Saturday, January 30, 2010

After: New House Colors

Our new house used to be Barbie Tan. And Sesame. And other various shades of beige.

In the basement, a little minty green was thrown in for good measure. But generally speaking, we were not huge fans of the color scheme in our new house. Now, mind you I have seen MUCH worse. MUCH. And, it's also probably true that even if the colors were the most perfect I'd ever seen, I would find some reason to need to repaint. But, as "luck" would have it, we both agreed that this house needed a new color scheme.

A de-beiging, if you will. I'm pretty sure we're all done with the painting - for the moment. I say this even though our entryway, which is unfortunately a decent color (gray), has white splotches all over it from where nail holes were patched. But, I'm so tired of painting that some strategically place pictures will have to do.

So on to the next phase of home improvements: flooring! We tore out the purple (Yes, you read that right. Prince and the New Generation Purple. Vikings Fan purple.) carpet in favor of some click-lock bamboo set to be installed on Tuesday. So after only a month of waiting, we will finally have use of our entire house. Very exciting. The only bad news is we have no idea what to do with a second "living room."

Yeah, I know, rough times. Extra space. But it's not like I can make it a craft room or something. It's right inside my front door. And I'm not very neat with my crafts. And scissors just can't be out and about in this house! So, we'll probably build a rock climbing wall and install a slide and make it the playroom! Hahahahaha. No. Not really.

After the flooring comes the part where it eventually becomes Spring and we get to work on the yard, which is TOTALLY devoid of anything other than a tree or shrub. Not. One. Little. Perennial. Not. One. Stinkin. Hosta. Well, at least I won't be bored! I'll have a vegetable garden, wildflower garden and assorted perennials to get moving on! Want to come help?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Run, Cookie, Run!

When we moved to our new house, we were talked into subscribing to some mega-super 80 million channel cable package. Now, it's strange, because we don't spend much time watching TV at all. I mean, when we're not making butter with our toddler, or knitting sweaters, we're on the internet or painting our house! But, the salesperson was convincing, so we went for it. We quickly discovered the Kids on Demand feature and, subsequently, Nick Jr. On Demand, which brought us to the magic that is Little Bear. Have you seen Little Bear? You should.

Little Bear is this sweet, funny little cartoon with some of the most relaxing music ever. It puts our daddy bear to sleep every night, in fact. We were particularly inspired by the episode in which Little Bear and his friends make gingerbread cookies and then are forced to chase after them when they take off out into the snow. We decided we had to make some gingerbread ourselves. I used this recipe and was very happy with it. They were easy to cut out, and very spicy and crunchy.

We've unfortunately run out of new On Demand Little Bear's to watch, as well as the local library's collection. But, it's good enough that we will probably just go back and watch them all again. And watch those gingerbread men (and gingerbread stars, and bulldozers and doggie bones and hearts) disappear.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Verdict: Toddler Butter Making

A few days back I posted some ideas for keeping your wee ones busy during these long, cold months. I have been working on testing each of them out. First up was making butter. I remembered making butter I think back in fourth grade back at old Frank Allis Elementary School when one of our classmate's mom's came in to teach us how it was done in the old days, so I was naturally inclined to want to try it again.

My tot's interest came from the book Thomas and the MIlkshake Muddle that he checked out from the library. I don't want to ruin any big surprises if you've got this one ready to read on your bookshelf or anything, but in the book Thomas ruins all the milk from the dairy by driving too fast and shaking it into a butter state. Now, if I were conducting a Myth Busters-style experiment, I would have insisted we get our butts on a train and see how fast it'd have to go to turn milk into butter. I'm no scientist, but I'm pretty sure Thomas would have to have been going mach 80 million over gravel to make this possible.

For our non-scientific activity, we simply poured a little heavy cream into some clean baby food jars and shook (and shook. and shook.) until the watery part separated away and left behind some yummy butter. Of course we had to peek a few times first, and taste test a little.

Here's the verdict. My kiddo is 2. He liked this activity for about the first 4 minutes of shaking it. He liked the part where we strained out the watery stuff. He liked tasting. But the hard-core shakin' your booty part, not so much. Even though we set this activity to music, it still did not hold his attention the whole time. But it was fun, and we did get some tasty butter out of it! Mmmm, butter. I'd definitely recommend it, maybe for older kids. With older kids you could even try some butter varieties like garlic or honey!

If you try it, be sure to post your results!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Child's Placket Neck Sweater, DONE!

See this little guy? Isn't he cute. Well, when he was about this small I started knitting him the Child's Placket Neck Sweater. Cut to present time, when I have a super tall, ever-growing 2-and-a-half year old. Voila, sweater is complete and...

...doesn't it look great on him? It should fit him for approximately 27 seconds before he outgrows it. But at least he got one good wearing out of it!

I enjoyed knitting this sweater quite a bit. It was just challenging enough for me, without totally frustrating me. My only wish is that I could have been a little more expedient in my knitting of it! The hardest part of the whole thing was the placket. I found this reference to be invaluable. I love the yarn I used, too -- Cascade Yarns Cash Vero DK (merino, extra fine wool, microfiber acrylic, and cashmere) in color 020. I knit really tight, but the size 2 - 4, in my opinion, fits a 2-year-old, but probably not a 4-year-old.

Thanks to my friend Jen for going first -- she inspired me to give this pattern a try, and I'm glad I did!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Before and After: Office

I'm not going to lie. I'm tired. I've painted waaaaaaaay to many rooms in the new house already. And I still have two more to go. The office, however, was the worst. It was "barbie tan" to start with, and the ceilings are really high and awkward. So, thank goodness it's over. And it's staying "Midwest Spring" blue for a long time. What really sucks is having to try to paint during naptimes and after 8 PM at night. Ugh. The dining table won't be staying there, so this will be a nice open room I can fill up with plants at some point. I am calling it my "botanical room."

Well, that's enough complaining. I can't complain at all about how it turned out. It's soooo much better than barbie tan. On to the next room! Next up is our bedroom. It's going to be "cocoa pecan" -- which actually looks a bit like poo. But not enough for me to stop, just enough for me to worry and wonder how the heck to decorate a poo-colored bedroom. Well, here's hoping I can do a heck of a lot with bed linens...which I can't afford! Bwaaaaaah! Guess I better go grab that paint brush and get to work!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Toddler Indoor Activities

In winter, I vacillate between being so eager for spring I can hardly stand it and reveling in all the indoor fun I’m “forced” to succumb to, like baking, making and reinventing my surroundings. This winter is a little different, having just moved, but essentially it’s the same. The most different part, really, is that whereas last year our little one was just learning to walk and hardly spoke any words at all, this year he is a fully formed person who wants to play, explore, learn and chatter from one end of the house to the other. Coming up with activities that we all enjoy is a formidable task. And learning how to break the activity into very small chunks so as to keep the attention of a toddler, a must!

Since many of my friends are also “trapped” indoors with toddlers this winter, I decided to compile a little repository of fun indoor activities to do with a toddler in the winter, or really whenever inclement weather keeps you inside the house. These are just things that appealed to me personally – but by all means there are many more ideas out there. I just happen to gravitate toward creative or crafty projects or things to do in the kitchen.

I’d love to hear what others are doing to maintain their sanity this season. Aside from indoor play gyms and the like, what are you doing with your shorties right now?

Teach your kids to make pasta

Making butter with kids

Make your own lollipops

Making Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Making Homemade Finger Paint

Cork Race Game

5 Instruments to Make with Kids

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Little Man Shirts on Horizon!

I've been madly sewing up new tiesies out of the great Zee Spot long sleeve organic cotton onesies I just ordered. It's so soothing to do this work. I love putting together the colors, and I love imagining what the little dude who wears it might look like. My customers are usually buying for a special occasion - wedding, birthday, gift - so it's such an honor and source of pride for me when these little shirts head out the door. And of course I love the fact that I am finding uses for things like old ties that might end up in a landfill somewhere or something.

It all started over two years ago before my wee pumpkin was even born. We had a wedding to go to, and I had no idea what a 3-month-old wore to such an event. So I put my thinking cap on and came up with the uber-comfortable and super retro hipster baby tiesie. Of course wee pumpkin ended up stealing the show a bit in his duds, but he didn't seem to mind all the attention! This year I am hoping to spend a little time with some new designs, maybe using more reclaimed or vintage fabrics in applique form. I'm thinking more birthday tees and maybe adding a "big brother" and "big sister" tee into the mix. And as a special request for my mom-n-law, a "Grandma" tee! Can't wait to see what the future holds for Pumpkin if I can just squeeze in a few more hours to my day, somehow!

Any other great ideas for new Pumpkin Girl tees? I got lots of onesies that need a purpose!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Before and After: Basement Bar

Aside from our cool fireplace, our new basement bar is one of the few things that adds lots of retro charm to our otherwise-uber beige house. It needed just a wee bit of painting and some new decor and it's looking like a dandy replacement for our formerly attic "man room" area.

It may be difficult to tell from the photos, but the wall color (what there is of it) used to be mint green. Now it's "antique red" which is really a red/orange combo that makes the space seem a lot warmer, and more old school. The hubby has begun putting up his string of Schlitz beer lights, his vintage TV lamp and other barware and beer signs and generally just pimping out his new space. It's fun to watch it come together and imagine a time when we'll have some friends in the new town with whom to enjoy it!!

Our newest project has been painting our "office" which is open to both our kitchen and living room. The color is "Midwest Spring" which is a really nice blue color. The room has a TON of this kind of ugly wood in it, but at least now it won't be "Barbie Tan" color any more (hubby's word) or what I like to call "Terra Cotta" -- really just another shade of beige.

Today I had a bug to try to make cheese. Yesterday it was butter. Perhaps my body is telling me I need more dairy? Anyhoo, if you have any good cheesemaking stories or recipes, do share!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Before and After: Living Room

Our new house is half generic, half cool. Half beige, half...well, no, actually the whole thing is beige. But paint is an easy way to change the look of something, right? Or maybe "easy" isn't the best way to describe it, but less expensive than remodeling, I guess.

Hubby and I quickly set about using paint to make our new house more our own, and de-beige and de-wood it a little bit. Our first project was to paint the shelving that flanked the fireplace white (Beach Pearl, to be exact) so that the fireplace would stand out a bit more. Because the fireplace is one of the few "charactery" things about the new place (see, I invented a new word!).

It wasn't so much easy, as it took about four days of naptimes and bedtimes to get it done. But for fairly little money and a lot of elbow grease, it makes a big impact. Dontcha think?

Phew, we are cranking through the projects over here. No time for sewing or knitting when you have home improvement projects calling your name!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

New Room, New Life

It's official! We're Wisconsin residents, again! I guess that means we're cheeseheads again, too! And we have been enjoying many a delicious cheese, too. Mmmm. It's been great coming back to the state both hubby and I started out in as wee ones ourselves. Already two nice neighbors have come bearing treats to welcome us to the neighborhood. Good vibes. Yes.

Our first moving objective once we arrives was to get our little guy acclimated to his new environment as quickly as possible. Leading up to the big event we prepped him quite a bit by talking about all the things that we'd do in our new house. We also took him to Sherwin Williams to pick out paint colors using those cool little fold-out brochures they have there. He chose Recycled Glass, which I thought was a nice choice. His auntie, nieces, me and he himself all pitched in to paint.

It's been a week and a half and already his room is completely done, all toys unpacked and most already played with at least once. It's so exciting! And wee one has only said a couple of times "I want to go home" -- which now is even waning. Thank goodness we're all settling in and crossing all the little to dos off the list. Slowly, life is returning to normal. I even made soup tonight from scratch (mostly). Seriously, it didn't come out of a box. Boy, are we progressing fast here!

More to come on all of our exciting new home developments. We've got new sites to explore, a yard to play in, and lots of fun home improvement projects as we turn this beige beauty into a place of our own. Stay tuned!