Wednesday, February 25, 2009

CC's Markers

CC takes such pleasure in the simple act of moving her hands to see lines and swirls appear beneath her fingers. She loves markers more than pencils, crayons or anything a little safer. She is bold in her strokes, moves from the shoulder, favors her left hand. Loves using all the colors and switching pens. Puts the caps back on and even cleans up afterwards. Is she making circles already? Is she actually asking for art time? Draw? Draw!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Once Upon a Flower

Flower was one of CC's first words.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What I Do ... 5

I love... The color yellow and the yellow week project started by House on Hill Road and documented here. I didn't learn about it in time to join but was inspired to do a little survey of yellow in my life ... Vintage puzzles like the apple one we picked up this summer ... This little store in Paris ... The word atelier.

I write... About sorting out the time puzzle. And about the big change in my life.

I create... I'm trying really hard to take better photos, use only natural light and make my subjects a little more special. I'm even learning how to edit photos. It's fun! Have you noticed a change?

I read... Every night for a week I've been reading Tara French's In the Woods. I love a good detective story, but find I often can't bear the mediocre writing that seems to come with the genre. This book is gorgeously written and is keeping me up way past my bedtime ... A Year of Mornings. From the thoughtful essays that introduce this beautiful collection of photos to the design of the tome to the photographers' visions, this is pure pleasure and is inspiring me to take lovely pictures and enjoy my mornings.

Thank you for visiting this week. Have a lovely weekend, friends!

Navy Bean Soup and Cornbread

We're trying something new here. Once or twice a week the girls and I cook dinner together. I pick recipes that are fun and easy but also new in hopes that cooking together will make everyone more interested in trying unfamiliar foods.

In the past we've tended to focus on baking as our special kitchen activity. But I've really been trying to cut sugar in our diets to a minimum, and I want them to enjoy cooking healthy things and learn the joys of simple foods. Cooking regular meals really is just as fun!

The only downside is using twice the number of tools since everything has to be measured, poured and assembled before heating. Also, when heating I was extra focused that the girls not be too close to the stove. I didn't want them to try taking an excited peek at their dinner and burn themselves.

We started with this very simple navy bean soup and whipped up some cornbread to go with it.

Every step of the way I let the girls put things in the pot and pan before heating, as well as touch and experiment with the ingredients. They poured chicken broth, threw in carrots and onions, pealed the butter out of the wax paper, measured the cornmeal (Sabrina) and poured it in a bowl (CC), ran their hands through the wet beans, pressed on the slimy bacon, noticed the difference between cornmeal and white flour, smelled and tasted everything.

And at mealtime the girls ate like it was the best thing ever, getting lots of praise for the lovely dinner they had made!

For some great tips on cooking with children, read Molly's Get Crafty feature on the topic.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


We recently spent time in Baltimore, just an hour from where we live. It was unseasonably warm and sunny and we fell in love with this town all over again. Years ago it was a favorite escape for Patrick and I when we first started dating. Now Sabrina calls it the fishy town because of the seafood restaurants, the aquarium and the harbor.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What We Do ... 5

We love... The changing nature display. It hasn't lost its magic at all. Flower petals, paperwhite bulb, tree bark find their way to the display daily ... The great ideas and new projects by the lovely website Playful Learning. Sabrina and CC both are hitting big developmental milestones with language and this great site and the blog give me endless inspiration ... Bloesum Kids Open House series. I love seeing all those child-friendly homes, those cozy corners, those sweet children's rooms. This home validated my desire for a white leather couch even with kids! And this one is features a rainbow cake we must try! ... Feeding birds by the water.

We create... Stories and plays and pretend scenarios about fairies and princesses. It takes no time for Sabrina and her friends to dress up and enter make believe land ... CC has been crafting and drawing a lot now that her fine motor skills are catching up to her sister's. Her focus on enjoyment are so wonderful to see!

We read... Sabrina discovered the Magic Tree House books thanks to her cousin and is now "very interested" (her new expression) in what happens next to Jack and Annie. I've got a bunch of the books from the series reserved at the library,

We play... At Port Discovery in Baltimore, an indoor activity haven and playground. If you live in the area, don't miss it. The girls loved it and I earned a few extra mommy points by taking both of them up the maze, three floors up! ... Zimmbos is a game that both girls really like. It's the first one CC can really play. She doesn't understand the directions, but she can take tunrs and place the blocks really well!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Heart Day

Today my cousin gave birth to a little girl. Her name is Sara. Could there be anything sweeter on this day than a new baby? Happy loving!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Have you noticed the handles on some of our art work lately? We've been using recycled grocery bags for art projects. Even though we have a collection of reusable bags, I sometimes forget to bring them when shopping. So we end up with paper bags that I cut up to make two sheets from each, leaving the handles on. It's great to have a nice big stack at all times. The handles are fun for hanging or carrying the work, and the thick paper is ideal for painting and collages.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What We Do ... 4 ... Valentine's Day Special

We love... becoming immersed in some holiday goodness. And Valentine's Day is just perfect for Sabrina's new love of pink. Somehow, without even trying, hearts and pink have taken over our days since late January ... All the incredible ideas for Valentine's Day crafts on the Crafty Crow. I'm always amazed at how creative parents and children can be! And thank you, Cassi, for featuring our valentines from last year ... This super cute project, I Love You More Than Blank.

We read... a few more Valentine's Day books. A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You would make a nice gift for a friend. And it occurred to me that The Valentine Bears, which I mentioned a few weeks ago, would be an adorable gift for that special Mr. Bear in your life. Really, the vintage drawings and sweet story about an actual couple (most books seem to be about friendships) will charm him! ... The Day it Rained Hearts is perfect for children who love to pretend and imagine things, like Sabrina does.

We create... My sister put together the lovliest Valentine's Day crafts for the children. She set up a little station for each child and had lots of goodies to make valentines and crafts, including a frame to decorate ... Last year we worked on origami hearts and this year we're in the middle of creating 20+ suncatcher hearts for Sabrina's class and teachers. To make them just stick tissue paper and spinkle glitter onto contact paper, seal and cut into shapes. Punch a hole and add some string.

We watch... Did you know there are three Charlie Brown Valentine's Day shorts? It beats what's on the shelves at the video store.

We eat... With Valentine's Day on a Saturday but no babysitter in sight I'm thinking of having a little pink-themed happy hour dinner for the family followed by some special things for Patrick and I after the girls go to bed. Shrimp, smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes, berries, might be on the menu. Any other ideas for pink finger food?

Friday, February 6, 2009

What I Do ... 4

I love... working in my study on a sunny bright winter day like today, an inspiring stack of books by my side ... These four seasons cups and plates ... This new-to-me blog called Oh, Hello Friend. It's so pretty and fresh and full of inspiration ... The tree stamps I got just for myself. I'm not a stamp kind of girl, though Sabrina loves them so we always swing by the stamp section at the craft store. Last time we went these trees caught my eye. Now a little winter set is also tempting me. Maybe I am a stamp girl after all ... Finding a favorite shade of blue painted on a building. Seems like this cornflower blue is popping up everywhere for me.

I write... about trying to make sure my family and I are eating well and feeling well. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you can leave me some advice since as you'll read, the more I know the more confused I become.
I watch... Surfwise. It's an interesting documentary about life choices, health, parenting. It really has me thinking about how following one's dream may affect one's children. Much to discuss after watching this. I also like the film poster ... I love watching the days unfold in habit. It's like being invited into really good friends' homes--no pretense, just true lovely lives.

I listen... I just got Bruce Springsteen's Working on a Dream album. I've always loved his music, every since I was a young girl, and the songs in this one remind me of those early teenage years. I've been known to tell my husband that the only thing wrong with him is that he can't sing like The Boss.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Feed All the Little Birds

Hello, I wanted to let you know that over at BabyCenter I just reviewed The Siblings' Busy Book, including a really insightful interview with the authors and a giveaway that you can sign up for through Sunday. It's a neat book with 200 ideas for things siblings of different ages can do together, sharing materials, helping each other, learning together and bonding.

Sabrina, CC and I made good use of the book as I tried the various activities in preparation for writing the review. One of our favorite activities was Feed All the Little Birds, which involved making bird feeders out of pipe cleaners and round cereal like Cherrios or Fruit Loops.

It never would have occurred to me to involve CC in such an activity, but except for snacking on Cherrios, this was a crafty hit with her as much as it was with Sabrina. For me it was just sweet to watch CC be so excited to finally be part of a “real” project and Sabrina help her and encourage her.

Sabrina made circles out of the pipe cleaners and looped them together. After we hung the feeder Sabrina pointed out to CC the birds that enjoyed the snacks. Children’s cooperation at its best!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Snowman Collages

It's been so disappointing for Sabrina to have snow but not enough to make real snowmen, so we made some snowman collages to make up for it. These days she really enjoys using a variety of materials in her work. She used paper, felt, pipe cleaners, twigs, stamps and markers to design a cute series of snowmen.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Santa Sabrina

We celebrated Sabrina's santo (nameday) this past weekend with a pink party just for family. I love celebrating namedays... another excuse to make people feel special, but without any pressure to throw a big party or give important gifts.

We used pretty wrapping paper and construction paper to make garlands and decorate the table. The cake was Sabrina's design--vanilla cake with pink frosting and pink marshmallows. The marshmallows were my sister's idea for Nico's birthday a few weeks ago and delighted Sabrina (and me too!) to no end. We also had one big candle because you must have something to blow out if you're to make a wish.

A few lessons learned:

*It takes very little to give a celebration a theme. Sabrina wanted a pink party. Flowers, construction paper, wrapping paper, a few pink dishes and two drops of food coloring, and, ta-dah, pink party.

*I must start ironing my tablecloths.

*It's important to listen to children about gifts. Sabrina saw the Piggie and Gerald dolls at a store and fell in love with them since she loves the books. I had 50 beautiful, unique, artsy, cool gifts bookmarked I was just aching to order for her, but instead I bought what she longed for. She was so happy and has been playing and sleeping with her friends for days.

Monday, February 2, 2009

What We Do ... 3

We love... The art in the book Wonder Bear. A beauty of a wordless book ... The blank notebooks and other goodies from Bare Books. Oh, the possibilities! ... The new genre of coloring books that are works of art in themselves and allow for lots of imaginative additions. Sabrina received ...Draw from my sister and has nearly completed it just a few days later.

We read... Books about the season. For a little while it felt and looked like Winter here and now we hear that more snow is on its way. So beloved books like Grandmother Winter, The Story of the Snow Children and Winter have been helping us enjoy the season... We've been browsing books on Lookybook where you can see and read entire picture books. It's wonderful when we're due for a library trip and need a fix of something new.

We play... There's been a big game revival in this home as following rules, taking turns, and sitting still for a little while have suddenly clicked for one girl or the other and made an hour or so of games possible. Hullabaloo is a good one to break things up since it's all about moving around. And Polly the Porcupine is a new favorite memory game of Sabrina's because she loves porcupines ... Everyone loves the new blue play kitchen. I searched high and low and finally came upon one that was nicely made, big but not huge, had some storage space and offered enough detail to interest both girls.

We create... We love our folk-inspired colored pencils from Grandma that are as lovely to look as the art you can make with them.