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Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

Is it really New Year's Eve? Hardly seems possible. It's been a winter whirlwind around here, with the holidays and family in town visiting. We had a wonderful Christmas in Yosemite, complete with fresh snow falling on Christmas night. Truly magical.

Fourteen folks got together for Christmas, and we had a lot of fun together. My sister and family have come and gone, as have S's brother and family and Nana J. My parents are still in town -- huge thanks to my dad for his help getting our computer up and running again!

Between the fritzy computer and the holiday travels, I've not been online much lately. Lots to catch up on, including many many posts that I've planned and hope to get to soon. I'll be re-opening my Etsy shop and Artfire shop next week. Lots to look forward to in the New Year, even if the first part of 2011 will be playing catch up to finish up 2010.

And in the spirit of wrapping things up, here's an excerpt from our holiday letter, summing up the year for the family:

5. Jen: ETSY!
8. S: GAMES!
9. Jen: MOCFA!
10. House: SOLD!

Not a bad list, though I say it myself.

We'll be having a quiet New Year's Eve here with my folks and the kids -- karaoke, board games, pie and champagne. (Sparkling cider for the young folks, of course.) We may or may not stay up until midnight. But however it goes, it will be nice to ring in the new year with the people we love.

And then tomorrow night, S and I get a night away on our own -- the perfect way to start 2011!

Here's to the happiest of New Years!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Scientific Stuff

It's been a week full of technical difficulties (home computer on the fritz -- sigh) so while there's been lots to post about, I've not been able to get online to do it. So I'll be trying to play catch up, in between getting everything ready for the holidays and my family coming to town on Monday. Wish me luck!

Big news from the past week is that BJ did his first science project for kindergarten. Fish dissection!

The black bass that gave up its life to further my son's passion for marine biology.
Thanks, wee fishie.

You might be asking -- how did our kindergarten kid end up doing this sort of scientific stuff?

(Caution for the squeamish: this post will discuss fish guts, with accompanying pictures. You've been warned.)

When we'd met with BJ's kindergarten teacher for parent-teacher conferences, she asked us if we'd be interested in doing some enrichment activities with BJ -- of course we said yes! After all, this is the kid who tells us daily (sometimes multiple times a day): "Mom and Dad, I want to do something scientific!"

BJ and I met with his teacher A after the Thanksgiving break to talk about what sorts of scientific things BJ might want to do first. His list (in his exact words; I was taking notes):

marine biology

He would have given us more, but we decided to stop there and see what we could come up with. The kinder curriculum starts out by following letter pairs -- the kids are currently on "f" and "v" the "lip coolers" -- and A suggested that we find science activities that would correspond with the letters being worked with in class. BJ immediately latched on to the idea of F for Fish!

A talked about the scientific method with us -- Question, Hypothesis, Experiment, Results, and Conclusion -- and BJ was thoroughly engaged. He's come across these ideas before in library books that I've brought home for him (How to Think Like a Scientist, among others) and I think he was really excited to hear his teacher talking about this sort of thing. Ever since starting kindergarten, he's been wondering when the really scientific stuff would begin!

A wondered what sort of question BJ might have about a fish. BJ said, "What's inside a fish?"

And thus an experiment was born. His hypothesis: Inside a fish is organs and bone. So we needed to test this out. On a real, whole fish.

Now I have to admit that I didn't anticipate that finding a fish with guts intact might be a challenge. I'd figured I could go to our local fish market and pick one up, no problem. But all their fish arrive eviscerated. It was suggested that we go to the pet store and pick a live fish, but I couldn't bring myself to do that. The division between "pet" and "potential food" might be somewhat artificial, especially for marine life, but even so I drew the line at going to Pet Smart for a specimen. So we ended up going to the asian market, where they sell live fish, to ask the fishmonger which type of fish they'd recommend for a dissection. Thankfully, the good-natured guy behind the counter was very helpful. He suggested a black bass, since the organs would be more visible.

So we watched as the fish was netted. Dead fish swimming, I thought with a wry smile. "Do you want me to kill it?" asked the fishmonger. "Yes please," I replied. What was the alternative -- bring it home flopping around in a bag? No need to make the creature suffer. Two whacks of a mallet and it was over. BJ proudly carried his bagged fish to the cashier, paid for it with $7 that I'd given him, and asked if he could hold it in his lap the whole ride home. (I said no; it lay on the floorboard of the front passenger seat.)

When we got home, BJ could hardly wait to get going on the scientific stuff. Having procured the fish, I was perfectly fine with letting S take the lead for the dissection. (Granted, I have had my fair share of such activities from my days as a biology major -- fish, crayfish, frogs, even an opossum -- but S is no slouch about these things either, so I shared what little expertise I recalled while taking pictures. Plus, we googled "black bass fish dissection" before starting and found this hugely helpful video. The Internet is Awesome when it works like it's supposed to!)
BJ watched the video with us -- so he knew we'd be cutting along the fish's belly to start the dissection. I have to say, I'm always astonished by how thoroughly un-squeamish my kids are. Here he is examining one of the fish's gills which S had removed.
In addition to the gills, we found and identified the heart, stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys, egg sacs, and air bladder. BJ was especially fascinated by the air bladder -- we could still see the air contained inside like a balloon. Here's BJ examining it.

BB was really interested, too. She's seeing what the liver feels like.

BJ was thrilled to have so visibly proven part of his hypothesis. Are there organs inside a fish? You betcha! But the bones were harder to find in all the muscle tissue. So after we had cut everything up, I put the remains in a pot of boiling water to try to isolate the spine. Here's the result, which satisfied BJ enormously:
I confess that if I were a more confident cook where fish are concerned, and if S had better butchering skills, I would have considered cooking the fish for dinner. But I'd decided early on that I was going to take a pass on that one and toss the fish remains when we were done with the experiment. (Besides, it was a little fish, so it's not like we would have made an entire meal out of it anyway. And I know that's rationalizing the waste a bit, but I'm OK with that.)

With a little help from us, BJ recorded everything in his Scientific Journal. Then we put together a poster, including some of the pictures we had taken and the following information (which was in BJ's words):
Question: What is inside a fish?
Hypothesis: Organs and bone
Experiment: Fish dissection!
Results: I saw organs and bone.
Conclusion: My hypothesis was correct!

And he drew two thumbs up next to the conclusion, orange marker scribbles that make me smile as I think about them.

When we met, A had asked BJ if he would be interested in sharing his experiments with the class, and he immediately said, "Yes!" Words can't fully capture how thrilled he was about all of this. When we left the meeting with A, I asked BJ how he thought it went. He replied: "It was really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really FUN!" With probably a few more "really's" in there for good measure.

So on Thursday, BJ brought in his poster and a baggie containing the fish spine and did a little presentation for his class. S was working in the classroom that morning, and he said that BJ did a fine job of it -- and his classmates were riveted. Several of the other kids had questions, and afterwards many (especially some very sweet girls in the class) came up to him and said they really enjoyed hearing about his project.

It will be interesting to see what the next project will be. BJ is making noises about V for Volcano. BJ had mentioned this when we met with A, informing her that he and his dad had just finished reading The Twenty-One Balloons for his bedtime book. Really, he would love to somehow do an experiment about Krakatoa. (He keeps asking us to look it up on Google maps so he can zoom in on the satellite view and see the volcano's crater.) A smiled hearing his enthusiasm for the book. "Yes! Krakatoa, East of Java," she said, and before she could finish, BJ said, "West of Sumatra." At which point A laughed and I did too.

Golly but I love my little scientist.

And I love his teacher too. I love how much joy she has for her work, how much she is willing to do to encourage and nurture each of the kids under her care. We are so very, very lucky to be in her class!

I had meant to get a picture of BJ's poster, but it's still in the classroom and will stay there over the Christmas holiday. (Hope the fish skeleton in its baggie is well sealed up!) A shared with us that she had been talking with one of the other teachers about BJ's presentation, and that teacher said, "Oh! He should have kept that for the science fair!" At which point, A told us, she smiled and said, "Knowing him, by the time the science fair comes around he will have LOTS of different projects to pick from, and he can choose his favorite." So stay tuned for more fun scientific stuff from our resident kindergarten kid.

Monday, December 13, 2010

To Baklava, or Not To Baklava...

Last year, for the first time since I started the Christmas-time tradition (at least 10 years ago, now!) I skipped baking my holiday baklava. BB couldn't eat it (since she wasn't yet allowed to eat nuts) BJ had announced he didn't like it, and a full batch for S and I seemed ridiculous, even if I gave away a bunch.

But this year, I'm hoping to start up the tradition again. This round of the Etsyblogger carnival asks us to write about favorite holiday recipe traditions, so naturally I thought of my baklava. I know that I made it for the first time in Arizona, maybe even before we were married. I don't really recall why I started making it -- I think it was just because I was intrigued by a recipe in my cookie cookbook. But it soon became an annual thing, even though it's a bit of a pain to work with the phyllo, but the results are worth it! And even though most directions for working with phyllo insist on keeping it covered with a moist towel, I've found that it was only really necessary to do that when we lived in arid Arizona.

Here's the recipe!


For walnut filling, combine and set aside the following:
4 cups (1 lb) finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Make the phyllo/nut base.

1 1/4 cups melted butter
1 16 oz package of phyllo dough, thawed. (Timing the thawing of the dough is critical to the success of this recipe! If it is still frozen, it will not unfold well. If it is too warm, it will be frustrating to work with. Follow package directions exactly for thawing it out!)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Brush melted butter over the bottom of a baking pan (15X10X1 inch). Carefully unfold phyllo dough. Layer about a quarter of the sheets in the pan, brushing each sheet thoroughly with melted butter. Allow phyllo to extend up the sides of the pan and overlap as needed to deal with any tears in the dough sheet if the phyllo isn't cooperating. Sprinkle about 1 1/2 cups of the walnut filling over the phyllo layer. Repeat layering buttered phyllo/nut filling 2 more times.

Make a final layer of phyllo sheets, continuing to brush each sheet with butter as you layer them. This recipe doesn't pretend to be low-cal, so don't stint! Drizzle remaining butter over top layer. Trim edges of phyllo to fit pan. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut through *all* the layers to make pieces. They can be shaped in triangles, diamonds, or squares. I find diamonds to work best.

Bake in 325 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes until lightly browned. Slightly cool in pan.

While the phyllo is baking, make the honey syrup.

Stir together in medium saucepan:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup honey (or a little more -- use the best honey you can find and/or afford! The year we brought back Greek honey from Navplio was the unbeatably best batch of baklava I ever made. Sigh.)
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 inches stick cinnamon

Bring to boil, reduce heat, then simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon. Pour honey syrup evenly over warm baklava in the pan. (I find it easier to transfer the syrup to a large, spouted pyrex mixing cup for pouring.) Cool completely and enjoy!

Another First

We had a nice weekend, full of holiday preparations and fun. On Sunday, we took the kids to see their first movie in a movie theatre. It was S's idea -- I was a little hesitant, not wanting to spend all that money not knowing for sure if the kids would sit through the film. But S and the kids really wanted to go, so I relented.

We saw Tangled, and I'm pleased to say we had a very good time. The movie was cute and clever and even beautiful at times. It was less violent/scary than I'd expected. The kids both enjoyed it (in spite of BJ needing to be persuaded to go, since it was clearly a "princess" movie). Both S and I got teared up at the end (when the lost princess is reunited with her true parents -- easy heartstring pull for parents, for sure). We also both really enjoyed the horse character, Maximilian. We chose not to view it in 3D, since it was the kids' first theater experience -- we didn't feel the need to add another layer of possible complication or distress.

I admit I couldn't help but notice that the film adds another example to the "Female Disney Villain Whose Main Fault Is Her Vanity (Especially in the Context of Old Age)" phenomenon -- see also Emperor's New Groove and Snow White, of course. The theme was especially noticeable since Rapunzel's true mother (the Queen) hardly seems to age at all (in contrast to the view we get of her greying husband at the end of the film). It ain't easy being a crone.

It also ain't easy to make a truly great animated movie. And I wouldn't call this one great. (This review from LFM has many excellent reasons why, including this spot-on quote: "What’s subtly wrong with the film is what’s wrong with so many post-Shrek kid movies. Filmmakers insist on a winking referentiality, as if fairy tales are dusty old irrelevancies that must be rescued by pop cultural in-jokes and Lettermanesque (now Stewartesque) insouciance. These Generation X artistes are aware enough to recognize clichés but not inventive enough to transcend them. In the end, the clichés appear in horn-rimmed quotation marks, but they are clichés all the same. In Tangled, every last facial expression and turn of idiom has an antecedent in some movie or TV show or music video.")

I'm not sure how well the film would hold up to multiple viewings. (And we all know how kids love to watch the same thing over and over, so such a point is an important one for children's movies in a DVD era.) But after one viewing, I give the movie two mama-thumbs-up, and i'm glad we went to see it as a family. A fun first, for sure!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Long Week

It was a challenging week, with BB home from preschool on Tuesday and Thursday and lots to get done with holiday prep and the like. One of those weeks that rush by but feel like they last forever. The good news is that she woke up this morning and announced, "Mommy! I'm ALL BETTER!" Then she asked if we could make a cake to celebrate her not being sick anymore. That's my girl!

(Yes, we did make the cake. There's a reason I keep cake mix and frosting on hand in the pantry! And turns out that Trader Joe's new yellow cake mix and chocolate frosting mix are pretty good. Then again, given how much butter each contains, it would be criminal if they weren't tasty.)

The other good news is that we made it to visit Santa!

BJ has requested an astronaut suit (including helmet, gloves, and boots) and BB has asked for a pink yo-yo and an Eric doll (as in Princess Ariel's Eric). BJ had lots of questions for Santa: "What's your wife's name? What is it like at the north pole? What are the names of your helpers?"

(Santa's answers: Goody, cold and snowy, and Tonka, Fisher, and Mattel. There's Santa humor for you.)

Now if we could just all stay healthy for a while...! That's what I would have asked Santa for, if anybody was wondering.

Friday Feature -- Babushka Designs

This week's featured team member is Babushka Designs.

As I'm sitting here in my chilly apartment, these Magenta Slippers are looking nice and cozy!
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 have a few different items in my shop. I first started out making aprons, but then I realized that I like to work on things while watching tv/movies (hey, at least I'm honest, right?), and it can get pretty difficult to watch a movie when you're trying to not sew your fingers together on accident, so I started crocheting and knitting a lot more. I've been knitting for about 5 years and crocheting for about 3. I really like making hats in fun colors and slippers (or booties) that my Boonia used to make us when she was alive, like the photo below, which are custom slippers I made for my mom.

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

I'm half Russian and half Mexican. I am really proud of and embrace both my Russian and Mexican heritage and find it to be incredibly inspiring... and it makes me unique! I try to incorporate or reference my heritage in my work/crafts because I think it's neat to relate to others on that level.

By day I'm a communications designer, which involves a lot of graphic & web design and copywriting. It's fun (and pays the bills) but I really love coming home and making things with my hands and not looking at my computer screen (unless I'm blogging, of course).

3. How did you get involved with Etsy?

Back in 2007 I was a recent college graduate (Yay, UC Irvine, Zot! Zot!) and working as a research assistant. Everyday I came home hungry to make something and be creative. I was always sewing and knitting and I heard about Etsy through Livejournal, so I make a profile and started listing things. Slowly but surely, I found a following. To this day I sell more items outside of Etsy (word of mouth, family, friends, etc), but it has given me to opportunity to connect with people I would have never been able to meet in person.

4. If you had to be an animal for one week, which animal would you choose
to be? And what would you do?

Oh my god, I used to think about this all of the time my junior year of high school, which was arguably one of the busiest years of my life. I went to school, went to either tennis practice or rehearsal for a play, then went to work (Yay, In-N-Out Burger), and then studied for my AP classes. Outta control. At that time I would look at my dog Bonnie with envy and think... you are so lucky. What did you do today, sleep? I hate you. I didn't actually hate her, but I think I would go ahead and say, I would want to be a really chill dog.

5. What does buying and selling local handmade mean to you, and how has it
affected your life?

Buying and selling handmade means a lot to me. First of all, I don't come from a very privileged background, so I learned how to shop on a tight budget, especially in college. I started sewing because I loved shopping at thrift stores and finding great pieces, but sometimes they just didn't fit, or I wanted to use the fabric for something else. I'm still, to this day, really into upcycling. I feel like buying used, and selling or buying handmade helps minimize the amount of revenue that goes into garments made in factories. From pollution, to poor treatment of workers, to just over-consumption problems - if more people bought handmade, it would not only help the environment, but help your local community, and help us to become self-sustaining and not have to work for 'The Man'.

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


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

Overall, I just really love making things that remind me of items that our grandmothers would make, but I like to make them in a modern, updated way, like my Mary Jane style Slippers, and the Reversible Aprons I had in the shop for a while. I have big plans and lots of great items and ideas coming to the shop. I'm a recent San Francisco transplant (I've been here for one year now - all the way from Orange County by way of Victorville) and feel inspired by this city everyday. So happy to be a part of the SF Etsy Team!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Little Break

Yesterday was a long, full, wonderful day -- left the house at 8 a.m. for Urban Bazaar to participate in the SF Etsy Team's Winter Wonderland Craft Bazaar. It was great fun, and I'm pleased to report that Mama's Magic Studio did well. But I didn't get home until after 11 pm! And when I did get home, I found my girl still awake with a fever of 101 degrees.

So today it's time for a little break and some recuperating. Probably tomorrow too!

The kids have been drawing a lot lately, and I thought it would be fun to share some of their art, so while we're taking our break, you can enjoy a few of their pictures!

BJ's picture of our family, which he drew last week for S:
He did a lot of it in yellow crayon, so it's hard to read, but from left to right it's: BB, BJ, me, and S.

BB drew this picture of our family this morning:
From left to right: BB, me, S, BJ. Butchie, our cat, is in the lower right corner. (In the very lower right corner is a teeny tiny face, I'm not sure who it is) and below the heart and a little to the left (above BJ) is another drawing of BB, or so I'm told. I love it that she gave her dad glasses! It's fascinating to see how BJ still loves to scribble while BB is exploring with lines and dots.

Here's one of BJ's drawings from the morning: The Life Cycle of a Star.

Here's how he explained it to me: the upper left (green with red center) is a nebula. Moving to the right, the orange next to it is a proto star. The yellow next to that is a middle-aged star. Below that is a red giant. The purple with curves in the center is a super nova with planet ashes (the ashes are the curves). The red circle in the lower left corner is a neutron star. The purple object in the very lower left is a black hole. So there you go!

BB also drew a princess this morning. Princess Jennifer, I'll have you know.

Ah, there's nothing quite so wonderful as kids' art. Have a great Sunday!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Instead of the Usual Friday Feature...

I'm crazy busy over here, getting things ready for the Winter Wonderland Craft Bazaar tomorrow in San Francisco, so I won't be posting a Friday Feature interview. But if you'd like to get some good "sneak peek" looks and creative insights from the artists who will be at the show tomorrow (including yours truly!) you can check out the Winter Wonderland Craft Bazaar Blog.

Hope to see you at the show! For more info, you can check out the Facebook event page here.

It's Official.

It's been 17 days since BB took an afternoon nap. My little girl is growing up....

Of course, this has had interesting effects on the family schedule. The hour (or two) before bed can be pretty brutal, as she and BJ both begin to run out of gas. The good news is that she's being really cooperative about having an hour of "Quiet Time." In fact, she looks forward to it and after lunch will often say, "I'm ready for Quiet Time, Mommy!"

What's my secret for such a smooth transition? We put a CD player in the kids' bedroom, where she does her Quiet Time, and she is discovering the joy of playing The Same Song Over And Over. Both kids have fixated on a few Disney CDs, and they are really enjoying learning the lyrics to songs. BB will set up a "stage" for herself, line up her stuffed animals as an audience, and spend her entire hour of Quiet Time singing and dancing. Sometimes with costume changes. It's pretty danged adorable.

It means less free time for me, since she had been napping consistently for 90 minutes to 3 hours every afternoon. So I'm feeling the pressure -- for example, today there will be no Friday Feature interview posted, since I have so much else to do to get ready for my show tomorrow! But so far it's working out pretty well, and much as it's hard to give up the nap, it's nice not to be chained to the house for nap time any longer.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Home Sick

BJ had his first day home sick from kindergarten today. Woke up with a yucky cough and the sniffles, enough to merit staying home so he didn't spew germs on his classmates all day.

We already had an appointment scheduled with his pediatrician for this afternoon, a follow up to be sure there weren't any issues from the minor concussion last Friday. So we headed in for that, she gave him the all-clear to return to normal activities (yay!) and confirmed that he has a cold. No fever, just congestion and a cough. Not sure if he'll be well enough to go to school in the morning, but hope so.

Now let's just pray it doesn't make its way through the family. With an outdoor show on Saturday (and the possibility of rain, alas) the last thing I need is to get sick. Who, me, achey? Clearly this is a night when I should go to bed early. Which I shall now do!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mama's Last Holiday Show of the Season!

It's been a busy craft fair season here in Mama's Magic Studio, and I'm really looking forward to this Saturday's show, my last holiday show and the one I'm most excited about!

As regular Mama's Magic readers will know, I'm the team lead for the SF Etsy Street Team. I've been helping behind the scenes to set up our December SF Etsy Team Show. The Winter Wonderland Craft Bazaar will take place on Saturday, December 4th at Urban Bazaar, and this crafty, cozy event is sure to be wonderful.

The fun starts at 1 PM with shopping and sweet treats. Warm up with $2 drinks during the happy hour from 6-9 PM. Buy unique gifts, support the local artisan community, and include some handmade love in your holidays!

18 talented vendors from the SF Etsy Team have been selected to participate in this Winter Wonderland. My favorite thing about in-person shows is the chance to meet face to face with customers and other artists. For a sneak peek at who you could meet at the Winter Wonderland, take a look at the list below:

Jen Johnson (yours truly) of Mama's Magic Studio
Riquelle Small of Pretty Fun & Well
Samantha Barskyof Noteify
Heather Lodgson of Heathered
Katy Atchison

Gabrielle Lessard of Mangosteen Jewelry
Louise Bedsworth of Bubbles and Boo
Michelle Yip of Chunky Pineapple
Leyna Lightman of Leyna Lightman Jewelry
Erin Cadd of Eristotle
Kat Zeledon of Little Bird Company
Mary Elizabeth (Heimann)of alloneword
Kim Jensen of Kim Jensen Mosaics

Moriah Hart
Amy O'brien of Me Make Stuff
Kevin Clarke of Bug Under Glass
Even Howard of Nadene
Kpoene' Kofi-Bruce of Miss Mignonette

Many of these folks have been featured at the Winter Wonderland Craft Bazaar Blog as well, along with treasuries showcasing many of the fabulous items they have created. And while no RSVP is required, you are welcome to RSVP here. Hope to see you there!

A huge thank you to Steph of Nerd Jerk and Urban Bazaar owners Brandi (Crow's Nest Shop) & Briana (lookwhatimade) for all their fabulous planning. And special thanks to Katy Atchison for the lovely graphic designs!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Feature -- Devine Designs Jewelry

This week's featured Etsy artist is Cindy of Devine Designs Jewelry -- the Etsyblogger of the Month for November. Congratulations, Cindy!

Her shop is full of such pretty things. I especially love this Purple Beaded Dragonfly bracelet -- one might be tempted to think she'd designed it just for me, because it's purple (my favorite color) and features dragonflies, of which I am particularly fond, as any Mama's Magic fan could tell you!

Enjoy the interview!

1. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?

Etsy Bloggers and FEST (Florida Etsy Street team)

2. 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 consider myself a cold forge metal artist. I work with wire and metals and hand tools to wrap, twist, weave sterling silver and copper into one of a kind jewelry creations. I do not duplicate or cookie cutter my creations. I use hand stamping and texturizing techniques as well. I love to incorporate natural gemstones and artisan made glass lampwork beads into my work. I try to think outside the box, and create something different. Sometimes ideas just pop into my head, and I usually draw out a design first before attempting it.

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

I am a veterinary technician by trade. I like tattoos. (I have a few) It is an expensive "hobby".

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

My biggest challenge with Etsy, is in the photography department. I try to take good quality photos, have read and had tips on photography, upgraded my camera; but I think with jewelry it is difficult to see all the details, how light hits and reflects or how it will look on an individual. Selling jewelry is such a tactile thing.

5. What crafting skill(s) do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?

I wish to develop my jewelry making skills, and hopefully add metalsmithing and work with PMC too. I might even take up basket weaving!

6. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?,!/DevineDesignsJewelry

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I woke up this morning thinking of a song BJ learned at school:

Thanks for our health
Thanks for our hearth
And the bounty that grows from the ground
With our loved ones near
We thank the year
That brought us safely round.

So much to be thankful for this year. My beloved children, and the way they fill each day to the brim with such joy. (And feeling especially grateful for their good health after BJ's head injury scare. Glad to say he continues to seem fine.) My dear husband, the best friend I could ask for and most wonderful life's partner. Family, some here with us now and some only in spirit, but all held close in the heart. Friends, old and new, blessing my life in so many ways. Our new home (and the fact that our old home is no longer our responsibility!) and S's job which makes it possible. Good food on the table, good books on the shelves, good health that allows me to enjoy it all...

On Tuesday, BJ's kindergarten class invited all the families to join them for the last hour of school for a little Thanksgiving party. The kids sang, they made friendship fruit salad for a snack to share, and they each stood up by the teacher to read aloud a sentence they'd written about what they were thankful for. Many were thankful for family, friends, parents... one said "hotdogs and rainbows" which got the award for specificity and made everybody chuckle.

When it was BJ's turn, he said, "I'm thankful for EVERYTHING!" His teacher told us that when he wrote it, she'd asked him, "Really? Everything even bumps to the head and other bad things?" To which he replied, "Well, no.... everything except the bad things." And alongside his picture (which, in typical BJ style, showed the state of California, next to a map of the USA, next to a picture of a globe, next to a picture of the universe) he drew a little circle with the bad stuff inside it and a line across the circle. Everything but no bad stuff.

Which is pretty much how I feel this morning!

Thanks for everything, world. Except bumps on the head. (Though even those bring their blessings in unexpected ways, don't they?)

And last, but certainly not least, I'm feeling especially grateful for my little Etsy shop these days and for the way in which it keeps creativity in my life. Thanks to all the folks who buy my handmade magic and make Mama's Magic Studio possible! As a token of my gratitude, I'm offering a special coupon through Monday 11/29/2010. Shop at Mama's Magic Studio, enter "GRATITUDEMAGIC20" and receive 20% off your entire order.

I hope you and yours have many blessings to count on this Thanksgiving day!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


It was one of those weekends that makes me realize anew, This parenting stuff is Not for the Faint of Heart!

On Friday, BJ face-planted on wet asphalt while running at full-tilt, and the resulting bonk to the head was serious enough that the school called home and insisted a parent come in and check him out. I was at gym class with BB, so S got to go in and assess the situation. There was a serious goose-egg, but otherwise BJ seemed OK, so S gave it the OK for him to stay in school for the day. We were given the expected list of symptoms to watch out for, and we hoped that would be the end of it.

Alas, the "fun" was only beginning. At 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, BJ woke up vomiting. Uh-oh. After cleaning him up, I called the Kaiser nurse line. (I heart the Kaiser nurse line. Have I mentioned that before? Yes. I have good cause.) We had a lengthy telephone consultation and the nurse informed me that a vomit is entirely consistent with the kind of head injury he'd had and not necessarily something to worry about. She gave me a big list of things to look for (bruising behind the ears, black eyes, fluid from the ears, confusion, blurry vision, headache, repeated vomiting) and none of them seemed to apply, so we decided to keep watching him here at home.

Not surprisingly, he didn't want to eat anything. Then, about 9:30 a.m. he threw up again. Yup -- to the ER it was. By now, we are rather familiar with the Kaiser ER, and I have to say that once again they were amazingly efficient and wonderfully compassionate. I know that not everybody has the same experience with Kaiser, but I am consistently impressed. They had us in and out of the ER in just under 2 hours, including a lengthy observation time.

The doctor we saw gave BJ a thorough check up, looking for the same sorts of things the nurse had asked me about earlier that morning. He said that BJ had a concussion but it seemed minor and he didn't think a CT scan or Xray was warranted, though they were willing to do one if I wanted. There was a small risk of slow bleeding or fracture, but there's also a known risk of radiation exposure, and it was up to me what to do. When I said I thought it sounded like we should wait and watch, the doctor informed me, "If it were my son -- and I have kids of my own -- that's what I would do." So that made me feel much better.

Motherhood carries such an enormous weight of responsibility. You brought them into this world, and you're responsible for keeping them alive. And that weight is there, pressing on you from breath to breath, every single day that you're a parent, especially when they're young. Moments like Saturday morning in the ER just make it explicit. Not for the faint of heart, like I said.

The doctor was more concerned with the possiblity of dehydration at that point, since BJ hadn't been able to keep anything down since 5:30 a.m., so he asked BJ to drink some fluids and then kept us there for observation to make sure he could keep it down. No vomiting, which was an enormous relief. We were released with the directions to watch the situation closely, but we were hopeful that was the end of it.

After a fairly good afternoon in which he ate a decent lunch (chicken soup and saltines) and dinner (spaghetti noodles without sauce), he fell asleep early. Only to wake at 8:30 p.m. by vomiting all over himself and his bed. Poor boo.

I cleaned up the kid in the shower and S cleaned up the bed. (We're such a good team.) Then, you guessed it -- back on the phone with the Kaiser nurse. These folks should be on our speed dial. This time, the nurse brought in a doctor on call for consultation. We were told that we should come to the ER if he vomited two more times. We were also instructed to wake him up at 10 pm and 2 am and make sure he could be coherent. We scheduled a morning phone appointment with a pediatrician on call and prayed that things would not worsen.

At this point, I was about ready to crawl in bed with BB or sleep in the kids' room on a pallet on the floor. Figuring that would be brutal on my back, instead I dug the baby monitor out of storage and tried to sleep while listening to every rustle and breath of the kids in their beds. Thankfully, he didn't vomit any more, and we were able to wake him up without too much trouble when we were supposed to, but I didn't get much sleep at all. Neither did S.

BJ woke up at 5 a.m. and at that point I was just relieved to get out of bed, even though I was exhausted. And then, there was the little matter of the craft show I had scheduled for today....

S and I had talked about it the night before and agreed that if BJ remained in a "watch and wait" situation, I should go to the show. S would deal with the phone appointment and call me if needed. Of course if things changed or especially if he ended up back at the ER, I'd cancel. I was (and am) so grateful for his support. Even while I felt horribly guilty.

Setup started at 7 a.m. and it was a wretched mama who left for her show (though relieved, of course, that BJ wasn't worse). If it had just been me and my table, I probably would have cancelled, but it was a unique situation where the organizer had donated a table for the SF Etsy team to use to promote the team, and as team leader I had asked him to place the table right next to mine and I would staff both tables, selling my stuff and talking about the team. So if I stayed home, it would affect more than just me. Late on Saturday night, I'd emailed one of my favorite SF Etsy people, H, and asked her if she could fill in for me if necessary, and she was very kind in saying she would. But I didn't want to do that unless it was necessary. S was very sweet, telling me, "Look. You have a life. It's OK to have a life." Which is true, but I still felt terrible about leaving.

I called S as the show was starting and he reassured me that nothing had changed and the phone appointment with the doctor had gone fine. But all day I was anxious.

The show was OK -- even though it was an indoor show, the pouring rain kept a lot of shoppers away -- and everybody survived just fine while I was gone. Which should make me feel better, and it does, a little. But at this point, I mostly feel exhausted. Exhausted and really feeling badly for my little boy. How else is a mom supposed to feel when the hospital discharge sheet for her son states, "For a few weeks, your child may have low energy, dizziness, trouble sleeping, a headache, ringing in the ears, or nausea. Your child may also feel anxious, irritable, or depressed. He may have problems with memory and concentration. These symptoms are common after a concussion and should slowly improve over time, sometimes taking weeks or even months.”

Weeks or even months. Let's hope not.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Feature -- Studio M.M.E.

This week's featured Etsy artist is Megan of Studio M.M.E. As long-time Mama's Magic readers may recall, I've been a fan of Megan's gorgeous artwork for quite some time now, because her work has a literary sensibility and quiet beauty that I find enormously appealing. In fact, I first interviewed her about a year ago, here!

I recently had my first SF Etsy "small world" moment, when Megan contacted me to join the team. "Hey, I know her!" was my first thought when I got her convo. Then, "Wait, she doesn't live in the Bay Area...." only to find out she was moving and would soon be in San Jose! I love little synchronicities like that.

Perhaps it's not surprising that an English major like me would love a piece like this one, titled "She Loved Her Shakespeare"
The listing explains, "Anne Boleyn's portrait was so close to Shakespeare's that I couldn't help but wonder if there was some connection there. So here is Anne Boleyn, the mother of Elizabeth I, with her Shakespeare mustache. The entire piece is made from the text of the bard's famous play, "The Twelfth Night", in which Viola disguises herself as her twin brother."

It's the kind of piece I see online and think, "Oh! I would LOVE to see that in person!" And I'm super excited because on Sunday I just might get the chance -- Studio M.M.E. will be one of the many SF Etsy shops (including my own) at the San Jose Holiday Craft Boutique!

So I'm happy to present a second interview with this talented artist. Enjoy!

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'm a pen and ink illustrator who specializes in quirky drawings. Most of my work is based on childhood fantasies, fairy tales, and my mind's ability to relate two or three very unrelated things. I pretty much taught myself most of my pen and ink skills. I received an art degree in college, with an emphasis in drawing, and an English degree, with an emphasis in creative writing, and those studies merged together nicely into the work you see today. Most of my drawings start with a story I invent or a question that generally no one asks, such as, "Who feeds the moon when it's hungry?"

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

1. I'm almost completely blind in one eye. I can see color but that's about it. As such, I have no depth perception (don't worry, I don't drive much) which makes it unusual that I chose a career where I make three-dimensional items on two-dimensional planes.

2. I have a thing for crossword puzzles. My boyfriend figured out early on that if he picked up the free school newspaper on his grad campus every day, I'd be one happy roommate.

3. What crafting skill(s) do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?

I honestly wish I could sew. I have all these great ideas to put my work onto pillows and purses and I absolutely cannot get the machine to cooperate. My mother just bought a new machine before I moved cross-country this summer and now I have my boyfriend's antique Viking to work with. I think I could learn to sew but first I need to bribe the Swedish machine (which easily weighs 25 lbs) with some lefse.

4. If you had to live out the rest of your life as a famous fictional character, who would you be and why?

She may not be too famous, but I wouldn't mind too much if I had to live the rest of my life as Sophie from Diana Wynne Jones' book, "Howl's Moving Castle". I'd get to reside in a castle always on the move with a sarcastic, and dramatic, wizard.

(Note from Jen: as someone who is a huge Miyazaki fan, I adore this answer. I've never met a Studio Ghibli movie I didn't like.)

5. If money were no object for just one day, what would you do?

I would buy the biggest, nicest scanner that I could find. Oh, and I'd make sure it had a photo negative scanner attachment for my boyfriend. (Best to keep him happy too!)

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

You can learn more about my creative process, see in-progress photos, and read some cool business knowledge (as well as life knowledge) on my blog. I feature Etsy artists and artist bloggers weekly, in addition to all the other neat stuff already listed.

I also sell numbered prints of my work through my website.

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

You'll be able to see me and my work in person at the year's SF Renegade Holiday Craft Fair!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

San Jose Holiday Craft Boutique

In five days, Mama's Magic Studio will be participating in the first annual San Jose Holiday Craft Boutique -- it's my second show of the holiday season, and I'm really excited about it!
The show takes place on Sunday November 21st from 9 am to 3 pm at Napredak Hall in San Jose. Hooray for craft shows! There will be lots of talented local artisans showing off their handmade wares, including many of my fellow SF Etsy teammates. (For a list, check out my post at the SF Etsy blog here.) I'll be at table 111, right by the main entrance and right next to the SF Etsy team table (which I'll also be staffing).
No RSVP required, but if you'd like you can RSVP at my facebook event page here. If you're in the Bay Area, I'd love to see you!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend Fun

Ours was a very full weekend, jam-packed with good times. On Saturday, we spent the morning at IKEA, having decided it was (finally!) time to get the kids out of their toddler beds. (BJ is 5 going on 6, after all, and though he loves to sleep in fetal position, it was clear he could use some more room to slumber comfortably!)

We ended up purchasing a low bunk bed which we'd had our eye on for a while. The bottom bed is actually right on the floor, making a cozy nest, and the upper bunk has an attachable bed tent. The Kids Love It!
BJ is up top and BB is on the bottom, and I'm not lying awake all night worrying that somebody might fall out. So it's all good.
At kindergarten drop-off this morning, BJ told everybody who would listen about his new bunk bed. It was very cute. Their room is definitely a work in progress at the moment, since the old beds are being broken down and the stuff being stored under the old beds is currently all over the place, but once all the arrangements are set up, it will be really nice.

On Saturday night, S and I got a date night! Our old reliable: slices at Pizza My Heart in Palo Alto, then a double feature at the Stanford Theater. We saw "The More the Merrier" and "King's Row." The first was an oddly charming comedy, set in Washington DC during WWII when the capitol was horribly overcrowded. It's a sort of inverted Three's Company: Young girl (a lovely Jean Arthur) ends up living with two men, and in the process falls in love with the younger, thanks to the madcap help of the older man who plays matchmaker.

"King's Row" was the first Ronald Reagan film I'd ever seen -- and it was certainly memorable! Women (who may or may not be crazy) locked up in upstairs bedrooms, early psychiatry, sadistic doctors... murder, morality, and plot points involving real estate development. (Which provided a strange coincidental link to the first film, which had a subplot about building homes to ease the overcrowding in DC!) As S said, if "King's Row" had been in color, the wallpaper would have been yellow. It was pretty over the top. S and I spent the last half of the movie making tasteless, whispered asides to each other (MST style) wondering what large object might crush the remaining members of the cast. ("Watch out for that piano!") That kind of movie. But excellent fun, and wonderful to be out with my sweetie for the evening.

On Sunday morning, BB and I went over to A Work of Heart Studio in San Jose for their Craft Swap, and we had a fantastic time finding treasures in the items other folks had donated. BB had been nervous about going -- I had to take her with me because both kids had birthday parties scheduled later in the morning, and hers was in the vicinity of A Work of Heart, so if I was going to be able to make the swap she had to accompany me before her party. It took her a little while to figure it out, but once she realized that we were allowed to look through the tables and take whatever we might want or need, she got into the spirit of things and helped me fill our bag. I got rid of some fabric and beads I didn't need, and we came home with lots of stickers (especially popular with BB), some brocades, new markers, and a lot of nifty odds and ends that we'll use for collage or something else really fun. She's still talking about what fun we had together!

After the swap, we went to her party -- a ballerina party at a local dance studio. After our disastrous attempt at dance class a little more than a year ago, I wasn't quite sure how this would go. BB was excited, enjoyed shopping for a ballet leotard to wear earlier in the week, and especially enjoyed putting it on that morning. (All pink, naturally!)
I'm delighted to say that she had a fantastic time! The party was for one of her preschool friends (J is really the only one in the class so far that she considers a friend) and many of the other girls in her class were there as well. I was glad to see that BB seemed at ease and excited to see so many familiar faces. The teacher was very sweet, gentle, and welcoming. And perhaps most importantly, the music was quiet, classical music. As we left, BB told me that she really liked the music -- "Not like the loud place before, Mommy!" (So clearly she had some recollection of the last time we tried out a dance class!)

The teacher started off with some ballet positions and fun movement activities.
Later, the girls donned wings and crowns and grabbed wands to become fairies.
BB was really in her element!

After the party, I talked with J's mom, who had suggested having BB join J's class after the holidays, and the teacher confirmed that there would be a space available. Only one space was guaranteed, and when that was gone we'd have to be on a wait list, so I signed BB up right then and there! She'll begin in January. I am confident she'll really enjoy it, and I would bet that it will help her continuing transition into preschool by being in class with at least two of her preschool peers (perhaps more).

I didn't get nearly as much crafting time as I probably should have this weekend, considering I have another craft show coming up on Sunday! It's the San Jose Holiday Craft Boutique at Napredak Hall, and I really ought to be working on inventory... so if it's a quiet week here at the blog, you can guess what I'm up to!

Friday, November 12, 2010


This month's Etsyblogger carnival topic asks us to write about inspiration. "What is always inspiring you?"

I'm inspired by all sorts of things. I draw a lot of inspiration from knitting and fibers. Though I'm not a particularly skilled knitter (I make a LOT of scarves!) I love to make knitting-inspired jewelry.

I also make a lot of handmade knitting needles. It's been very inspirational to see how well they have been received. I get a lot of oohs and aahs at shows, and my knitting needles were recently accepted by the buyer for the Museum of Craft And Folk Art in San Francisco, where they are now being sold in the gift shop!

"Yarn Ball" pendants, rings, and handmade knitting needles at my most recent craft show!

I am inspired by learning new techniques (I recently expanded my wire-wrapping repertoire of skills and am now making rings) and by pushing myself creatively. I'm inspired by thrift stores, wandering around and seeing how I might re-purpose a tired something into a new, beautiful something else. Though those creations haven't (yet!) made their way into my Etsy shop, they make my life more joyous and are a definite part of Mama's Magic.

I'm inspired by my kids and the challenges of motherhood -- my first Etsy shop (now closed) focused entirely on breastfeeding jewelry! I'm inspired by the natural world, by colors and color combinations, by textures and patterns, by poetry, art, and music...the list goes on and on!

What inspires you?

Friday Feature -- Splendid Little Stars and Sparkly Park

This week's featured Etsy artist was the Etsyblogger of the Month for October. (Better late than never!) A big congratulations to Margaret, who is the owner of two fantastic Etsy shops:

Splendid Little Stars and Sparkly Park! Both shops are full of handmade goodness. I think these crocheted and beaded flowers are super cute, don't you? You can wear them on your wrist or in your hair!

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?

Splendid Little Stars: hand dyed cotton clothing and silk scarves and scrunchies
Sparkly Park: jewelry (mostly earrings right now) and paper goods such as cards and tags.

I learned to tie dye by just plunging in. My daughter's first grade teacher tie dyed with the children every year. She introduced me to the "good" dye. Then, with the help of my son, I made hundreds of shirts for several fundraisers. Over the years, I have developed my own unique processes, styles, and designs.

The dyeing process involves many steps: washing and drying the item, tying up, soaking in solution, dyeing, curing for @ 24 hours, washing, drying. That is the basic formula, of which there are variations. To paint with dye, I usually soak the item in a solution, let it dry, then paint and cure.

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

I Iove photography and have found great joy in capturing the unique essence of nature and the spectacular drama of natural landscapes. Hiking in beautiful places is one of my most favorite things to do. I am inspired by art all around me--natural and human-made. I've enjoyed incorporating my photos into my blog and thus sharing my interest with others.

I love science and have a degree in zoology. I have taught nature and science classes, developed by me, to children in my neighborhood and at the YMCA. Once, a friend and I created a summer camp which we held for several years. We taught nature, art, science, music, and movement. It was so much fun! You can read more about it here.

3. What inspires your creations?

I am inspired by the texture, colors, shapes, and feel of the materials I work with. I am inspired by art around me. I love investigating the designs in nature. These designs are repeated in my work either literally or imaginatively. I love looking at the "flow," the movement of shapes and designs, across a space.

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

3 piece empire waist dress set for children. I have been making these in various patterns for many years. They have been a best seller and little girls love them (as do their moms)! They are so soft and comfortable. The pieces can be worn separately or mixed and matched, so it's a very versatile outfit. Most children can wear the dress for 2-3 years and the shirt and leggings for 1-2 years. It just warms my heart when I see a child loving something I made!

5. Give us some insight on how you personally, or your shop, gives back to your community.

There are many ways. I am passionate about giving to my community! I give of my time and I give of my creations. Once, I helped a group of kids tie dye shirts that they would be giving away to children while on a mission trip to Mexico.

I've been planning a section in my Splendid Little Stars shop called Charity Pink. I will give 50% of the profits of every sale of these particular pink shirts to breast cancer research.

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

WEBSITES: Splendid Little Stars and Sparkly Park
FACEBOOK: (sadly, I haven't done anything with it yet)

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

I teach tie dye classes, mostly to children and their adult helpers. How fun to share with others an art I so enjoy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Picture Day for BB

Today was picture day at BB's preschool, and she enjoyed dressing up especially for the occasion. We'd gone out the day before to shop for a new dress and everything!

Monday, November 8, 2010

My First OUTDOOR Show!

Friday was Mama's Magic Studio's first outdoor show, and it was a big success! The weather was beautiful, my canopied booth looked decent, and I made quite a few sales. Yay!

Here's what my booth looked like:

Certainly not going all out with the space, but not bad given what I had to work with. First time I'd had a space this big, so I was daunted by the prospect of filling up more than one table. Excellent to have so much room, though!

I finally got around to making a nice table covering for my 6 foot table, but I didn't have a cloth to match for the 8 foot table they were including, so I tossed the cloths I had over it in make do fashion. Looked a little random, but it was OK.

I love how the purple custom cover turned out, though. Made it to fit from a full sized queen sheet set I found at the thrift store. The skirt is attached, it goes all the way down to the ground to cover up the boxes beneath but has a vent in the back for easy access. And I used the elastic corners from the fitted sheet to help fit the cover around the tabletop.

I love my new canopy, too and love my new tent weights. You fill them with water and hook them around the poles. Clever, eh?

The day started out a little slow -- it was a 10 am start on Friday on a college campus, after all. But once the students woke up and headed our way, things really picked up.
I continue to improve my setup with each show that I do. This time, I was especially pleased with the display for my knitting inspired jewelry. While shopping at the thrift store (same visit that produced the purple sheets) I came across a wire-sided basket that had spaces to fit perfectly with the plastic hooks I use on my earring cards. So I could display my knitting earrings, pendants, and new rings all together!
Customers always are attracted to my little bowls of wire work. Nice to have something they can touch readily available.
I'm hoping to get some of these rings listed in my shop very soon. They've turned out well!

More oohs and aaahs over my Decadent Dangle earrings:

Earrings were a very popular seller with the college crowd, especially my fraternal earring pairs. And I sold my first wire wrapped ring!

I think I'm going to invest in an official ring holder with slots to keep them in place. They didn't show as well as I would have liked all jumbled up in the wooden dish -- the default seemed to be with them face down, rather than their best side up. But even so, they got lots of compliments and I think if I'd been able to prepare more size variety ready made, I would have sold more. Working on that!

It was nice to have something specifically holiday-themed at the table: my new re-usable cloth gift bags:

Three sizes available -- small (perfectly sized for my jewelry gift boxes), medium (excellent for a bottle of wine) and large (good for larger boxes).

And, because I could, I took a little video to capture the event for posterity! Enjoy!

I'm already looking forward to my next outdoor show -- the Winter Wonderland Craft Bazaar in San Francisco on December 4th!

But first, I get to do an indoor show at Napredak Hall here in the South Bay. I'l post more about that this week!

That one is on Nov 21st - in less than two weeks! Mama's gonna be busy making more inventory.... put in a big order for sterling silver wire today!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mama's Magic at Made With Love!

I'm really excited about Friday's craft show, my first of the holiday season! I'm participating in the Made With Love craft show at Santa Clara University. It feels like I've been spending every spare moment making handmade magic and working on my display.

It will be my first outdoor show and my biggest booth area yet (10x10), so there's lots to be thinking about. So long as the weather holds, it should be a fantastic day!

Here's the info from the flyer:

• Raffle with fabulous prizes*
• Over 30 local vendors selling handmade, unique and
affordable items for the holidays

Friday, November 5, 2010
10:00 am to 5:00 pm
At Santa Clara University
On Benson lawn, between Benson Fountain and Kenna Hall

* Raffle proceeds, vendor contributions, and attendee donations will
be donated Rebekah's Children Services, an organization promoting
the social, emotional and physical well being of children and families
through residential treatment for abused children, community outreach
services, outpatient therapy for at-risk kids, and comprehensive
Prevention/Education to help troubled kids.

There's free parking and free admission. If you're in the area, I'd love to see you!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Beware! -- BB Is Reading!

BB read her first sign on Friday, while we were walking to school!

We were strolling down the street, and she pointed to the sign and said, "Beware of Dog!" All proud of herself, as she should be!

Of course it's possible she's recognizing the sign itself, and not necessarily (or separately) the words on the sign. But I don't think so. We don't have a dog, we don't know anybody who has that sign posted, and I don't have any recollection of ever reading that sign to her or having her encounter it. So although there might be context-oriented recognition going on, I'm betting she read her first words out of context!

She's read "I love you" and her name and some words in books that she has memorized, but to my knowledge this is the first spontaneous reading that she's done. Very cool!


Happy day-after Halloween! It's been a costume-and-candy filled few days around here, and now that the sugar high is wearing off I have a few moments to catch up a bit.

The fun started on Friday, with Halloween celebrations at the kids' schools. I also got the best costume pictures that day. BJ the skeleton and BB as Princess Ariel (in human form -- an important detail, as BB would remind you):

BB especially loved her wig. I don't think this color of shocking red is to be found in nature. Definitely a Disney shade.
I'm very happy to say that the alterations I did to BJ's costume survived a long and active day of being worn at school -- and then a lot of trick or treating!

I dressed up on Friday as a gypsy (otherwise known as the "rifle through your closet until you find a costume" approach to costume design).

S was Steve from Blue's Clues -- again. He's gotten a lot of mileage out of that shirt!
We hung around at BJ's school to see the Halloween parade (which BB also wanted to participate in, so long as I walked in it as well. Good thing I'd dressed up!) We didn't have time to stay for the carnival, since we had to get to BB's preschool for her parade. Busy family! But by all reports, the carnival was a Very Good Time.

At preschool, the kids did their parade and a little pre-arranged trick or treating. BB was very happy to see her friend J, who was dressed up like a butterfly. And J was happy to see BB was well. Not that you can particularly read that from the body language in this picture!

BB was very pleased to walk with J, holding hands of course. She's definitely doing better at preschool, and the friendship with J is making a huge contribution.
After trick or treating, we hung out a bit. It was very nice that S was able to join us!
Like I said, BB really loved her costume -- especially that wig!
On Halloween night, we put out our pumpkins but didn't expect to get any trick or treaters here at the apartment. (And we didn't.)
The kids had drawn on the faces, and we did the cutting. BJ's is on the left (the "scary" pumpkin) and BB's is on the right (the "silly" pumpkin).

We'd invited our new friends from school over for dinner and trick or treating, and we had a really nice time. BB was especially glad to be able to go trick or treating with Snow White!
The kids were very excited about being outside, in the dark. And we saw some really cool pumpkins, too! (Go Giants!)

(Side note -- we let the kids stay up tonight to watch the Giants win the World Series. It's been very cute to watch them learning a bit about baseball.)

Here's our dynamic duo, out trick or treating:
By the end of the night (approaching 8 pm -- late for the kids!) we were all getting tuckered out. The princesses needed to be carried home on the dads' shoulders. Such good dads!
Ours was a very happy Halloween. I hope yours was too!