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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

And a very happy Samhain as well!

Hope yours was not too spooky and full of sweetness. Ours was very nice -- such fun to have my parents here for the holiday this year. Today we carved pumpkins, toasted pumpkin seeds, and did our trick-or-treating.

BB was adorable as Cinderella, and BJ had a great time telling everybody, "I'm the little girl from Unpack Your Adjectives!" I was glad that he seemed unfazed by the confused looks he received. And big kudos to our one neighbor R, who replied to BJ's announcement by singing: "He was a hairy bear! He was a scary bear!" I even dressed up for the occasion, putting on my ren faire costume. Good times!

All the good pics are on my dad's camera, so I'll update soon with those. Including ones from yesterday at the Halloween parade at BJ's preschool. So look for lots of cuteness in the near future! (You have been warned!)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Feature -- Handwerks

This week's featured Etsy artist at Mama's Magic Studio is Handwerks. Her yarns are absolutely gorgeous! It's hard to pick a favorite from her shop, but this one especially caught my eye -- Superwash Merino Sock Yarn in yummy blues and purples.


Reminds me of a beautiful summer sunset over the ocean. Soooo pretty!




Handwerks is also a fellow member of the SFEtsy and CCCOE teams. Enjoy the interview!




1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?


I specialize in artisan yarns. I use high quality base yarns that I have knit tested and dye them in unique colorways inspired by the California landscape. I use professional grade dyes and am careful about both the environment and my finished products. I have been a knitter for 40+ years and a dyer for 20 years. I love the creative process and I also spin, weave and knit on antique circular sock machines. From time to time I have socks and sock scarves for sale on etsy. I am also happy to knit socks from any of my hand dyed sock yarns for custom orders depending on demand.

2. How did you get involved with Etsy?

I started an etsy shop just a few months ago after a friend suggested it. My etsy site compliments my main website and allows me to offer limited edition one of a kind items.

3. What inspires your creations?

I draw on my training in the sciences and teaching to observe the colors and details around me and transfer those to my arts. I love looking at the way the land changes over the course of the year, each season has a unique quality. We live in a very special part of the country that offers a lot of variety. I love the Lake Tahoe area but I also find a great deal of inspiration along the coast and in the sea life.

4. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

The two biggest challenges related to my etsy shop are 1-marketing/getting the word out and 2- learning all about all the inner workings of the etsy venue.

5. What is your favorite item inyour shop? Why is it your favorite?

I love my yarn! This is going to sound narcissistic but sometimes I like a yarn so much I don't want to sell it! I am currently in love with this yarn in my shop.

6. What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?

I guess I would advise others to give etsy a try and tell all their friends, relatives, and co workers about it! Pass the word>

7.Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

Hmmmmmmm - other interesting things about me- I wrote a small booklet about how to knit on antique circular sock machines. It is listed for sale on ebay (horrors - is that like Treason??I started selling it there before I had an etsy shop!) I also love to hike and often take photographs of things that I want to use for color inspiration later. I spend some time every year in the hiking in the Sierras.

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

I have a website at
http://handwerkstextiles.com

I recently started a blog
http://handwerkstextiles.wordpress.com/

I'm on Ravelry as
Handwerks

I'm also on Facebook as "Handwerks" but I very rarely say anything there. My kids on are Facebook so I try not to lurk there too much!

The only other thing I'd like to say is that "Handwerks" is my business name and that is what I have registered as a home-based business. However, later when I started my online site, my domain name ended up being Handwerkstextiles because that is what was available! If I had to do this all over again I would have had a crystal ball and checked domain names before registering my buisness! I didn't know initially I would set up shop online. I hope that is not too confusing to everyone!







Thursday, October 29, 2009

Frustrating First

The last few days have been a bit of a doozy:

  • Monday evening, right in the middle of fixing dinner, I discovered the oven wasn't working
  • much of Tuesday was spent repairing the stove, replacing the ignitor coil
  • Wednesday, we had to cancel our outing to the CA Academy of Sciences, because on our way up 280 the dash and interior lights on the minivan started flickering and pulsing, accompanied by a flash of the MAINTENANCE REQUIRED light on the dashboard.

So by yesterday afternoon, I was really feeling like I wanted a do-over on the week!

Instead of spending the day at the museum yesterday, we spent an hour at a car repair shop (oh such fun with a 2 year old and a 4 year old in the smallest waiting room I've ever seen) and after being told it is "probably" the battery (better than the alternator, which we'd feared) we came back home to start the saga of getting the battery replaced. Wouldn't think it would have to be a saga, but apparently Costco (the first place we thought of to get a new one) no longer sells this kind of battery (since when was a Honda Odyssey minivan an unusual kind of car?) so then it was a bunch of calling around to figure out the next-best option. Today we hope to get it replaced.

I tried to spin the change in plans into something positive by telling the kids we could go home and make candied apples, a project they've been looking forward to very much. But we burned the sugar syrup -- and didn't realize it until we'd coated all 10 apples. So they were all ruined.



Thank goodness my folks are in town to help deal with the difficult stuff! And it all could have been worse, of course -- the stove could have died in the middle of making Thanksgiving Dinner. We could have been stranded by the side of the highway or up in San Francisco with a car that had gone kaput.

My dad, as usual, has been especially helpful in dealing with this kind of stuff. Thanks to him, we were able to fix the stove ourselves, instead of calling in a repair person. We worked together on it for most of Tuesday morning, and I even did more than hold the flashlight! A nice sense of accomplishment for a task that we certainly wouldn't have undertaken ourselves without his knowhow, though of course we could have done without the hassle and would have preferred the dang thing not to break in the first place. He's also been great about calling around for a good deal on the battery. Thanks so much, Dad!

In the midst of all this, we've been getting together the last few details on Halloween costumes. In an unconscious bid for the Most Random Preschooler Halloween Costume Award, BJ has stood by his decision to be "The Little Girl from Unpack Your Adjectives" so we've been filling his backpack with the appropriate vocabulary. And I have to say that the ear worm of the opening of the song has been particularly appropriate for the last few days:

"I unpacked frustrating first...."

So as great as it is to see my mom and dad (as always) and as helpful as it has been to have them here, I feel badly that my parents' visit has started on such a frustrating note. Here's hoping that today is better! Today we need a different theme song, methinks. Something a little more upbeat. Suggestions?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

On Saturday, we made our visit to a little pumpkin patch, sponsored by a local school. The kids were very quick about their pumpkin choices. It took more time to take a few pictures than it did for them to decide which ones they wanted!

Yes, BB is kissing her pumpkin. BJ is about to do the same. Naturally.

After picking out our pumpkins, we strolled through the Haunted Trail, which was populated with all sorts of skeletons, vampires, and other ghoulish creatures..
Not so spooky in broad daylight, but apparently they also do flashlight walks. No way were we ready for that this year. Maybe some other time.

Last year, neither BB nor BJ had wanted anything to do with anything other than pumpkins, so it was bittersweet to be doing the more spooky things with them in any shape at all. The kids are definitely growing up. My favorite part of the trail was this not-so-subtle social commentary:
Yes, those are skeleton models on the runway. Clever, huh?

BJ liked the spooky stuff so much that he wanted to go back a second time through everything. BB and I hung out on the hay bales for a bit instead.
But then she decided she wanted to join them after all. She's fickle like that a fair amount of the time these days.

When we got home, the kids did some drawing and collage for a while. I was working on dinner, so I wasn't really watching what was going on. Come to find out that BB was intently creating "decorations" for the pumpkins by tearing and cutting construction paper and gluing it on the pumpkins.
She was particularly proud of the one on the right -- which, admittedly, has a fairly accurate mouth, eye, and eyebrow. So he's a cyclops! Suitably Halloween-ey, don't you think?

Just don't ask me what's going on with the anatomy of the one on the right....

BJ was particularly concerned that we pick out a pumpkin for my folks, who arrived for a 2 week visit this afternoon. It's so good to have them here!

Palo Alto Junior Museum


Last week, as I mentioned, we visited the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo with some very good friends. I hadn't been there in almost three years (since before BB was born) so it was an especially nice visit. For a "free" little museum (they suggest a $3 donation per person) it's got a lot going on. BB and BJ especially liked the log climbing maze at the entrance.

Also popular were all the interactive "Kid Power" machines that used tennis balls in various ways. Though getting enough tennis balls to the right place proved to be challenging at times.

BJ and his friend E enjoyed trying to figure out the solar power exhibit, even if it did involve taking turns with the nifty switches.
BJ was determined to make a go at using the bicycle to "power" the city in the green energy display -- even though the bike was sized for an adult, not a little kid.


I'm not sure how much the kids absorbed the overall eco-friendly message of the museum -- but they sure liked running around from station to station, seeing what things would do!

The Zoo part of the outing was less impressive, though the kids still had fun checking out the animals.
After the museum, we went over to the neighboring park for a picnic and for some play time. Thanks, A & E & T, for a fun morning!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Better Covered In Chocolate? Maybe Not.

I like me a good dark chocolate something-or-other as much as the next gal, though I am far from a chocaholic (case in point: I really don't care for chocolate cake). And I'm aware that a sizeable segment of the population seems to believe that almost anything is bettter coated in chocolate (case in point: chocolate covered BACON). I remain unconvinced.

One thing I think most folks can agree upon: chocolate and ear wax should not mix.

I found that out firsthand today, when BJ crammed a miniature chocolate chip in his ear.

Don't ask why. I have no idea why. I wouldn't have know about it at all (at least until the ants started invading his ear) except for the following exchange after lunch:

Me (on the phone with my mom): "BJ, what are you doing to your ear?"
BJ (scrambling up from the floor with a guilty expression): "What?"
Me (peering into BJ's ear): "Hang on Mom. Oh no. You know those little circles of paper from a hole puncher? Your grandson found one on the floor and decided to put one in his ear. No, I can't get it with my fingers. I'll need to call you back."

We proceed to the bathroom, where I get out the tweezers.

BJ: "Not the tweezers! They are going to hurt!"
Me: "No they won't. What on earth possessed you to put paper in your ear?!? Now hold still. Okay. Got it. Gross! It's brown! This piece of paper was white but now it's brown! We really need to clean out your ears, kiddo."
BJ: "No, Mommy. That's from the chocolate chip."
Me (avoiding the urge to use four-lettered words): "What chocolate chip?"
BJ: "The one I found on the floor."
Me: "You put it in your ear."
BJ: "Yeah."

And sure enough, that was melted chocolate on the little circle of paper. (No, I didn't taste it. But I could smell it.) The only chocolate chips that have been around recently are the ones from the chocolate chip granola bars that BJ especially likes. I'm sure that's where it came from.

I couldn't see the chocolate chip itself, and I was afraid to dig around in there and push it farther in. So I called the Kaiser nurse line. (God bless the Kaiser nurse line.) They set us up with an afternoon appointment and were even kind enough to schedule it so that BB could finish her nap before we headed over there. Say what you will about Kaiser, but it has usually worked really well for us.

By the time we made it to the 3:00 appointment, the chocolate must have melted entirely, because the doctor said the ear canal was clear. But she could see the chocolate mixed up with earwax all around, so she scraped a bit to get all of that gunk out. Wasn't as bad as I'd expected. I think the little circle of paper actually got a fair amount of it out. But she said that it was good we'd brought it in. Wouldn't have wanted to just leave it all sticky and gross, and water alone wouldn't have washed all of it out from inside the ear canal.

Perhaps it was a good thing that we had somebody check his ears, because she said the fluid was starting to build up again. We don't want things to get as bad as they did last year, when his hearing was impacted, so it's that time of the year, time to start up the full course of allergy medications once more.

In other healthcare news, I went ahead while we were at the hospital this afternoon and got the kids their flu shots. After much wavering on my part, I decided to get both the seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 flu vaccine. The final convincing factor was this very good commentary from the New Yorker. The kids got the flu mist vaccine for H1N1 and injection for the seasonal flu. Now S and I just need to get our flu shots. I know there's a lot of unease out there about the swine flu and the accompanying vaccine. But I decided that for my family, this is the right thing to do. I have enough of the ex-biotechnology major left in me to trust science. Knock wood.

I owe updates from the rest of the week -- we had a lovely trip to the Palo Alto Junior Museum and have generally been having fun with the day-to-day stuff. But it's been a draining day. 2 1/2 hours at the hospital by the time it was all said and done, waiting for BJ's appointment, getting his ears cleaned, then waiting at the vaccine clinic, then dealing with two crying kids (they were not especially brave about shots this time around, especially BJ). So I'm pretty tapped out. Too tired to do more than just this post tonight -- sorry!

If I was a drinkin' kind of gal, I'd ask S to pour me a drink. As it is, I'm going to get these kids to bed (I'm writing this as they are in the bath) and steep a nice cuppa tea and get out my knitting. I'm working on a scarf -- for myself! -- and nearing the finish with it.

Friday Feature -- Eristotle Intelligent Home Accessories

This week's featured Etsy artist at Mama's Magic Studio is a fellow SFEtsy team member: Eristotle - Intelligent Home Accessories. I love her whole shop, especially these charming little pincushions!

Isn't it adorable? And her description is almost as good: "Sweet cupcake pin cushion in heart-shaped silicone baking cup. Thrifted paisley print in greens, white, gold and pink stuffed with new poly fiber. White button "cherry" on top came from my great aunt's variety shop and has two tiny hearts on it as well. I think that's my favorite part. So cute, you almost want to eat it! Though you probably shouldn't, it wouldn't taste very good."

Her Tiny Pockets are wonderful, too. I especially like this turquoise one:

Enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

All items in my shop are handmade by me - mostly sewn - using vintage, upcycled, thrifted or eco-friendly materials whenever possible. When you look in my shop you might notice a mixture of things. I have been exploring different ways to express my creativity while also making sure to keep my wares enticing. Lately I've been making lots of fun and funky pillows using slightly unexpected materials. I love the juxtaposition of different fabrics together in one design, such as burlap combined with calico.

My newest pillows are made from vintage feed sack fabrics or thrifted fabrics, with a silhouette applique on the front. Silhouettes are hand-cut from felted wool sweaters found at thrift shops. The soft bird cut-outs are then machine appliqued for sturdiness.

I started sewing when I was pretty young, 6 or 7 maybe. My grandma taught me on her sewing machine, which is the one I now use in my own studio. I remember when I first learned, I couldn't sew round shapes. Straight lines only. My grandma tells me a story that I was making a monogrammed tea towel for my dad (whose name is Tim) for Father's Day, and apparently I told her, "Good thing his name isn't Jim!!"

My creative process is a pretty organic thing, I think. A lot of times, I'll be somewhere completely random and I see something I like. I usually sketch it out in my idea notebook, and then it morphs and changes a few times as its made. Meandering around on the internet ends up inspiring ideas as well. So far, I feel like I have WAY more ideas than time, so really the process of making the newest thing in my head is just a matter of thumbing through my idea book.

2. How did you get involved with Etsy?
A friend of mine told me about it a few years ago and the addiction has slowly grown from there. :) I lost my job as a CAD tech and Designer at an Interiors and Architectural firm in February, so after a few months of wondering where to go next, and looking for a new job unsuccessfully, I decided Etsy was my next big adventure.

3. What inspires your creations?
Nature, and my love of color and texture. These translate into a borderline addiction to fabrics and linens. Oh, I could play with fabric all day. I'm also inspired by old fashioned ways of doing things. The 50's 60's and 70's are really big right now, so looking at Vogue and midcentury furniture and collections books is great material for designs.

4. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?
Time management. Hands down. And that is my biggest challenge in LIFE, so it stands to reason it would translate to my business. Its a learning process, and I just try to be forgiving with myself, and try again the next day.

5. What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?

I love the pair of Midnight Dreary Raven pillows. Mostly because I have a recent facination with ravens. I see crows all the time, but I was never sure of the difference between a raven and a crow. I could have looked it up, I suppose, but it was just a passing interest. Then, the other day, I was sitting in my kitchen, and I hear this funny clicking noise. I slowly peeked out the back sliding glass door, and there in the big pine tree in my backyard were these two HUGE Ravens, sitting in the tree, picking pine cones clean. They don't look like crows, they're bigger and kind of scruffier, with these huge gothic-looking beaks. They've just got this cool, stoic, intelligent presence that was so cool to get to witness.

6. What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?
Its been interesting to go from just a buyer to being a seller. I've learned so much as a seller that has made me a better buyer. I've also become a much more *frequent* Etsy buyer - which is probably just a product of my being on the site so much.

Buying:
1. Communication communication communication! I'd say 99.9% of all the sellers I've come across so far have been SO nice and so accomodating. They are the small guy, just trying to get their little piece to pay the bills, and really just want to know what you, their buyer, want, need or think.
2. Before you buy, read the seller's Shop Policies! Every shop's are a little different, and it makes the process go much smoother if you're on the same page as the seller.
3. Then after your purchase, if you enjoy your experience with the Buyer, when you are done, leave them feedback. As a seller, it's so nice to know your buyer thought you did a good job.

Seller: I'm not sure I can add much to this that hasn't already been said. Be as responsive to convos and communications as possible, send friendly notes to your fellow sellers whom you admire, and try to have fun out there!

7. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

-My favorite type of ice cream varies with my mood; sometimes its rainbow sherbet, and sometimes I just need that uber chunky chocolate gooey yummy-ness of "Phish Phood."

-I've started playing disc golfing with my boyfriend. The way we play, its nothing like golf. It's more like a walking frisbee park toss, with beer.

- I LOVE embroidered antique linens, and love to shop for them, the more whimsical the better. I got to the Alameda Antique show and I'm like a kid in a candy store. So many boxes to rummage through, so little time!!

- I'm on the Handmade Ho-Down craft fair committee in coordination with my street team, SF Bay Area Etsy. We just recieved a grant from Etsy, so are officially being sponsored in part by them. It's going to be a 21+ event, held at 1015 Folsom in San Francisco, on December 3, 2009 from 6pm - 12am.

(Note from Jen: I'd really hoped to be a vendor with Mama's Magic Studio at this event, but I'd turn into more than just a pumpkin if I had to be out past midnight on a Thursday night only to get up at 6 am with the kids next day! For more info about this awesome event, check out their website:
http://www.handmadehodown.com/
or blog:
http://www.handmadehodown.blogspot.com/)

8. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?
You can find me on Twitter:
www.twitter.com/eristotledesign

9. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your shop or your work?

My shop name is from the very first "handle" I had when people first started going on the internet, mainstream. This was when people still called it a "handle" because there were lots of people doing BBS. I had an AOL dial-up account, and I fancied myself a philosopher of sorts (mind you, I was like 17, ha.). While I have a great respect for Philosophy, it was never my major or anythiing of that nature. At the time, I mostly just liked his name and what it may have respresented. People were always trying to spell my name with an "A" - the boy way! So I'd have to say, "Erin with an E". So I came up with Eristotle, with an E. I'm still kind of proud of it to this day, so I thought a shop with the same name would be fun.

Monday, October 19, 2009

So Proud. So Big!

I'm incredibly proud of the kids today. If I could, I would decant this feeling and keep it in a crystal bottle labeled MY KIDS ARE AWESOME. It would be nice to have something like that in storage so I could uncork it when they are being less than wonderful!

The source of all this: a visit to the dentist this morning. BB's first visit. BJ's an old hand by now -- I think this is his fourth visit? -- and both kids amazed me. Not only was BJ totally fine with going back with the hygienist all by himself so that he could get his first set of x-rays, but he was also a perfect role-model for his sister, showing her exactly how to be calm and cooperative. We came back to his room after his x-rays were done so that BB could see him with all the big equipment and get a sense of what it was all about, and he was laid back in the chair saying "ah" as cool as could be.

The original plan had been to take care of BJ's appointment and then do BB's, but it turned out that they could take BB early, before BJ was finished. (In fact, it was only about 10 minutes into his appointment.) I asked BJ if he'd be OK if I left to go to the room next door to be with BB, and he was totally fine with it. He finished up his cleaning and check-up, came in to BB's exam room to inform me that he had A New Toothbrush! And then read quietly by himself in the kids' waiting area while I finished up with BB.

Meanwhile, BB was being her own brave and wonderful self, telling the hygienist that her scrubs were "My Favorite Color!" (This is a big deal for BB right now -- she's apt to burst into such announcements whenever she sees any shade of pink.) She opened up, got her teeth cleaned, submitted to the exam without protest, and was just generally cooperative and sweet.

Both the hygienists and the dentist said to me as we were leaving, "The kids were great! They were better than some adults we see!"

No cavities, either! All 20 teeth for each of them are looking very good. Not a smidge of trouble in any way.

No wonder, then, that I'm feeling so proud of them tonight. And feeling very aware of how big they are both getting. No babies in this house any more! All day, they've been telling me things like: "Mommy! They put water in my mouth! And then a little vacuum! And water!" It's quite endearing. It's clear they are proud of themselves, too. They know they did good.

While I'd hoped that things would go well today -- BJ has always been good at the dentist -- I was certainly nervous as I walked in to the office with both of them. I'd contemplated doing separate appointments or trying to schedule things such that S could join us, because I knew that if things went badly, they could get really bad. But I decided to chance it (obviously) and (obviously) it paid off.

I tell ya, these kids of mine are so big! And so wonderful.

Be sure to remind me of this when I'm grousing about the inevitable frustrations that will follow, soon enough I'm sure!

Playing Dress-up

BB is really enjoying the dress-up clothes recently, and not just because Halloween is on its way. Such fun to see the outfits she puts together! She recently discovered this pinafore in the bottom drawer of her armoire and it has become a favorite. Too bad the weather is turning a bit cold for summer wear! But last week, on the day of this pic, it was unseasonably warm and muggy (hence the fan in the background and the open door).
It's a dress that my mom made for me when I was a little older than BB is now --which makes it more than 30 years old! BB loves it because she knows her Giki made it, because it is very soft and comfortable, because it has pockets, and because it is her Favorite Color.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dry Nights!

(Warning to those folks who don't want to read potty-training posts -- skip this one!)

Last night BB INSISTED that she wanted to go to bed wearing only a shirt. No diaper! Not even pants or undies! She's been waking up dry pretty consistently, so in spite of some hesitations, we decided to let her.

She woke up dry!

I'd venture to say that our diaper-free days are very close at hand, except she pitched what my mother would refer to as a Wooly Booger Fit today, because she WANTED TO WEAR A DIAPER! Methinks the girl is a bit conflicted. One moment she loves her panties, the next she refuses them. But she's consistently doing all her business on the potty and is very pleased to be doing so.

In spite of the minor frustrations of her being fickle, I'm very proud of her!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

On Dreams, Ghosts, and People Heaven

Tonight, getting ready for bed, the kids and I started discussing dreams. We debated whether dreams are about one thing or many things. I said it could be either. BB piped up, "I dream about a lot of things."

"Like what do you dream about?" I asked.

Her reply: "I dream about bicycles, acorns, and sometimes bears."

BJ wanted to know if it was real bears. After some deliberation, it was decided that they were real teddy bears.

***

Last week, in the midst of our ongoing Halloween preparations, BJ announced that he knew what ghosts were. Of course I asked what that might be. He informed me, "Ghosts are little scraps of dead people. Without any legs." So now you know.

***

BJ has been wondering about heaven -- People Heaven, as distinct from Cat Heaven or Dog Heaven, which he knows all about as a result of Cynthia Rylant's books. The other night, he told me that in People Heaven, God makes beds out of clouds. And blankets out of clouds. But there are no pillows in People Heaven. Because God makes the beds comfy enough with the clouds and blankets. They say that God is in the details, but I confess I hadn't expected those details to include specifics about bed linens in the afterlife.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Life in Pictures

As anybody with a digital camera knows, it's a blessing and a curse -- so many pictures, so little time! Managing them all soon becomes overwhelming. And, admittedly, the blogging habit feeds the monster substantially.

But I wouldn't trade it. Thanks to the many pics, and the many posts, I'm more likely to remember many of the wonderful, humdrum moments of life with little kids. And I like to think that, someday, all these pictures will be something the kids will cherish. I know that (for all the griping we did about it at the time) I'm enormously grateful to my dad for all the pictures we have from us growing up. One only hopes that familiarity -- and plenitude -- won't dull the shine of such treasure.

It's well past time to do another round of backing up and printing out. Yes, we are old-school enough to order actual prints of a fair number of the photos. We have several albums full from the kids' early years, and both of them (though especially BB right now) enjoy looking through them.

Here's one of my favorites from the last few weeks: the kids quietly painting together at the dining room table.
Another cute moment: BB as she went about "fixing" her ladybug last week. It's a ride-on toy (she calls it her "zoomer") and a few weeks ago she rather overdid it in terms of spinning it about and about. "It's broken, Mommy!" she declared. It seemed to be rolling around just fine, so I asked her why it was broken. "It makes me too dizzy!"

So she did what anybody with engineering blood in her veins would do (Pop-pop would be proud!) and got out her hammer and started whacking at it.
When that didn't work, she decided to start piling up legos on the toy, placing them strategically according to a methodology that I could not fathom.
"No, Mommy!" she said when I tried to help. "That one goes here." Well, okay then. Clearly I needed to leave it to my daughter the expert.

So what else have we been up to lately? Well, according to the camera, BJ has been busy with his numbers and letters. Adding by fives is quite popular:

He loves being able to write and has been learning the months of the year:
He even put in little symbols next to each month to give an idea of the weather. Snowflakes for winter, flowers for spring, suns for summer, colorful leaves for fall.

We had a very nice memorable moment with the cat, sweet Socks kitty. He has been SO much happier since I relented and decided to start letting him outside again.

He was an outdoor neighborhood cat before we adopted him years ago and took him indoors. Since our other cat is strictly inside only, I wanted to keep them both inside. But as the tumor in his knee has grown and he has developed more and more of a limp, he's had more and more trouble using the cat box. And he so loves becoming a cat puddle in the sun! Our front yard is one of his favorite places. When we came home from errands the other day, he was waiting for us on the front porch and feeling especially friendly, so I grabbed the camera.
We have put up some of our Halloween decorations, as you can see!

Still need to get pumpkins, though. Perhaps this weekend. And of course there will be pictures of said pumpkins when they have been picked. Along with pictures at the pumpkin patch, naturally!

Friday Feature -- Raghouse International

This week's featured Etsy artist is the fabulous Ren from Raghouse International. She is a fellow member of the CCCOE team (California Crafters Club of Etsy) and her vivacity and enthusiasm add much to the team. Her shop is full of unique crocheted and knitted items. Plus, she's currently running a free shipping special on orders over $40!


As always, it was fun to explore a new Etsy shop and learn more about a fellow Etsy seller. Folks who know me and my love for all things purple won't be surprised that I was especially taken by this lovely violet crocheted poncho:

Enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

I am a fiber fashions couture designer and specialist in wooden jewelry. I was taught crochet at the young age of 8 by my grandmother and I taught myself knitting about 3 years ago. I never thought I would dip in the area of jewelry making until I was inspired by so many artist on etsy. Then I had a friend that gave me load of beads and pearls, stones, and more, so I decided to experiment. My etsy shop for the most part is filled with original fiber creations as I've never worked with patterns. I know the basics of how to read them, but I like to challenge my mind through envisioning and then making that item come to life by figuring it out. I make crocheted sports caps for men and women, tams, scarves, knitted dresses and tops, as well as accessories.




2. How did you get involved with Etsy?

Interesting story is that I actually ran across a group on myspace years ago, a crochet group, and there happened to be post about a site named Etsy. I visited at the time, but the site was very, very different and I was not interested at the time. I believe this was in 2005 when Etsy was very new. So I just forgot aboutEtsy, until summer of 2007 when I was vending in Upland at the Farmer's Market. There were a few buyers and spectators that kept telling me about Etsy. So finally looked it up and I just fell in love with the site. I love the fact that is streamlined so well and the colors really captured me. This was a very different Etsy by this time. So I took about a month to explore and finally signed up in December 2007. My world has been changed ever since.



3. What inspires your creations?

So many things really. Life, love, beauty, color, the yarn itself, the texture of it, the feel. Vision, newness, and trying to create things that may have never been done before is very inspiring. Definitely great artisans, especially the Etsy shops in Australia, Finland, and in some of the European countries.



4. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

For the longest, I would say time management. It's almost two years now that I've been online and I feel like I am just now getting a good handle on my time and the best way for me to operate my shop and still get to my domestic duties. And still have a life!



5. What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?

I so want to say the Body Knits.

But I will have to go with the wooden bracelets. I've sold so many and it's just about time to make more. I don't know what it is about wood, but it is one of my greatest passions, the fact that is is natural and from the earth and can me carved into so many things. That is wonderfully, amazing to me.



6. What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?

First and foremost, you have to believe in yourself, which is a process in and of itself. It is not to say that you will never be discouraged, but knowledge is power and you have to research, research, research,. I put these words in the place of promote, promote, promote, because you won't know how to promote until you research. R&D is never ending. Have confidence you in work and in yourself. There will be a lot of negativity as well, but you have to keep forward moving and bypass anything or anyone that will try to break you down. Don't listen to anyone that says you can't make money in crafting. People are doing all over TV and the web everyday. It is up to you how far you want to go. Be excellent at what you do. Practice perfection. Anyone can tell when something was made in haste or when love and care was put into it. Have integrity. It is because of my integrity that I have to make sure that something is in good order when I make it. I can feel when I need to put a piece of yarn in place or tack something down, or make something over. And then never, never give up. Keep going, never stop, because climbing is never easy. It is hard work and you have to be up for the challenge!



7. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

Well I am a songwriter and singer. I actually sang songs before I did anything in this life, but somehow I turned out to have many talents I never expected to have. I've worked professionally as a hairstylist and makeup artist and photographer. I spent the first years of my life dancing all through school and in college. I miss dancing a lot and will get back into it before I get too far up in age. I love to read sci-fi, write sci-fi, and watch sci-fi! LOST is my favorite show!! I love Youtube. I can't get enough of it. I am obsessed with Michael Jackson's kids!! I love Blanket and will name my kid that one day. I love LOVE, riding the bus all over the city, dreaming, eating chocolate anything and I could go on if I don't stop now...



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

I have a wonderful blog that I truly love.

http://artfulchatterbyrenaissance.blogspot.com/

I am also on myspace:

myspace.com/raghouse

myspace.com/rensphotos

myspace.com/rag2ren

myspace.com/renaissanceandroyalty



9. Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your shop or your work?

It is truly a passion and that is why I do it. It's all hard work, but I can't get a way from it. I am truly humbled and honored and appreciative to everyone that have shown me so much love through what I do. To all the people that I met because of Etsy I am sending out my thanks and blessings!


Yea Verily, Merrie We Were

I'm glad to say that I seem (knock wood) to be over the worst of this cold -- feeling well enough to do some catch up here at Mama's Magic. So here's the much-overdue post about last Sunday's second family visit to the Renaissance Faire over at Casa de Fruta.

Last year's visit was fun, and this year's was even better. It seems we have a nice little family tradition developing! Once again, this was a trip prompted by S's secondary job on campus as faculty director for one of the dormitories. He organizes various field trips and events, and this Ren Faire trip has been quite popular with the students. So popular this time that he had to rent a passenger van in order to get everybody there! Which meant I had to drive up separately with BJ and BB. Not my first choice, but it worked out much better than I'd feared it would.

This year, we brought the wagon -- which proved to be a very good idea. As BB's naptime approached and passed, she spent more and more time curled up in the wagon, dozy but not sleeping. And more or less pleasant! She was really a trouper; she usually naps right after lunch, about 12:30, and we stayed until 3:30!
I had to drive home solo with the kids and do dinner and bedtime all by myself, since S had to stay later to get the students taken care of -- but even so, it was worth it.

I'm not sure how much BB remembered from last year, but BJ clearly recalled our previous visit and had notions about what he wanted to do again. Getting hands painted was very high on the list:


BJ also clearly remembered the merry-go-round and labyrinth, which he called "The Fool's Maze."
"Which way should we go, Mommy?"

He particularly liked the dead-ends.


Ultimately, the hand painting was the only big thing that BB got excited about. She liked the idea as soon as she heard about it, and while she nixed the merry-go-round and the maze, she got great pleasure out of sitting in the wagon and gazing at the pink butterflies on her hands. "My favorite color!" (S pointed out that she also really liked listening to the live music.)
As usual, it was great fun to see all the folks in costume.
And this year, S and I both splurged (big time splurged) on costume elements that each of us have wanted for a very long time. I got a lovely blue bodice and he got snazzy black leather boots. So we have elaborate plans in progress for next year's visit -- perhaps even the kids will go in costume as well!

(And yes, the fact that we are both excited by this prospect is further proof that we are a good match. Ya don't stay together as long as we have for nothin' -- and while things like a love of MST3K and an appreciation for good garb are not the sole pillars of this marriage, they have added their share of stability to the foundation. We are both good geeks at heart. Whatchagonna do.)