Tuesday, November 22, 2011

on mothers.

today i was trying on a green coat in the fitting room at kohl's when i overheard two teenagers talking in the room next to me. the first girl asked her friend for the time and upon her companion's reply "9:30," remarked: "great. we better get going. my mom's going to freak out on me." "seriously, why?" was the exasperated response. the first girl sighed louder than was necessary, and said, "she's so lame. she called me after she watched the news because she saw some story about a kid getting kidnapped. seriously, what does she think is going to happen to me? i can't wait to go to college." (i'm paraphrasing a smidge and omitting a whole bunch of like's and umm's, but you get the general picture.) i almost left my dressing room to barge into theirs and explain how being a mother changes you. how things you never thought you'd worry about now occupy your mind all. the. time. i almost wagged my finger and reprimanded them for their lack of understanding, their lack of empathy for the women that brought them into the world, their naivete about what it means to bring a life into this world and watch it crawl then walk around outside your body. i stopped myself, though, because i don't know these girls, and it's not my battle to fight. someday they will hold the tiny warm bundle of their first son or daughter and they will immediately and intuitively understand why their mother insisted on a 10:00 curfew. why their father put a prohibition on dating before age 16. why seatbelts were required and sleepovers were always supervised. time will teach them these lessons, and she will do a much better job than i could in a kohl's dressing room.

after this exchange, i got this overwhelming urge to run home and check on my son. he'd been sleeping for a little over an hour, and i knew everything was fine, but i just needed to see the rise and fall of his chest, hear his rhythmic breathing. i hurried out of the store, drove home and quickly climbed the stairs to his room, where i stood beside his crib and watched him sleep. ohhh sweet baby, how many more years are you mine before you think i'm lame? how many precious moments of being your hero and your sweetheart do i have before i'm the most annoying dork you've ever known?

well, until that time, whenever it may be, i vow to revel in all these moments where jack thinks we (his parents) are the coolest people to roam the earth. i will continue to delight in seeing the way his face lights up when i greet him in the morning. i will continue to treasure his squeals as he peeks around the corner of our room and sees his daddy hiding under the covers. i will never forget the way he lays his head on my shoulder and pats my back. i will remember these moments now... and when jack wants to talk shit in a kohl's dressing room with his friends.

and speaking of mothers and mothering, i finished another cheap-o christmas craft, which doubles as a thanksgiving hostess gift for my mom.

i will NOT be making 12 different christmas garlands, i just love burlap (as you know) and think this will look adorable with my parent's country/farmhouse vibe. if you're interested in the play-by-play, message me. again, i freehanded the pattern, used supplies i had on hand and voila... christmas garland to say "thanks for being awesome even when i was shithead teen-ager, mom." happy thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

this little light of mine.

are you as obsessed with the land of nod as i am??? for real, everytime i get their catalog, i'm drooling over pretty much everything. their stuff is SO freakin' adorable, i can't stand it.

anyway, this post is not about how i wish i had a million dollars to blow at various retailers. rather, it's about how i like my crafts... cheap and easy. (there's probably a joke in there somewhere, but i digress). upon thumbing through the land of nod's holiday catalog, i came across this:

isn't that garland the cutest?!? the land of nod wanted $29 for it, but i decided to see if i could make it myself. here's my version (the $0 and 0 cents version):

i settled on these colors after a very long process wherein these were the only scraps of felt in my craft box. i free-handed the lightbulb template, cut a bunch of felt pieces out, stuffed them with one cotton ball each, then sewed them shut and attached them to a long piece of green ribbon i had on hand. it took approximately 2 real housewives episodes to complete (roughly 1.5 hours). (i craft in intervals of reality television, you see).

i'm challenging myself to complete twelve days of christmas crafts. depending on my likelihood of success, i may include the advent calendar i've already completed. (it's not cheating because i get to make the rules). hopefully sometime between now and december 25, i will share with you 10 or 11 more cheap and easy christmas crafts. it's quite possible that i might get distracted by watching "it's a wonderful life" approximately 22 times and coercing john into making me eggnog every night. you never know. either way, i'm so excited for the rapidly approaching holidays... and hope you and yours are, too!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

five dolla.

tonight jack and i just had to get out of the house for a hot minute. we had to pick up some supplies at hobby lobby, and since i had a kohl's coupon burning a hole in my pocket, we ventured over there to pick up some socks for his fast growing little feet.

(this is not related to this story whatsoever, but i almost had a nervous breakdown in the store when i picked up some new socks. how are his feet that big already? the socks looked almost as big as mine. that's crazy business.)

but anyway, back to kohl's. upon entering the store, i was pleased to discover that the new kohl's cares book collection being sold includes 4 different nancy tillman books. we already own "on the night you were born" and love it, so i decided to check out the other offerings. they're selling "on the night you were born" along with "the spirit of christmas," "it's time to sleep, my love," and "wherever you are." for $5 each. and ALL the proceeds benefit community charities. these books are so beautiful and touching, and $5 is an unbeatable price when even amazon is selling them for $12+.

get yourself to kohl's and grab these babies before they're gone!

super-sized "here's what."

picture me donning a teal blue "mazel" tee, sipping on a cocktail and dishing on what's been going on around here, ok? except in this "watch what happens live" there are only like 4 people tuned in... but nevermind about all that.

so, where have i been and what do i know? i started to type something about work, and then decided against it. most importantly, i have been RELISHING all things quintessentially fall with my family.

first of all, my sweet baby boy celebrated his first birthday.

john and i spent the day hanging out and relaxing with the little peanut. we also took him to dubuque's river museum, which was a big hit. check out that picture; it KILLS me. doesn't he look like such a big boy?!? i can't get over it. where did my baby go?!

i've also been doing a TON of fall baking. there's something about tying my favorite apron on and messing up my whole kitchen all in the name of a delicious apple cake or a hearty batch of butternut squash soup that just makes everything seem perfectly right with the world. last year i was still in that i-just-had-a-baby-and-i'm-deliriously-happy-but-overwhelmingly-exhausted stage so i completely missed fall baking season. this year, i am taking full advantage of all the homegrown apples we got from friends. mmmmmmm!

and even though i've been enjoying fall so much, i've really gotten a jump start on christmas. last year the season truly was a blur for me. i don't even remember what i got people as gifts. i recall wrapping things 3 minutes before my family came for dinner on christmas eve. i think i finished shopping 2 weeks after christmas was over... it was a little chaotic, to say the least. so anyway, i have been thinking about being super organized about the season this year so i can just enjoy the time and soak up the precious moments of watching jack experience the holidays.

in that vein, i was thinking about traditions. ever since jack was born, i'm constantly thinking about what traditions i want us to have, what things i want to etch into his memory as he grows. i kept thinking about how a family friend used to give my brothers and sisters and i this advent calendar and we'd delight in opening a new little door each day until christmas arrived. to that end, i've been obsessing about this pottery barn burlap advent calendar that graced the pages of last year's holiday catalog:

and it just so happened that my joann's had utility fabric on super duper clearance (yeah, i did pick up like 6 or 7 yards for $1/yd. what of it? my love for burlap knows no bounds. sidenote: the people at joann's know me and jack by name, and they also know about all my current projects. is this normal? unhealthy?) i decided to make an advent calendar with little burlap pockets so i could move a little vintage santa from pocket to pocket til he landed on the 25th one on the big day. you know, that or i could leave "holiday honey do" lists in each pocket for john. or christmas chocolates for myself to "find." either way, win-win! so i cut 25 6 x 6 in. pockets out of the burlap, and hemmed them.

i printed numbers out using different fonts, then created a stencil of each number. i painted numbers on using fabric paint, and then i added embellishments to some of the pockets. after they were all finished, i sewed them on a burlap backdrop, hemmed the sides to prevent further fraying, and added a fabric panel at the top with a dowel rod inside to hang it, and presto, DIY burlap advent calendar.

ok, my camera is a hot mess. i feel like none of these pictures is doing my calendar any justice. i actually love it more than the PB version, and it was less than $20 to make (they were charging $99). but anyway, even if you're a beginning seamstress, you can totally do this project. burlap is SO forgiving and easy to work with. i feel like i'm like an eHarmony creator, trying to convince people to give burlap a date recently.

speaking of unhealthy obsessions with utility fabric, i did buy 15 yards of linen. why, you ask? oh, just to have on hand. just kidding. it matched the more expensive ($24.99/yd.) home decorators fabric, but was only $2.30/yd., and i really needed to make some curtains for my living and dining rooms. i needed to spring for the decorator fabric for our large window because we need the extra width, but for the other regular sized windows, i figured the regular width would do, and i think it's working out pretty nicely.

here's my pitch for curtain ring clips. if you go that route, you can make curtains by simply hemming all four sides. or if you're scared of sewing, you can use that heat bond adhesive tape to hem the edges. eaaaaasy peasy. and generally WAY cheaper than buying curtains. it's my personal opinion that curtains are the expertly applied mascara to a room. it just makes a room look put together. so, head to the utility fabric section and get going!

and now, since i've really crossed the line into overshare territory, how about a gallery wall update? here's what the wall above my couch looks like now...

i know, i know. i need more to fill the space. but since i want that "collected" look, i've got to "collect" things. i'm working on it. my new love is that antique street sign. THAT is what happens when my clients are late for their meetings and i kill time on ebay. luckily i'm only $18 poorer and john likes it, too.

ok, now for a confession. well, actually it's a revelation. brace yourselves. i have all my christmas shopping done. don't hate. seriously, don't. i feel like i should get a pass on any haterade because of how crazy and disorganized i was last year. also, i have some really good christmas gift ideas that i'm going to share with you right now... so spike your haterade with peppermint schnapps and grab a pencil. you could check "christmas shopping" off your to-do lists with a few clicks of the mouse...

for the chef on your list: THIS cookbook.
it is my MOST favorite of all-time cookbook (and i have a LOT of cookbooks, as well as three cooking magazine subscriptions, so i'm basically like a total cookbook fiend/expert on the topic. haha) no, but seriously, this cookbook is so amazing. it has recipes that require various ranges of skill, but many are very easy. the food is. to. die. for. it's made with natural ingredients. and it makes me hungry just thinking about it. buy it. buy two copies; one for you and one for a gift. it's an investment for your kitchen.

for anyone, but especially someone who recently moved or a newly married couple: THIS handmade self-inking address stamp.

sold by this etsy shop. there are many other options. they're reasonably priced, super cute and useful. this shop is great to work with, ships stuff promptly and sells quality products.

for the sports enthusiast on your list: THIS book.

this book apparently chronicles the creation and rise of ESPN. my husband said it's excellent. i trust him.

for the person with a sense of humor: THIS dvd series.

first of all, if you don't watch this show on thursdays on FX, first order of business: start. it is a hilarious show about a group of guys and one wife who participate in a fantasy football league. it makes my sides hurt from laughing so hard. it. is. SO funny.

well, that should give you a start at least... right??? if you even continued reading this far, bless your heart. and happy holidays-are-right-around-the-corner to you! (JOHN broke our cardinal "no christmas music before thanksgiving" rule. and i was totally supportive.)