Featured in Create With Me magazine

Have you come across the new and inspiring periodical, Create with Me? It covers artistic adventures with children and invites you to get in on all the fun with your little ones. If not, you are in for a real treat.
We have enjoyed looking at all the creative ideas that so many great bloggers (and their little ones) have contributed to the first Create With Me, June 2011, issue. So when we were asked to contribute our Triangle Stenciled Shirt project...
and our Color Theory Valentines to the Winter 2012, issue, we were more than delighted to jump in on all the fun!
I have to say that one of the most fun things was showing my littles the magazine. I sat down with them and told them, "OK boys, let's look at this magazine and see all the super fun stuff we can create together." So we went through each project, page by page until we happened upon our Triangle Freezer Paper Stencil project. Little A just started giggling out of control and aksed, in between gasps of giggles, "What am I doing in a magazine?". Little O started giggling as well when he saw himself, seated beside Little A, and pretty soon the whole lot of us were in stitches. And then when we later happened upon our Color Theory Valentines, well the boys just nearly fell on the floor. I had no idea how surprised and delighted they would be about seeing their projects in print. It was such a fun moment for us all.

And now, after reading the articles, I have to make sure I remember to follow up on my promise to provide many a color theory lesson for my littles in the future. And being as I do in fact have a few ideas up my sleeve that I've been dying to delve into, I can't say I mind so terribly much...


My super sneaky glasses secret


OK, so it was abundantly clear that top buns and geeky glasses were all the rage at ALT (we already knew this ladies, right?). Well I have to share with you all my super sneaky way of acquiring prescription glasses for OH so much less.

Just to give you some background, I starting doing this over 10 years ago when I found a $12 geeky pair of glasses at Claires that I liked (yes, I said it Claires! that teeny bopper shop in the mall). I wore them around a bit as a fashion accessory but then later thought, hey, I like these so much I want to turn them into prescription glasses (yes, I officially do need glasses). So I took them to my local optometrist and in no time at all (and hardly any $$) I had my own custom pair of glasses for super cheap. Well let me tell you, these glasses have held up! If the prescription wasn't old (I could always get it updated) I'd still wear them because they are in GREAT condition. And they were from Claires people. I wanted to take a picture of them but they are currently MIA (tucked away in some drawer I'm sure).

Now contrast that with these high priced prescription glasses I got about 5 years ago. These certainly have NOT held up for the long haul. Yes, I do have two little boys that love to bend and stretch my glasses when I'm not looking. But they have had their way with my Claires pair and they are still as good as ever (I'm going to find them and put a photo up, because you have to see them).
Well, as is the way of life, my eye sight has deteriorated a bit and I needed new glasses, again. I knew for sure that I didn't want to spend $$$ on hi priced frames again so I went shopping...in the mall. And I found the perfect pair at Express, for only $29.90.
I nabbed them and went straight for my department store optometrist (I'm thinking cheap people). The lenses were only $50 and it took less than two weeks to get them. And I LOVE them! I did have to get used to the weight of the larger glasses but they work great. And with this price, I'm seriously in the market for more!! This is the great thing about this little secret, you can afford several pairs. I also think it's a wallet friendly way to try out trends when you are not quite sure you are ready to dive in with both feet.

Now I know there are online glasses retailers that offer frames for a great deal. I've never gone that route because I like to try my glasses on. Not all frames work on everyone. I had tried on a number of these chunky geek chic glasses - before finding these ones at Express - and didn't like the way they looked on me. However, having said that, I did just order these frames from Modcloth and will have to see how they work. If I like them, you better believe I'm taking them in for prescription lenses. Oh the possibilities are endless!

So what about you? Have you done this? Have you ordered online from some of the inexpensive sites? Did you like the results? If so, please share your sources. If not, I highly suggest hitting up your local mall. You never know what you might find.


Altitude Design Summit Report

I'm back from a lovely long weekend in Salt Lake City, attending ALT. It was a whirlwind of information, which was great, but i think for me the best thing about the conference was being able to meet up with SO many inspiring people. Such as old NYC friends (So great to hang with you Brooke and Mara!!) and finally meeting a slew of blogger friends in person (EZ you are just as lovely as I imagined) and connecting more with my new craft night bloggy friends (Susan, Annie, Alison, Jen). The list goes on and on. (Such as I chatted it up with the darling Emily Henderson and gave her an Advil (my claim to fame) - if you've read this post, you know how much I adore her work. She's a doll with a wonderfully generous personality. And I spoke with the ever elegant Amy Butler (she's a gorgeous gazelle, had no idea how tall she was. Reminds me of Uma Thurman).

There were so many lovely gals (and a couple of gents) that I met and wish I could list them all. I do have to quickly share how much I adore Annabel Wrigley of Little Pin Cushion Studio. I illustrated her portrait (can you spot her bus. card in the slew of cards below?). She is SO darling and full of generosity and warmth (my favorite trait of my favorite bloggers). Keep her on you radar, she's got some super great stuff in the works. And can I just say that I'm SO glad that Rachel Faucett of Handmade Charlotte (and Anthropologie fame) stopped me in the hall!? She is so fantastic and has sooo many great ideas. I adore her energy and enthusiasm. Oh yes and I have to give a shout out to Roxi Marj. She's a creative genius with a really great and original point of view. Seriously keep her on your radar. Oh my, the list just goes on and on...

(Leather bag by Annie of Annily Green. Gold polka dots handed painted on by me.)

Now to keep up all this creative momentum! The possibilities are endless. And I have to say a BIG thanks to all of YOU dear readers, because without you...well I'd still be crafting up a storm...but all by myself...and the connection I get because of you and this community is priceless. So thanks! You are the best readers ever. Seriously.


Altitude Design Summit


("I heart SLC" shirt made from Freezer Paper stencil for the conference)

Hello friends! I'm currently in Salt Lake City along with a slew of fantastic design blogging friends (and personal heros) and I couldn't be more in heaven. If you haven't yet heard of ALT, you are in for a real treat. In short, it's a dream design blog conference full of fantastically inspiring people. You can get more of the low down here.

OK, so you might be surprised but I really haven't left my children to go galavanting off to conferences, or even on a couples retreat...like ever. (I know, Jon and I seriously need a little Valentines rendezvous, don't you think?).
So as excited as I am to have a bit of time away, it feels a little weird to up and leave. To make things easier on the boys (or on me?) I left them a little gift (just a fun activity book) for them to open after I left, letting them know how much I love them and asking them to be good to dad, and that I'll be back soon, etc. I wanted to make them a batch of Hershey Kiss cookies like my mom did once when she went away for a wedding. I remember feeling so much love from her every time I ate one of them. I unfortunately didn't manage to get around to it, but maybe I'll have to keep that in mind for next year! Because if the rest of the week is as good as this first night has been, I know I'll be back!

And I know that the boys will be having the time of their lives while I'm away (I'm sure there will be a lot of WII playing going on. Jon turns into a little boy himself with he's with those two...it's really quite adorable...and a little funny).
(the boys made a matching triangle shirt for Jon last year for father's day)


An update on the blocks...and a spray paint makeover

Hello fantastic friends! Thank you so much for all you kind words regarding our little Zero dollar gift exchange. We had a wonderful time doing it and I highly recommend you try it out, at least one year. You won't regret it.

I also wanted to give you a little update on our mix-n-match-em blocks. Many of you asked how we secured them together so that they would spin. Well I wanted to update you and let you know that they are actually freestanding - no pole involved.
So essentially you could have the head on the bottom and the feet up top, if you wish (just don't do it in front of Little O...he'll be very distressed and quickly put it back in it's proper order).
We had actually thought about having them on a pole and we love the idea. We just wanted to keep it simple for this first go around.
Basically, if you did want to make your own but wanted them to spin, I would suggest getting a decent sized dowel and securing it to a square wooden base. Then drill holes in the blocks, slightly larger than the circumference of of the dowel. Place the blocks on the pole, and voila! spinning block toy.

I also wanted to share with you a quick spray paint lamp makeover I recently did. I got the lamp at a second hand store for only $2 (the clerk couldn't confirm whether or not it actually worked so she said she'd give it to me for $2 and if it didn't work, well I was out of luck. I loved the shade so figured it was a good deal either way. And thankfully, it does indeed work).
I then grabbed a can of yellow spray paint (about $4) and went to town.

I had been wanting a large, retro statement lamp in the boys room (for nighttime reading as well as aesthetics) and thought that this one would do just the trick.
I love the bright pop of yellow that it adds to the room. I'm not sure if it's a bit more "groovy" than I would normally go for, but for now (and for that price!) I'm pretty content. I have a lot more in mind for the boys bedroom and the new year is just the push I need to get myself to actually tackle it...hopefully...


The gifts of 2011...

I wanted to share the gifts from our Christmas 2011 zero-dollar-gift-exchange earlier but I'm afraid I caught that pesky flu bug that I was so hoping to avoid. But I'm now alive and well and ready to jump right into the new year! If you have been following my blog you know that Jon and I have been doing a zero dollar (or at least in principle) gift exchange for the past couple of years. We decided to keep on with the tradition this past Christmas as we have really loved the thoughtfulness and creativity that has come out of it. And this past year did not disappoint.
For my gift to Jon, I wanted to do a portrait of both Jon and I together, something I've wanted to do for some time. In 2009 I painted a portrait of Jon using Acrylics and I had promised him that the rest of the family portraits would be coming along shortly thereafter so that we could have a family portrait wall. Well...that's still in the works. I did, however, manage to create a watercolor portrait of the two of us holding a banner that reads "together forever". OK, maybe a little cheez for some, but I have to say it holds special meaning for us. We celebrated our 10th anniversary this past year and it's been a time to reflect upon this great journey we are on. So many of our friends have struggled to stay together and many have divorced. We know first hand that marriage can be hard at times. Yes, even we have had our times of trial, but we have vowed to stick it out, through thick and thin. And this past season I have so enjoyed reflecting upon all of our wonderful, magical and magnificent times together...and was so thankful that we both have made the commitment to stick it out, so that we can continue to have more of these moments...pretty much for forever. If you haven't already been introduced to the blog, A Blog About Love, authored by a darling friend of mine, Mara and her husband, then you had best be on your way over. It offers so much insight on what it means to truly love and to truly be happy, no matter what is going on in your life (Both Mara and Danny had previously been married and they share their journey and love story on their blog). Here is one of my favorite posts to get your started. Consider it my New Years gift to you, it's that good!
Jon's gift to me was nothing short of incredible (he always surprises me!). OK, so to give you some background, we recently got hooked on the first season of Project Accessory. Jon's not a Project Runway fan (oh, but I am :)) but he was not only able to tolerate Project Accessory, he actually got rather into it. He couldn't get enough of all the welding, metalworking and so forth. So for his gift to me he decided to do a little metal jewelry working of his own. Cool right? But just wait until you hear where he got his supplies...
We spent Thanksgiving with Jon's family this past year. After Thanksgiving, he and his brothers have a tradition of going out to the shooting range with all their no-longer-in-season pumpkins and have a marksmen competition, leaving no poor pumpkin unscathed. Well, my creative husband was thinking ahead and when he saw all of the discarded brass rifle cartridges lying on the ground, he quickly picked them up and pocketed them away for future creative Christmas endeavors (he was SO much more on the the ball than I was!). He and his brother later took them back to the shop and cut, sanded and pounded them down into beautiful rectangular brass scales. He then drilled holes in them and connected them with jump rings and attached a chain to hold them all together. And the result was nothing short of amazing! - and dare I say a little dangerous? (And almost nearly free!).
And if that wasn't enough, he wanted to have a go at a brass cuff (all the rage on Project Accessory this last season) and I love the result. Oh and he threw is some amazing earrings he made as well (not pictured here because I was starting to feel really pathetic for not making him more gifts...OK, not really, I just didn't get a photo of them). Yeah, I'm one lucky girl. Together Forever is sounding pretty great, right?

And for the boys, well I wanted to make them as least something for Christmas. I didn't manage to sew their pajamas this past year and the boys asked for things in the ballpark of Lego Star Wars and Super Mario Bros...neither of which have inspired much creativity in me yet, so I didn't have anything creative in the works for them. But it just wasn't feeling like Christmas if I didn't make something for them. You see I grew up with a full scale Santa's workshop going on in my house in the month of December and let me tell you it was pretty darn magical. My father made us girls 2 doll houses and 1 doll castle, a full blown model train and table for the boys - just to name a few projects- and my mother was always at her sewing machine making dolls, doll clothes, play clothes and more. So I just couldn't finish the year out without making something for my little ones. And this little mix-n-match up block set is what I came up with (highly inspired by my Easter mix-n-match-um pals).
To make these we went to Home Depot and purchased a 4x4 fencing post which Jon and his brother Steven then cut into 4x4 cubes. Jon then sanded them down and I painted on some fun little pals. It was, not surprising, a little young for Little A, but Litte O still really enjoys it and I love what it looks like in their room.
It was a fun and creative Christmas and I'm already chock-a-block full of ideas for 2012!


scenes from the season....

We're back home and slowing getting back into the swing of things. We had a marvelous time with friends and family and are excited for the new year ahead of us.
We do however, have a slight pang of reluctance as we take all our Christmas decor down and reminisce on the scenes of this past season.
Little O is especially reluctant and manages to put back up all decor that I begin to take down.
I can't help but relate to his stubborness and decide to give in a little, letting our little shrub of a Christmas tree stay up...just a bit longer.
We've had a wonderful season full of creating, gifting, pondering, stuffing our faces, laughing and lounging with family friends, magic, delight and joy. I find that as I grow older, it's the season itself that is the greatest gift for me. Christmas day is always a joy, full of magic and wonder, but it's the time preceding that day that I treasure most.
And it's the season that I have a hard time letting go of...more and more...each and every year... Is it because my children are growing older I wonder? And each year signifies another beautiful year of childhood passing along?
Well, whatever the case, a good season we did have. The boys were delighted with all the magic and wonder and Jon and I couldn't have asked for more (except, perhaps, for more time to squeeze in all the creative ideas that seem to overflow within us this time of year!).
We've really enjoyed starting new family traditions and I have to report that the book advent was a smashing success. Little A was especially into it and every morning he'd wake up and rush first to our random acts of advent calendar to pull out his and Little O's candy for the day and then quickly rush to open the corresponding book for that day. Both boys would then bring the book to us in bed and look at it while we would unsuccessfully try to catch a few more morning Z's. Then later that evening, after the boys were ready for bed, we'd sit down and read the book together. It was such fun. My favorite was probably when we read The Nutcracker and I let the boys ceremoniously hold our little nutcracker doll during the duration of the story. They don't normally get to play with this guy so it was quite a treat for them and they handled him with almost a reverential manner (this also helped them sit still through the long story).
We also put up a small tree in the boys room this year and they loved having 5 minutes of Christmas lights on as they drifted off to sleep each night.

I had so much fun with the little touches this season and some of my favorites were secondhand scores, like these vintage deer found at the beginning of this post.

We also dug Jon's old record player out of storage and we've been listening to an assortment of retro holiday tunes all season long. I've so loved having the crackling, nostalgic sound resonating throughout our home.

Needless to say, we had a great Christmas and after I share just a few more things with you, such our our zero dollar gift exchange for this past year, I'll be sure to jump right back into 2012! (Which I'm truthfully very excited about!).