In between our holiday madness I got some crafting in, some for presents and some just for us:)

The year of the banner.  I LOVE making banners for different holidays, birthdays and just for any day of the week.  Some friends received holiday banners this year.

and one for us

This year I moved the village out from under the tree so we needed a new tree skirt.  I saw one at a store that inspired me – it was simple just red with snowflakes – I took that basic principle and envisioned a red skirt with different antique doilies attached (as the snowflakes). So began the quest for a red tree skirt (I was going to make one but thought I’d check the thrift stores first).  I was at one of my favorites digging through their uber amounts of doilies and I ask the lady behind the counter if they have any tree skirts and what do you know…. she’s about ready to open a big cardboard box that said “christmas stuff” and the first thing she pulls out is this adorable old tree skirt that is absolutely perfect.  So I pick up my stack of doilies and my fabulous find and head home to make my new tree skirt.

As I said this was the year of the banner….. here’s one the kids made

I’d have to say this is my favorite :)  They did such a good job – my little crafters!

A little something for my friends in Chicago.  I did the embroidery in the car on the way to The Skunk Train and I think I was a bit dizzy from the winding roads – as I look at the finished project ;)  Whoops – well this is part of the appeal of handmade to me, nothing is perfect and no two are alike –  let’s just go with that.  Hopefully they won’t mind.

And the dowel rod was a bit rough on the ends so I had to figure out a little finial and I found my new favorite thing to do…..

 

felt balls.  I had no luck making the felt balls with the soap and water method and then I bought felting needles – and ta da – it’s a miracle – I can make the felt balls :)  I am totally jazzed about my new found crafty love.

There was a bit more crafting/creating during the season but in all my rush to get the gifts to their rightful owners (some being back in Chicago) I failed to take pictures :(  but hopefully they are all enjoying their gifts made with lots of love.

What kind of wonderful crafting did you do during the holidays?  Did you receive any great crafts or handmade items? 

One of my favorite was a lip balm and soap made by my muli-talented girl Kendra over at a sonoma garden.  She makes all of these wonderful salves and lotions and potions and gardens and cooks and sews beautifully, etc etc. while raising three kids and I think they are up to 6 chickens now too!  I saw she had started to make lip balm and was secretly hoping I’d be getting some this year.  And yippee, I did…… Thanks Kendra:)

Phew, this was a whirlwind of a season…..  we have been enjoying every moment and are now getting back into the rhythm of our “routine”. 

The season starts on Thanksgiving.  We have spent the last few Thanksgiving dinners at our good friends house in their arbor out in their vineyard doesn’t get better than that ;)  It includes, good friends, lots of kids running around, good conversation, good food and beautiful fall weather and sun.

After a day of good food we went for our post Thanksgiving hike.  We headed out on a new trail that lead us to an ancient Redwood that looked like there should be dinosaurs walking around it – it was magnificent!  Then we headed up to this reservoir for some good old fashion echo calls – the kids got a big kick out of that – not sure all the animals around the area were thrilled but hopefully it scared off the mountain lions!

The next day was spent trudging around Moon Mountain for the perfect tree!  We always like to get the tree and the holidays kicked off early, it really gets everyone in the mood.  It was a great day spent looking for our tree.  Of course, Mama likes to walk around the mountain looking carefully at every tree while the kiddos run through the trees squealing with delight and Milo and Doug saunter along waiting for the call of “WE FOUND IT”!  For some reason it always ends up being one of the first trees we were eyeing.  I enjoy cruising around enjoying the sights and the smells, I don’t really think I’m looking for the “perfect” tree, I think they are all great, I just enjoy the time spent out there with the family – so I will keep taking “forever” to find our “perfect” tree😉

Next comes the decorating….

Then began the baking.  Oh the baking, cookies, breads, more breads, more cookies, fudge.  I have found two lovely recipes at rhythm of the Home that I have added to my holiday arsenal – so delicious – orange, cranberry walnut bread and cranberry ginger bread and so easy.  The kids had so much fun making all the goodies to be passed out for our friends.  Baking and singing was the theme throughout our house during December – good times:)

The first weekend in December marked the first Christmas recital for Ryder and what was supposed to be Saige’s second recital, but…… a little bug took Saige down for the day/night (luckily she was back in the game the next day – of course) but Ryder made his debut in a hip hop routine and rocked the house ;)  He was a bit nervous but as soon as he got up on stage with his buddies he was a natural and then he came running off the stage after the performance just flying on adrenal and saying “that was too short, I want to go back and do it again!”  It was priceless.  Very proud of my little elf, but sad my little mouse missed her performance – oh well there’s always next year.

The next adventure was the Santa Skunk Train in Mendocino.  We usually go on The Polar Express but that was sold out way too quick – which I am now glad for – because the Skunk Train rocked!

That’s one groovy looking Santa Train ;)  We made a weekend out of it with another family and had such a great time.  We stayed on a bluff with access to the beach – which we enjoyed making our version of snow angels!

Then we made it to Glass Beach – I have been dying to go there.  There is polished glass all over the beach.  We had lots of fun collecting and trying to find unusual colors (only found blue and red in really tiny pieces).  We all wondered what caused all of this glass to wash up on this little cove – much to our dismay, this area was an old dump – yes, we were frolicking on an old dump!  UGH!  It was still gorgeous, maybe the years of crashing waves has washed this area clean (and unfortunately dragged it all out for the rest of the world to enjoy!)  Seriously who would build a dump on the oceans edge!

polished glass

great tide pools to play in, lots of urchins, a few crabs, some fish hiding and lots of anemones – which all equals lots of fun and exploring:)

The annual lighting of the snowmen happened Friday after Thanksgiving – which turned out to be a volatile stormy day and night.  We were all ready to go but right as we were getting ready to put on our coats the sky unleashed its fury and we decided to sit this year out.  So instead we visited the snowmen on a different occasion. 

The deal with these snowmen is…. every year Cornerstone sets up these vintage snowmen (lots of them) and then lights them to start the holiday season.  They have marshmallow roasting, frosty and rudolph played on a wall of one of the buildings with hay bales set up for seating, hot chocolate, etc.  Everyone who has kids in Sonoma comes.  It’s a great time – too bad for the weather.  I just love these snowmen – I would love one for our yard.

This little guy showed up at our house the first week in December.  Not sure if you’ve heard of Elf on The Shelf?  Well I heard about this a few years back, we had elves that looked just like him when I was growing up (they weren’t elf on the shelf) but my mom always had them hanging out on the banister heading upstairs and I simply LOVED them!  It was my favorite thing to get them out and line them up.  I would pretend they were alive and I would talk to them.  Well fast forward to somewhere around 2008 and here is a modern day version of what I used to pretend.  So the story goes, the elf arrives, he is named by the kids, they can not touch him/her, they can tell him/her all their wishes, he/she reports to Santa every night whether the kids were good or bad and then he/she flies back to the kids home and is in a different spot every morning.  So the fun part is when they wake up the first thing they do is look for the elf.  Ours is named Nutcracker Boy ;)  Let’s just say Mama had a couple close calls, a few mornings I heard Ryder’s voice and I bolted out of bed, ran to Nutcracker boy and replaced him (once he got thrown across the room into the christmas tree!)  Ugh!  That got me a few times throughout the month.  Ryder swears he saw his head move :)  On Christmas eve the elf flies back home to live in the North Pole until next season.  He usually arrives sometime around Thanksgiving. 

We had so much fun with this tradition this year.  We even wrote our letters to Santa and gave them to Nutcracker boy to bring with him one evening:)

In between all this craziness I still remembered to enjoy the beauty of the season

And I think it was a little too much excitement for these two:)

 

New Years came in quietly – thank goodness:)

Hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday season.  Would love to hear how you spent your season.

Peace and Blessings to you in 2011 – hope to see you all back here

Finally completing our Thanksgiving sign!  I started it last year and didn’t finish it in time for Thanksgiving 2009, so I put it away and pulled it out 2 weeks before Thanksgiving 2010 and finished it!  Yes, unfortunately, that is how I roll.  I wish I would have just completed it last year, but nothing like a little fire lit under you to get you working, right?!  Much to my parents chagrin, this is also how I rolled  in college (sometimes it worked, sometimes not so much).

Something else I finally completed was Ryder’s name banner.  I have been meaning to get this done and after seeing how happy he was when I did finally hang it, I wish I would have done this a long time ago.  But I guess that’s what happens when life “happens”.  Balance, that’s what I keep trying to remind myself of. 

Of course I am grateful for so much more, my beautiful family, great friends, beautiful whole food from our yard, the sun, the sky, the earth, a good glass of wine, a nice dark beer, our four legged friends and our inner peace (that I sometimes lose but usually can find it if I look a little).

I’ve been doing  a lot of creating, crafting, sewing these last few weeks.  I signed up for a holiday boutique at Ryder’s school about a month or so ago and then thought “holy crap” I better get some things together!  So began a frenzy of cutting, pinning, sewing, crocheting, etc…….. In my madness I finally made Ryder a banner for his room – he was so happy to hang it up. 

Now if I can only finish my skirt I’ve had sitting on my table for months ;)  But I’m glad my little man is happy – he’s been waiting so patiently.

Saige and her new big girl bike (big 3 year old!)

soccer practice and soccer games – Doug is coaching this year too:)

painting the bean bag toss game for the birthday party

Snuck away from the party planning to go to Power to the Peaceful to see our boyfriend Michael Franti ;)  Yes, Saige and I are quite infatuated (as well as Doug and Ryder ).  What’s not to like about the man!  Saige was bummed we were so far back we couldn’t see him – too cute!

Figs are coming in

and so are the tomatoes!  Yippee!  I am thrilled.  Not sure if you remember my previous post about my tomatoes not being so big or great, well we got a nice little heat wave and BAM  they all turned red and were decent sized and I’ve been hauling in 8lb + baskets of tomatoes weekly – I’m loving it!

So with that said I’ve been doing a lot of sauce making and storing.

something else we’ve been making a lot of …. hula hoops – 30 to be exact.  These were the “reward” for solving the mystery at the kids party (Scooby Mystery party).

our big 6 year old (yes that’s right 6!) got his first skateboard for his birthday.  He got to go to the local skateshop and had his board built and got to tour the shop and learned the “skater” hand shake – the red carpet treatment.  He was so stoked!

Shaggy and Daphne before the party.  Mama had a late night – I had some costume adjustments to make.  It was going to be 95+ degrees that day and I had to make a new dress for Saige (or I should say Daphne) one that was sleeveless.  Doug was Fred (unfortunately we did not get a picture of him) and I was Velma (yes, the smart one ;)  ).

picked some berries in the morning for a raspberry/strawberry curd for the filing of the cake.  I tried my hand at a red velvet cake and was thrilled with the outcome. I usually try out new cakes on my friends and they don’t usually turn out good (I am not the best baker) but this one turned out good:)

In the haste of frosting the cake (15 minutes) before the party I forgot to cross the “T” in birthday.  And no that isn’t a spelling mistake – it is supposed to say Rappy Rithday (in the words of Scooby).

The hoops were a success and Velma really liked them too ;)  yes that is me under the wig and glasses – it was way too hot to rock the turtleneck!

So after this all this, I woke up and it suddenly was October!  Ugh!

And during this time Ryder started kindergarten, I (and a few others) are trying to get the schools garden built, I started doing a daycare co-op with a friend and her two kids and Saige is back in tap and Ryder is taking hip hop – phew! 

September always seems to sneak up and fly by.  The good thing is the “gang” has their costumes ready for Halloween – no costume sewing for Mama.  Now back to my quilt (and the other 50 projects I have half finished).

I can catch my breath now

Three years ago, today, she entered our lives (quickly and forcefully) and she continues to live this way.  She has changed our lives in ways we never imagined.  She keeps us on our toes, she keeps us laughing, she has created more gray hairs than I care to admit (but I will take ever one of them and more!), she has filled our hearts with so much joy and love. 

We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl, when she arrived she had no name (and didn’t for about 2 weeks).  We let her choose her name and what an ever fitting name – Saige (wise one ).  She is teaching us so many things about living in the moment, not taking life too seriously and living loud and large.

Thank you my sweet sprite Saige – we love you more than words.  Happy happy day to you

This year I was determined to plant my entire garden from seed.  Most everything was a success, minus the few that met their demise with the slugs, but otherwise fairly successful – except for my tomatoes!  Of course, another crappy year for The Calhoun’s and their tomatoes.  For those of you who know me, you know that I do not eat tomatoes during the off season and that I LIVE for that first fresh farm grown tomato from either my garden or the farmers market (usually the farmer’s market is where I get my first).  And from that moment, until the end of the season, I live on tomatoes.  Tomato sandwiches everyday, sliced tomato with sea salt or olive oil or just as is, panzanella salad (my two loves – tomatoes and bread – seriously is there anything better!?), pesto pasta with fresh tomatoes, faux bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, fresh tomato sauce, the list goes on.  I’m surprised I don’t have sores all over my mouth from the acid!

But going back to our tomatoes, I used Renee’s garden heirloom tomato seeds – I usually like Renee’s garden – so I’m not sure if it’s the weather we’ve had in Northern Cali (unusually cool and foggy) or if it was a bunk batch – but whatever it is – the plants looked lovely but the tomatoes not so much.  Small, small, small  – not big enough to slice for a sandwich.  So when all the tiny green tomatoes finally started to turn red I started making salsa, sauces, salads, etc.  They taste fine – just not that uber juicy giant beauty I like to sink my teeth into.

Luckily the farms in the area have provided me with my fix, as well as Doug’s co-worker and our friend who works at a local farm (we get lots of the leftover tomatoes – perfect for sauces). 

So I got my first batch of leftovers and other stragglers that had not been grubbed and made some sauce to freeze.  Oh, did it feel good to be in the kitchen, over the stove, smelling the slowly simmering sumptuous sauce – all made with veggies from our yard, our friends yards and a local farm (which the property is shared with our friends’ so essentially our friends property too). 

I will look forward to that cold rainy winter day when I pull out a bag to use for our dinner.  The smell will bring me right back to the beautiful summer day when this was simmering all day – as kids run barefoot through the house squealing with joy.  Ahhhh a moment in time:)

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