Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Donsey of Gnomes

Did you know that a group of gnomes is called a donsey?

Here is a donsey of gnomes that I made for a stocking stuffer exchange over at Homespun Waldorf.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oh Christmas Gratitude Tree

Earlier this month, I had an idea. I often have these grand ideas, but rarely follow through. I think this one worked out really well though. My idea was to do a Christmas tree, but instead of decorating it with ornaments, we would decorate it with all the things we are grateful for. A gratitude tree, if you will.  

It was one of those ideas that I really wasn't sure how to implement. We had a tall narrow tree already, but I didn't think we could fit our gratitude on there with all of our other ornaments.   also didn't think Brad would be keen on giving up his Star Wars* ornaments in exchange for one of my crazy ideas (he wasn't), and I wasn't even sure how we would hang our gratitude on a tree. Fortunately, things have a way of working out sometimes.  

We have plenty of space for two trees and Brad's aunt Shirley and uncle Mike are downsizing their Christmas decorations, so a few weeks ago, they drove all the way out here and brought us this huge (really, we had to leave off the entire bottom section for it to fit), lovely tree for our dining room (and somewhere on our tree, there is a little tag with their names on it, saying how thankful we are for their generosity). This was perfect, because we used to use real trees, until 2003, when I dragged our tree out, in February, leaving a trail carpet of pine needles through the entire house, and I was so mad that in a fit of hyperbole I swore we would never, ever, ever, have a real tree again, not even if someone paid us a million dollars. So we're all about the artificial kind now, and last night, after assembling them, I found a package of old school, non-adhesive, cardstock gift tags in the bottom of a box of decorations. I gathered a little basket, some pens, a hole punch, and then I got to work.

After dinner tonight, we all stayed at the table and wrote down some of the things we are grateful for. We filled out names, where applicable, and wrote our messages on the backs of the cards. Then Ariana cut approximately one thousand tiny pieces of string (for which I am very thankful), and we hung them up, like this:

We did add some ornaments, because we were afraid the tree would look bare without any. I'm not usually one for themey trees, but we decided to use all white on this tree, so they wouldn't compete with our little gratitude cards. Thanks to Jan, we had plenty to spare, because between our own ornaments and the ones we got from Jan, our other tree was full even without the white ones.

*Not that Brad even likes Star Wars anymore, because George Lucas totally ruined it with CGI.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Maxine Takes Over the Guest Room

I know I've been an infrequent blogger lately. We have been so busy that I haven't had a chance to do much on the computer. The upside is, despite having guests for almost two weeks solid, we have been very productive.

How our guest room originally looked
Speaking of guests, the project I am most excited about completing is the transformation of our guest room into Maxine's bedroom (though she still has to give it up when guests come!). Our bedroom is ridiculously large, so when we first moved in, and Maxine was 3 months old, it was natural to have her in there with us. Of course, that got old after, oh, about three minutes. But we stuck it out, because the plan has always been to move her into Ariana's room next fall when Ariana leaves for college.

But did I mention that the guest room, our upstairs sleeping porch, is my absolute favorite room in our house? The windows, the light, the fun painted floor.  The windows. It was the room I was standing in when I realized I needed this house. And it seemed a shame that our favorite room was the one we all spent the least amount of time in.

So, although we do have guests often enough to warrant having a guest room, it seemed that it might be better to use the room for Maxine, because we don't have guests that often. It was initially pretty barebones. Just a guest room with baby stuff in the drawers, but as time went on, I realized that it was Maxine's first room, and I wanted it to be for her.

How the guest room looked when Maxine first moved in.
Because it's temporary I'm cheap, I didn't want to spend a lot of money on redecorating, so everything in the room is something we already had.

The quilt at the foot of the bed and the little doll pillow on the chair were more treasures from my mother-in-law's basement. She made the quilt for Brad when he was a baby. I used the leftover Orangery paint from the dining room buffet to paint the headboards and the bookshelves. I've had the little bookshelves forever, and I think each girl has used them in her bedroom at one point. They are the perfect size for a little one.

The stool at the foot of the bed was made by my great-grandfather. The original cane top is badly damaged, so I covered it with a board and some foam, and I have lost track of how many different fabrics (the current one is Heather Ross's Dancing Rabbits). I found the quilt rack at the side of the road with a "free" sign taped to it. It's perfect for hanging Maxine's "dancing dresses" because the room doesn't have a closet. I think that side looks crowded, but it's just enough space for Maxine to slip in and out to get books and dresses, and she loves having pictures hung at her level.

I made the curtains from some vintage fabric I found when Ariana (who was then 10) and I went on our first, and only, road trip. We drove to Minnesota through the upper peninsula, and I found the fabric in this great little quilt/antique shop. I know, could there be a store more perfect for me? It's either too bad, or a really good thing, that it's so far away from where I live! So, I've had this fabric for eight years and I have been afraid to use it for anything. Which is silly, of course, but it was really hard to make the first cut. I didn't have a long enough piece to do two panels, so I added fabric to the top and bottom to lengthen it.

All of the artwork came from thrift stores, except for the princess and the pea one, which I made using bits of my favorite Heather Ross fabrics. Lissie has a matching one in her room made from the pink and orange princess fabric. I love that they both happened to go so well in the girls' rooms! We found the poodle picture separately from the other animals, and in a different sort of frame, so that's why it's in a different spot.

I made the owl and Lissie made the ladybug for her birthday last year. Ariana, Lissie and I made the clothespin dolls a few years ago. I never see anybody playing with them, but they tend to pop up in random spots around the house.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween, Feingold Style

This is our second Halloween on Feingold. Last Halloween was right after we started Feingold, and we really had no idea Lissie wouldn't be able to eat any of the candy she got. I look back at our inexperienced selves and kind of laugh at us checking the book to see if any of it was safe (it wasn't).

Lissie did collect for Unicef, which seemed like a good idea, but a lot of people didn't have change (we never do!) so she still ended up with a lot of candy. You tell could she was disappointed when she found out she couldn't have any of it, even if she did understand why. One of our sweet friends baked Halloween cupcakes and sent one over for Lissie so she could have a treat. Unfortunately, we didn't know that unsalted butter was an issue for Lissie (something to do with the mysterious "natural flavors") and we ended up with a meltdown/reaction anyway.

Fortunately, we had a better plan in place this year. We warned her ahead of time that she wouldn't be able to eat any candy and told her to make sure to say "thank you" and not "hey, I can't eat this!  It has artificials!" or something similar. She did really well with that, only telling a few neighbors we know pretty well that she wouldn't be eating her treats.

You might be wondering why we went out at all, if she can't eat the candy. We went because it's fun.  And because of the Halloween Fairy. Legend has it, if you leave your treat bag outside your bedroom door when you go to bed, the Halloween Fairy will come in the night and whisk away your candy, leaving treats in its place.

Even better, when we got home it was still early enough for trick-or-treating. Lissie had never handed out candy before and thought it sounded fun, so she dumped all of her candy into a bowl and she and Brad got rid of every single piece. Then she wrote a sweet note telling the Halloween Fairy why she didn't have any candy.

Maxine was a princess.  Lissie was Spider Girl for trick-or-treating. I am sure it won't surprise anybody to hear that she likes to wear a different costume for each event, so she was also a flower for the harvest party at the Children's Museum and a princess for the Halloween party she went to while she and Brad were in Atlanta.

Candy image credit: Flickr user Juushika Redgrave