Sunday, February 20, 2011

Arboretum Inspiration ~ Succulents

A few weeks ago I took Jack, Elizabeth and Van to the arboretum. 
I got this shot of Elizabeth among the succulents in the desert habitat. 

 Normally, I gravitate toward traditional, English and French garden design. 
But, when I saw the gorgeous colors in the photo, 
I was inspired to pay more attention to the lovely and strange plants around our house. 

So, today I gathered up all the random pots of succulents 
that were tucked away and forgotten 
in various parts of our yard, and put them all together.

Grouping highlights their unique shapes, 
luminous colors, and strange spiny details.


I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the off-beat, slightly strange types.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Making it Black and White ~ House Rules Subway Sign

When you round the corner into our kitchen 
you will find, just at kid-eye-level, our house rules. 

I had them written on construction paper and taped up, 
but last week I created this more permanent declaration.  

I'm not one to apologize for being the mom in charge. 

I think it's kind of fun to have all that audacious authority up in black and white. 

It turns out the kids like seeing the rules on the wall too, 
and I've been getting lots of extra hugs these days!

I looked up subway-art online to get a sense of how to make a sign like this. 
Normally they list place-names, like these from Restoration Hardware. 
The trick to getting the look is in the slightly varying font size and spacing.

The first step to making my own was choosing a font 
and fooling around with spacing and size in a Word document. 
I used different text boxes for each line and increased the font size 
until the line spanned the width of the document (if that makes any sense).

After printing out my text, I glued it onto a sheet of contact paper to make sticky-stencil letters.

Then I cut out each little stinkin' letter. 

This got very tedious. 

I did it over the course of a few days.

I used some leftover pressed board from Lowe's that I had in my garage. 
I actually took the piece back to the store and asked them to cut it to the right size for me--so handy! 
The whole board had to be spray painted white before adding the rules.

I used a copy of my original Word document 
to guide my measuring and spacing for sticking on the contact-paper letters.

 I then painted over the whole thing with black spray paint. 
After that dried, I peeled up the letters, revealing the white paint from underneath.

The sign is attached to the side of our pantry cupboard using 3m strips.

 Our House Rules Subway Sign: 
the perfect combination of parental chutzpah, interior design, and craftiness. 

I'm linking this post to Funky Junk Interiors SNS #69 and Just A Girl.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Parenting Wisdom: a post in which I shut my mouth and point

One of the very best (and it goes without saying, hardest) things about my life in this season--and I suspect for many seasons to come--is the meaningful work of parenting.

I am in the physically exhausting stage, which includes short nights, long days and participation in and management of almost every mundane and minor event in the lives of three little ones. This can be mind-numbing, back-straining work. Especially when your six-month old weighs almost 20 lbs.

 (Hi, six-month old.)

But I love thinking it through, understanding the direction, being proactive and deliberate as I parent. And I love the shared project that this is as it encourages a new kind of togetherness between me and my husband as we observe, discuss, decide and follow-through in parenting our children as best we can.

There are many half-finished parenting blog posts I have started composing in my mind as I go through my day--advice about power-struggles, thoughts on discipline, principles for understanding oneself and one's children.

However, at a certain point (in my mental composition) I abandon the project, because--who the heck do I think I am? I've got three little kids and precious little experience in the grand scheme of things. In reality I'm down here in the trenches figuring things out and trying to stay sane and engaged. Who am I to wax eloquent about the sensitive topic of parenting?

It's a well-known fault of mine that I tend to think I know it all.
So there.
Sometimes I shut my mouth.
Good for me.

So, in lieu of bossing you around myself, I want to introduce you to another (older, wiser, and more experienced) know-it-all than me. Meet Auntie Leila. She is the parenting advice-giver that I aspire to be--funny, self-deprecating, practical, and thoughtful. Here's a little gem from one of her recent posts:
Remember my golden principles of parenting:

Reacting is not a parenting technique! You are the adult. You act.
Don't seek affirmation from your children! You are the adult. You get affirmation from doing what's best for them. Attitude doesn't bother you.
Don't be surprised when things are not perfect!
And my usual disclaimer: Whatever I have learned has been SOHK (School Of Hard Knocks) and most of it can truly be said to be DWISNWID (Do What I Say Not What I Did), or at least LFMM (Learn From My Mistakes).

Her blog, Like Mother, Like Daughter, is full of all sorts of practical help and down-to-earth goodness about an array of home-family-faith topics, but I absolutely love what she has to say about parenting.

You're going to want to explore for a while. Find out what you might be doing wrong (This method does not work!) and get some ideas about what you might want to do (Threaten. But don't be dumb.)

Go let her boss you around some and then tell me what you think.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yo Ho a Pirate Party!

(This actually took place last fall, 
but I thought it was still worth sharing.)

I think it all started with my nephew, Dominic, and the Backyardigans
I've never seen it, but I have heard preschooler
renditions of it a-plenty:

A pirate, a pirate, a pirate says,

(You really do need to squint and growl when you say it.)

From there we progressed through lots of Yo Ho's and Aye Matey's, 
on into Neverland and the infamous Captain Hook, 
culminating in Jack's 4th birthday party: 
The Pirate Party.

The ship's wheel was a garage sale gift from Jeni at Found Rentals
Lucky me that she was unloading this nautical treasure just 
a few weeks before my dining room became Pirate-land. 

I picked up the red and white striped fabric at JoAnne's--
lot's of bang for my buck.

The treasure chest was another happy garage sale find.

Favors were part of the decor--
pirate's booty and chocolate gold coins 
wrapped in grey cheesecloth and tied with twine.

The invitation read, 
"Ahoy ye scurvy dogs! 
Get ye to Captain Jack's ship for a pirate party 
or it'll be the plank for you! 
Pizza will be served to pirates and their mateys."

I had a lot of fun with the cake. 

The Playmobile pirates and treasure island props 
were part of Jack's birthday gift.

The sand is crushed graham crackers.

The water is white frosting 
and light blue frosting mixed just a bit.

I wanted a variety of shades of blue to create a wave-effect.

Always freeze your cake before you frost it. 
This will cut down on the crumbs getting caught in your frosting.

 We played "Pin the Patch on the Pirate."
I made the pirate from black cardboard and scrapbooking paper.
(I found this idea here.)

 We also played "Walk the Plank," a pirate-version of musical chairs.
Instead of just being "out," the chairless child each round 
had to walk on an old board to the prize bucket and pick a pirate prize
  while the other kids chanted, "Walk the plank!"

Of course, the kids marched to Disney's 
"Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me."
You can download it on itunes.

You gotta love four-year-old boys, 
ahem, I mean pirates.

Blowing out the candles ...


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