Friday, July 30, 2010

Baby Art

We recently had a new addition to our extended family, so to accompany a meal for the new family of three, I created this name plaque, inspired by one of the projects in The Artistic Mother :

The photo that I edited turned out a lot more yellow than I had anticipated, but because I had a time crunch, I didn't meddle with it anymore. I don't know if it's something the family will particularly value long-term (It's hard to create art specifically for other people, isn't it? And really, it's just a variation on a hand-made card.) -- but I had fun making it to celebrate the birth of this sweet boy.

Are there any little creative ways you've found to commemorate the birth of a baby? Please tell me about it in a comment.

A Poem

If you're a regular reader, you know that I have taken on the challenge to write poetry more often. While I haven't been posting it, I've actually been writing far more than usual, particularly about my children. So far, most has been too personal to share, but I thought I'd share the one I wrote this morning about DS3 just to prove to you that I have been at it ;) It is yet untitled:

Like a kitten craving attention,
you crawl into Daddy's lap.
You twist and turn,
pressing your head and face
into his neck and chest,
your eyes half-closed
and your lips upturned
in a Cheshire grin.
I half expect you to purr
as you paw at Daddy's face.

He strokes you gently
and you wriggle some more.
You stretch your limbs,
exposing your belly,
and wait 
-- with bridled anticipation --
for fingers to tickle
and release the loving laughter
that builds in your breath.

When Daddy's teasing fingers
finally find their way from your face
to your baby boy belly,
you morph from quiet kitten
into roaring lion,
loud-throated thunder
exploding into howls of happiness --

Feline felicity in the form of a bare-bellied boy.

Are there any images that you have associated with your children lately? Why not try writing a poem about it! It's fun :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Crusts to Croutons (and Other Kitchen Creations)

Our family is not fond of the ends of bread, which we call "crusts" -- but I hate to throw them out. So I stuff them in the freezer and when I've got a good collection of them, I cube them and throw them in the frying pan with some olive oil, garlic,  and whatever herbs I find in my spice drawer (basil, oregano, parsley, thyme . . .)

(OK -- it looks like mold in the photo -- but it's actually lots of lovely dried herbs!)

After heating them in the pan, coating them with the oil and spices, I dry them under the broiler for a few minutes, and the result is these delightful croutons:

Or these chunkier ones with ancient grains bread:

They're awesome in soups, salads, and even as a snack by themselves!

After the croutons are stored away, we're left with these seasoned bread crumbs:

I have yet to find a good purpose for these. Any suggestions? Perhaps a coating for fish or chicken?

Are there any food "scraps" that you've found a way to use creatively? Tell me about it in a comment below!

While I'm here, I thought I'd show you the other ways we've been creative in the kitchen today. Here are the squares DD12 whipped up after dinner tonight:
(Yes, you can see where we've already dug into them! SOOOO yummy!)
And the french loaves DS3 and I made for garlic bread to accompany some meals we're making to bless a couple of other families:

Has there been any impromptu creativity in your kitchen lately?

Creative Camping

Earlier this week, my DH decided he would take our boys camping. He spent a couple of days thoughtfully preparing while we girls contemplated what we might do while they were gone. As they pulled out of the driveway, we were still undecided, and DD12 said, "We should go camping, too, Mom!" DD8 enthusiastically seconded the idea, so we set about figuring out if it could work.

DD12 jumped online and found a campsite that, unbeknownst to her, happened to be in the area where we used to live, making it comfortable for me because at least it was a familiar place. (I'm not the most adventurous sort, so it was reassuring to at least know where I was going and know that it wasn't far to get back home if things didn't work out!)

The only major difficulty we encountered was the fact that the boys had taken our only tent (well, except for the Ikea kiddy play tent). "No sweat," I thought. "We have tarps -- we can create our own tent -- or  we can always sleep out under the stars." Driven by my girls' enthusiasm, I decided, "We can do this!"

After a quick trip to the grocery store, we were off. Here is the shelter we created for ourselves:

Not bad, eh?
We used the little kiddy tent as our "change room" :)

Supper was delish!

We had no grill, so this is how we cooked it:
(DS11 was envious -- that's what he had wanted to do!)

We also had fire-baked brie with mustard and strawberry jam. It was the BEST baked brie we have EVER tasted! With Vinta crackers -- oh, it was yummy! We had to create a make-shift "sling" to get the cheese in and out of the fire -- but we managed without burning ourselves or the brie!

Prince Caspian joined us, and we had to make him "one of the girls" by giving him one of the stylin' hair clips we all wore to commemorate our adventure:
(Don't ask me why he was on the picnic table. He seemed to think that's where he belonged.)

And here is DD12 dreamily toasting her socks. She said it made them extra cozy.

Looks like we had a great time, doesn't it?

And we did.

Until bed time.

When the mosquitoes started harrassing us.

Sigh. We didn't sleep a wink. Well, DD8 got an hour or two between scratching bouts. We even tried sleeping in the car -- but the dog over-heated and steamed up all the windows, and I was afraid he was suffering -- so I went back out and built up the fire again. The girls followed me and we sang "99 bottles" (softly, so as not to disturb other seemingly slumbering neighbours) to wile away the time. DD12 said that was a highlight for her. (Seriously -- she wasn't being sarcastic. I guess working your way entirely through that song at 3:00 AM is somehow fun:)

We considered up and leaving in the middle of the night, but it was a gated campground, and I was afraid we were locked in. (OK, I'm daft. I admit it.) Besides -- I didn't want to wake other campers by revving the car engine as we made our escape. And besides again -- I'd promised DD8 she could swim the next day, and in the wee hours of the morning she was still bent on doing that.

However, after we ventured out for a walk around 5:30 AM, she admitted that she really was tired -- and ready to go home, since we'd still have to wait until 9:00 before we were allowed to go swimming.

And so ended our little adventure.

At least we didn't get wet.

But really -- we made some memories that I think we'll all cherish for a long time.

Next time, though, I think we'll hit the spa instead!

Do you have any great memories that were created under less-than-ideal circumstances?
What conscious efforts do you make to create long-lasting memories?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Perfect Pair - Altered Art

Today is my husband's and my 19th wedding anniversary! In honour of that, I did a bit of altered art. Let's see if you can guess what I altered . . . (I'll give you a hint -- it's an advertisement for something.)

(Note: No money was spent in the creation of this card. That makes me frugal -- not cheap ;)

This is the cover. The title, "The Perfect Pair" was part of the original advertising. (I know it's "cheesy" -- ha!):

This is the inside spread:

The title "Create Your Own" was also part of the original advertisement ;)

An extra little flap that was originally a coupon, I think:

Space for me to write a personal note: (You didn't think I would share THAT did you?!;)

A close up of the title in case it helps you to guess:

Any guesses????

Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures of the original, but you can go here to see what type of advertising I used to create this one-of-a-kind (crazy?!?!?) anniversary card. If you think you know, leave a comment before you check the link.

Have you recycled anything that would otherwise be garbage into something useful and unique? Tell me about it in a comment:)

I linked this post to . . .


Monday, July 19, 2010

Creativity Vision Banner

I'm working my way through The Artistic Mother, and this week's project was to create a banner about my artistic vision and goals. It's kind of a unique project -- I've never made a fabric banner before, and it was kinda fun putting text over some photos for my vision statement and goals. The goals are detachable so that they can be updated whenever I want.

Once again, it's a little "busier" than I had envisioned -- but I like the eclectic nature of it. (You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.)

Prior to working my way through this book, I NEVER would have thought about establishing a vision statement about my creativity, or even setting long-term creative goals for myself. Have you thought about doing it? For what other areas of life might you consider creating a vision statement and goals?

I linked this post at:


Check out the other great creations there!

Travel the World - TOS Product Review


In preparation for my TOS Crew's 2010-2011 product review cruise, I have been asked to write a practice review. I chose to review the June 2010 Module of The Shoolhouse Planner, entitled "Travel the World," a 52-page document full of  information and activities.

Available from The Old Schoolhouse Store
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Customer Service: 1.888.718.HOME
All Ages

Geography has never been my forte, but travel has always appealed to me -- and when you think about it, the two really go hand-in-hand. So when this module presented the subject of geography as an opportunity to "travel the world," I got excited about the prospects.

It only took me about half an hour to skim read the e-book, but I was very impressed by the depth and breadth of information presented, not only in the book itself, but via the plethora of internet links it provides. What appeals to me most is that it offers material that can be used to span a variety of ages and learning stages;  there are ideas and activities that appeal to my pre-schooler, and there are learning opportunities for the oldest member of my family. (Oh -- that would be me! :) From little ditties to help one remember the names of the continents (sung to the tune of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands"), to colouring pages, word games and puzzles, to lapbook templates, to copywork pages (manuscript and cursive), to National Geographic geography challenges, to international recipe ideas -- there is something for everyone to learn and enjoy.

Because we're in summer mode, we did not take a formal approach to our exploration of this unit study. Instead, I picked elements I thought my children would most enjoy, and pursued those.

(She doesn't quite look it in the photo -- but she really is enthused! She's just concentrating. LOL)

DD3 had fun with the colouring pages; DD8 tried her hand at some of the word games (she had trouble with the word search because of her visual discrimination challenges -- but she's a trooper); and DS11 went to town with the computer games. I confess we were a bit disappointed with the "Additional Geography Fun" links. Some require an awful lot of reading with little action; some are just quizzes (not so good for a child who is stressed by tests); and some test a memory of patterns more than a knowledge or understanding of geography. But still -- there is lots to choose from, and what doesn't float our boat might send another's sailing.

In studying this geography gem, I came to realize just how imortant it is to have the digital version of an e-book. I had DH print and bind a lovely copy of my "Travel the World" unit because I'm a book-in-hand kind of person. Then, my computer died -- leaving me without access to the digital version. "No problem!" I thought. "I have the hard copy."

But there was one minor detail I hadn't considered: embedded links! I love using them in my blog -- but if you can't click those links, you can't get to the websites! Thankfully, I was able to solve my digital dilemma, and enjoyed exploring the wealth of information that was just a click away. To show you the variety of information available in this e-book, here are just some of the websites that provide more meat and potatoes (and gravy ;) in "Travel the World":

Of course, all of the linked websites have related links to more information, videos, maps, and quizzes -- so the opportunities for learning are virtually endless. Some of the websites have distracting (though not offensive, that I noticed) advertising, but the abundance of resources available is worth that minor annoyance.

I don't have any high school students yet, but I appreciate the fact that "Travel the World" has a "High School Expansion" section that offers additional challenges and information for more advanced students. I also like the fact that while it is a geography unit study, it incorporates multi-subject activities related to language, literature, history, and even business. Oh -- and we musn't forget those recipes for cooking! It also appeals to a variety of styles of learning, including visual, tactile, and kinesthetic.

"Travel the World" might just be what your family needs to set sail on a great academic year. I'm sure it will provide our family with plenty more opportunities for adventure from the comfort of our home, as it's something we can easily come back to whenever the travel bug bites.

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge for review purposes. I am not paid for my review beyond receipt of the product.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Art Supplies!

Do you remember me telling you about winning Halle's Hobbies blog give-away? Well -- my package arrived today!

DD8 ran into the Learning Lab with the box in hand exclaiming, "Your art supplies are here, Mommy! Your art supplies are here!" She'd come upon the box on the front porch where a postal worker must have left it (very unusual in our neck of the woods -- usually we have to go to the post office to pick up parcels that don't fit in the superbox).

So exciting . . .

When the box was opened . . .

Under the bubble bags (which had to be popped as noisily as possible) . . .

Pretty pastels . . .

Beautiful brush-tip markers . . .

Big pad of sketch paper . . .

Oh, the fun to be had!

Have you had any creative treats lately? What would you wish for if you could win some supplies with which to express your creativity?

Fancy Footstool

We recently aquired a vintage footstool and some tapestry fabric from a family member (who couldn't bear to use or even store something orange :) and had no use for the fabric), so I decided to grant one of my mom's wishes for a new footstool that would compliment the colours in her apartment.

I set to work with these materials:

Started stapling . . .

And 15 minutes later had this:

Not bad, eh?

Is there a little creative project you've been putting off, but could probably accomplish in just a few minutes? Why not challenge yourself to get it done today! You'll be glad you did :)

I linked this post to . . .
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