30 June 2011

thursday things - fun with postcards

recently thehobbit read about a fun activity - how to walk through a postcard! i believe it was in one of his murderous maths books. when he told me what he'd read, i knew how it would be done, but didn't let on that i did. instead i let him astound & amaze me. on occasion i can be a good mama. on occasion.

i don't see instructions on the mm website, but here are some, courtesy of a google search. the above photo shows thehobbit nearly finished with cutting the postcard. if your child is on the younger side, please help with the cutting. i am not concerned with safety (i assume you know how to keep a wee one safe with scissors), i am merely warning that if the cuts go too far, the postcard will be ruined, & crying could ensue.

even though he believed what the book told him, he still was amazed to be able to walk through his postcard. excuse the fuzzy photo - it was cropped to omit his face. the goofy look of utter joyful amazement on his face; though you & i would find it adorable; offended his teen-aged sensibilities. i was surprised that he allowed these photos at all, seeing as he was wearing his jams at the time. most likely he didn't notice that, as horrified as he'd been by the look on his face. ;)

i highly recommend this activity for kids of all ages (yes, even your age). if you post photos of this on your blog, leave a link in my comments section, so we can all see!

more fun with postcards:

* make fabric postcards this link shares a list of many tutorials from which to choose!

* collect postcards here you'll find quite a lot about collecting, including a brief history. i have collected postcards for over half my life now. beyond buying cards from places i've visited (even on road trip toilet breaks), i have had friends & relatives mail them to me from their travels. this is a great activity for homeschoolers, by the way - think: mapping them as they come in!

* make postcards from cereal boxes this crafter shows a tutorial for simple cards. fun, but i would add artwork or fancy paper to the image side. i'm thinking glorified atc, like i chatted about way back when.

* i imagine one could turn a photo into a postcard as well. i don't mean the ubiquitous photo-cards people send at the end of the year. what i'm imagining are cards done as the fabric ones, or the atc ones are done. in case you are unfamiliar with atc, that is short for artist trading cards.

have some postcardish (real word) fun this summer! & if you are a certain tinker (you know who you are), headed for fabulous places this summer, well, you have my address.


29 June 2011

23 months & counting

image :: from here

today elfling turned 23 months old. that means that in exactly one month he will be turning 2 years old, & i will be drinking heavily. when did my wee bebe get so big? how did this happen? whimper.

so anyway, the planning for his birthday bash has begun! when i said the word theme to manlyman he got a bit pale in the face, & leaned against the doorjamb for support. he even asked if we needed to choose a theme. some days i wonder why i married him. i explained that yes, we did, & walked away in a huff.

to be honest, i'm out of ideas. he's too young to appreciate most of what comes to mind, & i don't like much of what i'm finding online. a) i don't do cutesy, & 2) i'd rather do cutesy than cartoon characters. i shan't delve into my loathing for those. even when thehobbit asked for a harry potter party, i managed to turn it into a hogwarts one. it was a subtle difference, but a difference none-the-less.

back to things: i knew we'd host a bbq, so decided that the theme would be retro bbq. this way i don't have to stick with anything specific, with the exception of the retro bit. much less stress. plus, this way i get a theme, & manlyman gets the illusion of just a bbq.

i'm thinking none of the usual fancier grill food this time. it will all be old fashioned things: dogs & burgers (of the veggie sort), macaroni salad, deviled eggs, ice cream, watermelon, the works.

decor, games, & music would all be retro as well. i doubt i could convince everyone to dress retro, though that would be such fun if i could!

what do you think? any recipes, or other help you care to offer?


28 June 2011

unicorns & rainbows


can i just say how much i adore life with these boys of mine? when i was pregnant i felt sad that they would be so far apart in age. i felt as though we'd jipped them both of growing up with a sibling, as manlyman & i had. in time i realized that they had not been jipped. in fact, these are some lucky boys indeed. 

thehobbit adores his bebe brother, in a way that is part sibling, part parental. when elfling learns something new, or does something adorable, i see thehobbit reacting the same was as manlyman & i: with a joyful sort of pride. as if he too is responsible for the shaping of this tiny creature. which, i suppose, he is. an unexpected joy for thehobbit, is getting to relive the joys of his own childhood. just as he's tossing off the last remnants of that time, he is finding himself drawn to blocks, stacking boxes, giant legos, & hours spent singing goofy songs.

as for elfling? well what little guy wouldn't love having a third parent? elfling has one more person to comfort him, one more person to carry him, one more person to rock him to sleep, one more person to imitate, & one more person to love him beyond reason. even better than if thehobbit actually were an actual parent - he is still a kid, so vastly more fun to play with. 

please don't think i am saying it's all unicorns & rainbows. 13 year-olds don't like their artwork scribbled upon, nor their intricate lego contraptions broken. &, oddly enough, teens are not exceedingly fond of having toys tossed at their heads. for. no. reason. what. so. ever. 

life is not what i'd imagined it would be like, that's for sure. it is much better. mostly ;)

thanks for letting me gush.

27 June 2011

retro toys & televisions


a few years ago we bought a 3lb bag of wooden bits & bobs for thehobbit. he had loads of fun creating & playing with it all, but about 5 months ago he declared he was too old for that sort of thing. you know, being a great old man of 13. i took what was left, stored it in my studio, & promptly forgot it was there.

recently, in a search for ribbon (that i never found), i discovered the bag o' bits. it was the giant spool that caught my eye. i'd been planning to buy a few spools, so emptied the bag to see if there were others. yes! not only that, there were other things with holes. you see, i had wanted spools to put together an old-fashioned stringing kit for elfling. now i had them, & more.

this was even better than i'd planned, because i had only thought about regular little spools. the bag yielded: spools in 3 sizes, wheels in 2 sizes, & 2 other be-holed pieces. fun! i added a length of paper string, which, as you can see, we store around one of the larger spools. he just unwinds it when he wants to string, then he turns it into a huge ordeal helps me rewind it when he's done.

sometime he doesn't even play with the string. instead, he rolls them across the floor, or stacks them. they make fabulous stacking blocks.

because our home is small, i try to keep his various toys & kits stored in their own bags. it keeps things neat, makes cleaning easier, & if it's something i want him to have to ask for, i can store it away from the main toy basket. 

this kit's drawstring bag was sewn from thehobbit's, long since outgrown, favorite jams. i had saved them, knowing i'd use the fabric for something. i mean, come on! the retro televisions are too darn cute. the bag used only one half of one leg,  leaving plenty of fabric for another project. it was too flimsy on its own, so i lined it with green cotton. the bonus from repurposing jam bottoms? the drawstring from the waistband became the drawstring for the bag! less work = happy kat.

what about you? do you have any tips for keeping the toys organized?

23 June 2011

thursday things - summer reading


a few months back i began searching for books. i wanted to compile a summer reading list for thehobbit, but there was just too much from which to choose. each time i asked him what types of books he thought he might like to read, he'd just shrug his shoulders & mumble. helpful, no?

summer was nearly upon me - i decided it was time to start thinking katish. a theme!! you know how i love a good theme. the theme needed to be something that thehobbit enjoyed, that would inspire adventures, & that i wouldn't mind listening to him chatter on about all summer long. a girl has to know her limits. it didn't take long to come up with the perfect theme: steampunk!!

& so, dear one-&-only reader, i give to you the official kats in the belfry summer reading list of 2011 (henceforth known as s.r.l.):

airborn - k. oppel

skybreaker - k. oppel

starclimber - k. oppel

leviathan - s. westerfeld

behemoth - s. westerfeld

goliath - s. westerfeld

larklight - p. reeve

starcross - p. reeve

mothstorm - p. reeve

the cabinet of wonders - m. rutkoski

the celestial globe - m. rutkoski

this list is by no means complete; he is already well into the second novel. as more books of a steampunkish nature are discovered, they'll be added to the roster. my hope is that thehobbit will be inspired by what he reads, & take over the hunt for titles.

what about you? what books are your kids reading this summer? or you?

22 June 2011

summer is here


how did you spend the first day of summer (winter for you upside downers)? we were on day eleventy billion of pestilence, so there was much crabbiness & tissues involved in our solstice celebration.

a dear friend shared her summer bucket list with me. what a great idea! i think i'll create a list of my own. do you have a list of must-do summer fun?


20 June 2011

happy fathers' day

image :: my very own manlyman

a (belated) happy day to all the daddies out there!

14 June 2011

thrifting show & tell - outerwear


do you see that lovely detail? the gorgeous buttons, set into the sweet little whateveritiscalled? swoon! this is the back of summer-weight coat i found on a recent thrifting adventure.

i love it so. it's romantic, yet practical. made from a thin, crisp cotton, i can toss this on when the marine layer rolls in, & not worry it will ruin. by the way, we are having a run of june gloom here, hence the poorly lit photos. sorry.

on yet another thrifting adventure, i discovered this velvety bit of gorgeousness:

ooh, indeed. the velvet is that fabulously soft, floppy sort. it gives the illusion that this is a vintage jacket - which it is not! i love when i find newish pieces that appear old. i get the look i love, without having to take extra care of the clothing.

again, sorry for the lack of light in the photos. in person this is a muddy-lime green. not usually a color i'm drawn to, but the combination of the floppy velvet, the vintage look, & the muddiness of the color won me over.

covered buttons! & to think, i put this jacket back on the rack, & walked away. you can imagine how happy i am that it was still there when i went back for it. 

thank you for joining me in this installment of thrifting show & tell. do you have any recent finds to share?


13 June 2011

the calling of the stones

one of the eleventy billion things i love about going the beach is treasure hunting. for thehobbit & me, the most coveted treasures are smooth stones. i don't know what it is that gets us so swoony over them, but there you have it. we even have a few large apothecary jars filled with stones brought back from our family vacations over the years. if you write the date & place on the stones, in permanent marker, you'll never forget which was gotten where.

thehobbit & i differ in our hunting styles. his stones are the result of stumbling upon them in the middle of some adventure or another - oh. hey. look, a stone. i take the hunt more seriously; walking, head down, intently searching for the stones.

my most favorites are the flat ones, excellent for stacking.

& those which have holes in them.

we limit what we take home, & never take from state beaches. a hobbity heart has been broken more than once over the latter, but i could not give in. i knew that once i allowed him to break the rule, he would never take it seriously again. (in california, you are not allowed to take things from state beaches.)

i am flabbergasted that it is beach season already. how did it ever become june so quickly? i wonder what new stones will call to us this year...


10 June 2011

those sneaky veggies

elfling's gorgeous 'new' utensils from this etsy shop!

thehobbit has never been finicky when it came to food. on the contrary, he was quite adventuresome from the start. i realize how lucky i am in this. however, elfling? he is an all together different kettle of fish. whilst i would not say he has serious food issues (he will try just about anything he sees us eating), he does have a stubborn streak. if he is not in the mood for xyz, which is more often of late, he will just not eat it. not that big a deal, as for the most part he is a healthy eater. but on days when he wants white rice, & only white rice? well, i've had to get sneaky. i thought i'd share a few sneaks with you.

to his rice i add:
* a sprinkling of nutritional yeast flakes. 
* a pinch of garlic powder. 

& either
* shredded zucchini (to the rice cooker, before turning it on)
* steamed, mashed cauliflower (added after cooking)

neither veggie is noticeable once the butter & yeast flakes are added, so he thinks he's getting just rice. i do add a pinch of salt & pepper, by the way, but he doesn't seem to mind the flavor. occasionally i'll add crumbled feta, though that's not really a sneak, as he's always in the mood for cheese.

both shredded zucchini & mashed cauliflower are excellent sneaks into mac 'n' cheese, by the way.

i've also had success with the following sneaks:

* into marinara: steamed (mashed) carrots, shredded zucchini, mushrooms pulverized in the food processor
* into mashed potatoes: steamed (mashed) cauliflower, shredded zucchini, finely shredded (sauteed) cabbage

things he loves, so i don't have to sneak:

* onto bread & butter: a thin layer of hummus
* he will eat scrambled eggs with anything added, so i have added most of the above at least once.
* ditto the last one, with baked sweet potatoes.

i doubt i am the only mama who has resorted to sneaking in veggies & other healthy things. i merely thought sharing what i have done might possibly help someone who has yet to think of doing such. the plus to all of this? the rest of us are eating more veggies. in fact, i now find white rice to be too plain without a steamed veg snuck in. & yes, i know we should be eating brown rice. manlyman & thehobbit do, & prefer it. elfling still has trouble with chewing though, so prefers the mushier white. personally, i think brown rice tastes foul.

hopefully i have helped at least one mama who is faced with food struggles. if you have had success at sneaking, post your tips in the comments! 


ps :: we are vegetarian, so making sure he gets things like hummus (protein), & nutritional yeast (b12) are important.

09 June 2011

lost & found


i thought i had long ago lost this cartoon, but found it today! actually, i did lose the original paper version, but hadn't realized i'd taken a photo of it. how fabulous, to stumble upon it!

fellow homeschoolers will recognize this scene instantly. it's a scene played out daily, at libraries the world over, by overly excited parents upon discovering a child's interest in something. i don't think that last sentence even hinted at being grammatically correct.

i sure do miss drawing cartoons. enjoy!


08 June 2011

ampersand, the update


still looking a bit wonky, but not terribly so. the next step - thickening & contouring with layers of paper. stay tuned!


07 June 2011

sticky stickers which stick


elfling loves stickers. no. wait. let me clarify: elfling lovvvvvvvvvvves stickers. there was a time when we had a large collection of kiddie stickers. thehobbit loved stickers when dinky, but his was more of a must collect all the stickers i can & never stick them on anything thing. elfling is of a different bent. stickerly speaking, that is.

elflng could spend all day peeling & sticking stickers. should he run out of the stickers at hand, he would then spend the remainder of the day picking at the stickers, then re-sticking them. easily done with kiddie stickers, by the way. not so much with stickers intended to be used by adults. apparently people in offices want their stickers to stay stuck.

which brings me to the photos you see here today. the above is the letter s. obviously. what may not be obvious is that it is stuck to my dining room floor.

here we have the letter o. it is stuck to the interior of my dryer. as is the zero you see in the next photo.

nope. that is not another photo of o. that is, in fact, a zero. they are different, trust me. o 0 - see?

& here we have the number one, on concrete just outside my back porch. 

let this be a lesson to you: those sheets of letters & numbers from the office supply store? they are for use in offices. sticky little suckers.


06 June 2011

walls o' letters

after seeing this freakygorgeous (real word) wall of letters on this blog a few months ago, i knew i had, had, had to make a set for thebelfry. by the way, how perfect is it that her letter k is covered in letters? did she somehow know that not only does kat begin with k, kat loves letters? most likely so.

research led me to other walls of letters:

this one is equally freakygorgeous. i want that button on my wall! 
a ready-made one on etsy.

& an alphabet poster of the most clever sort.

also, i have always had a fondness for edward gorey's alphabet, but i think, were i to have a giant version on my wall, people would stop coming to visit.

so, it has been a few months since i first discovered the original wall of letters. would you like to know how far into the alphabet i am? my sweet one & only, i would like to tell you that i am nearly done. heck i would like to tell you i am only a few letters in. alas, i have not even begun. a certain elfling has made all but the smallest of projects impossible. 

it occurred to me that i could manage one letter, were i to work on it a few minutes a day. but what letter? sadly, i thought about that for more time than i am willing to admit. then it hit me! how could i have not thought of it right away?! what symbol do i love more than all of the letters combined? the ampersand!!! & (see?) yesterday marked the start of the great ampersand project of 2011. behold the beginning (cue dramatic music):

excuse the dark photo, the skies are quite unspring-like today. i drew the ampersand onto that 3-d poster board. i don't know what it is actually called, but it's about a 1/4in thick, & large. when cut out, & covered in a few layers of paper, the ampersand won't look so wonky. trust me.

i plan to cover the entire thing in pages from my high school french/english dictionary. my plan had been to do so with a regular dictionary, so i could have definitions showing, but i was unable to find one with lovely yellowing pages.

i'm not sure why this book's pages are so yellowed - i am not that old. whatever.

as i complete each step in this project, i'll share the photos with you. it could take some time, as elfling is quite pesky these days, but i promise not to forget. until then - have a lovely day!


05 June 2011

from scraps to doodles


for the first time in the nearly 10 (gasp!) years we've been homeschooling, we ended the school  year with a stack of worksheets. i wanted an alternative to tossing them into the recycling bin, so turned them into doodle pads for elfling.

here is how i did it:

* make sure the papers are all blank-side up.
* cut them in half, across the middle.
* separate into manageable stacks. too thick & you could break your needle.
* cut covers for each (fronts & backs) from grocery bags.
* place a front & a back on either side of each stack.
* choose a short side to be the top, & sew a straight stitch 1/4 an inch from the edge.
* go back to the beginning, & sew (at the edge) a zig-zag stitch.
* repeat for each doodle pad.

i recommend that you do this when you are not bone-weary from lack of sleep. i was that, & the result is the worst sewing job. ever. 

i'm in love with the illustrations on trader joe's grocery bags, which is what i used to cover these doodle pads. if you want to see what else i do with the bags, read this tutorial.

i hope you are inspired to reuse paper that still has one blank side. if so, let me know what you come up with!


04 June 2011

the princeling of pestilence


my sweet elfling prince has been sick for a few days now. he has had bursts of energy  now & again, but mostly his play has been quiet. (note :: i detest that toy he's holding. it is the loudest piece of plastic. it is crapstic.)

i haven't been able to enjoy that quiet however, because i have been too busy feeling my heart break. would you just look at that teeny red nose? & oh my - those puffy eyes make me want to cry. sigh.

my hope is that by the time you are reading this, he'll be back to normal. i am not getting much time to myself right now, so am writing this post a day in advance. that makes my today your tomorrow, and your today my yesterday. or some such.


ps :: the crown he is wearing is one of my new smaller birthday crowns. whilst the regular ones can be adjusted to any head size, these new ones are scaled down for dinky heads. i'll get them in theshop... eventually.

pps :: that adorable shirt is by my sweet friend soap. i don't know if she has any in stock, but you can always ask her. here is the link.

03 June 2011

gardening with found objects - the sequel


elfling needed a bit of fresh air & vitamin d, (he has a pestilence) so whilst he was staring zombie-like at a line of ants, i snapped a few more photos of treasures to share with you.

that ladder is another curbside treasure found by thehobbit. it is from an old bunk-bed! i cannot tell you how peeved he was that i wouldn't let him use this in his bedroom. for what? i asked. dunno. was his reply. i am all for using objects in creative ways, but dunno is a bit on the vague side even for me. the ladder is only a few feet tall, so i have it propped behind a potted tomato. this variety is patio. a compact plant that thrives in containers. the fruit is round, about the size of a roma, & delicious. i've grown it a few years, & highly recommend it.

this is the beginning of elfling's play area. the found object is the base. i think it is an old metal shower bench. my friend pom found it, & knew i'd like it. the top is a new galvanized bucket that manlyman's mom gave to me a few months ago. i had planned on using the bucket for parties, but elfling had other plans. i love how they fit perfectly together. i won't attach them. leaving them separate means that elfling can take the bucket down, & drag it around the yard.

i love this little picnic table. i found it many years ago, in the ivy next to a whole foods parking lot. the whole thing is freakywobbly, so thehobbit & his friends have never sat at it. in the past it was covered in pots of flowers & herbs. currently we use it in the bbq area - that's our teeny camping grill atop it.

the stool isn't used in a creative way; we sit on it. i have no idea what it's doing in the bbq area, & didn't even think to put it away before taking the photo. i'm wild like that. in which wild means lazy.

thanks for visiting my garden - see you soon!


02 June 2011

gardening with found objects


it's no secret that i love to surround myself with old things. i don't know what it is that draws me to them, but draw me they do. in thebelfry i try to keep my love of the shabbier things to a minimum. i do decorate with mostly old, thrifted, found, rescued, etc objects inside, but i save the more rustic treasures for outside. poor manlyman can only be pushed so far. he's a dainty thing ;)

thehobbit, aka my partner in treasure hunting, spotted the chair a few weeks ago. someone was actually throwing it away! it has no broken bits, & is as sturdy as can be. because it has lots of rusty metal fancies on it though, i opted to not use it in any of the seating areas. i'd hate for someones clothing to snag, or for elfling to scratch himself. it makes a fabulous plant stand, don't you think?

another recent curbside treasure was a pair of 8ft tall wooden shutters. we toyed with turning them into a headboard, but that would require actual time in which to get things done. instead i leaned them against the garage wall, & planted a tomato at the bases. this variety is indeterminate, so my hope is it will grow up the shutters, then onto the garage roof.

this area is thehobbit's pride & joy. please ignore the tall grasses growing through the nasturtium, & up behind the chairs. he wanted a shelf on which to display his succulents, but we didn't have anything that suited. i remembered that we'd used 2 kiddie chairs pushed together, as a plant stand, elsewhere, so thought i'd give it a try here.

luckily it worked! i had a pair of wobbly chairs that were perfect, except for their rush seats. well, to be  honest there was so little rush left that they pretty much had no seats. the top from a wonky table fixed that problem, et voila! a hobbity shelf.

what you cannot see through the tall grasses in need of pulling is on what that fern is sitting. it's an old metal stool that i rescued from a curb long before i had a partner in treasure hunting. wow. i almost wrote a tiny partner. sometimes i forget that at 13 thehobbit is now my height. not so tiny.

there are, to the bewilderment of my sweet husband, many more found treasures in the garden & on the farm, but those will have to wait for another day. have a lovely one, do!

because i know some will ask :: the pretty glass things on thehobbit's shelf are his telephone pole insulators. my mother-in-law has a vast collection, & has lovingly shared a few with him.
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