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

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.

As you can see we’ve been having some fun with tie dying. 

We’ve done two batches this summer.  Of course the first batch was to outfit our household and the second batch was to cloth our friends and family in Chicago. 

We recently headed back to Chicago for a visit and brought back a little Cali love in the form of tie dyes.  My kids LOVE their tie dyes – how can you not – groovy colors swirling around – just makes you want to smile 🙂

Our friend Kendra made a trip down to Dharma Trading Co. and unfortunately I couldn’t join her, but she came back with some tie dying goodies and made lots of fun gear for her kids and her new bambino.  Luckily our local art store had this lovely little kit that makes tie dying sooooo much easier than the good ‘ole bucket method.  It comes with 4 squeeze bottles with pointy nozzles and has the powdered dye already in the bottle – just add water.  It also comes with the soda ash and a fun little video showing all the different designs you can do.  The owner of the art store told me that he has all kinds of powdered dye to purchase so I can reuse the bottles.  It’s perfect.  I highly recommend the kit – it was only $19 and we ended up tie dying about 14 shirts, a pair of underwear and 2 pairs of socks and had left over.  The video was fun to watch too.  Ryder was all jazzed about the different designs to make.  And all in all it was not too messy.

While we were in Chicago we headed out to the Shedd Aquarium (one of my favorite places ever) and we took my nieces so we decided to all wear our tie dyes.  Let’s just say we really stood out in the crowd 😉

I’ve got some white sheets waiting for the next round of tie dying – Ryder really wants a set of tie dyed sheets.  He also wants to make Papa and Grandma some tie dyes (which is a hysterical thought if you knew my folks).  I think that will be on the christmas list this year 😉

My niece’s birthday was in February (yes, I know I’m a defunct Aunt – but I have a reason I was working on her present).  She is really into reptiles and birds right now so I had seen this awesome bird mobile here a few months ago and knew I just had to make this for Casey (and I was dying to have a reason to make it – and not feel bad about starting another project with the dozens of other half finished projects that are out in the cottage). 

I added an embroidered banner, made from vintage coasters, with her name.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the result.  I just sent it off to her today – along with an adorable charm from Theresa Rhodes, with a little bird on it as well.  Hopefully this is not bird overkill?!  I hope she loves this as much as I do… Happy Birthday my sweet Casey!

I cut this beautiful piece of bamboo from our trees – I love the color of the bamboo with the color of the birds.



It’s hard to believe the 4th of July has already come and gone !  Where is the summer going?  We were in the parade again, representing Ryder’s school.  And this year, on task, was bug making again.  Our theme was “catch the reading bug”  – they have a book club at school so we wanted to promote that.  So we made some book worms/caterpillars for the float with some alphabet blocks and the kids wore butterfly wings (to represent the metamorphisis of a child learning their alphabet and the learning to read and like the caterpillar blossoming into a butterfly). 

So began the caterpillar/worm creation.  Take a pillow case cut in half and stuff with some newspaper and a flexi drain pipe (that’s what you get for working in a home improvement store), add some eyes and a mouth and viola – small bookworm for the top of the blocks. 


Next take a fitted bed sheet, cut in half, sew up, stuff with newspaper, bags, packaging material, add eyes and a mouth and viola giant book worm.  



 I think they actually came out cute, very homemade and perfect for a preschool float for the 4th of July.  All recycled materials to boot! 

We had a great time.  There are so many wonderful families that we have met through Ryder’s school, there is such a sense of community.  We all gathered the day before the 4th at one of the family’s homes to build the float.  We brought food, ate, worked had a couple cocktails, laughed and had a great time as we prepared for the 4th (while the kids ran around and played). 

The next morning we were all a bit tired (but nothing a big cup of coffee can’t cure), but once we all got together we all came alive and had fun waving to the crowd that gathered for our local parade (it’s crazy how many people come).

We ended the day with ice cream and watching the fireworks (from the warmth of our car – Milo and Saige aren’t quite sure about the fireworks yet – they were coming a bit unglued until we got in our car where they felt safe – and it was more comfortable!)

Hope you all had a wonderful 4th!  How did you celebrate?  What does your community do?

Just a couple more pictures from our Earth Day project


just finished mulching this a.m.  Still have a couple more plants to put in – but once these get growing it will fill in really nice (and only one bit the dust – somehow a drip line never made it to the plant -oops!)


Here’s the entrance to the veggie garden – we built the two long beds on the far left and right.  I went this week and finished up the planting.  The kids were so into it – it was so great to see their enthusiasm.  The little ones needed a bit of guidance (they were a bit rough with the plants ) but my opinion is “we can always replant”.  It’s more about getting them interested and in the dirt.  If we lose a few plants along the way, no big deal.  As an adult sometimes it’s hard to let go of control and let your kids help out (it doesn’t always turn out the way you intended or it may take a little longer) but you just have to relinquish that control and let them be a part (especially if they are showing interest).  I have my moments that I have trouble relinquishing that control but I try to be conscious of that when we are working on projects.


In keeping with Earth Day and reusing items, we made bird feeders out of 1/2 gallon milk and juice cartons.  They were so easy to make and there is nothing better than inviting our feathered friends into your environment.  We just love to watch the birds feed on our feeders.  I think the kids will get a big kick out of seeing the birds come to feed as well as enjoy filling the feeders. 

We’re going to make some for our house too – you can never have too many bird feeders.

If you want to make one of your own follow this link  – have fun!


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