11.14.2011

bleeping wreathes!

I made a few wreathes. And, for some reason, I want to talk gangsta and swears about these pricks. I texted my holiday craft-lovin' friend a photo of one finished project accompanied by some colorful, excited language that I keep typing and then deleting so as to not offend your delicate eyeballs. I think it is funny. Especially in the context of a holiday craft that symbolizes friendship and the circle of life. Like the decorative gourd essay.

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Word, bitches.

OK, enough I promise. But know this: as I am writing this whole post, I am wanting to write swears instead of "wreath." Not because I am angry with the wreath. On the contrary, I am excited by the wreath and want to express it with expletives. Like, put your hands up for the wreathes! Feel free to insert your swear of choice wherever you see "wreath."

The wreathes.

The first was super simple. I scored a straw wreath at a thrift store for 75 cents and got my hot glue gun on. Margot and I collected dry leaves and attached them with said hot glue.

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I used a scrap piece of one inch black binding that I wrapped around the wreath (should have done this first!) and up over our front door, tacked in place on the other side.

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It was super easy and fast, the kids had fun and the whole thing is made from natural materials (we collected the free range glue sticks from our back yard).

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Ruby played with scissors and Margot sang Dynamite. 

Also, if it gets mucked up in our, ahem, storage "system", it can be reconstructed or changed entirely without waste.

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The second wreath was inspired by this lady's felted wool sweater number. I saw it last year and have been more than a little gobsmacked by it. I think it is so beautiful and simple, love that it is made from upcycled stuff. I have been on the hunt for second-hand wool sweaters but they are spendy these days. Instead, I opted to buy eco-felt (made from recycled plastic bottles) and a wee bit of wool felt because it is so so beautiful.

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materials:
thick wire, 2 - 2 1/2 feet
a circle to trace (like a wide mouth canning lid or yogurt lid)
scissors
3 - 3 1/2 yards of felt (the eco-felt is 45" wide, wool felt is 36" wide)
   I used (I had some left over):
   9 inches light blue and dark blue eco-felt
   17 inches red, dark pink, white, yellow eco-felt
   17 inches light green wool felt
   22 inches dark green wool felt

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I used a thick piece of scrap copper wire (benefits of wedding an electrician!), like twice as thick as a wire hangar. I traced eleven million circles and then they only filled half my wreath so I returned to the fabric store and traced eleven million more, using a 4" ceramic dish.

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I folded my felt in half and cut two at a time.

At first I was pushing a thick needle through the center of each felt circle and then muscling the wire through. I was a mama dedicated to my craft, my fingers red and sore, my hand aching and in a permanent gnarled fist from clutching the wire circle. Andy saw me struggling and casually observed, "Why don't you just fold those circles in half and snip a small cut in the center?" As my bloody digits trembled, I replied, "Where's the fun in that?"

After my man's brilliant suggestion, it went pretty dang quick. My kids participated by choosing, stacking and tossing the felt circles. I wrapped the wire onto itself at the end and cut a few felt circle slits a bit bigger to slide over the increased bulk. I hung it with a 4" nail.

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It is so tactile, everyone who comes over wants to caress that beefy, lofty orb. And they can! It is so magnificently sturdy. We might even play Thanksgiving flag football with this wreath. I really love it and think I'll leave the cocksucker up all year.

In other holiday cheer of the g-rated variety, my family gave ourselves an ongoing assignment to give something every day. Read about what inspired us and how much we love it so far in this week's mama digs: giving.

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ALSO! There have been so many issues with comment leaving on the bucket list/camera giveaway post. I am so sorry, I have no idea why your entries aren't showing up and have contacted blogger. I am extending the giveaway for one more day! Leave a comment (and copy, save it) and double check it posted. If it isn't there, try again...people seem to have luck the second go round.

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all photos taken with a Canon Digital SLR from Vanns.com

11.11.2011

nuggets: hibernate

nuggets: little bits of the season in photos and words about the last week

I can dork out on well-organized spreadsheet just as much as rolling dryer lint balls. In school, my grades in calculus were comparable to my grades in literature. I've never fully aligned myself with my right or left brain; I am constantly playing hopscotch between the two. The party lines are blurred.

Similarly, I am equal parts social butterfly and homebody. Recently at a fund raising training for an organization I volunteer for, the facilitator asked the group to line up at the end of the room, creating a spectrum of outgoingness. "Stand on this end if you walk into a party and know most people and could talk to anyone. Stand on this end if you walk into a party and find a corner." I was certainly on the know most people/talk to anyone side but the thing is sometimes I just don't go to the party because I want to turn my phone off and make a pie in my leg warmers. 

I tend to lean toward creative endeavors (and I am beginning to believe my husband when he sweetly suggests that while I *could* do them, I might never prioritize my books and need to hire a bookkeeper). Almost always, I pick making something. But the introvert-extrovert isn't as predictable. It's seasonal, it's random. 

Right now, I am inclined to spoon my home. In fact, right now, it is 5am and I am under a hot pink, orange and green afghan with my purring 20-pound cat tucked against my body. Last night, I slid under our heavy winter blankets with my daughters and a stack of books as 8pm with no intention of getting back up. My husband is already gone, left with a friend to fish. And I am leaning into hibernation with coffee and cat. 

nuggets.

:: In our home, a sure sign of fall and more time inside is dance parties. They happen at least once a day when one of us will declare dance party! followed by a stampede to the living room and hardcore move-busting for one song.

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A new favorite Pandora station in our home: Kidz Bop Kids

:: Our friend outgrew his shopping cart and handed it down to my girls. While it definitely doesn't come out of the car when both kids are with me (hello mayhem!), the little cart is the perfect accessory when on a mama-one kid shopping date. Like, to the grocery or fabric store.

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:: Leaves are nearing the end of their brilliance, about to tuck in for the year. Still, they remain pretty awesome.

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And fun to make trails in the morning frosting, as Margot calls it.

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:: This is the greeting my assistant, Sarahjess, gets when she comes to work.

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:: I made a calendar! It is for sale here.

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Also, through December 15, use coupon code 'holiday' to get free shipping on 
your entire order from my etsy shop

:: We have things in out home that mom allows and dad doesn't and things dad allows and mom doesn't. Do you have those? One that I permit and makes dad bananas: kids on chairs, stools and counters when in the kitchen. Sure it makes for additional obstacles and can turn a quick recipe into an hour affair, but I love it.

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:: We tend to make more time to see art during the cool months.

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Missoula is so lucky to see this giant exhibit of Ansel Adams photographs. Free admission. Go.

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The girls ponder human condition.

:: We went to a thrift store last week and Margot fell in love with this totally creepy looking baby doll so he came home with us. His name is Boto.

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:: Our rolling pin broke so we made sugar cookies with my kids' play rolling pin. It was funny and worked swell.

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:: Ruby, suddenly, seems so big to me. As we approach her second birthday and her second anniversary of survival, I am so thankful for this healthy, thriving sweet potato.

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happy Friday out there

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Congrats to the randomly selected winner of a Blue Q shopping spree: Rachael said...Ooh, if I had $60 at Blue Q I'd definitely get the Marshall shoulder tote, some soaps, and the Cameras pencil case. Such a cool shop, I'd never heard of them before!

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all photos taken with a Canon Digital SLR from Vanns.com

11.08.2011

You are already naked.

Today, I bring you a sponsored post, presented by Just Ask with Today's Mama. Until now, I have declined sponsored post inquiries. So, why did I say yes to the one? Three reasons: A) I like the sponsors' missions and this campaign B) They gave me a fun, paid assignment C) I have the awesome job of awarding one of YOU with a new dslr camera! TRUE. Read on.

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Since Steve Jobs died, his 2005 Stanford commencement address has been flying around the internet. I love that speech. I love one sentiment in particular:
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
What a wonderful gift, our life span. I was talking about this with a friend (the same friend I hugged on a mountain last week) and she said, "Seriously, we could live for 200 years like a tortoise or 15 years like a dog but we have THIS life span that allows us to accomplish so very much over the course of many decades; our lives, however, are still short enough and fragile enough that we can't take a single moment for granted."

You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Just Ask has tasked us to develop and share our bucket lists. What do we hope to accomplish and achieve during this fragile, important life? They have developed a test—the BRACAnalysis test—that empowers us with information about our risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Just Ask wants us to live a long, full life, one where we have the opportunity to cross items off our lists.

OK, a few things I'd like to do, see and experience before I kick the bucket (it was so fun to create this list!).


1. Get my hands on a camper van, pile my family in it and head south for a many month adventure through Central and South America.

2. Cook every recipe I inherited from my grandma's recipe box with my kids.

3. Relearn French (I was pretty proficient at one time!)

4. Write a book.

5. See my children graduate from the college of their choice without a pile of debt.

6. Go behind the vault door of the San Francisco institution to view the work of my Great Grandfather Cornelius Philip (a medical entomologist, he founded the cure for the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever).

7. Travel to India.

8. Suck it up and harvest my own meat (or suck it up and go back to being vegetarian)

9. Volunteer with my family for a social justice organization in a third world country.

10. Swim in the Mediterranean Sea.

11. Retire on the early side, live frugally, travel, make art and recreate with my husband for many years.

12. Take an artisan bread making class.

13. Ride a horse running at full gallop.

14. Witness James Turrell's Roden Crater.

15. Make a quilt for each of my daughters (I started Margot's two years ago!).

Your turn.

Share your list on TodaysMama.com and have a shot at winning a pretty awesome trip. The grand prizes are: a family vacation to Universal Orlando Resort, a Las Olas Surf Camp Safari and Ski Lessons and stay at Park City Mountain Resort. This contest closes on Saturday, November 12. All the deets over at TodaysMama.com.


And! Thanks to the sponsor, one reader will WIN a Canon Rebel XS Camera! Simply leave me a comment sharing an item from your bucket list. For another entry, like Just Ask on Facebook, come back and leave another comment letting me know you did. Winner will be randomly selected November 15.

EDITED TO ADD: **Many are having trouble leaving comments! Please double check to be sure your comment posts. Copy it before you post. You may have to try twice. Sorry for the pain, not sure what is up.**

OK, chickens. I'll end with a Wayne Gretzky quote that I love:

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.


Thanks, Just Ask! I'll be back with nuggets in a day or two. xo

small print (to be read really fast in a low voice): This is a sponsored giveaway. Just Ask offers a breast and ovarian cancer screening and is encouraging people to share 15 things the want to enjoy in my lifetime as a reminder to be aware of their health.

11.07.2011

Il neige

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A new level of chill has settled in our valley. The heat kicks on regularly, hats are essential. They say we are in for another big snowy, cold year like last and it feels that way. We've dug out the woolens, down and ski gear. My family is ready. We love snow. 

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And while this photo illustrates me in my normal, happy state: 

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I did have a brief and fiery swing in the other direction the next morning. I wrote about it in this week's mama digs: iMadeIt.

ps one more day to toss your name in for the Blue Q giveaway!

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all photos taken with a Canon Digital SLR from Vanns.com

11.04.2011

hopped up on gratitude

In November, my already-friendly, neighborly town digs its heels into community. Smiles in scarves and puffy coats, kicking leaves for fun, gathering at breweries and arguing over who will buy the round. Everything slows to a lovely, loving pace.

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Ruby is into three skirts over tights and socks these days

I always love where I live but there is a special twinkle around the holidays. Everyone is hopped up on gratitude, stretching Thanksgiving into several months. And its contagious.

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Today, I share two simple events from my week that filled me with appreciation (and a sweet giveaway from a sweet company).

Ruby on my back, I hiked with a friend last Tuesday. We breathed hard on the ascent, snow coming down in thick, wet masses. We talked and talked and talked as our feet moved over the cold dirt. Every fourth step or so Ruby would say Mama? and then I'd say Hi Ruby and then she'd laugh. Mama? At one point I stopped in a sentimental, glorious, stunning moment, my feelings reciprocated by Caroline. We hugged and expressed thankfulness. It was so grand, that crisp moment.

The Day of the Dead Parade is an annual cherished event in our community. A beautiful celebration of life and death, Missoulians pour into the streets painted like dead people, performing, stomping and cheering in their aliveness. We hauled our family downtown to participate in the energetic honoring of those who have passed and to pay acute attention to our two feet on the earth.

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The parade, a swirl of activity and life, is like Missoula, distilled. A community dedicated to merriment, uniqueness, culture, movement and family. When I am at events like this in my town, I feel so connected to this place, these people. The drums beating and everyone pulsing like one giant organism. Good stuff.

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And! I am so happy to tell you about new dig sponsor, Blue Q. This company sent me a generous pile of awesome stuff a while back and you've likely seen much of it in my photos as the bags (made from 95% recycled post-consumer material) come with us everywhere we go.

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And inside every bag are more of their bags. We especially adore the overnighterthe shoulder tote and the zippered pouches.

I like all of it -- the quality, the kind, funny people who work there, the adorableness and whimsy (Be a Better Parent tea, Mood Swing soap, Eat At Home dishtowel). And then, I read their About Us page and was more in love with their stuff. It is full of heartening, admirable things like they design and make everything. And they say, "Look, we all know that there is an unethical way to manufacture a water bottle, to sew a bag. We don't do that. We couldn't. We have a beautiful and long history with manufacturing our goods the right way." Also, they print We Just Want You To Be Happy on their shipping boxes.

OK! The giveaway and deals for you chickens: If you had $60 to spend at Blue Q, what would you buy? Come back here and tell us in a comment and you might win it! Winner randomly selected on Tuesday, November 8. And! Get free shipping on orders over $40 using code 'digthisblue.' Last but so not least, right now, every purchase of $15 or more gets $23 of free non-lame stuff. Thank you, Blue Q!



Wishing you all a wonderful, wondrous weekend out there.

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all photos taken with a Canon Digital SLR from Vanns.com

11.02.2011

In my grandma's kitchen: Applesauce Cake

:: Recipe number 1 of the 64 recipe cards I inherited from my grandma ::

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Frank Sinatra singing out, girls well rested and ready. We were to make Auntie Lois's Sugar Cookies. It took some delicate arranging of chairs and counter position but we made it. Ready to start this fun journey through my grandma's recipe box.

We went to the coop to fetch two eggs and found exactly none. Peanut was sitting cozy in her nest so we knew we'd get one egg soon but the sugar cookies required two. Plan B: dig through recipe stack and find a dessert that requires one egg. Auntie Coon's Applesauce Cake.

While we waited for Peanut to produce our egg, I gathered ingredients and the girls argued over a tiny monkey keychain whose origin I have no idea but in that moment, the furry dude was the most precious, beautiful, necessary object on the planet to both of my children. I tried to give them both a chance to watch as monkey helped soften the butter (do you know about this method? brilliant!) but they thought that was a terrible idea. I tried to give them each important jobs measuring stuff (their favorite) but that didn't feel like holding a monkey. We talked and talked about monkey. Finally, through tears, Margot decided Ruby could hold him and then she'd like to hold him later. Later didn't come soon enough and Ruby screamed MINE while Margot grabbed and the rolling pin flew and broke. That did it. Monkey off our backs.

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Happen? Ruby asked again and again as Margot studied the old splintered wood and inquired about every possibility of fixing it. "Do you think it will be ok? Can we get another rolling pin? How in the heck did this happen? We could glue it. Or I could hold it like this while you use it."

Peanut took her sweet, sweet time laying that egg. We kept peeking out the check only to find her nestled in, her little beady, unblinking eyes staring back like I am creating and eliminating an entire egg here people. It takes some time. Ruby sipped tea and required bandaids on both pinkies while Margot retreated to the couch with Alice muttering something about a broken rolling pin and never having eggs again.

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Finally, we saw her leap out of the coop and strut across the yard to her pals. Thank you, Peanut.

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Margot sprung up as soon as she heard the mixer roaring. With her, she brought two blankets and several babies, because they were lonely. We combined and stirred and even cracked some jokes about the monkey who was so five minutes ago at that point. The girls were back to being best pals, lovingly feeding each other applesauce, generously giving away their turn at sugar measuring, collaboratively counting raisins.

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The cake turned out beautifully.

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MY NOTES:
I used butter instead of vegetable shortening and I only have 1/3 cup so I added more applesauce. I greased and floured a nine inch cake pan, omitted the nuts (allergic) and added and extra handful of raisins. I baked for about 40 minutes and I think 35 minutes would have been even better.

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Congrats to the randomly selected winner of an item from Melody's awesome shop:
Dawn said...Great images--such vivid colors. Thank you for sharing your world with us. Love the cowl.

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all photos taken with a Canon Digital SLR from Vanns.com


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