29 December 2012

you light up my life


look what santa gave me! it is a solar lid light, for a mason jar. i am utterly in love with it.

the lid has a solar panel in the center, along with a tiny light sensor. you set it in the sun to charge, then when the room darkens, the light comes on. when the sun comes up, or a light goes on, the lid shuts off.

 i charged the lid once, & it took a few days before requiring another session in the sun.

one of the best things is that it will fit any mason jar, except wide-mouthed. i only had this boring new jar on hand, but i am now determined to find a gorgeous vintage one to replace it.

the lid gives off enough light to read by, but not enough to disturb the sleep of others. manlyman will tell you otherwise, but a streetlamp eleventy blocks away will wake my dainty one, so ignore him. 

i want this jar, you know, in case you were shopping for my birthday.

28 December 2012

a wee crown to make


last week thehobbit complained repeatedly mentioned that once again we did not have a topper for our tree. we do own one; a gorgeous woven twig star; but it is meant for a full size tree, & we switched to little potted ones many years back.

the day before we had been at soap's house, where i found what looked like a wee crown on the floor of her kitchen. it turns out it was the remnants of a craft - the edge of a toilet paper tube, that had been cut by zig-zag scissors. i remembered how much i adored it, so decided a wee crown was just the thing for our tree.

i altered our crown by using half of a tube, & cutting a handful of deep points. a certain pesky elfling was not in the mood to allow me much crafting time, so i had to settle for quick embellishing. i dabbed dots of glittery nail polish all around; with the dots getting slightly further apart towards the bottom.

it isn't the most fancy of wee crowns, but i love it! so much so, that i am going to make a bunch of them for our new year's eve gathering. i have a package of elastic string that i can use for straps.

after oohing & ahhing over the cleverness of me, i searched for cardboard crowns on pinterest. many gorgeous creations were to be found - including toilet tube crowns just like mine! how ever did those people copy my idea before i had it? 

this one is sweet.

& you must see these wee creations of lace!

i would love to make a few of the lace ones, but i am trying to limit my crafting to things which use only what i have on hand. what about you? are there wee crowns that you adore?


26 December 2012

in which i am sleep deprived


if i ever manage to catch up on sleep, i shall write a proper post. until then, please enjoy this poorly-lit photo from christmas morning.


24 December 2012

pestilence & random photos


like many of you, i am knee deep in holiday madness. to make things more interesting, the entire belfry has been hit with a pestilence of moderate proportions. i am not even going to tell you how i had initially spelled proportions; thank you spell-check!

fortunately we have enough food to last a few days longer, & plenty of holiday crafts & movies to entertain us. 

now that i have bored you with talk of pestilence, i shall bore you further with random photos. think of it as my gift to you.

the above is a letter of the week card that i made for elfling. i cropped an image i found by googling free vintage christmas, then added the text.

this is elfling's transferring/sorting bowl for the week (see here for an explanation) of christmas. i have been buying different colors & sizes of pom poms when i find them. these were all purchased at the japanese $2 store.

elfling made his first winter solstice luminary!

to make sure you know you have come to the correct blog, i have included a poorly lit photo, of a non-ironed sewing project. see? you know for certain whose blog this is now. this is elfling's cape, which i made for xmas. i used two beloved receiving blankets (the other side is clouds), & a velcro closure. basically it is a giant bib that is to be worn backwards. i did photograph the process, so perhaps i shall post a tutorial. stop laughing.

& finally my mother's yule cake. for some reason everyone proclaimed this my best attempt yet. i have no idea what i did differently, but it was insanely delicious.

now that i have bored you completely, i shall be off.

have a happy christmas (happy tuesday, to those of you not of a christmasy persuasion), do!


ps :: yes, i did notice that this was a mostly elfling-centered post. i do still have thehobbit, it is just that he's dreadfully dull these days ;)

21 December 2012

a drive-in with mater


the other day elfling could not decide between watching a movie & playing with a box - so i found a way he could do both!

i flipped the box onto its side, put fifi at the back of the box, & told elfling that he & mater were going to the drive-in. (he saw a clip of mater at a drive-in, so understood the concept. sort of.)

he had a wonderful time, elfling i mean. mater did not say if he'd enjoyed himself.

happy solstice - blessed be!


please ignore the filthy rug.

19 December 2012

platform 9 3/4


do you remember my pinter-test? well, i finally got around to decorating the first of the mugs on my list. this one is for manlyman's mother. she nearly as huge a harry potter fan as i, so i knew her mug needed to reflect that.

the numbers did not turn out as crisp as i'd like, but for a first attempt it is not bad. in case you don't recall the how-to:

* on a clean mug draw with a black permanent marker.
* stick mug in a pre-heated 350f oven, for 30 minutes.
* turn off oven, & allow mug to cool within.
* forget you left it in there, & find it in the oven the next morning when you go to make breakkie.

notes of note ::  i have only tested this with the sharpie brand, so cannot vouch for others. colored pens did not do well when i scrubbed them. most likely you won't have to forget you left your mug in the oven.

if you try this project, i'd love to see the results! 


17 December 2012

in which i am slightly not brilliant


i had the most brilliant idea that ever there was! i set elfling in his high chair, filled a small casserole with insta-snow, tossed in a few medicine cups, & alien guy, then sat back to watch my brilliance unfold.

it took less than five minutes for me to realize that this was, in fact, not one of my more brilliant ideas. eleventy billion minuscule bits of sodium polyacrylate, & a toddler who enjoys flinging? what was i thinking?

note of note :: if your wee one is not of the flinging sort, i highly recommend this activity. most especially if, like us, you live where it does not snow.

i could be mistaken, but it looks to me that alien guy is enjoying the faux snow a bit more than is seemly. 


14 December 2012

walking in a winter wonderbelfry


life got in the way of holidayificating (real word) thebelfry at the beginning of the month, but i finally managed to put everything out. the santa collection was the last to get set up. odd, but the moment i began unwrapping the santas, the stress of the previous weeks seemed to melt from me. that santa, he's a magical one, he is.

i recently re-hung thehobbit's wee coat rack, so elfling could hand his jacket & hats. of course, a few pegs had to be reserved for the little decapitated santa heads. my mother made these for me many, many years ago - i love them so.

speaking of my mother: these tiny bottle-brush trees came home with me this past summer; i found them in her studio. we are now on our way to a yule tree collection!

thehobbit is now in charge of decorating our actual tree. i have no photo to share with you. rather, i have a photo, i just have no intention of showing it to you. let us just say that thehobbit, whilst he has many talents, shall not have a career in tree-decorating. but isn't this a lovely photo of a tiny gingerbread ornament?

i hope you enjoyed this riveting tour of thebelfry's winter holiday decor. i would love to see what's in your home. post a link in the comments if you'd like to share.

12 December 2012

distraction dough


thehobbit needed my help with a project, but a certain elfling thought my time would be better spent stopping him from repeatedly flinging books. i knew that none of the busy activities currently in rotation would tempt him away from his flinging, let alone distract him long enough, so i could focus on thehobbit's needs. that's when i remembered that i had made a batch of blue play-dough the week before, & stashed it in the fridge.

not just a distraction, but a themed one at that! 

i sat his flinging tush into the high chair, gave him the blue dough, the cutting tools, his wooden dreidel, & told him it was time to play hanukkah. he had no idea what i meant (nor did i), but he set right to playing hanukkah with a seriousness that would have made his jewish ancestors proud.

eventually he decided to fling bits of dough, but not before i had finished helping his older brother with his homeschool project. woo & hoo, baby.


10 December 2012

in which you ooh & aah


i noticed that i take a lot of photos from the car. from the passenger seat, of course. taking photographs whilst driving would be dangerous. also, how would i drive, drink coffee, & snap pictures at the same time? a girl only has two hands. 

none of the about-town-photos would win any awards, but i like them. i'm thinking of doing a series of these; of things & places i see on my regular routes; then having them made into a book. i would love the keepsake of this time in our lives; plus, elfling would enjoy poking through it, & pointing out the familiar sights. 

because, you know, i have ever so much free time on my hands.

the building pictured above is the corner of the los angeles county museum of art, known locally simply as lacma. we drive past it weekly, after dropping thehobbit at his american lit. class.

if you do not mind, i would like to share some of the photos with you, as i take them. that way, i can get your feedback. in which feedback means you ooh & aah at my brilliance with a camera.

have a great one, do!

28 November 2012

b is for...


this week it is all about the letter around thebelfry. elfling thinks it is by far the most fabulous of letters as his name begins with b. you did not really think i had named my children thehobbit & elfling, did you? that would have been fabulous, but alas, no.

in addition to displaying recent art & other bits of fabulousity (real word), we have taken to hanging our letter-of-the-week images on our art wall. i have been poking about pinterest, in search of images that do not make me cringe, & printing them. (i do not own these images, so please, if you do, or know who does, let me know. i want to give proper credit.)

in case you were wondering, b is for (in order): the burrow, broomsticks, barbers/baby/bubbles/bee, & booksellers.

oh! i missed one.

& bow ties. bow ties are cool. 


27 November 2012

of broken rules & red-clad wizards


my rule has long been, no holiday goings-on until the first of december. yes, i am one of those people who constantly occasionally rants voices displeasure at the barrage of christmas items & decor appearing long before the season has even begun. but come on! ornaments on sale alongside hallowe'en costumes?

well, it would seem that all it takes to break me is a tiny elfling sweetly asking if we could go see santa today please. & so we did.

being a great old man of 14, thehobbit did not wish to be seen on film. i did attempt a few photographs, but he managed to ruin them all by scowling at me. except for the above. don't his shoes look happy? (yes, i did cut elfling's beautiful long hair off. i am still in mourning, so do not wish to discuss it.)

the grove is my favorite place to go each year. it is such a beautiful center, & they decorate it stunningly. if you are in los angeles, go earlier in the season, & never on a weekend, or it will be too crowded to enjoy.

faced with the man himself, elfling could not even brave going inside the cottage. instead, we stared at him through the front door, then later through the windows.

he did wonder how it was that santa was up in the sleigh at the same time he was in his cottage. manlyman replied with ooh look at the tree!

i could not get the entire tree in my shot. it. is. huge.

trolley was dressed fancy for the season. elfling refused to ride, even though he loves trolley.

this is how he prefers to visit trolley. with bars keeping them safely apart. toddlers are so odd.

the fountain is a favorite of the entire belfry clan. it dances to music, & there are koi in there!

on our way home we had to pop into a mall for something, & you'll never believe who we ran into. santa! how ever did he manage to get there so quickly? santa is clearly the greatest of wizards.


16 November 2012

chaos contained


it seems as if thebelfry is always in a state of an in-between sort of chaos. the number of times over the past few years that i have rearranged rooms & bookcases boggles the mind. & yes, i am at it once again. nearly every room is currently half torn apart.

having two children (of vastly different ages) actively homeschooling necessitated a revamp in storage. i dug into my collection of baskets, & hit the thrift shops to find what i needed; the beginnings of which you see above.

the basket labeled library books, does, in fact contain our library books. funny how that worked out, would you not say? it also holds a jar of pens, & a stack of bookmarks. the pens have nothing to do with the library books - they are there merely to keep them out of a certain toddler's grubby hands. because i did once lose a library book, i am a stickler about keeping them together. the only other place they are allowed to be left is on the bedside tables; & then only the one that is being read. 

beyond that basket is my recent thrift shop find. it looks to have held files (there is a lid that i am not using) originally. in it i am storing both boys' to-do clipboards, & whatever they are working on. temporarily separating their things is a sturdy piece of cardboard. eventually (yes i will, stop laughing) i am going to cut it down to size, & cover it with paper or pages from a book, so it will be fancy.

i need one more basket of a similar size & shape. having the boys share a basket is fine for now, but larger binders won't fit. if i can give each his own, then i can store their items facing the other direction, which would allow for binders. 

all of this is kept on the long table which sits behind the sofa. because both are within the arch that separates the big room from the dining room, this is the most handy of spots. not only is it centrally located, it can also be used as a work station when the dining table is being used for other things like sewing. or dining. ;)

how do you corral your papers & projects? i would love to steal see your ideas.

ps :: the first used to be a picnic basket. the lid broke off eons ago. if you would like to do this, check thrift shops before buying a new picnic basket. i see them there quite often.

14 November 2012



thehobbit took this photo on a recent visit to a grocery store. i think that allergen labels are a great thing, truly i do. however, i think this one is a bit of a duh.


12 November 2012

skoo is coo


belfrys big & small are having the most fun with the many activities i have been putting together for elfling's skoo, as he calls it. rather than bombard you with post after post of toddler homeschooling activities, i thought i would bombard you with one post of gihugic (real word) proportions.

here, without further ado, is what we have been playing with around ye olde belfrye:

the busy bucket that i chatted about a few weeks back has been swapped of it's hallowe'en theme, & replaced with the above. the left basket holds the scooping set, with the velcro sticks activity in the right.

the wee wooden scoop was purchased last weekend at the japanese $2 store. it is the perfect shape & size for tiny hands to scoop. you can find tiny scoops in restaurant supply stores, & shops like world market, though i cannot vouch for the same low price.

the felt buttons were also found at the japanese store. real buttons would work equally well for the scooping activity, but it seemed easier to me to buy these than  to try to get past the family of trolls currently inhabiting my mess of a studio search for my buttons.

another japanese store find (all in the same trip, do not think (like a certain manlyman does) that i live there) were these pom-poms. i do not care for them myself, but elfling saw the pom-poms & asked if they belong to tinker bell, so i knew i needed to buy a box.

thus far he has: raked them, sorted them by color, counted them, & transferred them with his chopsticks. that is a wicker cornucopia they are filling, in case you were wondering. so much for my pretty autumnal table display.

a closer look at the ugly little things.

if you are following the letter of the week, it is currently o. or it was when i wrote this. i think by now the letter has changed. le sigh. i am a wee bit confused, & most likely in need of some sort of warm boozey drink. anyway...

elfling used the do-a-dots to decorate his o. here is the link to the entire alphabet, if you are inclined to join the fun.

another o activity elfling has been enjoying is this o-road (idea from here. please ignore that her o is much more o-shaped than mine. i could not find the good paper scissors.) i used black card stock, & a silver marker. apparently others do this with the entire alphabet. i am much too lazy, so will probably revisit this only a few times. with the easy letters.

my favorite o this week has been this one:

elfling & i decorated o for obama when we had the do-a-dots out. yes, i did help with the dotting, & yes, if you don't press hard enough you end up with many boobies instead of dots. we have a hand-print boobie tree hanging too, if you're interested.

the last of today's bombardment is our book bucket. this sits on elfling's wee table, & the books get rotated by theme. i try to choose themes by things going on in our lives, saving random themes for the in-betweens. currently we have one such random theme: colors.

he likes to open all of the books to the same color, then chat with us about the pictures. it does frustrate him that a few of the books have more colors than the others, but that's ok. here are the books pictured:

* angelina ballerina's colors
* andy warhol's colors
* richard scarry's color book (could not find the exact copy we have, sorry.)
* van gogh's world of colour
* my  many colored days

2,3, & 4 were given to us by beloved aunties, with the other two coming from the used book shop.

i hope you have enjoyed seeing all of the fun activities we have been up to. when i say we, i mean it. the entire family has had fun helping elfling play at skoo. because skoo is coo.

he asked me to take another photograph of him making shapes with the velcro sticks.

he then asked if i would take a photo of him winking. i love my odd little elfling.

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