Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An Aquarium, where there's lots of "wader"

Frank, Charlotte, Cameron, and I went to the Baltimore Aquarium last Saturday.  It all started with a few hours in the car and Cam did remarkably well.   Believe it or not, Cam is smiling in this picture and saying "cheese" even though it looks like he's growling at me.

This is a photo I took on our walk to the aquarium from the car.  I love this photo for two reasons - 1. Char looks awesome and 2. Cam looks like he's plotting his escape (if that's not a Frank face, I don't know what is). 

Cam loved the walls of photos and had a great time running back and forth to point at each one.  I took the nice camera into the aquarium, but this is the only photo I could get that is even remotely in focus.  It was just too dark in there for non-flash photos.  I mostly used my phone.

He loved standing in front the glass and saying "Wader! Wader!"  Yes, Cam, there is water in the tank.  When he had to wait his turn to get close, he would get frustrated and scream "WADER!"  This trip was awesome because Cam was really enjoying himself and he loved looking at all the fish. 

Pretty much all my pictures from the aquarium are the same - the back of Cam's head in front of a tank - so I promise this will be the last one, but I just had to show you this one.  Just look at those little beefy hands.  Oh, they kill me.

We caught the bottom half of the dolphin show.  Seriously, it was the bottom half, from the fins down.  We didn't buy tickets to the show because we knew Cam wouldn't last, so we watched through the window in the bottom of the tank.  It was a perfect snack break for Cam and it was fun to see the dolphins playing around.  

With some light from a very bright tank, I snagged this group shot.  Cam was smiling the instant before I took the picture - of course.

At the top of the aquarium is a rainforest section with birds and monkeys and spiders.  I love going to these types of places, but please keep the spiders behind glass and not out in the open.  Thanks.  

Outside the aquarium was a map of the northeastern states.  I had to wait for some kid to stop educating himself about the states before I could take this picture.  Kids and their education are always getting in the way.  Don't worry, I'm kidding.

After the aquarium, we took a walk around the harbor.  It was a great day for a walk.  

Charlotte was getting hungry so she decided to eat the Lockness Monster.  It's ok though, there were about 15 more out in the water.  I'm sure that one little guy won't be missed.

photo by Charlotte
After our walk, we decided to head to Little Italy for dessert and found a really good gelato place.   Cam sat on a bench between Char and Frank and shared their dessert.  He got a little bit of everything and, when everything was gone, was still hungry for more.  I'm pretty sure Cam is a bottomless pit.

photo by Charlotte
More Mama?  Isn't there more?  

photo by Charlotte
Those eyes make me melt.  I cannot resist their power.  

photo by Charlotte
I couldn't decide whether I liked this photo in b&w or color, so I'm posting both.  Can you guess what my new desktop background is?  

Our day at the aquarium was really fun and I can't wait to do it again sometime! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

White Christmas

My friend Katie was here this weekend, so I put her to work. We got all the Christmas stuff out and started decorating.

My dreams have come true!  I have been longing for a white Christmas tree for quite awhile and I finally have it!  The most exciting thing about this tree is the price!  It was only $40 at Walmart!  I cannot believe I got it for so cheap.

I love it, it's everything I wanted from a tree.  I did make a slight change in my design plan, though.

I had originally planned to use all of the colors you see above (insert yellow for green) and I had made ornaments to match  these colors.  Well, once I started putting everything on the tree I decided that I didn't like the pink or purple on the tree.  It was just too dark for a nice, light tree, so I nixed them.  

Most of my ornaments I made are on the tree, with only a few left behind.  This little rhino is one of my favorites.

I had some yarn leftover from a previous project, so I wound it around a stryrofoam ball and used some hot glue to keep it all in place.  I like how the yarn looks on the tree.  I made these in blue, yellow, and gray.

Last year, Charlotte made Cam's hand print into an ornament.  She had some leftovers so we made one for Charlie.  We didn't make it in time to get on last year's tree, so I made sure to get it up this year.

 A few weeks ago I made some book page ornaments for a friend.  I liked them so much that I made some for myself!  A "C" for Charlie and a "G" for Ginner (aw, my little family).

My little felt pom poms looks great on the tree and we didn't even need a hook.  We just rested them in the branches. 

I love how this tree looks in my room.  It's wonderful to have a tree in the living room and bedroom.  It makes this little apartment feel like home.

The blue ornaments you see are the only things on my tree that are not homemade.  I got these at Walmart for $4.97 - a very nice deal for 26 ornaments (or 25 if you don't count the one that was broken).  The two trees you see are made using styrofoam cones, yarn, felt, hot glue, and straight pins.  I wound yarn around the smaller tree to create stripes (an idea I got from my friend, Kristin).  For the larger tree, I cut circles and pinned them onto the tree (an idea I got from here, via Pinterest).

A tree skirt was the one thing I hadn't really thought about when I was doing all my planning and scheming.  I  got this quilted tree skirts at Target for $30.  It's more than I wanted to spend, but it is really nice and I hadn't seen anything else that I liked.   

This is the view from the door to my bedroom.  Let's pretend the mess isn't there.  If we pretend it's not there then I do not have to clean it up.  I like that plan, yes I do.

In case you are wondering about my budget...
Tree from Walmart - $40
Blue ornaments  from Walmart - $4.97
Tree topper from Goodwill - $0.97
Tree skirt - $30
Total = $75.94

Not too shabby.  And I did stay under budge for ornaments.  I gave myself $10 and I still have $4.06 left.  The only reason I stayed under budget for the ornaments is because I have a mom who generously donated felt and floss for me to use.  Thanks, Mom! 

I love how this tree turned out.  I never thought I would like a white tree, and I still don't like it, I LOVE it. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Today I will be going home to spend Thanksgiving break with my family.  Only one thing is missing that would make this Thanksgiving perfect - having Esther home.  Don't worry Est, I'll take lots of videos and photos of the Camster.

I know my Thanksgiving day post is a tad early, but since I'm heading home tonight, I wanted to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving Day before I signed off for a while.  My next post won't be until Tuesday.  See you then and have a great holiday!  I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to tasting some delicious pie.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Embroidery, Take 1

About a week ago, my mom sent me a book called Doodle Stitching (you can read more about that in this post).  Throughout last week I practiced my stitches on felt, but I didn't really have all the materials I needed.  When I went to dinner with my parents last Friday, my mom generously lent me her supplies and some scrap fabric.

This little raccoon was my fist project.  He's pretty cute, right?  I used a template from the book I mentioned above and traced it onto my fabric.

I used several different kinds of stitches, but my favorite is the stem stitch.  I used the stem stitch on the gray lines that make the raccoon stripes.  I love that it looks twisted.

In this picture, you can see the blue marker that I used to trace the pattern onto the fabric.  When I wash the fabric with some water, those blue lines should go away.

I know it doesn't look amazing, but I am pretty pleased with my first attempt.  Luckily, the front doesn't look like the back...

Oh goodness, this makes me laugh.

Do you see those purple loops?  Yeah, they are definitely not supposed to be there.  Some of the chaos is from using the same thread to move to different areas of the design, but the loops are definitely not supposed to be there.

Look at that mess in the top right!  Ha!  How did that even happen?!  I'm starting to wonder if there was a little elf behind my fabric purposefully tying knots.

Thankfully, the mess is hidden and the front still looks cute.  I think I'll turn this guy into an ornament for my tree.

The end.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Page Ornaments

I recently saw these ornaments at Anthropologie and I thought "I can make that!"  It turned out to be easier than I thought.

You will need:
foam core board (mine is 3/16in)
mod podge
paint brush
an old book
rotary mat (or cardboard) for cutting
exacto knife

Here's how my project turned out.   The first thing I did was choose my font and sizing on my computer.  I tried not to pick a font with too many curves because I knew that would be very difficult to cut out.   After printing out a copy, I traced it onto my foam core board.  It's very simple: just lay the printed sheet onto of the foam and trace with a blunt object (I used a pen).  This will leave an indent which you can use as your cutting line.

Put your foam on your cutting mat or cardboard and start cutting.  I took it slow and didn't try to cut the whole way through on the first go around.  It took a couple of passes to go all the way through.  Don't worry about your cutting lines being completely perfect, it gets covered up anyway.

Here is the cut out shape of my ampersand before it is covered.  Each ornament I made is about 4 inches tall and required one page from the book for full coverage.  Considering that Jane Eyre is a very long book, I still have about 394 pages to use for future crafts.  Jane Eyre has been sitting on my bookshelf for years, so this was a freebie.  Gotta love freebies.  If you don't have any old books laying around, pick up one from a thrift store.  I shredded my pages by hand before using the mod podge so I could work without stopping.

The paint brush was used to put mod podge on the foam and the paper.  Once they were all glued up, I stuck the paper onto the foam and then used the brush to push the paper around the letter.  I wore plastic gloves because I hate having to get mod podge off my fingers; it's such a long process.   Plus, I found that using my fingers to push down the paper was much easier/faster than the paint brush.

When I finished up the ornaments, I took a second look and decided I hated those blank spaced.  At first, I didn't think I would mind because they looked aged and I liked that.  Yeah, not so much after a few hours.  So I went back and recovered them.

I gotta say, I love the finished product.  It was so simple and easy.  I made these for my friend Kristin and I was very excited to give them to her for her birthday.

Happy Birthday Krit!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Beautiful Surprise

Did you know I have the best older sister ever?  She's the best sister ever and I'm totally obsessed with her.  Esther is currently living out of the country and is far, far away.  Lucky for me, that doesn't stop her from being the best older sister ever.

Thursday was a rough day for me, and the next day at work I received a little surprise.

Waiting for me in the office was this beautiful bouquet of flowers.  Also, I needed a Hildie picture and I knew this would be the perfect place for her weekly photo.  She loves the flowers and so do I! 

Est, thanks so much for the flowers and what you wrote in the card.  I really appreciated it and it was a perfect surprised.  I don't know when the flowers arrived, but I didn't pick them up until around noon.  This worked out perfectly because I was on the cart for Health and I couldn't get back to my office to put them away.  Such a tragedy; I just had to carry them around with me for the rest of the afternoon   I loved it.  Also, the kids loved them too.  "Ms. S, you're flowers are soooo pretty." 

I love you!

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Little Love and Chaos

Sorry Est!  I'm a little late posting today, so I'm sure you're already asleep.  At least you'll have a little Cameron to wake up to Saturday morning.

This is a photo from Applesauce Day.  Cameron really does love his mama, but he was a little distracted on this day.  There was a lot going on and he wanted to see, touch, and taste everything!

The neighbors have a really nice Thomas train set and, since their kids are grown, they have lent it to Cameron to use.  They brought it down to my parent's house on Applesauce Day and chaos ensued.  There was a lot of excitement surrounding this train table.  The kids made sure to show Cam how the pieces go together and tell him the names of the trains.  Of course, Cam loved it.

All aboard!  Cam loved the table so much he decided to climb on up.  His mom quickly put a stop to that, but at least I got to take a photo first.

Obviously, this one is from Applesauce Day as well.  Each apple was washed before being cut and put into pots.  The sink was full of water and perfect for bobbing for Apples.  Don't worry, we made Tommy wait until the last few apples before allowing him to stick his face in the water.  He is one talented boy.

Happy Friday!  I don't know about you, but I'm very excited for my weekend.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hello Applesauce Day

Every year my family gets together with the neighbors and we make applesauce together.  Applesauce Day is a big production around these parts.  Tom and Lukey were the first to arrive Saturday morning for the big day.  Tommy said that he didn't want to eat breakfast that morning because he just wanted to eat applesauce.  Strangely enough, Tom is the one who doesn't look very excited.

The kitchen is the center of cutting and cooking.  The apples are sliced and put into big pots on the stove.   The steam from the water at the bottom of the pot softens the apples and readies them for crushing.

After cutting and softening, the steaming hot apples make their way to the garage amid shouts of "HOT! HOT! Coming through!"  The side of the table that Dad is working on is the crushing station and the other end is where the applesauce is bagged.

Lukey is out of focus in this photo because he wasn't supposed to be in this photo.  He hijacked my picture.

The night before Applesauce Day, the men went to the local orchard to pick up the apples.  It takes a lot of apples to feed two families for an entire year.  Just so you know, we don't always keep computers in the garage, but we had someone important we needed to video chat with.

Esther called in from overseas for the occasion.  Having these two families together can be very chaotic (which we love) and we didn't want Esther to miss out on the chaos.  I'm sure she got her fill.  They made sure to share the chaos via Skype.

I guess I should have explained this part first, because this is where the process really begins.  We send the kids out to the garage with baskets for collecting apples.  Because there are so many different kinds, the kids are instructed to pick from each bag until the basket is full.  Then the basket is sent to the kitchen for cutting.  Cam even helped out a little this year.

He may have picked a few apples, but this is where he spent his time.  All he said that morning was "tractor, tractor."  He's pretty bossy when it comes to the tractor.  I'm surprised he even let Leia sit on it.  Maybe he was fine with it because, as Leia says, "Cameron is her bff."

Cranking and crushing is definitely my favorite part of the process.  This little contraption is so amazing.  You start by dumping the apples into the top white bin (which Leis named the toilet), smoosh them down as you turn the crank, and watch the applesauce slide out.  The apples are peeled and all gross stuff is removed on it's way down the drain.  I think Kelly enjoys playing the role of the tyrant on this day.  Don't worry Em, I've got your back.

Bowls and bowls of applesauce make their way to the next station - cooling and bagging.  We add a little sugar and then wait for the applesauce to cool before bagging.  See that contraption to the right of the green bowl?  My dad made that specifically for bagging.  The nails hold the bag in place and the funnel ensures that we don't get applesauce all over the bag.

Mom is in charge of bagging and the kids are in charge of writing.  They number each bag and  then doodle all over it.   It's mostly gibberish, but this is definitely the job they argue over the most.  

Everyone had a job on Applesauce Day, but I'm proud to say that I did not.  I mostly had the camera in my hand and took photos instead of actually being put to work.  Charlie also has no job.  She wanders around the house trying to find a place to sit, only to find that she can get no peace.  If only you could see her when the day starts to wind down to the end.  She can barely hold her head up.

Applesauce Day is a big deal around here.  It's so wonderful to spend time with close family.  I remember making applesauce when I was little and it's really fun to keep the tradition going.

Plus, there's nothing like the excitement of completing that first bag of applesauce.