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Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkins

I have a love/hate relationship with pumpkin seeds. I adore the idea of eating something that is pretty durned nutritious, and I love the thought of being able to put so much of the pumpkin to good use -- it seems so wasteful to toss out all those excellent seeds! But I hate cleaning the seeds, and I am usually rather disgusted by the results when I've attempted to roast them myself.


But the gourd gods have definitely been kind to me this October -- after years of disappointing results, last night I made not one but two yummy batches of roasted pumpkin seeds! The ones in the yellow dish are cinnamon flavored, and the ones in the red dish are spiced with paprika. I was inspired by this savory recipe and this sweet one, and I was determined that this time around I'd actually concoct something that I'd want to consume. Hooray for success!


Of course, we had to carve the pumpkins first.



In my google searching, I'd come across the tip that cleaning the seeds is much easier if you dump the pulp and seeds inside a big bowl and fill it up with water. Indeed, the seeds float to the top and are much easier to separate! I rinsed the separated seeds thoroughly in a colander and spread them out on paper towels to dry. After about an hour, they were still fairly damp, but I couldn't wait any longer.

First, I tried the cinnamon recipe. I had about 2 cups of seeds to work with, and they fit nicely spread out on a single greased cookie sheet. (I greased it with Olive Oil Pam.) I combined about 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. I then sprinkled about half of this on top of the seeds and put it in a 350 oven for about 5 minutes. Then I stirred up the seeds, sprinkled on the rest of the cinnamon mixture, and baked for about another 25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. They have a nice spicy aroma while baking, and the finished seeds are quite tasty. While I ended up liking the paprika ones better, these are definitely the favorite of both BB and BJ -- they both ate a bunch of them for snack today!

The only major drawback for the cinnamon recipe is that I ended up with a LOT more seasoning bits than seeds. I liked how the seeds were thoroughly coated, but there were a few crispy chunks of salt/sugar/cinnamon mixed in with the seeds. I found out the hard way that these are not the delectable tidbit one might hope. Much too salty for my palate. It was a bit of a pain to pick out the seeds from the leftover chunks of salty seasoning, but I think the results were worth it.

For the paprika version, I started off by spreading out the remaining 2 cups (or so) of seeds on a single ungreased cookie sheet and drying them for about 15 minutes in a 250 oven. Then I pretty much followed the Cold Kiwi recipe: combine 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I again used Kosher salt), 1/2 teaspoon pepper (I used white pepper because I thought the fine texture would be nice), 1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (I added a splash more), and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Toss the seeds in the mixture and let rest for about 15 minutes. (BB woke fussing, so I had to get her back to sleep, and thus this ended up being more like 30, I think -- lost track.)

I then spread the seeds out again on the ungreased cookie sheet, roasted at 300 for about 15 minutes, stirred everything up thoroughly, roasted 10 minutes more, stirred, and finished with another 5 minutes (or so) in the oven. I forgot to let them cool on paper towels, but they seemed to do just fine sitting on the cookie sheet. They smelled so good that I munched on a few while they were still warm, and I was quite pleased with the result.

So nice to imagine continuing the roasted pumpkin seed tradition in a way that I can actually look forward to!
BTW, we didn't end up spelling out OBAMA, though we were tempted....


Happy Samhain!

Pumpkins are carved, seeds have been roasted, costumes are ready. (Whether or not BB will wear hers is yet to be seen.) Halloween looks to be a rainy event this year, alas. But it should still be fun, even if we end up trick-or-treating under umbrellas.

As I always do during this time of year, I'm thinking about endings and beginnings, harvesting and planting, all those magical and mystical cycles. Samhain is the Celtic New Year and for me it always brings on such ruminations. I've been falling into some bad habits lately, so I wanted to take this opportunity to make a few resolutions. I often think about making changes at this time of the year, but this is the first time I've been this formal about it (not to mention so thoroughly public). The ones I make in January rarely come to anything, so perhaps I'll have more success with this approach.

Resolutions tend to deal primarily in more and less, as if the way to a better life were merely some sort of simple math equation. Add x, subtract y, equals happiness. It's been a long time since I studied calculus, but these days my life feels so complex, with so many variables to balance in the equation, that the thought of basic addition and subtraction feels both refreshing and not a little naive. But I'll give it a go.

Tonight I will light a candle, and with the sparking of that flame I will intend: to smile more and yell less, to spend less time in the land of expectation and instead live more in the moment, to exercise more, to worry less, to make more opportunities to hold hands with S, to write more, to create more, to read more, to sleep more.

We'll see what kind of sum comes from all this. Wish me luck!

Friday Feature -- Giggleberry Creations

This week's featured Etsy artist is Amy of Giggleberry Creations . Her handcrafted buntings are absolutely charming! What a creative decorating idea, with so many possible uses. Enjoy the interview!

Tell me two (or more!) interesting things about you.

Hmmmm two things....
1) I'm a pregnant stay at home full time Australian mum of my 9 month old Milla and 8 year old step daughter Felicity. Felicity has severe Autism and we are running a full time play based therapy called The Son-Rise Program with her which day by day takes us closer to curing her Autism!! (http://www.son-rise.org/)

2) I LOVE LOVE LOVE hippos!!! I collect them and I bet if you name a house hold object - I have it in hippo form! egg cups, photo frames, bird feeders, potty - the list goes on!! I even went to South Africa a few years back to see them in person and got to canoe along side a pod of them it was awesome!!

To which Etsy Street Teams do you belong?

I have been on Etsy for a little while now and have found that teams are a great way to meet, network, chat, and help other etsians - it's just a matter of finding the right team and being able to contribute my fair share to that team. I am a part of three and feel that is plenty - FAM (Fabulous Artistic Moms) Team Etsy for Autism and Etsykids

What do you sell in your Etsy shop?
I make and sell flag (pennant) banners. They are called bunting sets in Australia. They are a great way to add a splash or character and color to a child's bedroom, nursery, cubby house or play area and I have made quite a few for sellers who wanted their craft stall tents stand out from others.

What inspires your creations?
I love anything 'different' and unique. With everything I do and buy for myself and family. If it's different to the 'expected' - I'll do it! My husband reckons it's because I have 'third child syndrome' and want to stand out from the crowd LOL. I never buy alot of one type of fabric so my banners are usually one of a kind.

Tell me a bit about your creative process and/or how you learned to do what you do.
The first ever banner I made was for my daughter's room. I was 8 1/2 months pregnant, had just started maternity leave and wanted something to keep me busy. My mum makes all her grandchildren a quilt and had recently finished my daughters so I asked for the left over fabric and just started sewing.... before I knew it I had a banner to hang above her cot that matched her quilt perfectly and in true me style was like no other children's bedroom set in the shops or anywhere!

I normally start with a patterned/themed fabric e.g. racing cars and then match it with colors like red, yellow and green of traffic lights and maybe black and white check flag fabric to bring it all together - I could spend hours in a fabric shop!

What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?
My favorite set at the moment is a groovy 'Rock Star Guitar' set. It's just so funky and cool for a little boys room and has so much color in it to brighten up any space!

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?
Deliriously happy, unique, and organized.

What do you like about Etsy?
I love how it's all handmade - so many one of a kind items in one spot! I have gone nuts with my Christmas shopping on Etsy and can't wait to see my daughters and family's faces when they open their gifts!

What makes your shop unique?
Ever since I opened my shop earlier this year I have been told by so many people that they have never seen anything like my flag banners before. I love hearing this and it keeps me making and creating new ones that are as individual as the person they are made for!

What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?
For sellers I would say patience is the key...... If you believe in your items and product then it will do great it's just a matter of time before other realize just how great it is!
For buyers I say have fun!!! If you have the time, float around etsy. Type in random words to the search bar, chances are you'll come across something amazing!

Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?
Pop in to 'Giggleberry Creations the blog' to hear all about my latest creations, my life, other sellers and my many etsy purchases
For more Mama's Magic Friday Feature interviews, click here. And if you are an Etsy seller interested in being interviewed for one of these features, please feel free to send me a convo through my Etsy shop!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Breastfeeding Basics (and Bling)

This round of the Motherwear Blog Breastfeeding Carnival asks for Product Reviews, so I wanted to share some of my favorite "basics" from when I was breastfeeding, along with some "bling," stuff that is nice to have but (in my opinion) not entirely necessary.


For me, the basics, the absolute must-haves, came down to a nice nursing pillow and a good breastfeeding bra . Some folks prefer other brands of nursing pillows, but I found that my Boppy was exactly what I needed. Especially when my babies were small, I brought my Boppy everywhere. Here I am nursing my 2 month old daughter at my son's 2 year old birthday party.



A good nursing top is nice, especially if you tend to be on the shy side or plan to nurse right in the middle of a toddler's birthday party like in this photo. Personally, I'd put dedicated nursing wear more in the "bling" category, instead of being a necessity. (Then again, that might just be me -- keep in mind that I worked for a time as an artists' model, so modesty isn't exactly my highest concern.) Of course Motherwear is a great source for that sort of thing.


I purchased about a dozen nursing tops and camisoles, and it was especially nice to have them to wear for more "special" occasions when I knew I'd be nursing in public around lots of people. The shelf-bra nursing camisoles and tanks are nice, too, because they can turn any shirt into a nursing top by providing an underlayer to cover up mommy's postpartum belly and to keep too much boob from showing.


But I found that the shelf-bra tanks just didn't give enough support to wear them very often -- which brings me to my second breastfeeding basic. It really is worth it to invest in a good nursing bra! When my son was born, I convinced myself that I didn't need to spend $50 on a breastfeeding bra, but I also didn't like the idea of purchasing a bra in the mail without being able to try it on first. (Sorry, Motherwear!) Not knowing of any other resource at that time, I headed out to Motherhood Maternity at the mall.


The fitting "expert" at the store was anything but -- bless her heart, she couldn't have been more than 20 years old, didn't seem comfortable with the physical contact involved in measuring another woman's bustline, and her "expertise" consisted of calling into the fitting room, "Oh, that doesn't feel comfortable? Hmmm. I guess you could try something bigger.... That doesn't work either? Maybe something smaller..." Finally she wandered off to "help" another customer, and I was left to my own devices, scouring the racks for a 38D bra that might do. I ended up with two bras that were okay, but not great, and it was a source of nagging disappointment throughout the 14 months spent nursing my son.


When my daughter was born, it was clear that my 38 G bust (!!!)wasn't going to work out so well in the very tired bras left over from breastfeeding my son. So I decided to go to the real experts: Maternal Connections, the breastfeeding store at El Camino Hospital. (One of the many benefits of joining a mommy's group was hearing about resources like these.) The women there were amazing. Of course BB wanted to nurse as soon as I arrived, and the clerk patiently waited while we finished, chatting with me about my breastfeeding experience. She showed not a hint of discomfort when she measured me, and very casually helped me assess the fit of the bras that I tried on.


Thanks to her help, I ended up with two very supportive bras: the Anita Beautiful Mum and the Bravado "Supreme Nursing Bra." I remember when she handed me the Anita, the clerk said with a grin, "And this one even has lace on it!" (Someone could make a mint designing gorgeous, supportive bras for larger sizes!) Granted, the Bravado wasn't exactly sexy, but it was incredibly comfortable. And every time I unhooked to nurse my daughter, I was glad to have gone the extra bit in getting good nursing bras.


Another piece of breastfeeding "bling" is actually a very useful tool: a nursing reminder, something to help a tired mom keep track of nursing sessions. Often this is a bracelet, and there are many, many variations on this theme, from the very elaborate (tracking time and everything) to the very simple (a friend of mine used a safety pin fastened to her bra strap). In those first weeks of nursing my son, I used a hair elastic worn on my wrist, simply switching it from side to side as needed. Soon thereafter, I started developing my Baby Friendly Beads breastfeeding jewelry, and the reminder bracelet was the very first design I perfected. The clasp-free design makes it very easy to switch from wrist to wrist, so that mom can keep track of which breast to start with for the next feeding.


Thanks for reading! For more great product reviews, please be sure to visit the other participants in the carnival. (To be updated as folks publish their posts.)

Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Breastfeeding and Pumping CDs
Breastfeeding Mums: The Food of Love
Babyfingers: Bravado Essential Nursing Tank
Half Pint Pixie: Gorgeous nursing bras - they do exist!
Mama Knows Breast: Utterly Yours pillow
Blacktating: More Milk Plus tincture
Mama's Magic: Breastfeeding basics (and bling)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Green

I'm sooooo jealous. My mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, and one year old niece went to the Obama rally yesterday at Widener University. Horrible weather but wonderful experience is the report from Mom. Apparently little B was quite the trouper and slept in her stroller the entire time, snug as a bug under her poncho.

Another friend of the family has taken her 11 year old daughter to Nevada to help the Obama campaign get out the vote there. All this activism and enthusiasm! And all I'm able to do is stick a few signs in the front lawn.

Granted, keeping the signs in one piece and upright has proven to be more challenging than I'd anticipated, given how much fun BB and BJ have pulling them up and apart.... so the mere fact that they are, indeed, still in the lawn and legible ain't nothin'. But I wish I could be doing more! I'm so anxious and excited about Tuesday's election, more so than I ever have been before. Except for the "personal is political" angle, I'm not an especially political person, so it's really unusual for me to be so wrought up about an election. I'm definitely going to need that free ice cream cone by the end of the day.

Flu Shots

The kids and I got our flu shots today, and I am delighted to report that they both got through with hardly a peep. I'd done a little prep work, including bringing a stuffed animal friend for each of them, and I asked the nurse to give the friends a "shot" as well. The nurse was very kind about it (though she didn't get my hints at all, so I had to ask outright for what I wanted) and everybody at the clinic was amazed by how well the kids did.

I'd been waiting to have S join us, thinking it would be easier with two adults to do any kid wrangling that might be necessary, but he woke up this morning feeling too sick to teach. So no flu shot for him, though he did go to the doctor. Sinus infection, poor guy. Thank heaven for antibiotics -- I'm sure he'll be feeling much better very soon.

I know it has much more to do with my great kids than it does with my parenting skills, but it was quite affirming to see them do so well this morning in the face of a typical meltdown situation. A very welcome situation all the way around. Now I'm just hoping the flu shot is more effective this year than it was last year! (Hey, any chance I could apply some of my apparent good luck in this direction???)

Dream

Another pleasant surprise in my Tuesday morning email -- for the second week in a row, mine was the winning entry in the weekly creativity contest over at Creative Construction. Miranda declared me the "defending champion" -- no pressure, huh? :-D

The prompt last week was "dream," and this week it is "hands." Surely that can be some source of inspiration for all you handcraft artists out there!

Thanks, Miranda! (And thank your friend, too, for showing such excellent taste when asked to step in as a creativity judge ;-) I hadn't yet had a chance to spend last week's $10 gift certificate, so it was fun to have twice as much for an amazon.com splurge. Between all that and winning the pumpkin, I'm feeling mighty lucky! Maybe I should go buy a lottery ticket or something!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We Won a Pumpkin!

I don't remember my exact guess, but apparently we were the closest estimate of this pumpkin's weight:

34 pounds!

Makes a nice addition to our porch decorations, right by the witch's broom. We'll see if I end up carving it -- I'm tempted to leave it big and beautiful.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Been Too Long

Apparently we need to be spending more time with BJ's playgroup friends. Ever since folks have started preschool, it's been really challenging to get people together on a regular basis. These are some of the people BJ has known the longest, since we joined the playgroup when he was less than a year old, and he has several good friends in the group. (As do I.)

I'd been feeling badly that we'd not been seeing more of folks; we touched base with several people at the Halloween party last weekend, but many families already had plans and weren't able to join us. I didn't think BJ had really noticed all this, though. He certainly hadn't said anything about it.

Until today. At dinner, out of the blue, he asked if one of his friends, E, had died. Granted it had been a while since we saw E, several months, but I was completely surprised by the question. "I miss him, Mommy," BJ told me.

Okay then. I've emailed E's mom L and asked her if we can get the kids together sometime soon. I just hope he doesn't think the rest of the playgroup has been hit by the plague!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

We headed out to the pumpkin patch today, visiting a patch put together as a fundraiser for one of the public schools. I'm not a huge fan of the bounce-house-parking-lot type of production, so this patch was a welcome discovery. It was small, cute, and reasonably priced. They even had a "haunted trail," but neither of the kids wanted to try it out. (Fine by me.) So we focused on the important task of selecting the perfect pumpkins.

Thanks to a very charming book we borrowed from the library, Margery Cuyler's Bumpy Little Pumpkin, BJ particularly wanted a pumpkin that was (you guessed it) little and bumpy. None really fit the description, since they were all quite smooth and pretty, but I managed to sell him on a slightly ridged diminuitive gourd.

They even had a "guess the weight" game going on, with four pumpkins the students had been growing in a little garden area. BJ and BB were very interested in the garden, which was fenced off with chicken wire, so we chipped in a few bucks for their fundraiser and gave it a go.

Alas, BB was NOT in the mood for pictures. BJ wasn't really either, but at least he wasn't wailing about it. She really enjoyed picking her pumpkin -- I think she was especially jazzed by the fact that she could pick her own pumpkin up and carry it herself!
But sitting down for a photo? Not so much. No thoroughly adorable pumpkin patch family pics this year. But at least we have some nice pumpkins to carve this week. The kids each got a small one, and S and I will share the one bigger one.
After picking out our pumpkins, we had a little picnic. BJ told us all about his pumpkin and his plans for carving. Apparently S has a plan as well. Any guesses how hard it would be to carve letters in a pumpkin? Specifically, the letters O, B, A, and M...?

video

New Park!

We spend so much time at the park these days, it's always fun to discover a new place to explore. I'd heard some really great things about one of the local parks, and kept meaning to head over that way, but hadn't managed it. Finally, yesterday, we met our good friends A and C over at "the train park" for a morning of fun.

A says that the park has hardly changed since she played there when she was a kid, and it certainly has a retro feel. The kids LOVED the train theme and had a wonderful time climbing all over everything. Of course it was all the more fun for being able to share it with C (of BBC fame). I'm sure we'll be adding this park to our list of regular haunts!

Friday, October 24, 2008

21 Months, Loving the Park!

Hard to believe that when BJ was this age, I was a month away from giving birth to his sister.... BB turned 21 months old today. Almost every day, and often several times a day, she will say, "I wanna gotuda poke!" (I want to go to the park, for those of you not fluent in toddler-ese.)


So we spend lots of time at the local playgrounds. Happily, our area has an abundance of good parks: within a 10-15 minute drive, there are at least a half dozen really good ones. Now that BB is taking one nap, right after lunch, It's been working really well to head out in the morning and pack a picnic. We play, eat lunch, then head home, and she'll often conk out in the car. Thank goodness she's good about a drowsy transition from car to crib!


I've been trying to be better about taking along the camera -- here are some park pics from the last month. It's been especially nice, now that BJ is in preschool, to have some time when I can focus just on my girl. The ones of her in the orange shirt are from one of our mommy-daughter trips. Enjoy!

Sweet Suffrage

As if anybody really needed yet one more reason to vote, especially in this historic election.... but just in case, here ya go:

Ben & Jerry's FREE ICE CREAM for those who go to the polls!

Friday Feature -- Lizzypops

This week's featured Etsy artist is a fellow Etsykids member, Bronwyn of Lizzypops. Her shop is full of beautiful, unique items for kids and families.

Her "upcycling" and use of vintage fabrics adds an especially nice touch, as seen in her amazing UniQuilts. (See below for more from Bronwyn about this nifty idea!)
Personally, I think her baby aprons are genius! And so cute!!!


AND Lizzypops is participating in the Etsykids BOGO sale -- BOGO 15% off, plus free worldwide shipping with a $50 minimum purchase. The BOGO only runs today and tomorrow, so now would be a great time for some shopping!

Tell me two (or more!) interesting things about you.
Oh, let's see... I grew up in Saudi Arabia. My family moved there when I was 5 and my parents moved back when I was in college. Between that and my boarding school experience, I tend to stand out in certain crowds :) Now I'm a PhD-level scientist, a wife, and mother to an 18 mo son and a baby due any minute. My life is full and busy! (Update from Jen: baby arrived October 14th, and all's well. Congratulations, Bronwyn!!!)

What do you sell in your Etsy shop?

I make overalls, Supersize Me Bibs and aprons for babies, but my favorite creation is the UniQuilt (TM). These are quilts made from the hand-sewn quilt tops made by my great-grandmother. They're really special.

What inspires your creations?

Oh, I'm inspired by necessity in many cases - that's where the Supersize Me Bib came from, certainly. After watching my son smear food all over his sleeves and shoulders, I said, "we gotta do something about this!" And so the Supersize Me Bib was born. I also love vintage and antique quilts and fabrics... I just want to play with them!

Tell me a bit about your creative process and/or how you learned to do what you do.
I'm pretty much self-taught at the sewing machine, but I've had great advice from some wonderful quilters who helped me get over the mitered binding learning curve! An online friend shared her apron idea with me (and gave me permission to sell them!), and I've since developed the design to incorporate my own style. My friend does applique, while I prefer embroidery and decorative stitching. She also taught me the basics of how to make overalls, and I've been playing with those ever since - adding roll-up cuffs and pockets, for example. I'm full of ideas, and I really enjoy just sitting down and creating on the fly... I guess that's the scientist in me. Gotta experiment!

What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?
I really love the UniQuilts... they're just so special and so unique (hence the name!), and full of history. I'm itching to make more, and when I run out of Mamaw's quilt tops, I'll start prowling the antique shops for more! This one's a particular favorite of mine:

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

Ooh, that's a toughie! I got a little help on these, and boy do I have a lot of smart alecks among my family and friends!... Tenacious, Intellectual (to a fault, some say), and Pragmatic.

What do you like about Etsy?
I've really enjoyed the people I've met on Etsy. There are some wonderfully kind and generous people there, and they inspire me.

What makes your shop unique?
I think my style sets me apart. So many people make bibs and baby things, but I strive for a special look, inspired by vintage fabrics. Eventually, I hope to expand the UniQuilt(TM) line to include not just aprons and blankets, but overalls, too. I'm also ready to help people create their own UniQuilts, using fabrics from their loved ones old clothing. Imagine how special it would be to have a quilt made from your grandparents' old shirts, house dresses, even table-cloths!

I can't bring myself to make a changing pad or bib out of an antique quilt, though... That, I won't do!

What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?
Patience, grasshopper. I've had to learn all about patience and perseverance!

Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?

I keep a blog at http://bramey.livejournal.com/, where I blabber on about my life. I've been blogging since ... Wow! September of 2002! So much has happened in my world these past 6 years, and it's all there for the world to see. I wonder if that's wise?
Folks can also reach me at lizzypops.shop@gmail.com.

For more Friday Feature interviews, click here. And if you're an Etsy seller who would like to be interviewed, please feel free to contact me! I'm always looking for new shops to explore.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

EtsyKids BOGO Sale!!!

October 24th and 25th, the Etsykids Street Team is having a huge BOGO sale!


In my Baby Friendly Beads shop, buy any item and receive a second (lesser priced) item at 50% off. Included is this new "Planet Baby" nursing necklace, one of my most favorite recent designs! I just love the depth and color in this moss agate stone.


Either buy through Etsy and wait for a revised invoice to pay, or make your payment immediately and I will refund your discount to your Paypal account. Questions? Please ask!!!


Here's a list of the other Etsykids shops participating in this sale. (Note that their BOGO might be a little different, so be sure to check out the details!) Those of you who have been following my Friday Features for a while will certainly recognize some of these folks! So click around and splurge a bit -- there are some amazing deals to be had here. Tell 'em Baby Friendly Beads sent ya!





Baby Friendly Beads - http://bfbeads.etsy.com/




























Cozy Cabin Creations - http://www.cozycabinmom.etsy.com/




















Francisbel Boutique - http://www.francisbel.etsy.com/
















I Luv U TuTu Much - http://iluvututumuch.etsy.com/




Jennifer's Bows and More - http://www.jennifersbowsnmore.etsy.com/




Jus Shar Designs - http://psbbdesigns.etsy.com/
































Little Prairie Designs - http://littleprairiedesigns.etsy.com/












LuLu & Peep Children's Shop - http://www.luluandpeep.etsy.com/






Mary Had A Little Party - http://maryhadalittleparty.etsy.com/


Michele's Jewelry Designs - http://micsjewelrydesigns.etsy.com/






















On The Sweeter Side - http://onthesweeterside.etsy.com/














PJ Hill Co. Crochet - http://www.pjhillco.etsy.com/




Pumpkin Head Baby Co. - http://pumpkinheadbabyco.etsy.com/










Retro Family Works - http://msliesenfelder.etsy.com/


Ribbon and Ruffles Boutique - http://www.ribbonsandruffles.etsy.com/
















Snap Dragon Design House - http://www.snapdragondesign.etsy.com/












The Bird & The Bean - http://www.birdandbean.etsy.com/






Thumbelina Boutique - http://thumbora.etsy.com/












Whimzee Baby Boutique - http://www.whimzeeebaby.etsy.com/




Wednesday, October 22, 2008

$135

That's the grand total to date that I have "earned" as a poet: $100 as a prize more than 15 years ago, $15 in 2001 for a poem published in ByLine Magazine, $10 in 2002 for a poem published in PanGaia, and now a $10 Amazon gift certificate for my latest entry in the weekly contest hosted by the amazing Miranda over at Creative Construction Life & Art.

Good thing I'm not relying on my writing to pay the mortgage, huh? Still, it was a lovely surprise to get the news that I'd won. The prompt was "apples," and I dusted off two old Eden poems for my entry. You can read the poems, and see the other entries, here.

And if you're a creative individual, especially a mom with a creative bent, definitely take the time to poke around the blog and consider entering the weekly contest. It's free, the prompts are fun, and the community is wonderful!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Round and Around

Lately BB has been a little loopy, in the best senses of the word: silly, inclined to go in circles, likely to get caught in a loop -- a verbal loop, ambulatory loop, or the literal loop of a necklace, any will do. She delights in running around and around (and around and around.... where DOES she get all that ENERGY!?!) and she'll sing the same songs and say the same phrases, over and over.

It's such fun to see!

Today she was working hard on reciting the alphabet. Over and over, round and around. She obviously has a way to go before she's got it right (and yes, she does meander into a partial recitation of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!) but it's not too shabby for a 20 month old! Here's Act I:




video

Followed by Act II, a few moments later, when she added in some choreography. And, heaven help us, discovered how to open a closed door:

video

This evening, after dinner, she really got to rockin' out, round and around. Watch for her attempt to run in circles, on her tippy-toes, while shaking her head back and forth.

video

As you may have noticed, BB has a particular spot in the kitchen for her preferred dancing "stage" -- I wouldn't be at all surprised to look down someday soon and see a circle worn into the linoleum from all her running around... and around. And Around! This little loopy girl of mine just loves to move!!

Just Hanging Out, Watching Blues Clues...

Love those snuggly moments!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Yet Another Memorable Car Conversation

Today in the car, as we pulled into the driveway, BJ made the following proclamation. (And yes, given the gravity with which he made the statement, proclamation is the appropriate word to use.)

"Only I get to have an erection."

Now where the hell did he hear about erections??? I thought, taken utterly aback. "What did you just say?" I asked him, trying to sound neutral.

He repeated his statement with complete clarity. Of course my mommy mind had revved up into overdrive even as I was putting the minivan into park: Somebody at preschool has been talking with him about the birds and the bees. Or he's seen something completely inappropriate on the television, though I have no idea when that would have happened since we almost never watch TV. Or God, what if it's worse than that, he's been molested? Or calm down -- calm down! Maybe S has had a conversation with him but didn't tell me about it....

I took a deep breath. "Who told you about that, honey?"

"You did, Mommy."

I did? I did??? At this point I'm just about convinced that I must have had a sharp blow to the head, inducing selective amnesia, because I know I would have remembered talking in such explicit terms with him.

When he repeated himself for the third time, I burst out laughing, realizing what he was actually saying:

"Only I get to have an ELECTION."

He was talking about the yard sign I'd put up this morning, the "Equality for All" sign imploring folks to vote NO on Proposition 8 (the one that attempts to take away the right of gays to marry). When he'd seen the sign, it had prompted a fairly involved discussion -- involved for a 3-year-old, at any rate.
No, I didn't get into the specifics of the proposition, I just talked a bit more with him about what an election is. (He's already noticed all the OBAMA signs and asked about them, so it's not like this came out of nowhere. I wish our sign would get here, BTW!) We also talked about how elections can make rules that we all have to live by, and how we believe it's important that everybody plays by the same rules, how it isn't right when things aren't fair.

After all, Playing By The Rules and the importance of Things Being Fair are parameters that a preschooler can understand. (Never mind the fact that he was trying to appropriate the entire political process to his own selfish preschooler's ends. He's really into this "Only I get to..." thing these days, and this is just one more example. As in "Only I get to like the color red!")

Anyway, we'll worry about the intricacies of gender identity and sexual preference at some point in the future. Probably at about the same time that the word "erection" does, in fact, enter his vocabulary.

Much as I love talking with my kids, much as I am dedicated to always being open and honest with them, I confess that I don't mind waiting quite a bit longer before those complicated, important conversations take place. Right now I'm just fine with talking politics on a level a preschooler can understand.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Caramel Apples

What a wonderful, sticky-sweet way to end the afternoon: hanging out with Tia M and making caramel apples! Turns out neither one of the kids actually wanted the ones that they made, so it was up to the adults to gobble everything up. (Not that we minded so much!)



It had been a long time since I made caramel apples, and the last time I did it from scratch. This time, we used a kit that S had purchased on a whim. It's dangerous to realize just how easy it is to make them this way -- pop the tub of gooey goodness in the microwave, shove some sticks in the chilled apples, and dip away. Mmmmmmm.......