Home with a Craftastic side dish

It seems silly to share the rest of these photos as vacation already seems forever ago. What is it about December that makes me feel like I’m constantly getting wormholed into the next week?

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We spent our last night in Key West zig-zagging through sword-swallowers and tarot card readers on Mallory Square. Lainey slept in the stroller while Nella’s little eyes darted from tight ropes to flame jugglers…

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…and then suddenly, without any announcement, everyone gathered together at the edge of the square to watch the sun’s show. It’s one of those moments you feel connected to everyone…like clutching your heart during the Star Spangled Banner at a football game or throwing your hands in the air and belting out a chorus with a sea of screaming fans at a concert.

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The splendor of that pink sun magically made everyone nice. People were volunteering to take each others’ pictures, the guy who stepped on my toe was reduntantly apologizing, and strangers were kindly making space for their neighbors to find a spot along the line of sun-watching spectators. Or maybe that’s just Key West.

Key West which, might I add, festively displayed its Christmas love amid shipmasts and sunny skies. No snow needed.

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And Girlfriend can find her Michigan when she wants to. Even in a grungy bar far from home.

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It was a good trip.

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But, the older I get, coming home is just as sweet as leaving…if not sweeter.

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December calls for being home.

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The ceremony of addressing holiday cards was deliciously drawn out last night as Heidi and I sat hunched against the coffee table, watching movies, stamping, stuffing and finishing off one of our favorite rituals of December.

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And now the tips of my fingers are inky, and the top knuckle of the ring finger on my right hand is knotted and swollen. And I like it that way.

Lainey and I made a few gifts yesterday, our favorite being our homemade salt scrub.

Mix equal parts salt to oil. We used a mix of coarse (not too coarse though) and fine sea salt with ground cane sugar and then added grapeseed and sweet almond oil with lavender and lemon essential oils (all available at health food store).

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Package in half-pint jam jars with material squares, a tiny spoon and baker’s twine.

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I saved one for us because I can’t stop using it.

Last but not least, introducing our new sponsor, On My Side, a fabulous t-shirt company that combines positive messages with a little bling. Shirts feature Swarovski crystals and are not only washable but really soft and comfortable. So much that I wore my bling to bed last night.

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Use code “sale25″ for 25% off their shop right now. And how’s about a giveaway?
Four (that’s right, FOUR!) commenters will each win a shirt of their choice from On My Side. To make it interesting, tell me what you really want for Christmas (slash Hannukah slash Kwanzaa slash you-get-it) besides World Peace and a better economy.

And don’t forget Mark Poulin’s offer of buy any three items and get a small charm free ends today.

And Tina Steinberg is offering an extra $10 for every $50 increment you purchase in gift certificates if you order before 12/17. Just mention “small things” in the special instructions during checkout.

Have a happy little Monday!

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Craftastic

Crafts just done went and blew up in our house this week. It’s been a craftastic preparation for the holidays, and I’m loving it.

I used to think the word “crafts” was dorky. Like, if Brett asked “are you doing crafts again?,” I’d clarify “I’m creating homemade splendor” as if “homemade splendor” was more cool. I downplayed my scrapbooking as “photo journalistic memoiring” and pretended I didn’t have a collection of cool stickers and zig-zag shears hidden under my bed.

But, I’m cool with it now. I’m a crafter. I like crafts. I smoke the craft pipe. I fly the crafty freak flag and admit that my heart does a little two-step when I enter the threshold of Michaels. I can only hope my kids will be droppin’ terms like ric-rac and vellum and battenburg lace while they’re still wee littles.

Just wish I could sew. I toy with a needle and thread once in a great while and pretend I know what I’m doing, but oh the joy if I could really sew.

I am a mad gluer though.

Exhibit A: The holiday freak flags that dangle over the playroom now…(pardon the mess)

Photobucket Tree Decal on Wall…totally love. Get one HERE and use code DDFREE088 for a free owl decal gift with purchase.

A little bit of ribbon, tacky glue, fabric and pinking shears. Voila.

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And likewise, another craft with little effort and perfect for the Thanksgiving table…

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Our Thankful banner. Fabric remnants, cut and glued onto stiff felt, trimmed with lace (yup, glue there too), soft felt letters appliqued (oh, who am I kidding…glued there too) and um, glued again to ribbon.

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Table’s already set for our annual neighbor Thanksgiving pajama breakfast, not because I’m so put together and prepared but because the house is such a mess and I’m so behind, I needed something pretty that would inspire me to put the rest back together.

Super easy and inexpensive homemade holiday gift: Button Napkin Rings.

We made ours for our Thanksgiving table this year. Unfinished napkin rings from craft store (you can get a bag of four for a couple dollars), spraypainted and, yes, glued with vintage-looking buttons.

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Lainey had fun helping. These would look lovely wrapped with cloth napkins and tied with rafia for a gift, or keep and use for your own table like so:

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Place settings this year are the trusty old kindergarten craftastic pinecone turkeys.

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We made eight of them yesterday, and Lainey named them all. In no particular order, we have Turkey Dan, Lappie, Little Dan, Little Lappie, Yahkie, Lotsapew, Chili and Dookie. Yes Dookie. She named ’em, not me.

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This wouldn’t be completely craftastic if we didn’t throw in a couple more, so hang on. Although our town’s tree lighting is this Monday (wahoo…come down to Third Street, Neapolitans!) and our official family tree ceremony is next week, we jumped the gun just a teensy bit on our fireplace.

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Mittens serve dual purpose of advent calendar (countown to Christmas…whatever you call it) as you fill each one with a couple treats and pull them off one by one with each day in December.

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Toddler mittens in the dollar bin at the check-out in Joanns plus 2 yards of gold cording plus mini clothespins for a grand total of twelve dollah, no hollah.

Last two…

Material plus felt plus frame plus Nella letting me borrow her tiny little hand to trace equals fun kids table decoration.

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…and another great easy Christmas gift. Unfinished wood tray ($5, Joanns), spray paint and creative toddler…

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Add a fun mug, some favorite coffee, a doily…what have you…wrap in celophane, and you have a pretty gift for coffee/tea lovers. We use trays all the time. I love to serve company on them, and this one’s extra special because it bears Lainey’s smiley faces.

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Before I wish you Happy Friday…

For all those that commented on the beach pictures last post, here’s your chance to come visit. In case you haven’t noticed, Poppa’s vacation rental homes has a button up on the sidebar. The homes are entirely dreamy…lots of bedrooms, pool, hot tub, garden nooks for morning coffee. Anyone in the market for a getaway, they’re offering a 25% discount until December 25 (and any other time, 10% off to anyone who mentions Enjoying the Small Things).

I’ve also updated the F.A.Q. tab on top and will try to add to it as common questions come up.

Also, voting for The Bump’s Best Blog award ends Tuesday. How awesome would it be to have “Special Needs” category win…to remind the world that beauty and joy abound within the households of families who may happen to include a child with special needs? Please help us share this message of inclusion. Click HERE. (you have to scroll down to vote)

And a few from Nella’s outside therapy session this week:

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the tamborine, her favorite toy.

Have a fantastic weekend. Or if you feel really crazy…get craftastic.

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i sew.

so, that’s about as true of a statement as ‘i know vince vaughn’ because i saw him once standing in a plaid shirt on the corner of michigan and ontario in chicago one summer when he was filming the breakup. (and, for the record…i said ‘hi,’ he said ‘hi’ back and i think he winked at me. or maybe he had something in his eye, but there was some definite twitchage going on. and, although security nearly had to pick me up and move me aside, i tell you…he winked.)

i’ve wanted to say ‘i sew’ for a very long time. have all these ideas in my head of little outfits for her i’ve wanted to design. choosing my own fabrics. quilts, curtains, little bonnets for little heads. i imagine sitting in the breakfast room, one foot on the sewing machine pedal, the other stretched out to rock the foot of a cradle with a sleeping baby (let’s just say for the sake of imagery and for the sake of when this far-fetched vision might actually come to fruition, it’s baby #5…or maybe #15…because i am part dugger, you know), and sipping tea while the needle whirs away, locking up the seams of some lovely waverly print or a buttery cotton for a nice little dress.

of course, my imaginary life seldom arranges perfectly with my real one and, being that i detest following directions, sewing something that turns out half-way decent could be difficult. (which is why i decided not to audition for project runway. ‘cuz i swear, i once considered it–for a split second–before i remembered it’s kind of about knowing how to sew. and i don’t.)

but then i found out about these patterns that have a magic little four-letter word stamped on them…

easy.

of course that’s not to say i still didn’t rip out seams or curse when the bias tape got all locked up on a nasty curve (that statement, of course, thrown in just so i can sound cool saying ‘bias tape’ to all you sew folks. i’ve never said ‘bias tape’ in my life, i don’t know what it is and i still don’t know why you need it, but it feels full-blown authentic to say it. next week, if you’re lucky, i might casually throw in an ‘edgestitch,’ a ‘placket’ here and there…maybe some ‘interfacing’ if i get a little crazy. this coming from one who laughs every time i say ‘bobbin’. seriously, say it. bobbin, bobbin, bobbin. it’s funny.)

so anyway, with all said, i may not sew in the plural sense but i sew-‘ed’. once. yesterday…and i made a little dress for my girl all by myself. followed a pattern and everything.

mama was here to help, but she knew i wanted to say i did it by myself and was very good to lead and not take over…

ready? my first ever sewing creation.

(and adoring black tights lately. we’d wear them with everything if it wasn’t a hundred degrees outside)

(and i’m aware that last button is a little skee-jawed, thank you)

and i’d really like her to wear it every day and shout to the world ‘i made this,’ but then again the really cool sewers–you know, the ones who don’t force the word ‘bias tape’ or giggle at ‘bobbin’–they play it cool, right? like they wait until someone asks where you got the dress and then they look down and mumble something like, ‘oh this old thing? i threw it together with some old scraps.’
i’m working on it. ‘cuz someday, i’m gunna be a cool sewer. i promise.

in the meantime, i can take pictures. and i don’t giggle at ‘aperature’ or ‘white balance’ either, just so you know.

last night, sweet lil’ mover and shaker, devon, graced the lense. an almost-tyke who wanted to go-go-go, so we snapped-snapped-snapped as fast as we could before he was out of focus.

and he, like most other florida tots, did not like our prickly naples grass.

…but he sure did love his daddy…

so there you have it. not a seamstress. but loving new challanges…and my sweet little who will don her mama dress for day 2 today.

i sew! i sew! i sew!