Valentine's Babies

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Tree - With a Christmas Dove Tutorial

So as a family, we've never had a Christmas tree. Honesty, it always seemed like a hassle and an extra expense. I loved looking at other people's trees and my kids weren't old enough to care - so I didn't either.
But this year, I found myself wanting a tree of our own. However, without a tree budget, I didn't see a way we could afford it. But I reserved $20 and found a used, artificial tree on Craigslist.org. The seller gave me a deal on a 6 foot, fairly low quality, pre-lit tree. I was pleased as punch to get it too.
Anyway, once I got it set up - I realized it would need some ornaments.
I made popcorn garland by sewing hundreds of pieces of plain popped popcorn together - a rather tedious job that I won't soon sign up for again.
Then I found a tutorial online that gave instructions for making little doves out of pages from an old book. That seemed free enough for me.
The tutorial was great - but the birds required a bit more of a time investment than I had and some supplies I didn't want to buy. So I simplified the project and have included my instructions here.

First, I cut a basic bird profile shape out of card stock. I made it about 6 inches long, from beak to tail. I made a separate wing cut out - a teardrop shape. I then traced my bird & wing onto a stack of 3 book pages. (In the photo, there are two birds and two wings traced onto the stack of pages).

Next, I cut out the bird & wing shapes and laid the wing shapes onto the bird. I stapled all the pieces - except one of the wing shapes together. Then, I glued the remaining wing onto the others, to conceal the staple. 





Then I used a pencil and rolled the edges of the wing and tail around it - to make it look like ruffled feathers. I sewed a string into the top of the bird's body so I could hang it and glued a very small twig to the bottom of the bird that resembled bird feet.

Here's my finished tree. I added some construction paper flowers for a little pop of color. Check out this  tutorial from Under the Table and Dreaming. Her bird tutorial is very nice and is what inspired mine. If you decide to make a Christmas dove too, post a link or photos into my comments section. I'd really love to see what you made. :)  Merry Christmas!



Monday, November 12, 2012

The Little Monster Project

So this month, I have a slew of kids' birthdays to celebrate. Also, Christmas is coming up - and I loathe the idea of spending the money my husband works so hard for on worthless, plastic toys that my kids will adore for a day and a half - before they're added to an overflowing bin of forgotten toys.

I decided to try and make some little gifts for the kids having birthdays this month. So I googled some homemade toy ideas online. I found some great ideas - but none that really stood out. Then I came across a site selling little homemade monsters. They looked easy to make - so it inspired me to create a monster of my own to give this year.

This turned out to be one of the cutest and easiest homemade gifts I've ever made. Start to finish - my first one took about an hour. I hand sewed all of it. I used my machine for the bulk of the work on the second one and it took much less time.

Here's a little photo tutorial of how I did it - and instructions for making your own.

First - look around the house for fabric. Of course you can buy new, but that sorta defeats the purpose of frugal, homemade gifts...  I used a T-shirt I had bought for myself from a thrift store. It was a thick, good quality shirt that just never seemed to look right on me. I also found some left over fabric from some pillows I had made a couple years ago. Those, and some other fabric scraps I had were enough for the entire project.

1. Cut out a monster. I made mine slightly smaller than a standard bed pillow. I gave him very easy little arms, legs and ears - keeping in mind I wanted a project I could finish quickly.
Then I made his eyes, mouth and tooth out of one of my kids outgrown shirts and some other scraps. I sewed everything in place by hand.






















2. Next, I traced the monster face onto the other piece of fabric I had and cut it out. The boy I was making the gift for is turning one, so I also cut out a circle and a #1 to sew to the back. For the number, I used another piece of my kids old shirt. Pretty simple.

3. Finally, I hand sewed the pieces together, inside out - and left a few inches open for stuffing. Turned that monster inside out and stuffed him - then stitched the opening together to finish.



They're great little gifts for babies and young children. I'll be making them all month for the rest of the kids' birthdays on my calendar. My own kids have also put in their monster requests for Christmas.

Here's a link to the lady who makes (much nicer) monsters for sale: http://blog.revoluzzza.com/2009/06/05/get-your-revoluzzzionary-creature/ 

Do you have any cool homemade gift ideas this year? Leave a comment and share some inspiration.




Friday, November 2, 2012

Tangled Ashes - Book Review

THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED (BY ME) IN THE ANSWER NEWSPAPER

Well Written Historical Fiction
By Amanda Wynant
The Answer Staff Writer

Book: Tangled Ashes
By: Michele Phoenix
Price: $12.99
Available: Amazon.com

Lamorlaye, France - 1940: Meunier Manor, an elegant castle, is taken over by Nazi officials as they occupy the city. The Nazis make the castle their headquarters and the place where they'll institute their Labensborn program - a project Heinrich Himmler set up to promote the growth of the Aryan race by encouraging Nordic women and German Soldiers to conceive a child dedicated to Hitler and the Third Reich.

French teenage girls, Marie and Elise are forced into work for the Nazis at the castle, to help supplement their families' income. The girls have no knowledge of the Labensborn program at first, but soon discover the horrible plans of the Nazis as they turn the winsome castle into a maternity home. The young Frenchwomen must make brave decisions of loyalty and courage as they try to do what's right.

Fast forward 70 years. The Meunier castle is still standing, but in need of drastic renovations to restore it to it's original beauty. The castle is purchased by a wealthy businessman who has hopes of making it a fine hotel. Marshall Becker, an expert in historical renovations, flies from his home in the U.S. to Lamorlaye to begin the intricate and specialized task of rebuilding the castle and transforming it into what his client has requested. 
He opts to stay on the property while he renovates. During his time at the manor, Becker finds that many of the people associated with the grand building are hiding dark secrets of their own. Strange things happen in the midnight hours to lead Becker into further search for the mysteries of Meunier Manor - and attempt to face the demons in his own life.

Michele Phoenix is an amazing writer. She has a fantastic ability to take a story from the 1940's and one from today and seamlessly marry them into a narrative that's both extremely engaging and quite easy to read. Her storytelling is stellar and the reader is captivated by the end of the book's first paragraph.

With 384 pages, Tangled Ashes is a work of historical fiction that weaves the love of Christ into the story, without an overt, preachy tone. Phoenix writes in an educated and easily understood way that's sure to peak the interest of any mystery loving reader. Once the book is opened, it's hard to put down. 

Tangled Ashes is recommended for any adult reader looking for a novel this fall. The characters are lovely - easy to relate with and well created. The story itself is part historical record (Meunier Manor actually exists in Lamorlaye, France), and part fiction. Pick up a copy at your local bookstore or through www.amazon.com.




Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Beginner's Bible App - Review

Love this App.

It's The Beginner's Bible app from Zondervan. My 2 year old and 4 year old have asked for it every night since we got it. They like to take turns "turning" the pages. 
The pictures are fantastic and very clear. The narrator is very easy to listen to - with a calm voice. The stories are well written and suitable for all ages of children. 
The games are fun and interactive. It's a great way to review stories with your little ones after reading them with this app. We enjoyed everything about this app and would love to see more apps like this one.


Monday, August 13, 2012

We Choose Virtues

Have you heard of this program? It's a really cool curriculum designed just to teach virtues to students.

I just heard about it from a friend of mine and thought it was a really neat idea.
Here's their website for more info: http://www.wechoosevirtues.com/shop/home-school-kit-community


Monday, July 2, 2012

Things to Remember

So lately - I've been overcome with the desire to document some things that my kids are doing - or were doing so I never forget them. I'm not very sentimental. I don't do scrapbooks and didn't make baby books. I don't have a wedding album and there is only one framed photograph displayed in my home. I hope to get better at all this - but for now, I'm just going to jot some things down here that I never want to forget.

When Lily Ann was just beginning to talk, she said some of the sweetest things. She called flowers "fallers". When she wanted help with something, she'd say "help you" (with a big question mark at the end). Her pacifier was her "fwop-fwop." She loved drinking smoothies - and she would call them "moonies." When I was pregnant with Miles, Lily loved talking about the baby in my belly. She also claimed to have a baby in her belly - and asked all sorts of women if they had a baby in their belly. When we first brought Miles home from the hospital, she rubbed his little baby head and said, "toft."
More recently, we were driving past a car dealership with a big line of balloons bordering the lot. Lily asked, from the backseat, if those cars were having a birthday party. She also refers to California as Caleeyafornia.

Miles has just turned two - and has been saying some super cute things lately. One of his very first words was "La La" (that's what he called Lily, before he could say her name). When he started learning animal sounds, he couldn't quite say "moo" - instead, he said "mmmmmmm." And when I asked him what a piggy said, he would say, "Onk Onk." One word he learned quickly was please or "fweeze." That seemed to get him whatever he wanted. If he wanted to nurse in the middle of the night, he would say "mo fweeze." that soon progressed to "nursey fweeze." If he kicks his covers off in the night, he says "Cov Me!" When he wants water, he asks for "wawee." He loves "Tommy Twain" (Thomas the Train). When he wants a little time alone, he tells Lily that he needs some "face" or some "frivacy." He loves to pretend to be a monster and chase Lily around the house.

There are so many other sweet things they say - I'll be coming back to this post and adding them when I remember them - so I'll never forget. :)



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Projects You'll Love

I just wrote this article for Blissfully Domestic. It's a bunch of cool summer home project ideas from around the web. Some of these ideas are really amazing. One guy wrote about wallpapering a room with pages from vintage books. Another article outlines the creative things you can do with old wood pallets. Anyway - these little projects might help you stay out of trouble this summer!
Check them out.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Not a Hairstylist . . .

Words to the wise: a Youtube tutorial is NOT a suitable way to learn how to cut your own hair.

Youtube tutorials are awesome. Last year on Youtube, I learned how to quickly peel kiwi fruit. Earlier this month, I watched a Youtube tutorial that taught me how to make Lily Ann a barbie princess cake for her birthday. So naturally, I thought I could save a few bucks and let Youtube teach me how to cut my long, thick, horse-mainy, layered hair.

Let's just say I was wrong - and I'm thankful that I didn't cut it so short that I couldn't still tie it back. Because It's going to be tied back for a while - until I can get the damage undone.  :)


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Miles' First Haircut

Miles has had these lovely white curls on the back of his head for a while now. Recently, they started growing longer - in so much as you might mistake him for a little blonde girl instead of the little boy that he is. I've been putting off the first haircut - because the curls are just so precious to me. But today - I finally snipped them off - and saved them for the keepsake box. 
He looks so much older now. More like a little boy than a baby. . . . 

You can see Miles' long curls in this photo.
Here he is after his first haircut.

Family Photos


A friend of mine took these photos recently and just sent them to us.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back to Blogging

I think I'd like to get this old blog up and running again. I'll start with a little family update. . . .
So far, this summer, Lily Ann turned four and Miles turned two. Even though it's exhausting to chase them around all day, I enjoy raising them SO MUCH. They love each other and play together pretty well now. Miles has turned a corner and is becoming much less fussy. Lily Ann is a sweetheart - such a little helper.
Adam is enjoying his work and doing a great job. He's always being recognized at work for being awesome. At home, he's also fabulous. He's so sweet to our kids and incredibly helpful around the house. I'm still not sure how to operate the vacuum cleaner - he always beats me to it. Did I mention how very handsome he is?! He just keeps     getting better looking with age.
I'm writing a bit - freelance. I'm taking some online courses to learn how to do a better job writing - and marketing my work. I write for a couple of websites, an online magazine and a local paper right now - but just here and there. I've got a full time job taking care of these kids and my fantastic husband.
Here are some pictures of our life lately.









I hope to update more often. And refine my blogging skills as I go.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

5x7 Folded Card

Happy Day Cocoa Father's Day Card
Check out our modern shower invitations by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

happily ever after - book review


In 1992, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote the landmark book, The Five Love Languages. He sold over six million copies. As a relationship counselor for more than 30 years, Chapman has worked in the trenches with thousands of couples, while maintaining a successful marriage himself and raising two children.

In his most recent book, Happily Ever After: Six secrets to a Successful Marriage, Dr. Chapman outlines the six most common problems marriages face and gives practical insights on how to successfully navigate through the issues.

The book is an A to Z marriage primer, boasting 370 pages of relevant information for any married person. This would be a great book to give a newlywed couple; but it’s equally as valuable for couples who’ve been together for decades.

Dr. Chapman tackles the most delicate topics in marriage from sexual intimacy to problems with the in-laws. If it causes conflict in marriage, it’s in this book!

At the end of the book, there are several bonus tool sections. One is titled, How to Get Your Spouse to Change without Manipulation. Another section has two parts: one is a collection of what husbands have said when asked the question, “What would you like to see your wife change?” And the other: a collection of what wives say when asked, “What would you like to see your husband change?” It’s like a candid list of the things that might drive your spouse up the wall – but things he or she would probably never dream of actually saying.

Dr. Chapman also gives a list of suggested resources for couples from how to handle money to how to enhance sexual fulfillment in a marriage.
This is a must-read for people who want to keep their nuptials fresh and alive. In this season of romantic love, give your marriage a tune-up!

Merry Christmas!

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