Monday, November 28, 2011

Let it snow

Not that much snow outside as we just enjoyed 65 degrees today. And yet with holiday season kicking in there is snow everywhere. In the decorations, gift wrappings, products boxes, holiday cards and pajamas. A while ago I read about using dried coconut as snow and when staring at my simple gift bags I had the idea of upgrading them with some fake snow. The variations are endless, and it is a lot of fun making these.

You will need a bottle of white school glue or anything similar, dried coconut (my version was finely grated without sugar), red ribbon and plain paper bags (these last two items I got at Target).

First you make your picture by placing your paper bag flat on a surface and squeezing the glue bottle letting a small stream of linear glue fall as you move it around forming your shape. If you want you may first draw it with a pencil but for simple designs, I find it easier just to do straight with the glue bottle. For the wreath I made two circles, one inside the other and with the tip of the glue bottle I spread glue in the area between the circles.

After you have draw your picture with the glue, sprinkle dried coconut on top of the areas where the glue is located. Right after that, lift it up on top of a plate and gently tap the paper bag to let anything that is not on top of the glue fall. You don't want to leave the coconut too long outside the glue area as it will taint the paper with its oil. Let it dry on a flat surface. (the coconut that fell off the bag can be used again for another project)

For the ribbon part, just cut your ribbon and glue it to the place you wish. You may also try with white sand instead of the coconut.

Sunny Thanksgiving

It was a sunny Thanksgiving. Grandma's house filled with running and jumping kids. Voices of laughter, of singing, and sometimes, of crying. Table filled with flavors, hearts filled with memories, mouths filled with tastes.

And maybe, just maybe, a new traditions started. Campfire. Marshmallows. Hot dogs.

To end it all, a sleepover, camping under the stars. Daddy and Luke, the men of our house faced the cold and darkness to build one more memory: camping after Thanksgiving. Of course, mommy and baby Mark had other plans: a warm bed and soft blankets (as I have enough winter camping memories in my memory book!)

All in all, so much to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A last minute hostess gift

Just wrap a wine or apple cider bottle with thin wrapping paper (you can roll from one corner to another). Hold the top with an elastic band, cover with a lace and glue the label in place. Done! Free printables for the labels from here and here. (Thanks for Children Inspire Design blog for these free gifts). 
Well, wish I had more time for a longer post, but it is getting late and the Turkey awaits!! Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DIY: Fall leaves

Fall leaves are everywhere spread on the ground. Silently staring at me as I walk around town. Am I going to rescue them before they disappear? Am I going to bring them home and spread their beauty around captured inside my DIY craft projects? Very tempting to kidnap Fall's beauty so I can privately sip of it a little longer.

Last week I gave in and rescued a few leaves. On Saturday I made a little DYI birthday card with one of them for Luke's friend that was having a princess birthday party. What about you, do you take advantage of the abundance of leaves in the Fall to create interesting crafts?

Well, here is the lucky one:

And here are some pictures of Hoboken that I took on our walk back from the birthday party:

Friday, November 18, 2011

10 Sips for the Weekend: Feast of Flavors


When the sun gets timid, when the green says goodbye and Nature enters into their winter sleep, we humans, in search for beauty and comfort, turn our attention to food, fire and friends. The soup boiling on the stove, the fire quietly singing on the background, the laughter of friends and family. The coziness of candles dancing to the wind gushing outside, the smell of roasted, baked, caramelized. They all fill our senses, they all whisper: it is dark, it is cold, but it is going to be alright.

Sweet Paul Magazine is one of my favorites for capturing the beauty of the Seasons. It is an online magazine filled with recipes and inspiration. They started at the Spring of 2010, so there are a few issues available. I went through some of them and found 10 recipes with fall and winter ingredients that I plan to have on my table in the following months. Lots of soups in my picks. Bon Appetit!
  1. Pears: Thyme-roasted chicken with pears
  2. Apples: Apple parsnip soup
  3. Pumpkin: Pumpkin soup with cranberry compote
  4. Pecans: Rosemary and honey pecans 
  5. Onion: French onion soup
  6. Kale: Portuguese Kale Soup
  7. Cinnamon: Fall Stew with Cinnamon, Cumin and Chili
  8. Beets: Pasta Salad with Beets, Chèvre, & Honey Vinaigrette 
  9. Carrots: Honey Baked Fall Vegetables
  10. Chocolate: Chocolate and coconut cupcakes 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bowling Party

When I was a child my mom would make a cute and simple cake and some sweets. My friends would bring gifts wrapped in thin wrapping paper, and we would run around playing hide and seek until it was time to blow the candles and eat the cake. That was it, simple and fun. 

Last month, as I started searching online for bowling party theme ideas for Luke, I became aware of a complete line of knowledge that transforms a few years of life celebration into a wedding style party! I was overwhelmed by so many tutorials, crafts, decorations, printables and themes. They all looked gorgeous, but I felt as if I had missed the party planning class in school; a very essential life skill. So I decided to change that. Not going crazy, I started to dip my feet into this new line of knowledge for the fun of it.

I did not want to pursue the perfect party, however I was intrigued by the challenge of creating something new, like in art class. Could I, an illiterate in party planning, squeeze out of my brain a few ideas? I have to say I copied a lot of things, but somewhere along the way I felt good about creating something out of nothing. And if that counts, then I would say it was a successful start.

For the party favors I got this vintage camera printable on Etsy and after printing, glued to a card stock paper. Next, I rolled it and tied with a red ribbon. Then I printed a picture of the vintage camera and stapled it with an instructions note (something like this: go to and select a song, make a cup of hot chocolate - I placed a hot chocolate mix package inside each roll -, and assemble the camera). The thank you note card flags are made by cutting the rubber of the back of a pencil into a triangle shape and using it as a stamp (another idea I saw in another blog, wish I had taken notes where it was)

I also carved a pumpkin and 3 holes and painted it black to look like a bowling ball. Inside I placed the cake pops that I made out of a yellow cake mix with fresh cranberries. You can find cake pops recipes all over the Internet.

The T-shirt I painted first using the freezer paper technique, but because it bled a lot I had to fix it by hand after. So here it is, a few ideas to share.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Creating winter memories

My childhood was packed with summer memories. My grandmother's backyard was the stage: swimming, climbing trees, mud playing, eating mangoes, riding bikes, hiding and seeking behind bushes, sun bathing, playing house, eating grandma's treats, and the list goes on and on. As for winter memories, well living in a tropical country, my winters did not last that long and it wasn't cold enough to have snow or ice. So when it comes to creating winter memories for my kids, I will have to google for ideas!

It is raining and cold outside, as it has been all day, and here I am sipping a spicy hot chocolate (quite delicious), should this be a new winter tradition? For the past 7 years I have been wishing for summer all winter and dreading winter all summer! But this year I feel that it is time to embrace winter with its good and bad, therefore, welcome winter traditions!

Do you have any winter traditions or memories? What about a tacky sweater party? Camping night in the living room? Winter cabin weekend? Bake and decorate cookies? Skiing weekend? Finding the perfect sledding spot? Candles only night with hot chocolate and marshmallows? Lantern and popcorn Christmas movie night? Wrap a gift for the teachers? Make a snow man together with all the right accessories? Create a pine craft? By Spring I will let you know how many of my winter dreams became memories...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How cool is that? Bike Bells

Luke is asking for a bell for his bike. When I showed him these three, he chose the ice cream, I wonder why...!
Hand-Painted Bike Bells
Sold here

Monday, November 14, 2011

Luke is 4!

today is the day 8x10 prints

little owl 11x14 poster
I love you wall cards
These 3 posters can be purchased on sale here. Or from Children Inspire Design

May God's blessing keep you always,
May your wishes always come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

Friday, November 11, 2011

10 Sips for the Weekend: Shopping for Health

locally gathered goldenrod flowers infused in local MA honey
I have heard this past week, popping everywhere around me, enough sneezes and coughs to make me run to my health cabinet in search for anything health boosting. I guess sneezing season has started and as my kids got a mild cold this week, I was sent back to my primary career in life (before I had a real job like blogging...): registered nurse. That is what my diploma says, so I guess I better put all those years of study to work.

Two mornings this week I felt as I was the next one on the "cold's" black list and then after taking all sorts of bad tasting potions, I was back to health. I don't know for how long I will be able to trick this one into staying outside of my body, but I decided not to give up on this battle anytime soon.

So here are the 10 health sips that I am taking (not all yummy sips) to boost my health this sneezing season (I won't go into scientific reasons just because this blog is not a medical guide, and if you do follow any of these tips, be advised that you do on your own risk: I am writing as a blogger and not as your health professional. These tips are mainly for adults; for kids, safety and dosages change).

  1. Green tea: Two cups a day will keep the doctor away. If possible, choose the organic kind. 
  2. Probiotics: Put the little guys to work for you. Try to find ones that are of a good blend and with at least 5 billion CFU. I take first thing in the morning and wait about 20 minutes before eating (just enough time to get showered and dressed). Remember to keep the bottle refrigerated (if the instructions say so). My favorite probiotic
  3. Olive leaf extract: Found out about these magic drops this year and they seem to give the ultimate kick to keep the cold away. I use this one.
  4. Raw honey: If honey is good, raw honey is even better as it is unprocessed. If you can find a local one, even better, it may protect you also against allergies. Right now I am using one from this apiary.
  5. Propolis: A very sticky solution that you can drop on top of the honey in a spoon and swallow everything at once. I use a 70% solution.
  6. Multivitamins: I like to take one that resembles the way vitamins and minerals are found in foods: as synergistic compounds. Mine is pink, for girls only. 
  7. Vitamin D: After having my blood checked and finding out that my vitamin D levels were low, I started to take this supplement in the winter. I guess my tropical born body is still getting adjusted to the lack of sun (maybe I should ask the doctor to prescribe more vacations at tropical places instead; more fun than taking pills). I am getting a total of 3000 units, much more than the FDA  recommends, so discuss with your doctor the amount that would work for you.
  8. Iron: Ladies that are monthly reminded that they are ladies may have a problem with iron levels. My levels are just on the border so once in a while I take this easily absorbed supplement. Be aware that iron can be fatal if overdosed, specially for kids, so follow dosage and keep it away from the little one's reach. (and check with your healthcare professional to know about your iron levels).
  9. Sleep: No, this one they don't sell online, or send to you with free shipping. I think that this is the hardest of all to follow, specially if you have small kids that like to play the alarm clock joke every night.
  10. Blog: Did you know that journaling boosts your immune system (also called poetry therapy)? So go ahead, start a blog and share your words for good health.
Have a healthy and good weekend!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bubbles: a love story

I grew up with showers. No bathtubs in the houses I lived. It was too hot to sit in warm water. But last year I fell in love with bathtime. Not with my kid's bath time, that is cute too, but I mean the mommy bath time. Do you ever get that: mommy soaking time? Time to fill the bathtub with lavender bubbles, sprinkled with healing salts, a candle flittering away Enya's voice? And the force within you blocking the to do list from popping up and just focusing in the warmth of the water knowing that outside the wind is fierce but in this mommy sanctuary you are safe and in peace?

Apparently I am not the only one around here falling in love with bath time. Luke decided that if it was up to him he would take 3 baths a day. And the bubbles, he just loves them, to the point of pouring half of the bubble mix, without me noticing, inside an already bubbly bathtub. Last week there he was, a few minutes after I  got him dressed up to go to school, naked in the bathroom ready for a bath.

And as things go, Mark is following his brother's steps running to the bathroom as soon as he hears the water running. He does not mind either when Luke pours water over his head. It seems as the bubbles are magically pulling all of us inside its slippery walls.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How cool is that? Printable toys

The Internet is an ocean of ideas for the lazy crafty mom. With two sick kids in the house I decided to make new toys appear out of thin air. My resource? Free printables. Made by Joel is an oasis of fun printables and crafty ideas. The book on the back is a favorite in our house: A street through time. The road is an old coffee table painted with chalkboard paint.

Mommy Photo Shoot: when the lens turn

I love taking pictures of my kids and I know that when editing them I am tempted to keep almost all of the ones that are not blurred. When I have my picture taken, I feel like deleting all of them! There is a self consciousness that gets in the way of just enjoying being who I am. I don't care if my kids' hair were messy in the picture, or if their clothes were not matching. But when the lens turn, it is another story.

My grandmother would turn her face every time someone was clicking a camera. She believed her face looked better from the side, so she kept an Egyptian posture. We, the grandchildren, used to make fun of her for that,  now I feel that I am becoming my grandmother. Adopting error proof postures, learned after years of trial and error enhancing this and hiding that. Maybe that is part of what is called maturing.

So we did a photo shoot. A friend of ours is starting a design T-shirt business (Miteeheart) and suggested we take pictures wearing the T-shirts he kindly gave us so he can have some more ad material. I would not call my pictures ad material, but to enhance the visual we headed to this secret little spot with amazing views of the George Washington bridge. Ross Dock Picnic Park in Fort Lee, NJ is one of the only pieces of land courageous enough to stick its neck out in the river. The location makes you feel like being in a natural pier, with the river surrounding it and a wall of rocks keeping the rest of the world away.

Luke loved the playground they have in the place. Mark could not care less for the view, as he just kept napping in the car. On the way back, we were reminded that contrary to the photo shoots, we were not the stars anymore, with our kids making as much noise as rock stars in the back seat, plus the traffic, we were brought back to reality. No modeling agents to complain to.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The future is not new: it is old

There is a line of thought that keeps coming back to my head. It is a really hard concept to internalize. How do you explain that a modern world, where most people in this country spend a big chunk of their time in front of some kind of screen, is producing an Internet filled with blogs that are all about going back to the past?

One of the most popular apps for the I-Phone is to help make pictures look vintage! Think about it! Don't we always wait for the next most recent I-Phone? To look more vintage? Hard to rationalize!

Think about online magazines, for example, one of the most futuristic ways of reading, and yet most of them are bringing back the old, the natural, the simple life! Funny, isn't? I don't think it is a bad thing. But it is hard to understand. The future was suppose to look like the Jetsons. Not like families living in a farm, raising goats and chickens, eating whole foods and yet designing beautiful blogs.

So here are two examples. Two beautiful online magazines with so much nature and vintage that you almost think that you are reading a magazine from the consignment store.

Have you heard about Babiekins? It is like entering a child's fairy tale.

Have you heard about Kinfolk? Another magical world.
Picture via this website
So Sit, Read and Relax. Welcome to the new old world!

Friday, November 4, 2011

10 Sips for the Weekend: Shopping for Boys

Picture via this shop
I can almost hear the bells ringing and that reminds me of one thing: the crazy holiday season is approaching and it is time to tight the belts and dive in before it is too late!  So lets start with boys' gifts (as they are usually harder to find). Here are 10 great boys' treasures made with love and no plastic! Enjoy!
  1. A is for art
  2. London in a bag?
  3. a soccer ball that won't crack your TV
  4. wish your child knew how to open tie a Windsor knot, open and close buttons, faster a D-ring belt, negotiate a clip and rip open a velcro? Wish no more.
  5. Bowling anyone?
  6. Fishing?
  7. Got a crafty one
  8. More of a farm boy?
  9. What about pirates?
  10. Or maybe just a cup of hot chocolate for bed time?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Princess for a day

Picture via this Etsy Shop
After entering hundreds of times inside kids stores just to be disappointed that I could not buy all those cute girly outfits for my boys, (I still love to shop for them, but my girl's heart will always tend to girly things) I came to my senses and woke up to the reality that I DO have a girl to buy girly thing for: myself!

That is when I started to realize that women USED to dress all girly in the past, but then comfort swallowed all of us. This video from 1950s shows a different dressed crown leaving school at the end of the day. It is not a secret that Etsy is now packet with vintage shops and many people are longing for some antique class back to these modern days. These 65 years of Seventeen Magazine covers are a great way to see how fashion has changed over time.

Want to change your Mama Style? This blog is vintage inspirational.
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