Saturday, November 22, 2008

The perfect rocking chair

A classic gift when a baby is born, once mostly made from wood, probably by the expectant father or grandfather.....the perfect rocking chair is a significant piece of well....... not just furniture. It's a place to watch your child grow, from being propped in the crook of one arm to..... not only covering your lap but flowing over the side arm as well! It's a cuddly spot to enjoy your favorite book, alone or with company. Also the place you offer a visiting elder to rest and if it is strategically place near the window, or an Ott light, it's the best place to knit on cold winter days.
Yes, the perfect rocker is a cherished place to relax and I have waited many years to have such an heirloom piece of furniture in my home. This summer when my dad came to visit and realized that there was no rocker for him to sit in he promptly said, well we'll just have to go out and buy you one.....thanks dad:)
Oh and what about the fire you ask....well that is quite another story and of course I just can't resist telling you. This summer while we were visiting family in Oklahoma David and his Granny Barnes were discussing Alaskan winters and he happened to mention that he planned to put in a wood stove this year. Well after hearing that, nothing would do but for Granny to give him the money to purchase the stove, and I told him, " David if that is what she wants let her, I mean after all our society too often "tells" elders what they can and can't do, instead of letting them make their own choices, plus I know she will just love seeing how much we are enjoying her gift!

Granny shows the boys how to play a string & button game this past summer

Well again you have to remember that we weren't prepared for winter this year, not that we ever are. It's sad to say, but we've lived in AK for 12 years now, and I don't think you EVER get ready for winter! Secretly we hope that if we aren't ready, it won't come, however that never happens. David has been working hard for a while now in hopes that we would be able to enjoy a crackling fire to gather around on chilly winter nights. So first he scoured craigslist to see if he could get a good deal and was successful in finding a Vermont Casting Stove. He spent many hours figuring out what pipes were needed, making sure they all fit correctly(this took a couple of trips to the hardware store 'cause one of our pipe fittings was bent) he picked up a chimney brush and cleaned out the soot left behind by previous owners, purchased slate, grout, fire board, and wood and make his own hearth. The picture really doesn't do the grout justice, it's a redish/rust color which really sets off the gray marbled slate.

Finally after many weeks of anticipation, David decided to start a small fire, with a quick trip to the wood pile and a few crumpled news papers later ...... smoke began billowing out every crack and cranny on the stove, pipes, it fills the house and quickly David puts it out in frustration!!!!! He fretted that the stove was faulty and perhaps his great deal wasn't so great..... then he got his computer downloaded the entire owners manual and combed it over carefully, no mistakes, so why isn't the damn thing working!!! .....needless to say David was a wee bit frustrated and had some very interesting names for the stove *%&$#..... I suggested that he consult the experts at Woodway our local wood stove dealer. The guy told him to warm up the flue with a hair dryer and then light a fire......David thought, "Yea right, like that is ever going to work"....but he come home that very night warmed the flue, build a small fire and presto it worked and beautiful stove has been keeping us toasty warm ever since! Thank you Granny(and you too honey).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Craft Project Week 1: Glass Magnets

Our crafting day did happen this weekend, I am just a wee bit behind on posting the results...imagine that. Let me just begin by saying that it is VERY IMPORTANT to make sure, especially if you live in a small town, that the craft stores carry all of the supplies that you need. But you probably already know that 'cause you plan ahead...... Needless to say I wanted to use the larger two inch glass half marbles, but the stores in my area only had a multicolored package which only contain about 6 clear marbles, so needless to say before we began the craft I was a little disappointed, but the kids didn't know any difference and they had a BLAST!

Danika, a friend from Oklahoma, had surprised me with a wonderful Yarn & Loops knitting bag and a variety of knitting related glass marbles (above) this summer when we went down to visit family. So I had been anticipating a time when I might be able to try making these magnets myself! We began by covering the table with newspaper and getting all of our supplies ready.

I had used a number of sources, while researching the best way to recreate this project with kids. There were many recommendations here and Not Martha ,but I opted for using Mod Podge like it suggests in the Micheal's Craft book, because I thought it would be the safest substance. Here's the list of supplies we used:
*Flat Paint brushes
*Mod Podge
*Small 1 inch half glass marbles
*Larger 1 1/2 to 2 inch half glass marbles
*Paper Towels
*Pictures of the kids
*Used holiday/birthday Cards
*Kid scissors
*scrapbooking papers
*Altoid tins or other metal tins (found here or really fancy ones here)
*Window cleaner
*E6000 glue(I used this to glue the magnets in place)

Even the smallest hands can manage this craft, as long as an adult puts the magnets on with the E600 glue. Benjamin enjoyed using the flat brush to paint on mod podge.

We found that one of the best sources were the used cards I collected over the years. Of course I didn't use any of my beautifully scrapped cards, but I have a stash of notecards and greeting cards that I have been saving......just waiting for the perfect way to recycle them. They were the preferred choice for Jake because he discovered he could make magnet sets easily by cutting out the scenes. Isn't that snowman set ideal to adorn the fridge this winter! So I thought I would send this set to a special someone, along with some of the kids art work they created this fall at school!

You probably noticed that one of the snowmen has some extra paper around it. We discovered that it was much easier for little hands to put the mod podge on the back of the half marble and then stick it on the chosen picture....let it dry and then cut the excess off, 'cause sometimes it was hard to cut out a picture to the right size. All in all it was a very successful crafting day. Wouldn't you say?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

6 Weeks to a Handmade Christmas

Change, it seems to be the sentiment of the country right now....and in my life....well adding new things and constantly learning and growing are some of the things that I embrace hole heartily, for myself and my family. Yesterday I realized that in order to reach the lofty goal of hand making gifts for everyone on our Christmas list, I was going to have to streamline my schedule.

Where do we find time to do it all in this fast pace world?.... go green, eat local, buy organic, tend a garden, chop enough fire wood for the winter, find musical outlets for your children, work with real art mediums, make sure they are getting enough sleep, reading intriguing literature, having family dinner and chatting about our day, paying the mortgage, watching your budget, saving to send 3 to college, yikes.....then there is what life is all about...... sharing time with friends and family. After all isn't that why we do all we do....our quest to come home, spend time with family, relish the special moments with friends, have me time.

This bring us back to the planning, I realized that there were roughly 6 weeks until Christmas and although I usually work at B & N on Saturdays I have the afternoons off, that leaves time for the kids and I to make 6 different crafts. Plus they get out of school early on the last three days before their Christmas break....what a perfect time for baking all of the goodies we will share with teachers, staff, friends, and family! If you are looking for craft ideas check back every Sunday, 'cause I hope to be posting our projects......ssshhhh but not too much.... somethings we might just have to keep hush, hush, you can't ALL know what we're makin' ya!

Yesterday I had some time to check out a special knitting book and get a little knitting done. One of the books that I think I might pick up is Knitting for Peace. I have decided that even though I am going to make many gifts, I might also have fudge purchase a few books too! After all who can resist BOOKS....not this bookseller(D says I am only working for books....which is kinda true, but still worth it).

This hardback has such wonderfully creative ways to give back, which is something that I think is on our minds as the "giving" season approaches(with our Nation in a recession)...... that it made me cry. Maybe it was just because I was reading the section about two high school friends who became reacquainted because they were both cancer survivors and it's also the time of year when I miss my mom the most. The friends came up with an idea to start a yarn shop, devoting the proceeds to cancer research, victims and the like. This book is filled with delightful heartfelt stories and easy patterns along with the Knitting for Peace logos which can be transferred onto your work for that extra special touch.

After some tearful reading, I was actually able to finish up one of the projects that I have been working on Maine Morning Mitts from The Book of Yarn, another great book,.....I don't even want to tell you how long it's been on the needles and now I just have to make the other one! So I guess I better get to knitting!

Friday, November 7, 2008

More birthday celebrations

It seem that there is always somewhere to go, something to prepare, cook, clean up after, or get ready for, but we are very thankful to have the means to do all that we can, and have so many wonderful experiences and make so many wonderful memories with our children. Ben recently celebrated his 6th birthday! His "real" birthday fell on a Thursday so we had a small celebration with a birthday dinner.

His request for dinner was BBQ chicken legs(chicken on the bone as he calls it), baked potatoes, and artichokes. At first he has requested brussels sprouts, but when his brother said, "Oh yuck", he quickly changed his mind, probably to appease him. And what a nice evening it was to be with family and celebrate his birthday by telling him stories of his birth. Ben was ready to get out of mama's belly and into the world. Cynthia, a very close friend, was there to help me through the birth. She had prepared some aromatherapy washcloths to help ease my anguish, but once they were warmed in the crockpot, I said, "I think I am ready". Cynthia's response, "Oh not yet we didn't get to use the soothing cloths". Ben was a VERY easy baby and I called him my Gentle Ben. He is still pretty sensitive and loves to be my cuddle bug....who just likes to dress up like Prince Caspain. He had to show off his new knight hat along with the full ensemble.
Benjamin also wanted to celebrate with a few school buddies and our friends from Talkeetna who came up for the weekend to visit, but we decided that our driveway was probably to challenging for most folks so we booked some space at our local gym, the Alaska Club. The kids were able to enjoy a dip in the pool, some rock climbing, and a big screen TV, oh wait the TV was for daddy to watch the football game, the kids were more interested in watching cartoons in the kids area! It was all great fun!

Tina brought Ben a awesome dragon and Zoe a sweet fairy made from polymer clay and she also brought the supplies so that we could make our own creations, which is just what we did! Ben made nice boat with a flag, Zoe had some help from Tina, but was able to create her own fairy, Rich made a taco, Jake made a hot dog, and I made a rose with a loop for stringing it to make a necklace. It was great to create something from clay that is so easy for the kids to use. I can see us doing this for Christmas gifts!

Of course it wouldn't have been a "celebration" for Ben without game playing. He LOVES to play board and card games and the new Narnia Monolopy was the perfect gift for him, well until we let the Hum's play.....there was some great excitement at the table and a lot of "discussion", but also loads of fun. It could have only been better if the Holt's and Shidner's would have been able to join us too! Happy 6th birthday Benjamin!