Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Child's Eye


Sabrina got a kid digital camera for her nameday and has become an avid and sometimes quite artistic photographer ever since. It's so endearing to see what she's interested in capturing in photographs. The quality of the photographs isn't great, but for the peace of mind that it can't break and the ease of use, I do like the Fisher Price model we got. And it's so fun to watch her explore another art. I asked her to give titles to these four pictures: Cherry, My Sister CC, My New Plant for My Room, My Striped Lap. Sabrina. 2008.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Elisha Cooper



We are in love with Elisha Cooper's children's books. This artist and author offers that rare and wonderful combination of poetic, lovely language with the most evocative and beautiful illustrations.

I love the detail in the watercolors and his stylized figures. I love Cooper's language, which is more prose poetry than narrative. He captures the rhythms and moments and sensory details of the day and location in such a peaceful and meditative way that you feel you could lose yourself in his world and never turn back. After reading Beach, Sabrina nearly always says wistfully, the way one does when they miss the water, I want to be at the beach.

Cooper also has written Crawling, a memoir of his first year of fatherhood. I think the book would make a perfect gift for a good + happy daddy. Make it even more perfect by adding one of Cooper's picture books for daddy to read to his child.

The images above are from Beach and A Good Night Walk, our favorite of Cooper's books. The images below are from Crawling and Country Fair.



Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Santa Sabrina

January 29th is Saint Sabrina's day, little Sabrina's nameday. In the Catholic tradition we honor these days with a celebration and gifts and lots of hugs and kisses for the little one named after the saint.

We've been celebrating since the weekend when we had family over for cupcakes and play. And today we brought muffins to share with Sabrina's classmates and I was able to spend over an hour with her in class, being shown around and participating in the art activities. It was a great day!

I recently learned that there's a growing number of people in the US celebrating namedays. Why not add this to your calendar and surprise your child with a little something on their "other" special day?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Clothespin Family


Meet Daddy, Mommy, Sabrina and CC as clothespin dolls. I had been wanting to make some dolls with the bag of clothespins we've had sitting around forever. Then I came across this little gang and these friends and got a burst of inspiration. With just some scraps of felt, pine cleaners and glue, we made our own family. Outfits designed and glued on by Sabrina, cut and tailored by me. Faces drawn by Sabrina and hair done by me. So much fun to make and now play with.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Little Pizzelle that Could


Has this ever happened to you? I promised Sabrina we would make pizzelle, but then... first we were out of eggs, then we couldn't find the pizzelle irons, then we only had a tiny bit of vanilla extract left so I halved the recipe which messed up the batter so many of the wafers stuck to the iron or broke. Sheesh. But, the cookies were still delicious and Sabrina was happy happy!

Here's our recipe for these favorite cookies. They are so easy to make and addictive to eat! We use a Villaware maker, which is also a waffle and sandwich maker--one of the best presents I ever got.

3 eggs
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Beat together the eggs and sugar. Add the butter, vanilla. Add the flour and baking powder. The batter will be stiff enough to be dropped by spoon. About one small tablespoon per cookie cooked for 90 seconds works well for us. For the browner cookies, let them cook for about a minute more. Place the cookies on a paper towel to cool. They are soft when they come out of the iron so you can shape them into cones, baskets or rolls before letting them cool to a crispy wafer. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Winter Spaces and Moments

I haven't posted in a while, but not for lack of subject matter. So let's get caught up on what we've been up to that's good + happy these winter days.

We've been...


...reading to each other. That's Sabrina and her cousin Alex snuggling up in a tent for storytime.


...having fun with pipe cleaners.


...placing flowers in our rooms to put some spring into these cold cold days.


...hanging out with new and old friends. That's Henry, a bear Patrick's mom gave me the year we started dating. Bluestar, a favorite friend my mom gave Sabrina. Ice Bat, a new Ugly doll CC got for Christmas. And Toby, my lovie from when I was little.


...making more soup.


...reading a new favorite book. The little girl in it has a lot in common with Sabrina.


...enjoying our cozy home.


...snuggling.


...having a ball at January birthday parties. I think our big toy purchase for springtime will be one of those parachutes and a bunch of foam balls. Sabrina loves them!


...painting these matryoshkas in rainbow colors.


...getting bigger and more lovely by the second.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Making Soup

Sabrina adores cooking and so I've come up with all sorts of ways to include her in my kitchen activities. I often let her work on the floor so she can see what she's doing. Usually we bake together and I also try to let her help when I'm preparing dinner.

She's been making soup in her play kitchen a lot lately so I thought she'd enjoy making this lovely minestrone my sister shared the recipe for. I chopped everything first then let Sabrina transfer into the pot. I also let her dump canned tomatoes, beans and broth into bowls which I then transferred to the pot since it was already hot.

Letting Sabrina work with me means we dirty twice the number of bowls and take twice as long. But it is also more fun for me to cook with my little girl, and makes for clean bowls at dinnertime since Sabrina loves eating things she's made. She also munched on two carrots and some celery while we cooked, so got a healthy snack out of the deal too!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Beads


Lately Sabrina's favorite activity is pouring and mixing things from one container to another. I've given her rice and pasta, also glass gems, but what she loved most was when we poured a bagful of pony beads into stainless steel bowls. Kind of cool, huh? The beads become baking ingredients, baby food for her dolls, water to bathe her small animals in, dirt to plant flowers and leaves, coffee she serves to her Mommy and Daddy in the mornings.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Perfect New Blog



My love of blogs is split in several directions--I go for:

one. the design, product, home inspiration ones.

two. the ones about art and crafts by artists and crafters.

three. the ones about children, living with children and doing things with children.

four. the more personal ones about families, mostly those with children, mostly written by moms. I guess this genre is the "mommy blog."

Bloesum Kids brings much of this together through the lovely vision of Irene Hoofs who also writes one of my favorite design blogs, Bloesum. Like the original, Bloesum Kids covers the international market, so while you can't always easily buy what is reviewed, the inspiration is that much fresher. I also love that Irene will be featuring a weekly art project. Perfect!

The image above is an example of the lovely things featured in Bloesum Kids. A French shop. A play kitchen that's a veritable little work of art. Garlands from so*sage. Parfait!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Loving Books




I think I'm developing a minor obsession with children's books and especially with book illustrations. I think it started with a visit to a Brooklyn bookstore during our Thanksgiving trip. See those pictures? My sister and I just about lost it. Mind you it was not just a kids' bookstore, but we didn't buy anything "for ourselves," just "for the children."

The there was the New York Book Review list of best picture books of 2007.

Then I came across artist Julia Rothman's wonderful blog, Book By its Cover. The children's category is my favorite even though all the posts are interesting. I am just itching to pitch our copy of Pinocchio to replace with this one.

Luckily, Sabrina and CC share my new interest (too weak a word, really), and are enthusiastic about spending hours in bookstores and get very excited about new books and illustrations. Our latest love is Gyo Fujikama (see my review of her books on babycenter.com), whose detailed illustrations from the 60's no one in our home can get enough of these days.

I am thinking about doing some kind of regular feature on Good + Happy Day about books and illustrations as a way to continue exploring this topic, deepening my knowledge of children's literature and illustration and sharing my best finds. To start, I would love to learn about and share your favorites, so please leave me a comment!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Fruity Tarts


Look what we made that took about five seconds to set up: mini custard-filled graham cracker pies decorated with pieces of fruit. It was a great little cooking project, healthier than most home-made treats, and fun and creative for Sabrina to put together.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Three Kings Day

Simple and sweet Three Kings (aka Twelfth Night, Epiphany or Wise Men) celebration today with small gifts, a King's Cake, delicious hot chocolate at my sister's beautiful home and the neatest glowing stars (they change colors) for the three "kings"--yes, Sabrina and her cousins all magically ended up with a winning chip in their piece of cake.

It's officially the end of the holiday season. Christmas trees lie in front of every house and tonight we put away our nativity set and holiday books. As Sabrina said, Good night, see you after you rest and Christmas comes back.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Art Park (otherwise known as the Museum)


We had a great visit to a number of museums during the holiday vacation. When the weather gets chilly, museums really are one of my top picks for places to take the kids--they can run around, eat, there's usually a great gift shop and fun treats (space ice cream anyone?). And I really enjoy seeing art and artifacts through Sabrina's eyes. She makes me notice things I never would have, like these amazing works at the National Gallery that I have somehow never looked at even though I know I've seen them many times.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Listen


As I mentioned, I love the start of a new year. I also love resolutions, intentions, making lists of things I will change, improve, learn, do, stop doing. This year I keep hearing about another way to go about this--select a word that defines your intention for the year and focus your energy on the word and its meaning for you.

I did not have to think about this at all--my word came to me immediately. Listen. Listen to myself, my heart, my body. Listen to my children, my husband, to my family. Listen to friends without seeking to answer. Listen to all that there is to learn. Listen to God. Listen to music. Listen to the wise and inspiring words of artists and writers. Listen to stories. Ask questions. Listen some more. Speak less and listen more. Listen to my breath. Listen to the sounds of my home. Listen and thoughtfully respond. Or just keep listening.

I think of this as a year-long meditation. For me, the greatest benefit of meditation is that it helps me be aware and present. And I think that by really listening I will be aware and present, content, at peace. So. What is your word? I'm listening.


The image above is from CabaretVoltaire, four artists who take photographs of graffiti across the world. I've bought this picture to inspire me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy Happy Joy Joy


I love the New Year. I love the fresh start. The hope and opportunity. The chance to review, refine. I love going over the year that just ended and realizing how much was accomplished, learned, how many amazing moments were lived. And then looking ahead, planning a bit, setting my intentions, and knowing that although some of what I plan may not happen, at least one unexpected and unplanned and incredible thing will come along and begin to take root deeply into my life.

In 2005 this incredible and unexpected was that I began painting. In 2006, it was starting a (almost) daily meditation practice. And in 2007, it was discovering and joining the blogosphere. If anyone had asked me on January 1st of those years about meditating or starting a blog I would have said, That's interesting, but it's not for me. Yet one or two years later I can see how these new elements in my life came as answers to things I was seeking--peace, community, discovery of self and of the world.

The picture is of A Little Hut's calendar. If you still need one, and one of your intentions is to recycle and be more creative, this is perfect!