance, cause and effect and a whole bunch of other skills along the way. I now love the big size of the blocks. I think they are easier (sturdier?) for building. I tried pricing a set like ours and they are not cheap. If you are handy with a saw and sander, make your own

But really, this post is just an excuse to share a cute picture of Joseph. Look at that concentration!


More acorns — clay and candles

Chris and I marked our 8th anniversary in October. I like the traditional gift list so up this year was pottery. I love pottery. I've collected a good bit — yard sales and thrift stores are great places to start a collection — but I'll admit, I'm not always sure how to decorate with it. But that doesn't keep me from admiring the craftsmanship of my friends Julie in North Carolina and Wade right down the street. Chris got together with Wade to create a one-of-a-kind piece for our anniversary. I know my No. 1 fan (Hi Mom!) wanted to see pictures ...

Wow! It's gorgeous! And what makes it even more special, Chris wrote a sweet message on the bottom. Once again I am very impressed with how much talent lives on my street (musicians, actors, sculptors and more). If you want your own pretty piece, Wade exhibits at various annual shows — Moss Rock, Magic City Art Connection, Gulf Shores Shrimp Festival to name a few. 

Now, what to do with it? Right now it is filled with finds from a nature walk — acorns, nuts, pinecones. I've been wanting to make floating acorn candles forever. At least since I saw the idea on Pinterest. But I told myself I had to wait until after the craft show. I decided yesterday I had waited long enough and my new bowl was a perfect vessel for the candles.

Didn't really follow any directions, very much winged it. I basically did it the same way as Tonia at The Gunny Sack if you want to make your own. I found it easier to light a taper and then let the wax drip into the acorn cap. My second batch I melted an old beeswax candle in a double boiler which took forever and was not easy to pour into the caps. 

Sure they don't burn for long but aren't they pretty?!

Do not leave these beauties unattended! We found that as the flame got closer to the acorn caps, they did have a tendency to catch fire. Made for an exciting dinner!

(Linked to the Creative Me party at The Southern Institute)


Halloween paper bag pumpkins

I had the pleasure of being the substitute teacher for 8 (EIGHT!) two-year-olds yesterday. Being the day before Halloween, we read books about pumpkins and made pumpkins to take home.

Super easy folks, especially for the age group I had. I drew the faces, let the kids have fun coloring then stuffed the bags with newspaper (3 sheets was a good number for fullness). Twist the top, add a green pipe cleaner and leaves if you want. You're done. 

This would also be a cute way to send lunch to school.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween masks in snap

Making cupcakes for the school Halloween party? Trying to find the missing piece to the costume your kid's been wearing for two weeks and can't go trick-or-treating without? Kids bugging you about what you're going to dress-up as? 

Or is that just my Halloween? Never fear, you still have time to come up with something, anything to make the kids happy as you run down the street with them. Plug in the printer and embrace the spirit of the day! (Click on the picture to take you to DIY instructions and PDF files)

Wee Alphas

Design House Digital

Cut and Fold Costumes via How About Orange

Mr. Printables

or you could be like this momma — grab the nearest milk jug and cut away.

Happy Halloween!


A beautiful butterfly

Look! It's a beautiful butterfly! A Gulf Fritillary to be exact. 
I'm really glad he didn't die after deciding to stay with us awhile.

Of course, our favorite butterfly book is "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle. 
Do you have a favorite butterfly book? Or had success growing butterflies?


Under the tent

You can't really see in these wonderful pictures what I was actually selling at Art in Avondale Park so here are a few closeups ...

Painted wooden beads topped with a real
acorn cap.

I've made bird nest pendants before. These I
nestled in real acorn caps.

More "acorns" — beads topped with real acorn caps.
A store in my neighborhood will be carrying these soon.


Ghost cupcakes

As soon as I opened my October 2012 "Family Fun" magazine, I knew the pull-apart ghost cupcake cake would be perfect for the Halloween party at Joseph's school. Cupcakes are just the right size for the pint-sized kids and don't require knives to cut and forks to eat. A problem for me was the magazine just had a picture, not instructions ... what I would have liked is a picture of what the ghost looked like under the icing. So I took pictures of my ghost-in-progress in case I'm not the only one. 

I think it turned out pretty cute. I made two ghosts for the school party and both disappeared very quickly. Now, if you would like to see how a professional makes this treat, visit Lindsay Ann at Dollhouse Bake Shoppe. (I didn't see her naked ghost until writing this post. I wish "Family Fun" had directed me to her Web site.) 

Happy Halloween!


Craft show success

Clark Scott
My lovely friend and neighbor Laura checking out the vintage suitcase 
full of necklaces.

Clark Scott
Colorful vases full of button flowers drew folks (and lots of photographers)
into the booth. That's my head way in the back.

I did it. I survived my first art/craft show, the 9th Annual Art in Avondale Park. The weather was beautiful. The crowd was steady and appreciative of my goods on the table. I did better than I ever expected to, but yes, I wasn't expecting a lot. I sold half of what I brought ... mostly due to the generosity of my friends who came by. I hope they are enjoying their purchases with the knowledge that I tried really hard to craft something special. (Being a Virgo worrywart, I am worried someone out there is unhappy ... that their necklace broke or buyer's remorse. I really hope not.)

I truly could have not done the show without my friends. About two months ago I sent out an
e-mail asking folks to check their closets and yards for supplies I could use. Their response and support was fast and much appreciated. Much appreciated!

Clark Scott
Joseph had a good time observing the lake and playing with lots of friends 
at the playground while momma tended the booth. Chances are if you
stopped by, Joseph shared a Frito with you.

I also appreciate Clark Scott for letting me share his wonderful professional photographs of the event. Much better than the ones I took!


Best sand pies in town

Let me introduce you to a great little diner hidden in my part of town, Chez Tutor. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive with tons of repeat customers. Little folks come from around the block to make pizza and ice cream and pies, lots of pies. 

Inspiration from here and here*
Most materials, if not all, thrifted or repurposed.

*Okay, that last link is really eye candy for momma. 


Please turn into a beautiful butterfly!

It's hard to see there — We have a new pet. I think it's a Gulf fritillary butterfly. I picked up this cool-looking orange caterpillar with black spiky things to show the boys. I was going to let him go afterwards but he decided the mason jar was as good a place as any to hunker down in his cocoon. I'm really, really hoping he turns into a beautiful butterfly! (Because if he doesn't, that means I killed him with my interference. Come on little guy, live!)


Acorns everywhere!

Not that I didn't have enough to do — house is a mess with dishes and laundry piled high, my new part-time job working the nursery at Joseph's school, woefully behind on the 2012 St. Rose yearbook — I decided to have a booth at the Art in Avondale Park fall festival. It's a crazy idea. So crazy that I enlisted a partner in crime because I wasn't sure I would have enough stuff . 

The festival itself is great. The main goal is to get kids creating. Lots of hands-on activities and music — just a good community spirit. It will be a good place for my first booth. Very out-of-the-box for me and I'm feeling a tad nervous. I've debated backing out but no, I should do this. It'll be fun. And I'm having a lot of fun stretching my creative muscles the last two months. 

So why the picture of the acorns? They are my main crafting component! Along with wire, beads and pilers OH MY. I'm making several types of pendants with acorn caps and button bouquets and play dough (okay, the play dough is a weird choice but I wanted to have something small and affordable that kids could purchase.) Will wanted to contribute so he's making acorn jewels

One of the main problems I'm having is finding the right time to craft. When inspiration hits, I usually should be making dinner instead. My second problem is getting distracted by all the possibilities. I love crafting with acorns — the textures, the feel, the colors. First I was just making one type of pendant, now I'm up to four and I'm trying to resist another design. I saw a picture of mini-acorn cap candles and immediately wanted to make a few dozen. It's hard to keep myself on track and making just what I decided to make for the fest. My third problem is booth design. I need to keep it simple but boy, could I have fun with some burlap and shutters and I'm definitely making a twig tree to hang the necklaces. Again, got to keep on track.

Pictures of the booth and art fest to follow. It's exciting. Did I mention I was nervous?!


This month's featured artist

I love every piece of paper my boys scribble on. I don't keep every piece of paper, but I do keep enough to embarrass them in high school. The frig was an okay space to display but I wanted something more "artsy" plus I had a large blank space on which to play. Our walls are paper-thin so I wasn't keen to use nails and string and things. Some sticky velcro tabs were just right for attaching clip boards and old school slates (hot glued with mini wooden clothespins) to the dining room wall. I found the huge frame on the side of the road already painted red — sweet! I'm happy with the results. And so are the boys. 

(The mini-poster in the middle is hard to read. It says "Good Moms Have Sticky Floors, Dirty Ovens and Happy Kids." Awesome! It's a free printable from Paper Coterie — double awesome!)


Moving upstairs

Geez, September is just about gone and I forgot to post this sweet picture of Joseph on his first day of 3K. He now goes upstairs to the "big kid" rooms and was very excited by that fact. It's all 1-2-3 A-B-C and potty training 101. Mommy has also gone back to school, sort of. I'm helping in the nursery. No more mommy's day out for me but they pay me to hold babies. Not a bad trade.


Friday finds

I must have been in the mood for a little fall color .

I went into the thrift store looking for old necklaces to repurpose into new ones. No luck, but I did leave with some very useful items for the kitchen. Tupperware pitchers are awesome so had to have it ($1.48). Vintage Pyrex is awesome so had to have it ($2.98). That thing on the bottom? It's a Tupperware sandwich keeper. We got two as a wedding present and they were one of the best presents we got! Really handy when it comes to packing lunches so had to have it ($1.48). 

Ready to roll the street.

Joseph got a new ride too. A knock-off Cozy Coupe SUV that needs a good washing but he doesn't care — he's one happy boy! And he didn't have to have it (he didn't fuss or whine or beg) so this momma thought he had to have it ($5.98). 


Random Thoughts No. 23

Been doing a lot of fall cleaning these days. (I'm sure it was on my to-do list in the spring but I found other things to distract me SQUIRREL!) Or as Chris likes to call it — making a mess. There is a method to my madness messes. I like to take everything out of the closet or cabinet and then put back what belongs in its rightful space. What, you think that's crazy too?

In other happenings ...

I stepped on a rusty nail. And our van got a flat tire. But hey, we finally got our new roof! I do not recommend stepping on a nail. No one likes to hear about such things so I won't go into detail. But it hurt, I mean really hurt. For days. And my arm hurt too because I was at least three years overdue for a tetanus shot. It been about two weeks but I'm mostly back to walking normal.

Pictured above is the best banana bread I've ever made. Actually, it's the second loaf. I know a recipe is a keeper when I want to make it again! I've been searching for a good recipe for years. It takes time because there are a bazillion banana bread recipes. Thank you Flour Bakery in Boston!

Will got a watch. It makes him look even more grown up. He's liking school. We're dealing with our first homework — about 15 minutes a night so not bad. Joseph is finally back to school too. He's excited to be upstairs in the big 3K classroom. Word on the playground is they get to play in the big gym. Just ask and he will tell you all about it. I'm also back to school, helping out in the nursery at Joseph's school. Holding babies is soooo much fun and I get paid to do it. Sweet deal!

We're gearing up for the leaner days ahead. Turned the A/C off. Cut the strings on the satellite. We still have Netflix so it's not cold turkey around here. Joseph is loving "Go Diego Go" and pretty much any animal documentary you'll turn on. Will has discovered the freakin' coolness of "Mythbusters." Chris is catching up on "Breaking Bad." I'm really missing my BBC America, especially weekends with The Doctor. But I've got big plans to finally getting around to watching a bunch of stuff — "Weeds," "Twin Peaks," "The Tudors," "Being Human," even "Mad Men."

What am I missing? I'll add it to the instant queue.


Come and sit awhile

My neighbor and friend Christine is starting her own decorating business — Reinspired Living. She can help you redecorate, restyle, repurpose and reorganize. In other words, she takes what you got and makes it look a hundred times better!!!

Christine offered to redecorate my porch to fatten her portfolio.* Took me about five seconds to say, heck yeah! It could use it! In the winter, the area turns into a dumping ground — stuff that should go in the shed but it's too cold to walk the extra five steps. In the summer, the area turns into a dumping ground — stuff that should go in the shed but it's too hot to walk the extra five steps. But in the junk, Christine found a few pieces to transform with a little paint and a lot of creativity and now I have a wonderful space to relax, entertain and/or enjoy dinner alfresco. 

Before she could get to work, I had a lot of work to do. From the porch and shed I took six big outside trash bags to the curb! All the stuff on the porch that should go into the shed finally got moved to the shed. It took several days but when I was finished, Christine pretty much had a blank slate to work her magic. I got out of the way (okay, I tried to stay out of the way).

(I know, can you believe it?!)



She painted the chairs to give the space some color, using the pillow/tablecloth fabric as inspiration. The desk now acts as a buffet. The file cabinet is repurposed to hold napkins, candles, plates, stuff for entertaining while the bottom has a cooler for cooling drinks. Cool!

(A toilet?! So ashamed.)



You're welcome to come over anytime for a visit. Be warned, you must follow the rules!

*Christine did not ask for anything in return, like this post. Of course I was going to show off my new digs! Love it too? Contact Christine — reinspiredliving@gmail.com