Birthday Banner ponderings…

Time is zooming by and Wren is getting older every day. I suppose everyone is getting older every day, but it seems more monumental in a wee one, doesn’t it? The countdown to my little birdie’s first birthday (May 24!) has begun and I’ve been pondering party themes and decorations. I really don’t want a throw-away birthday with lots of paper and plastic junk. I’ve been thinking a lot about making an heirloom-quality “Happy Birthday!” banner, which can be used for years to come. Here are some ideas I’ve stumbled upon so far…

I love the funky colors and the whimsy factor in this first birthday banner, don’t you?

But I’m thinking of something a bit cleaner and modern. Like this one. This one is a better fit for our nest. Does it say boy and girl though? No, I’m not pregnant; just trying to plan ahead, just in case.

But I like the simplicity and fun shapes in this banner. This is definitely boy or girl, no?

And then there’s this possibility for a classic pennant-style banner.

What say YOU, dear readers? Any other birthday banner ideas you want to send my way? I could do a “boy” banner on one side and a “girl” banner on the other. I’m not really into “boy” and “girl” colors, but it might be a fun way to have two banners in one.

In other party ponderings…

I’d love to have an outdoor garden party for Wren, but Memorial Day weekend in northern Michigan is hit or miss. It could be 75 and sunny or it could easily be 40 and rainy…. arrghhhh.

Speaking (err, writing) of weather, it’s above 50 (!!!) and sunny in these parts. Yee-haw! Trying to suck up the Vitamin D while I can. Is it possible to make up for the last four months in one week? I’m going to try. Can’t hurt.



Don’t you love the game hopscotch? Pretty soon the sidewalks in our neighborhood will be clear of snow and impromptu games of hopscotch will commence. Yahoo!

Fun facts about hopscotch… for when you’re on Jeopardy. When you win because of your amazing hopscotch knowledge, will you please give me $50?

  • I had no idea there was such deep meaning to such a simple game. According to the French Canadians… “The player hops along, pushing a marker that represents the soul. If he wobbles, it is because his soul is weak and he must work at purifying himself to get to heaven. After avoiding hell, and earning different merits, the player reaches heaven, picks up the marker (his soul) and places it under his arm or on his head, symbolizing the re-merging of soul and body. The aim of the game is to avoid stepping on the lines dividing the boxes, symbolic of keeping one’s life free of uncertainty.”  YIKES!
  • According to Wikipedia, “there are apocryphal stories of hopscotch being invented by Romans or Chinese,[2] but the first recorded reference to hopscotch dates back to 1677. In an entry of Poor Robin’s Almanack for that year, the game is referred to as “Scotch-hoppers.” The entry states, “The time when schoolboys should play at Scotch-hoppers.” The 1707 edition of Poor Robin’s Almanack includes the following phrase… “Lawyers and Physicians have little to do this month, so they may (if they will) play at Scotch-hoppers.”[3]
  • Hopscotch was/is called Potsy in New York City. Potsy? Now that’s funny!
  • Those crazy French. A French variant of hopscotch is known as Escargot (snail) or “La Marelle Ronde” (round hopscotch). It is played on a spiral course. Players must hop on one foot to the center of the spiral and back out again. A player marks one square with his or her initials, and from then on may place two feet in that square, while all other players must hop over it. The game ends when all squares are marked or no one can reach the center, and the winner is the player who “owns” the most squares.

When’s the last time you played hopscotch, dear readers? I love it when we go for walks in our neighborhood and come across several different hopscotch games. I can’t help but join in. You?

Until then (it IS still mid-winter after all)… for all the kids and all the kids at heart, enjoy this great hopscotch rug!

Snuggle bags.

Who doesn’t need something soft and cozy to snuggle up in? My three nieces and their matching American Girl dolls do! So I made them these fleece snuggle bags (three big, three little), which were *sew* easy and fun to make.

These are great for traveling or just lounging around the house. For simple directions on how to make these snuggle bags, click here. I also added a ribbon detail to the bottom of each so they could easily tidy them up a bit. Simply roll and tie!


My sweet Wren has her 9-month well visit this morning. We will find out just how big she’s gotten in the last few months. Gambling types, want to place a bet?


imaginary nesting.

Wren’s only a touch over eight months old and right now her favorite toy is…

That’s right, folks. The wooden stacker – not the colorful rings, but the stacker pole part of it. Hours of entertainment. Well, maybe not hours at a time, but if you added the minutes spent gnawing, banging and investigating, it adds up. Needless to say, this was not expected given the more interesting toys that she’s been given. Lesson learned. So I hesitate to invest too much cash in any new toys for my little birdie because she gets so much enjoyment out of everything else. Spoons, empty yogurt containers from the recycling bin, tags, magazines… did I mention magazines? Wren would hate the Kindel or the new iPad. She knows the pleasure in turning, err, ripping, real pages.

That being said, I’ve been looking ahead to a time when imaginary play will occupy our time. I’m not sure when this is exactly, but I’m sure it’ll be here before we know it. And there are two DIY projects that I’m going to attempt. If I get started on them in the coming year, they might be done by the time she might be interested in them. (Did you see that the operative word might was used twice in that sentence? With reason.) Given my luck as a naive new parent, she won’t have any interest, but they look fun enough that I won’t be too disappointed if Wren thinks they’re really not all that. So here goes. Drumroll, please…

Doll house renovation!

I was inspired when I read this article about renovating an old doll house. I despise those plastic doll houses, but the really cool modern doll houses are expensive. So I’m adding this to my garage sale “hunt” list when the season begins again around Memorial Day. Can’t wait! Another item I’m adding to my “hunt” list is an old nightstand so I can attempt DIY imaginary play project #2…

Play kitchen!

This inspiring piece was converted from an old night stand. Check out the article with more pics to drool over here. Again, I’m really not into those plastic kitchen sets. Blech. Isn’t this kitchen so much cooler? Doesn’t it make you want to redo your OWN kitchen?

These are two ambitious projects, but I think I have about two years to get them done and with Wren getting busier and busier every day…, I’m going to need all the time I can get. With any luck, I’ll find the nightstand and old dollhouse this summer and begin work on them when the long dark nights set in again late next fall. I’ll keep you updated!


  • Wren has just discovered her diaper and enjoys ripping it off in the few seconds before I can get her clothes on. Yikes!
  • Orange is my favorite color today. Yes, but a friend of mine showed me the color “dill pickle” yesterday and I might be starting a new love affair.
  • It was 40 and rainy last weekend and I was complaining about the mildness. Now it’s 9 and snowy and I’m complaining about the cold. I’ve become such a winter wimp!
  • It worked! I had a bag of hardened brown sugar. I read that it’ll soften up again if you place a piece of fresh bread in the air tight bag. Two mornings later, the bag was like new.


gotta have kid stuff

Amidst all the mountains of plastic electronic crap for kids out there, live some really cool things for kids too. Here are a few I love. Today.

Don’t you love these funky plates for kids or even your next dinner party? Who says you can’t play with your food anyway? It’s fun!

Or flex your foodie kid’s creative muscle with these “gourmet” colored pencils, called “Smencils.” Ooh, la la. They’re also made from 100% recycled newspaper. Bonus!

Speaking of food, I’m interested in reading the book Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea from Alice Waters.

Have you read it yet? I think I’ll look for it at our library. Trying to do that more and save a few bucks. Plus it’s such a cool place to be with lots of nice natural light and usually a few freaky people from all walks of life. Same folks you might see at the Secretary of State office. That’s why, even though you can avoid going to the office now by doing everything online, I like to physically step into the office once a year. Hey, this is northern Michigan. I gotta get my kicks where I can. And it’s refreshing to be reminded of the human spectrum from time to time, isn’t it?


  • It’s finally cold and a bit snowy again. Bring it on! This is what it’s supposed to be like in January, right?
  • Orange is my favorite color today. uh huh.
  • Yesterday Wren and I went to the local bakery and the woman at the counter asked if Wren could have a cookie. I said, “no, thank you. She’s a bit young for a cookie.” And the woman looked at me like I was the center of the freak show. Maybe I should have charged her admission.


menu planning

I love the idea of planning what our nest will eat for the next week, but life usually jumps in my way. We end up going out to eat for a meal or two, or what I planned on making Sunday just doesn’t sound good anymore on Thursday. Often, I make too much for 2.5 people and we end up eating something for several days instead of one meal, blah blah blah. On top of that, when I do manage to get us all packed up and head out the door to buy the groceries, I’m lucky if I remember to take my list with me. Sigh. Sound familiar? (Cile, don’t answer that. I saw her grocery cart once. It was amazingly organized and they DO manage to plan out their weekly meals. WOW!) So this year, I invested in a really cute squirrel memo pad for groceries, thinking this would help. Has it? In a way, yes. I love writing things on it and it lives right between the fridge and the back door so it’s sitting on fairly valuable real estate. Kind of like the Marvin Gardens of my nest.

Isn’t it cute?

Where is this post going, anyway? I’m not really sure, but if you’re still reading, many thanks to you…

Other ideas. I thought this was a really cool idea for menu planning/grocery shopping too:

For details on this DIY Grocery List, click on over to Design Sponge.

In some ways, grocery shopping is a lot more phone (it’s early, cut me some slack) FUN now that I have Wren along with me. I like to carry her in our Baby Bjorn and see how many times people say, “awwww, what a cute boy!” She really enjoys being in the middle of everything and I enjoy having somebody to bounce ideas off of while I’m trying to decide whether to buy the organic bananas, which are still green, or the standard bananas, which are ready to be eaten now and in some cases, yesterday. She squeals and kicks and I take that to mean, “buy both.” Some for today, tomorrow and a couple for yesterday. Thanks for the great idea, Wren.

What’s for dinner tonight, dear readers? Re-runs here I’m afraid. But I think I’m going to make this chowder for Saturday night when some friends are coming over for euchre and eats. How do you play euchre and hold a baby? I’m not sure, but I’ll let you know.


  • Instead of buying myself some boots, I decided to buy my Dad some rain boots because he lives in LA where they apparently are experiencing a monsoon of sorts and it’s his birthday coming up AND I needed some retail therapy… So I tried to buy them, but Zappos kept telling me that my ZIP and State combination was “invalid.” And do you think I could get a hold of a real person to tell them that it was a valid combination? Exactly. Screw you, Zappos.
  • Orange is my favorite color today. Still.
  • Only 21 days until the Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies! I better get training, or at least get cable. I love the Olympics. What sport would you play if you were an Olympic athlete?


drafty ole bugger.

The night before our little birdie was born, we moved into our first house. We call this old wooden boat (err, house) a “bungalonial,”  for lack of a better term. While we don’t love the house quite yet, we love the location and you know what they say…

It was built in 1928 and has some issues, namely the entire house. But we’re making our house a home, bit by bit.

Before next winter we’ve got to figure out something different with the roof and the upstairs insulation (as you can see in the photo above). There really isn’t much insulation, at least in the walls. Smart idea in northern Michigan, eh? When a Florida couple was desperate for help, an insulation contractor company Orlando based Insulate it Solutions, stepped up to the plate and delivered a miracle to the Orlando natives. Insulate It Solutions provided insulation that helped cut their energy costs in half with spray foam insulation sprayed in the attic. In the meantime, we’ve been bundling up and using a small space heater in Wren’s room. But there is a huge gap between the bottom of the door and the floor so all the toasty air slips out into the unheated creaky hallway. Sigh. What’s a gal to do?

Get Wren a snake, of course! Not a real snake, silly.

I decided to make a draft snake for her room for two reasons. All the draft snakes in the stores are ugly and too expensive (always a winning combination, right?). This is a great beginner project, which uses fabric scraps. Again, dear readers, if I can make this, anyone can!

Isn’t it cute?

I pretty much followed the directions from Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing with a few of my own tweaks. As you can see, it’s basically just a tube that you fill with dried beans. It’s difficult to use a draft snake when you aren’t in the room to snuggle it up next to the door. So I added these cute orange ribbons that serve as little handles to pull the snake snug as I close her door at night. I’m not sure that it makes a huge difference, but it makes me sleep a bit more soundly and that’s worth the work right there. This didn’t take me more than an hour to do, yahoo!

Happy crafting!

disaster zones.

I got a lovely e-mail from one of my three fantastic sister-in-laws the other day, asking me how I manage to do everything. I just chuckled to myself because this came from a woman who has three (3!) children, manages to always look amazing and I don’t think I’ve ever heard her raise her voice to anyone. “If only you saw the state of my affairs today,” I thought… I often ruminate on my domestic accomplishments, but today I’m going to ramble a bit about some of my disaster zones. (No, I’m not going to show you a photo of my cellulite.) We’ve all got at least one disaster zone, right? Please tell me you do too.

Disaster Zone 1

The catch-all craft/office/blech room that has yet to be officially unpacked since we moved in about eight months ago. Every day I work in this room and just about go over the edge. Where to begin? I’ve been procrastinating this project because I have no definitive vision for it yet. Dear readers, do you have some ideas or inspirations for this space?

Disaster Zone 2

My rain boots. I love these boots and I’ve only had them a little over a year, but they’ve acquired cracks. This has obviously rendered them useless. But I decided instead of buying a new pair, I would fix them! Great idea, right? Chris reluctantly picked up a roll of brown electrical tape that I requested from Home Depot. He was not optimistic, but I was. So the color wasn’t quite right, but it was close enough and I could get another season–at least–out of them. Wrong. The first time I wore them through the sloppy mess out there, the tape began to peel away. Damn! Now what, dear readers, do I do with this pair of boots? Is there a better way of fixing them? Is it worth it? Should I try brown duct tape? HELP!


  • I know many people in northern Michigan are appreciative of this thaw we’re experiencing. I am not one of them. Double yuck!
  • Orange is my favorite color today. Yup.
  • Wren has to have her flu booster shots this morning. Trying to figure out how I’m going to treat myself after dealing with that. It’s got to be one of the hardest things as a new parent and it doesn’t get easier, does it? I think she fares better than I do. Maybe I’ll get a mini Frosty. That always does the trick. At least for a little while.
  • I might need to invest in a pair of ear plugs because Wren is practicing a new very high-pitched squeal. OUCH!


setting the table.

I’m no Emily Post, but I love to set the table. It was always my job as a kid and I still like to do it. I don’t like to fuss a lot with centerpieces or candles, but I appreciate a nicely set table. In our nest we always use cloth napkins, real plates and utensils at all meals because it makes enjoying a meal together as a family like more of an event; plus it just feels good. And I think food tastes better this way too. The fact that it’s also eco-friendly is a bonus!

One thing I hope for our family is that everyone will learn the basics of setting the table. So I was thrilled when I came across this fun idea – a printable placement that teaches kids where stuff goes!

Click here to visit to download the printable placement. Your whole family can even decorate their own and get them laminated to use throughout the year. What a fun winter project. Enjoy!