Thursday, March 31, 2011

Justin's Teething Ring

So...I'm convinced that Mr. Justin is starting to have some tooth action in that little mouth of his. His gums have become puffy and I swear I've seen some little white tooth spots, but they recede. We broke out his new teething ring today. I always hesitated giving Alex the water-filled cheapy plastic ones, as I never could find any that weren't manufactured in lead and mercury filled Chinese plants. For Justin, however, I found this BPA-free one made in Germany....on the clearance rack at Babies R Us!! He seems to like it.

Adventures in Candle Making

Inspired by a blog post (that I can't for the life of me find to repost), Alexandra and I decided to celebrat the imminent arrival of spring (it's coming, right?) by taking our first trip into 'candlemaking' land. Here's a photojournal of our adventure. First step: selecting 'the perfect eggs' to craft with. Alex very thoughtfully chose these six from our egg stash (we get 2 dozen farm eggs with our meat CSA every month-- so she had a lot to choose from!) The next step was removing the yolk. We used a pin to break a few holes in the 'top' (narrow end) of the egg. We salvaged what egg we could (yummy scrambled eggs for lunch!), and then used our fingers to artfully break the shell and widen the opening.Here are some of our shell vessels, waiting to be filled.

Alexandra decided she'd like a few of the candles to be dyed. We set up her orange and pink dyeing station, and she supervised the process. (We just used an egg dyeing kit from the Dollar Store)

I knew that I bought this beeswax for a reason. I got it last fall from the Carpenter Nature Center's farm store. I'll have to stock up next year!

This was the hardest part. Beeswax is incredibly hard to cut. Because we were melting it in a makeshift double boiler, I needed small pieces that would fit in the mouth of a glass jar. Alex watched intently as I hacked away at it. For future reference, a cleaver works the best.

Our makeshift 'double boiler'. Beeswax will 'ruin' any cooking pot, so we found an old honey jar to melt it in. Bonus= the leftover wax is now in a glass container so we can just add to it next time!Waiting for the beeswax to melt. It took a while.
Pouring the wax into the shells was a bit tricky. A funnel would have been helpful, but I was just careful. Alex and I watched patiently as the color of the wax turned from yellow to cream-- the sign that it was cool enough to insert a cotton wick.

Waiting for the wax to dry completely before snipping the wicks. By the way....I have about 19 yards of cotton wick left, if anyone needs some! :-)

Trying it out. What a sweet little candle! Magical!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Getting our Fingers Dirty...

Our neighborhood friends, the Rossinis, shared some very special 'Fairy Tale Eggplant' seeds with us for our garden this year. The package says to sow indoors about 10 weeks before the end of the frost, so I'm figuring now is the time.I have a little gardener on my hands. Alex so enjoys digging and planting! We'll keep these little guys on the kitchen counter until they start to sprout-- then we need to find a nice sunny place where the kitties won't find them.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Wreath

We've decided to 'act springy', even though it's still quite chilly out. After putting on ALL of her jewelry this morning (see photo), we set Mr. Justin up under his playgym and began to work on some springtime decor for our home. We decided that the porch needed a nice little rag wreath, and Alexandra was totally in charge of tying each piece of cloth (I secured each one with a tiny pin after she knotted them). We went to the fabric store, where we picked out some special springtime prints and a little green tulle. I think we might spend too much time there, because one of Alex's favorite 'games' at home is playing 'cutting counter' with Justin's blankets. She is very specific in her details, asking how many yards I would like and inquiring about my plans for a finished project. Our completed wreath- embellished with some Dollar Store 'berries'. Pretty cute!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Butterfly Collage

It's so exciting how Alex is starting to really depict 'things' in her artwork. Today she decided she wanted to cut paper, which led to her making a 'paper butterfly' in honor of spring. I helped her transfer the butterfly onto a large piece of paper, and she was able to glue it all down in collage format.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Afton Alps

Last day of skiing (unless they open up one more time... but the temperatures are expected to hit 50's this week...)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pancake Frenzy

Ever since our first visit to the MN Landscape Arboretum's Pancake Brunch, we've been itching to get back there with our friends the Olsons. This year it happened! We managed (successfully) to wrangle four kids, four adults and seven plates full of pancakes for a lovely morning. After breakfast we wandered around the building a bit and found an empty dining nook where the kids could (and did) run amok for about fifteen minutes....pure maple syrup does wonders for energy levels! (Once again, if you're looking for a local syruper-- Somerskogen Sugarbush is the can't-beat place to get your syrup!)

Group Shot Attempt 1:
Group Shot Attempt 2: We look forward to visiting again when the flowers and blossoms are popping out! They have a wonderful twisted twig 'giant birdhouse' (I don't know what it's really called) in front of the visitor center. Alex had a fantastic time exploring and running around that as well.

Rolling on Video

Finally..... a bit of the rolling on video (albeit with a bit of an 'assist' from Daddy the second time).

Friday, March 25, 2011

Another 'Spearamint'

Alex has a steel-trap mind. About a year ago we did a '5 Senses' Experiment where I filled five containers with a variety of edible items and had her try to identify them using one sense at a time. Today I was cleaning out the office and she found the containers in a file box. She turned to me and said "lets do that spearamint again!" we did.

While she may be quite the little scientist, her palette is not very well trained....she thought turkey jerky was a raisin! :-)

Return of the Gnome

I was so elated to dig this spring jacket out of the Baby box.....remember this cutie??

The Return of the Gnome

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Artistic Control

Alex and Auntie were getting a bit stir-crazy after our snowed/iced-in day (yes....King Winter made one final appearance), so we headed to Kiln Kreations for some art therapy. We've been here once before, so this time we picked the same bowl to paint. The theory is that we'll have a 'complete set' of 6 or so original art creations during the next two years!
Have bunny. Will travel.
So concentrated. Rorie and I helped her with the undercoats (just to make sure they were even), but she wanted total artistic control of the top layers. Her tool of choice was a sponge brush, and when Auntie Rorie found a 'glass slipper' stencil, she was in complete heaven. Will post photos of the finished bowl when it comes back from the kiln in a week or so!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Justin's Workout Regime

Justin has been working SUPER hard at grasping! His baby gym is the favorite toy right now, as the rings are just the right distance away.
Napping (with Mr. Bunny, Nana Huxley and some rising challa dough) after an especially greuling workout session.

Ball for Baby Lucy

Inspired by both the sweater ball we got from Jana and some gorgeous handcrafted balls from Sierra (a mom of Alex's classmates), Alex and I got to work on a baby present for one of our neighborhood friends.She picked out all of the fabric and helped me trace the pattern. I cut, pinned and sewed and then she got to stuff it with some soft, fluffy wool and a jingle bell in a small plastic container! We were pleased with the finished project-- even though it was a bit 'lumpy', it will even out with lots of love!We have a few more babies that we'll need 'welcome' gifts for in the months to come...this might become our staple!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Welcome Spring...???

Well, Mrs. Thaw has broken out the broom to clean up after King Winter! This is what I like to call 'Phase 1' of our Spring Table. It's pretty exciting, because now we've had the table in our home for a year-- Mrs. Thaw was the first figure I made last March! I love the cyclical reflection of nature that is a part of our everyday lives. Alex loves collecting bits and pieces of 'nature' to add to the table daily.

She was very excited to put King Winter away in his 'palace' (a crate in the closet) and bring out the brown carpet remnant to represent the glorious squelchy mud that is ubiquitous with Early Spring in Minnesota. We found some pussywillows (at Costco-- is that cheating??) and put them in a vase as a hopeful sign of what is to come.

Monday, March 21, 2011

More Handmade Goodness!

We received the sweetest upcycled handmade pretties sweater ball from one of GranMama's friends (thanks, Jana!!), and have had the best time introducing it to Justin. It's the perfect 'squishyness' (that's a word, right?) for chubby little hands to practice grabbing. It's also perfect for learning some cause and effect lessons (what happens when I let go of it? Alex will run and get it for me!) Just look at that expression of pure joy on his face!
(On a side note, I'm seriously inspired by the creations on that website-- gotta get back to the studio!)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

....and again...with the rolling over

We still haven't caught it on video, but today our little guy proved he could not only flip from front to back (when angry enough), but from back to front as well. My days of carefree flitting about while he lays in one spot are over!


When Cathleen came for her visit, she left behind a very special book- Pinkalicious by Elizabeth and Victoria Kann. While it wasn't something I would have ever picked out myself (I'm not such a 'pink' girl), Alex has quickly adopted it as one of her favorites. While Auntie Rorie read it to her today, she proved that she had it memorized- every word.The story revolves around the adventures of a little girl who makes (and eats) pink cupcakes. What a better activity than baking some delectable PINK treats ourselves today! We even found a jar of maraschino cherries hidden in the pantry (did you bring those, mom??) so they looked EXACTLY like the ones in the book.Alex enjoyed a few and we brought a plate over to the neighbors as well.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cinderella ate my Grandmother

There's a book out called Cinderella ate my Daughter which I'm waiting to read, but I think there may be cause to pen another tome that takes a long, hard look at Grandmothers who are obsessed with Princesses ;-)

I dont' think Mary even knew that Alex has been 'waiting' for days and days for a package to come to her in the mail. Every time we go to check the mailbox she asks "is there a princess dress in there for me?" I've been able to tell her "No- not today" until this afternoon....when there WAS one waiting for her!

Grandma Mary outdid herself this time with a handmade gorgeous Cinderella dress. We had to speedily gather up the accessories that we have strewn about the house (the gloves from her Princess Alex dress, Glinda's sparkly wand and my old wedding shoes) so that she could be Cinderella RIGHT AWAY!!

Thank you Mary, she is absolutely thrilled! :-)

Justin's 3 Month Photos

We got all dressed up this morning (Mom-- I totally understand why you were so 'mean' to me as a child and made me dress in "hideous" outfits that I hated for picture day. And yes, you may chuckle because it's now my turn to have to beg, plead and cajole Alex into the cutest cream tunic because she declared it wasn't "good") and headed to our photographer's studio for Justin's 3 month photos.

Here's a shot of 'the gang' as they waited for the fun to begin. Overall I think we got some good shots, but between Alex being too darn photogenic and sidetracking the photographer into taking lots of shots of her and Justin being a little overwhelmed and not his normal smiley self, Dave and I are exhausted!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Enjoying the yard

Alex headed outside today for some playtime in the yard. The neighbor dog, Lucky, joined her for the majority of the time as she 'made soup' in an old flower pot. It's so nice to be able to sit back and watch her entertain herself (from the baby-friendly warmth of the back door).

King Winter's Last Stand

I realized that I hadn't posted any photos of our winter nature table this season. Here it is, at the end of winter. As perhaps you've realized, I have quite a 'squirrel' for a daughter. This is a 'pared down' collection of all she's found this season. We're quite looking forward to placing a small bit of green felt on the table to signify the spring thaw! Any day now!