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 🙂

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).

Welcome 2009!  I am always happy to ring in a new year.  Every year is a new adventure and new beginnings. 

So keeping with that theme, I have decided to revamp my blog a bit and try to be a bit more organized and not so random.  I do like the randomness of my blog ( I will keep some of that alive and well) but I wanted to start focusing on certain topics and get more info out there to families. 

So I will be focusing on one topic per month, and during the month I will be interjecting some randomness too (keeping everyone up to date on the Calhoun’s adventures).  I am going to provide a favorite recipe per month and a favorite family craft.  I will be doing giveaways randomly (possibly monthly or every other month)  I will try to tie the giveaways to the topic of the month.   I may add some things along the way- this is definitely an ever evolving platform for me. 

So with that said, this months topic is one of my faves – cloth diapering.  I know I have talked about it before, but I will be giving more information and hopefully answering some of your questions you may have about cloth diapering.

So I hope to see everyone back and I hope you will enjoy the new and improved Bellamadris.

Happy New Year!

I know it’s close to the middle of November already, but here’s the October recap….

I’ve been working on getting ready for my first real craft fair so I’ve been putting bloggingoff to the side. 

So, Fall is my favorite season, I just love the smells, colors, energy in the air, everything.  This is the time of year when I miss living in the Chicago area/Midwest, because it is just so beautiful and you get that warm fuzzy feeling inside.  Anyways, October was spent going to pumpkin patches. 

We made it to a few with the family and then Ryder even made it to another one with his school.  It was a bit warmer than I would have liked during the month – you know it should be kinda cool and crisp- but it still was beautiful. 

We found some really great pumpkins and climbed lots of hay pyramids and had lots of fun.

Then came Halloween (one of my favorite holidays- love dressing up!) 

So Ryder insisted on being a firefighter and Saige was a black cat.  So since Ryder already had his Dad’s firefighter hat from Doug’s childhood (and hasn’t taken it off since he got it from Grammy Kathy about 2 months ago), we just needed to find a coat- luckily we found one at the thrift store- perfect!  I made a kitty hat and tail for Saige and we were set.  We carved our pumpkins the night before and went trick or treating with his best bud and had a blast! 

The Halloween Fairy came a couple nights later and left a few books in place of the candy.  I recommend the Halloween Fairy come visit your little ones in the future- great way to get rid of the candy.  Ryder even wrote her a letter and asked for her to leave 2 pieces (which is totally fine). 

We had our first rain (since I’d say March- give or take) on Halloween and again the next day- we actually had a break in the rain for trick or treating (and the weather actually made it even better).  So by Sunday we were a bit anxious to get back out so we headed up North for a hike in one of our favorite spots.  A little hike we used to do with Wanagi when we lived up in Healdsburg at Lake Sonoma. 

So we took the kids and Milo and headed out.  It was so wonderful- it’s so great to be out after a rain- it’s like everything is taking a big drink.  The smell of the earth is so pungent- it’s just wonderful.  And it was perfect because it was dia de los muertos (day of the dead) which is a day to honor our loved ones who have passed.  I had intended on creating a little shrine this year (but it didn’t quite come to fruition) so our hike was in honor of our beloved Wanagi.  It was definitely sad to be there without him, but Milo sure enjoyed himself – the torch has been passed.

In between all of that, I plugged away at my craft, sewing blankets, getting business cards, hammering out the details (mainly a lot of sewing).  And it all ended in todays craft fair.  Which was fabulous! 

I had a great time and am jazzed for the next one.  Now I have a few weeks to get a couple wall hangings done and there’s a possibility I may be selling my shirts in one of the boutiques in town (the owner took my card and we are making an apointment to talk!  I hope it goes well).

So there we have it.  Hope October was spooktacular for all of you too (sorry had to be a cheeseball with that phrase).

Today I had to go to the “mall”, not a big fan of the “mall” but I needed to get something there and I was in the area so I detoured to the “mall”.  (I have it in quotes b/c Doug and I usually say it in a certain tone- anyways) I always leave with such a weird feeling, the first being a feeling of filth – not really crazy about the “mall” clientele and it just always looks dirty and second it’s this weird anxious feeling b/c there is this energy in the air of frenzied shoppers just buying to buy something.  Especially now, with the economy, I noticed most all stores had some kind of sale going on and people were just scooping it all up.

So my point being…. I have really been focusing on buying handmade and/or local.  This particular purchase today was lingerie (for my cousins bachelorette party) and there just wasn’t anything in our little, wine country town that screamed bachelorette party (not that I was looking for something totally sleezy) but something sassy.  So I succumbed to the “mall” and found the item I was looking for. 

I let myself wander every so often, and wouldn’t you know it the day that I do, what should I find in my email inbox tonight?  But a new “Green Mom Finds” – “Big Green Purse” Book – a book about shopping with an eye for environmentally-safe, socially responsible products and services. And it teaches about how you can use your dollar wisely when it comes to purchasing eco-friendly, fair-trade items. 

So after seeing that it just reiterated my desire to continue to try to buy local and/or handmade when buying presents.  I can say more than 80% of the time I shop local/handmade for my family and I (we love thrift stores, consignment stores and garage sales – even Ryder has learned how cool garage sales are!) But when it comes to presents I sometimes fall back on the “convenience”  of going to the “mall” or another retailer ( I hate admitting that).  So I am trying to make a vow for the upcoming holidays to either make the presents myself (I do have a lot of canned goods now that will be given as gifts), or buy from another local crafter or the thousands of wonderfully talented artists/crafters on Etsy.

Check out Green Mom Finds– subscribe to it and get daily emails about great green items.

Try to buy local whenever possible and handmade, support your local artists.  This holiday season seek out some local craft fairs or check out Etsy and if you can’t buy everything, maybe just one item (more would be good, but you have to start somewhere).

I haven’t been blogging b/c I was asked to make a baby present for a friend who had a shower to go to today.  So I’ve been working on a name sign for the gift.  Kinda like the one I made for Saige – just smaller.  I love how it turned out.  My friend gave me no restrictions – she told me the name and the colors of the nursery and of course with the fabric hording that I do, I knew I could find something in my studio. 

So, I hope the mama to be is happy with her gift.  I certainly enjoyed making it.

Yesterday was the epitome of down home fun, mom’s homemade apple pie, sticky fingers on a warm summer day fun mixed with a bit of Northern California eclectic goodness.  It was the annual 4th of July celebration in our town.  We have a town “square” (which is really pretty big-we have two playgrounds, a duck pond, lots of great grassy areas, big shade trees, a rose garden, city hall, a band shell, etc.) that had the typical art vendors, food booths, kids corner (with jumpy houses and slides) and of course beer and wine booths and our annual parade (which we were in this year!). 

So let me start from the beginning, Ryder’s school had a sign up sheet for the parade – so of course I was the first name on the list (or the second) and they were also taking ideas for the float.  Again, I wanted to help come up with a great theme.  So I racked my brain and finally the light bulb went off, I was looking at their sign (which has a dragonfly – kinda like their mascot) and I thought how can we incorporate that into the theme.  So I came up with”soaring high on the wings of knowledge”. 

Basically I came up with an idea of making a giant dragonfly to hang from the float and then I had to figure out a way to incorporate that with a catchy saying.  So the teachers said they loved it and onward we pressed.  I volunteered to create the dragonfly- you know how you have an image in your head and then when you start to figure out the engineering of it- things start to seem harder.  Well we had a couple rough spots, but for the most part it went as I had planned.  Of course, working at a home improvement store I thought of materials we have here.  So I grabbed a 4 ft. piece of pvc and some copper wire. Bought a $.99 beach ball and started paper macheing.  That was the most challenging part but after a couple days of tweaking here and there- the dragonfly came alive! 


We had a float decorating party the night before the parade and decorated the kids wagons, etc.  while the kids ran around and raged- it was a blast! The float was decorated like the classroom, we had one of the tables, their calendar, their little exercise equipment and some other misc. items.

Then came the day of the parade, an early morning, some last minute touch ups and off we go….. I think the parents were more into it than the kids, but they did have fun. 

 I have vowed to be in the parade every year.  Much better than dealing with the crowds on the street (b/c our town gets packed) and you gotta love waving to everyone – there’s something fun about that.  So while the kids are in preschool I will continue to volunteer every year and then if at any point their school decides to not do it- I think I’ll make my own float (great platform to get your opinion out there!).

Much to my surprise, the teachers told me they are going to hang the dragonfly up in the classroom.  I was thrilled to hear that.  I guess it’ll be their mascot.

So on to the square, waited in long lines to jump on some inflatable thing (but that is what childhood is about), paid too much for some mediocre veggie burgers, sat in the shade and chatted amongst friends, enjoyed some adult beverages (Doug) and listened to the typical “fair” bands playing in the background.  Headed over to our friends for yummy dinner (and for Ryder to play some more- as if he hadn’t been playing all day) and parked the car on the way home to catch the fireworks.  Both kids were asleep in our arms before the first firework went off.  It was your Norman Rockwell kinda day.

Sweet dreams sleepy heads – until next year!