I have been waiting for this day for 9 months

I'm sure you're expecting this post to be about pregnancy or childbirth, or possibly the end of a school year. But it's not. It has been nine long months since the end of the 2007 college football season, but the drought officially ends today!

In most American families, Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year. In our house it is the last Saturday in August. And while we'll watch any team playing, our devotion rests with the University of Michigan. My boys in blue. And lest you think I'm exagerating a tad, I should mention that we have a Michigan room in our house, complete with blue walls and a winged helmet on the TV, and that their fight song played as we exited the church at our wedding. And that Avery could signal "touchdown" before she could say "mama." At one, she glanced at the TV, saw a UM highlight on SportsCenter, and yelled "Go Blue!" before moving on to whatever toy she was playing with.

And so, of course, the three of us are clad in Maize and Blue this morning. Avery has been asking all week if it was time to wear her Mich-gan dress, as in her tiny cheerleading outfit. Before she could, though, she needed hairbows to match it (to me this is obvious, but I realize I'm a bit more obsessive about the hairbow thing than most). This is what I came up with:

The tutorial for making these bows is here.

Not great, but not too bad either, though I don't think I'm ready for an Etsy shop just yet.

The major problem I had was a lack of proper supplies. The glue I used dried too hard, and the wires I had were either too heavy or too light. The other issue was making two to accomodate pigtails. Since they had to match it took much longer than just making two separate bows would have. Still, I think they'll work for twelve Saturdays.

And since I know you're dying to see the complete ennsemble, here''s my little cheerleader, complete with her "ham hams" (that's pom-pons, for those that don''t speak toddler).

Enjoy the games, Go TOPS! and GO BLUE!!!

Template Issues

Last night I was playing with creating my own header image at Scrapblog, but somewhere in the process I lost my background. And now it seems to have disappeared from the web. So, enjoy the new one while I try to decide what to do. I may look into having one custom designed (Beckky at Creative Blog Designs has a great package for only $20!), or I may test my frustration levels and see if I can figure out how to make one myself.

If you know of any great pink templates out there, let me know!


It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...

Yes, I realize it is only August. And that if the humidity were any higher it would be raining (I wish!). And that I shouldn't be wishing my life away. But seriously, who doesn't love Christmas? I love planning the perfect gifts for loved ones, and decorating. and shopping, and looking at lights. I love keeping old traditions and starting new ones. I love the excitement on Avery's face at the wonder of it all. I love all those ridiculously cute little Christmas outfits that she wears twice if we're lucky. And, let's be honest, I love getting two weeks off of school.

And all of that excitement leads to weeks of stress and frenzy.

My wonderfully observant husband noted last year that I was spending so much time trying to perfect the holidays that I wasn't enjoying them at all. But I do love to decorate the house and bake and do all of those Christmasy things my mom always did when we were little, so this year I'm really going to strive to find a better balance between what the holidays are really about and the tinsel and jingle bells that remind me of that.

And that is more important now than ever. In February I suffered a grand mal seizure in my sleep. I had never had one before, and none of the many tests I had showed a possible cause for it. So I was basically told that I was fine, but that I couldn't drive for six months. Yes, one half of one year. I floundered in this, never really learning how to continue to manage my house while having to schedule things around a ride. Toward the end of my confinement I realized that I hadn't wanted to figure that out, because to do so might somehow invite that dependency to be permanent. I started driving again the first day of school...and then that Friday had another grand mal in my sleep. So now, at 28, I've been diagnosed with epilepsy. Apparently it's not that big of a deal health-wise, but I am now taking anti-epileptic drugs for the rest of my life and I'm not driving (much) again. I'm a little ticked off that I was so faithful to the no driving mandate only to have the second seizure after the six months was over. What was the point? So now I have to organize our life and find a way to have routine while learning to manage this unpredictable condition.

Enter the Holiday Grand Plan. It starts August 31st and runs for 18 weeks. All of the tasks needed to have an organized hoiday are spread out over the program, so that you can actually enjoy the time off with family and friends. Just print out all of the calendars and such and check the website weekly for the new assignment. Anyone else in?? I need someone(s) to help make sure I stick to this. My hope is that I'll be so organized this semester that I'll be able to finally host a cookie swap in December and send out Christmas cards in time for them to arrive before Christmas. That may be wishful thinking! Thanks to Belle-ah for letting us know about this great site.
Now that I've hyped up my holday home decor, I suppose I should share a few pictures. I basically decorate in bright green, dark red and silver. And before you ask, yes, matching wrapping paper is a requirement, as are trimmings that require hot glue to stay on. I add to the decorations each year as I find things that fit that color scheme. Last year I decided to add Magnolia leaves into the mix, and I think I'll do more of that. The leaves are free and plentiful! This year I may decorate our three season wrap around porch, as well.

I always switch out the pictures in the frames with ones from past Christmases. It keeps tables and walls from being too cluttered, but still allows me to show off my beautiful little girl.

We never use the dining room, but it received the most decoration.

Our prettiest tree yet, with the dining room in the background.

It took me four year to find stockings in my color scheme. So worth the wait! The fourth one is for our dog, Tucker.


Artwork Anyone Can Do...


I have never thought of myself as an artist. Artists draw and paint things, and while my sketches are passable, they are nothing I'd ever hang on the wall. That's why when I create artwork I generally use something else as a starting point, like this. In the case of the artwork for the playhouse, my starting point was paper.

Let me just pause here to say how much I love paper. It is so versatile, comes in all kinds of sizes, colors and textures, and is CHEAP! It is hands down my favorite craft product.

So this is the trio of collages I created to hang in Ave's house (assuming it ever gets completed...):

I actually plan to hang these horizontally, so use your imagination. I agonized over how to compose these three little prints, but I'm really happy with how they turned out. Here's the how to:

Start with square canvases in whatever size works for your application. Mine are 11" x 11" and actually were already painted with tuscan designs. I just primed them before painting them pink. The darker pink is right out of the bottle; the lighter one is that shade mixed with white. Unlike most paints, these dried lighter, so keep that in mind. I taped off all of my lines to keep the edges clean, but you could freehand the background if you wanted.

For the collages I used a combination of hand cut shapes (the vase, grassy hill, tulip), Cricut cut designs (daisies) and shapes traced from printouts (letter "a", butterfly). Most of the papers are scrapbooking papers, but the pink stripe used on the tulip is actually an enclosure card picked up on the dollar aisle at Michael's. The lesson? Unlearn an item's intended use and allow things that will work for a project to work! All of the pieces have dimensional embellishments such as silk flowers, ribbons, rhinestones (on the butterfly), bubble stickers (on the center of the pink daisy at top), brads, etc. The daisy at top and the butterfly bend away from the canvas, adding more dimension. I'm so excited with how these turned out and can't wait to see them against the green walls of the playhouse!

If you don't believe that anyone can make these, TRY! The only painting involved is the background (and you can forego the tricky patterns like the harlequin) and the flower stems. And actually, those could be paper, too. Had I had more flower designs in the Cricut cartridges I own, I probably wouldn't have hand cut anything at all.

No more excuses for not being able to find coordinating artwork for your naked walls--collage!


Time for a Party

I love planning...well, anything really. It's probably part of the reason I became a teacher. About this time each year, I print off some calendars and plan out the semester's lessons. And then I do it again simply because it gives me another opportunity to plan. When my husband proposed to me, I already had about a dozen complete weddings planned in my head; we just chose the one we wanted and found a way to execute the plans. So, it probably comes as no surprise that planning birthday parties for Avery has become something of a hobby. One idea pops into my head, a picture in a magazine catches my eye....and from there the pieces (usually) all fall into place.

Last October we took the peanut to the Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg. Her love of fish has not waned at all since. An under the sea themed 2nd birthday seemed the obvious choice.

The party details (clockwise from top left)

  • The cake was a two-tiered round cake decorated with all kinds of sea creatures made from fondant and buttercream. The octopus topper was rice krispies treats formed into a ball and covered in fondant with fondant tentacles.
  • So tired after her party! The party hats were just cardstock adorned with an octpus die cut and sequin "bubbles" found in the dollar aisle at Joann's. This is also the last picture of Avery with her binky, as she decided to throw it away a couple of weeks later.
  • I saw this octopus standee online for $50. Yeah right! Some cardboard, a little paint and a utility knife to cut out the openings equals instant photo booth!

  • Her birthday banner--more cardboard and paint, plus letters die cut with my Cricut (I love that bug!).

  • My favorite party detail: the fish favor buckets! I found the sand buckets for $1 and then hot glued fun foam fins and lips and googly eyes onto them. They were filled with goldfish crackers, a decorated cookie, glitter fish tatoos, and fishy goggles.

  • Seahorse decoration from The Dollar Tree.

  • The party invitations. 6 x 6" cards with octopus die cut and seaweed and fish stickers (made them very quick to put together). I used round epoxy stickers for bubbles and vellum circle "bubbles" on the front. The party information was printed on the "sand" part of the scene.

I also decorated the dining room where the food was set up with green and aqua streamers that I attached to the ceiling and twisted straight down to the floor (seaweed/coral) and accented with clear balloons (bubbles). These tissue fish were swimming from the chandelier over the cake and were also hanging in the windows. I added some left over googly eyes and some glitter glue to give them more dimension.

Making all of those things takes a lot of time, but very little money (75% of it is paper!). And I know that I appreciate the details much more than she (or anyone else) does, but it allows me a reason to craft on a large scale and to use all of the supplies that I can't resist buying.

The pink 3rd birthday party is already in the planning stages, so stay tuned for those details as I begin to finalize them. With so many pink things out there, the only challenge will be deciding when to stop.

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