Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If this, then that.

I really enjoy projects/recipes/finds that lead me down a path of creativity and ideas.  Like if you ever make butter, then you're left with buttermilk, so you figure out what to make with that and you learn new things along the way.

After Easter, I couldn't bear to throw out all the egg dye, so I froze it in ice cube trays thinking my daughter could have fun painting with ice.  I had had grand fun with this myself in my days as a preschool teaching assistant, so I was looking forward to sharing the experience with her.

I plopped the first set of ice cubes onto a sheet of newsprint on the back porch and expected... well, more.  :D*  She thought they looked neat and pushed them around a little bit, but didn't like how cold they were, so I gave her a bubble wand to move them with, but the momentum had begun to fizzle.

Juggling her younger brother and a bad back while this was happening prevented me from really getting involved in modeling what one could do with such a boon; but, I thought, surely, my brilliant daughter can figure out how to have fun with this given a few words of encouragement!  She seemed interested enough, so I got out the other trays.  I had lots of different colors and they were all melting differently.

She never really got into it and quickly became pretty non-plussed by the whole concept when she realized that the ice cubes were all going to melt and disappear.  She seemed more attached to the ice cubes as objects than art tools.

Me: (in a half-hearted attempt at reverse psychology) "Well, I'm sorry, I did this because I thought it would be fun for you, I guess I shouldn't have bothered."

D: "It was fun.  But then they started melting."
sorry kiddo!
                                             F+, Mom.  

It was still neat (for me) to watch them melt as it became a temporary art installation type moment on the porch.

A few days later:
After making (amazingly tasty) Osso Buco * I kind of fell in love with the oval slices of bone left over. I figured, I save shells for D to play with; why not bones?  I read up on how to clean them and it worked great. You'll notice them weighing our paper down during the ice cube painting.
I had a flash of inspiration and decided to draw sets of faces with chalk that had missing features and have her place the bones to "fill in the blanks".

I enjoyed seeing her placement of the features and we had fun figuring out which feature was missing.  I also drew many different face shapes just to mix up the perceptions and visuals.  She even took it a step further and drew her own face for me to figure out the missing feature on!

It was one of those easy, spontaneous whims that just felt particularly satisfying for this SAHMA (stay-at-home-mom-artist).  When we decided to wrap it up she looked at me and said "Let's go sit in the hammock and watch this NOT MELT."

* I've made this twice and it's actually really easy, forgiving and sooo good.  
I know it's supposed to be veal, but I've never eaten veal.  (changes to recipe) I used 8 smaller beef shanks, a bottle of tomato puree blend something, red wine, dried herbs and I think a little sugar.  I divided it up between two enameled dutch oven type pans.  I really just sear off the meat in some oil, take it out, sweat the veggies, then add everything in together and put the lid on and put it in the oven for approximately 4 hours, occasionally checking on it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pool Noodle couch bumpers!

     Always losing stuff under the couch? It was driving me crazy, and finally after some brainstorming with my trusty twin sister and some assistance from my dear husband I have created a solution!
    We used wide pool noodles (except for the armoire) that we found at Target- they are a little over 3 inches across their end with about a 1 inch hole. We roughly measured how many we would need to put noodles across the front of each piece as well as along the sides with a middle support noodle for the longer couch.

    We needed about 6 wide noodles to outfit both couch and loveseat and 1 thinner one for the armoire (it's only open on front). We used a plain serrated kitchen knife to cut them and regular duct tape to connect the ends and corners. It works great and went together quickly. I don't mind the blue peeking out from underneath for now, but it would be a great idea to make coordinating fabric sleeves to slide over them if you wanted a more cohesive look with your furniture. You could probably even spray paint them!
    Thanks for looking, and please feel free to ask any questions, I didn't get a chance to photograph anything in-progress, but it's a very simple project.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Small Space Changing Table

We're both suburban mothers with smaller homes who are always looking for space-saving solutions.   Both of my children's rooms had the louvered door style closets (not a fan).  I got rid of the doors and used the top of chests of drawers for my changing tables (I also have those furniture lifts/ bed riser things to make it tall enough).  With my son, doing this the second time around, I've hit on a couple of ideas that I think are extra winning.

I received about a million of those little, thin receiving/swaddling blankets.  Neither of my children have wanted to be swaddled for very long, so that leaves me with unused blankets that I don't feel quite right just getting rid of.  I use them as burp cloths (my son is quite the happy spitter) and I layer many of them on top of each other, tucking them in nicely, on the changing pad.  That way, when there's a leak, or stain or whatever, I can just strip off the top layer and have a fresh, clean surface.

I also have never figured out how people use all the little clip on-dangly baby toys that are supposed to go on car seats and strollers.  For the most part, my kids can't reach them or don't even notice them.  I do, however, like to make the most of the time a baby spends on the changing table and lit on the concept of hooking them onto a hanger, because there's a closet rod right there!  The little loop/velcro jobbies are great for a plastic hanger that has extra hooks for straps.  You can put the toys at many different levels so that you find one that suits your baby's reach/interest level.  On the hooks, they won't slide around, but on the hanger, they can both slide down really low for when they are first starting to reach for toys.

Hope some of these ideas might be useful to someone else out there!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Belated Easter!

Thought we'd share our little pysanky-inspired pregnancy Easter photo with you.  She, of course, couldn't resist decorating her biggest "egg" yet!  We had a wonderful day full of family and laughs and now we eagerly await our next big day, welcoming a new baby into the fold!  Celena is expecting her second boy and is due May 14th.  Hope he likes eggs!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Make it "Pinterest"-ing!

First Day of Spring!
Our kids had a blast planting "flowers" (frilled toothpicks) on rolling green hills (triple batch of homemade play dough). I had practically an entire giant box of these decorative toothpicks leftover from some forgotten event and didn't have many other hors d'oeuvres-heavy plans in the foreseeable future, so I thought I should let the kids have some fun with them.

Ok, so this was actually something we did on St. Patrick's Day, but I think it works maybe even better to celebrate Spring. Also, Spring came in with a squish here in Austin, so Spring-y indoor activities are on my mind.

Kid Motivated Redirection of Original Plan (KMROP): pushing little burrows into the dough with their fingers brought groundhogs, badgers and the like into the general conversation and added a good 20 extra minutes of enjoyment!

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Make it "Pinterest"-ing!

Inspired and motivated by all the fun and amazing ideas we see online everyday, we'll show you some of the things that we follow through on doing in our homes.

This is a great activity if you're willing to give your table a good wipe down afterwards. Finger painting with white yogurt (I used plain FAGE greek yogurt) is extra fun. You can add food coloring for bright colors and it's all edible and healthy! I can always tell when my daughter is "in the zone" of imaginative play because she talks and sings to herself. She started making up little stories and songs and I played along by illustrating as she narrated. It was really fun to draw in the yogurt and an older child would also enjoy wiping the picture clear and starting over.

D started cutting out the middle man by just licking the table, but was also intrigued by the shapes her tongue left in the yogurt. Tongue painting may be the next big thing!

One of the cutest things I've seen via Pinterest here was a quick and very successful project that I will definitely repeat. D wanted to be a green princess for St. Patrick's Day, so I saw it as the perfect opportunity. I cut the tp tube, let her paint it quickly with some solid tempera paint (a favorite), punched holes in it, then cut slits from the end of the tube up to the holes. I slipped a stretchy headband through the slits and the holes provided nice little notches for the band to rest in. I taped the slits closed and this little crown stayed on for hours!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Leander High Craft Fair

Selah: The dust has just settled from doing our very first market booth show. We both had to devote most of our babies' sleeping hours to gearing up for this, and it basically went off without a hitch, so that was pretty gratifying.

It ended up as somewhat of a coming out party for our joint business of meandher. Prior to this, we each had our separate etsy shops; selahestelle and celenajustine. Celena had even done a booth for the Cherrywood Art Fair (with much success) under her old name. Once we both become stay at home mothers, it began to make much more sense to combine our efforts. Everyone seemed to be drawn in by the idea that we were just starting out and were very complimentary of our efforts.

We didn't make nearly as many sales as we would have liked, but we met so many kind people, have made a few sales since because of the exposure and were invited to some other shows in December, so it was very successful in the connections/networking sense.

I do want to send out a special thank you to all of our friends and family that took the time to come out and see our booth set up (which we worked very hard on). It really meant alot to see familiar faces and feel that support from everyone. We also received many compliments from the public that day which made us feel really great. It was wonderful to have everyone that commented seem to understand the time and love that goes into the things we make and not question their worth in the least.

We have been watching our dear friend, KatinkaPinka, be a success at various booth shows for years now and were really aiming high at creating an atmosphere within our 10 X 10 that was as inviting and pleasant as what she achieves. She is a wonderful role model and advisor on this venture and we can't thank her enough for her example and many tips.

Celena and I have different aesthetics, so setting up a booth atmosphere that made both of us happy was an interesting challenge. We grew up with a wonderful collection of children's books with amazing illustrations. Drawing from our childhood love of these images, we decided that our merchandise and both of our styles could be effectively presented using the amazing artist Trina Schart Hyman's work as inspiration. We also wanted a color scheme that would allow our ornaments to be the focus. The pictures don't really show it, but I think we were successful, mostly thanks to Celena's oddly extensive collection of furniture and decor that was the perfect fit. The only real investment we had to make was buying custom made letters for our shop sign from Mr. Woody (right here in Texas!), which was graciously put together by Celena's handy husband. Celena even had the perfect colors of paint in leftover samples from painting rooms in her home! Kismet!

I did contribute the two lace tablecloths, a vintage quilt and my grandfather's old trunk (which garnered some attention - though not as much as Celena's gorgeous carved wood dressing screen). We had to get creative in hanging our sign on the bleachers behind us, but that was the only adjustment to the space we had to make.

The helpers were so sweet even when the loading process got tough. Arranging everything into Celena's Honda Element was a bit of a puzzle, but it did all fit.
We've applied for another show on December 11th that seems like it might be a better demographic/atmosphere for our particular brand of craftiness, so hopefully we'll be able to report back with more good experiences!