Thursday, April 28, 2011

Go Michael, GO!! The Birthday Party!

This is my Michael that I talk about so much on here :)  He just makes me smile!  And how could I not when I see those eyes of his light up.  He's a genuinely happy soul! 

I had so many ideas for his 2nd birthday party this year, but I wanted to make sure it would be something he would LOVE and really get to enjoy...that's the whole point!

He has lots of interests...animals, books, getting dirty, coloring, music...the list goes on and on!  He also gets the biggest kick out of all types of transportation.  We'll be driving down the street and he'll see a big truck and he'll announce in his deep trucker voice, "That's a BIG TRUCK!".  He points out the school bus that drives past our home multiple times a day, the garbage man, the delivery truck, the mailman, and he'll say "LISTEN!" when he hears an airplane and point to the sky.  So of COURSE I decided to go with a transportation theme for his big day.  

Have you ever read the book, Go Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman?  I used that as a starting point because Michael can quote the entire book!

 For the invitations, I made each of Michael's little friends a shirt to wear to the party (I also made shirts for his 1st birthday...a dinosaur theme)

I bought a pack of white t-shirts and I used the iDye brand dye to make two colors...bright green and a rusty orange (I thought it was going to be yellow, but it turned out MUCH darker!)  Oh well, it worked in the grand scheme of things.  I left Michael's shirt white so he would stand out since it was his big day!  

I just followed the instructions that came with the dye and did it on the stovetop, but you can also do it in the washing machine.

After the shirts were dyed, I washed and dried them.  I wanted each shirt to be unique, so I made 6 or 7 drawings from Ed Emberley's Make a World book.  SUCH A COOL BOOK!  I probably bought it ages ago (15 years ago?) but it has come in handy for different projects...Michael loves looking at all the fun do I!

Instead of freezer paper, I used contact paper (that's what I already had) and drew the shapes, cut them out with an x-acto knife and pulled the backing off.  Then I easily adhered the contact paper to the cotton shirt.

 All ready for paint!

I used fabric paint and generously covered the area, taking care to not let the contact paper bubble SUPER FAST and easy!  And the fabric paint makes it soft even after it's dry.  I also used a permanent felt-tip fabric marker to add more detail (it washes really well too...I was skeptical!) 

I packaged them up with a silly note and we handed them out a few days before his party.

All ready to be delivered!

This was really the only semi-decent shot I got of the gang at his party.  1 newborn and 5 toddlers=super wiggles, just like it should be :)  Michael LOVED watching each friend come to our front door and would shout out the vehicle on each of their shirts.  I was thrilled that he loved it :)  I also added a special label on the back of his shirt...I thought it was appropriate :)

I was wondering if he would really like his shirt as I was making it for him.  I received my answer the other day when he saw me putting the laundry away, weeks after his party was over..."TRAIN SHIRT! TRAIN SHIRT!! PUT IT ON!"  That was the icing on my cake :)  All the work was definitely worth it!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

May Day is on Sunday

Oh my, it has been busy around here!!  
John is home from Italy (we missed him!!!) and we made it home safely from Wenatchee.  I tried to drive home to Seattle on Friday morning (normally 2.5 hours), but ended up spending 5 hours in the car, only to turn back around because of a major accident blocking all four lanes of the highway!  Whew, that was a long day!  I stopped and got Michael a milkshake to help tide him over on the car ride BACK to Wenatchee...some of which he drank...and some of which he poured all over himself and everything in the backseat :)  Ha, at the point I wasn't even phased by it.  Ya just got to laugh at those moments 'cause hey, at least we were safe and he was happy after sitting for 5 hours.
We did finally make it home Saturday morning...hooray!


So now it's Wednesday and I haven't even mentioned anything about Easter.  Ours was relaxing...spending some much needed time together as a fam.  We enjoyed our Sunday morning by attending church and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Michael came home and took a marathon nap (which we took advantage of and took nice naps ourselves!) and then he woke up and hunted for his Easter basket.  Normally he probably would have hunted for it on Saturday, but we were so busy that day, I didn't even finish putting it together until about 11pm that night...ah well!  His favorite treat?  John's favorite: CHOCOLATE!  My husband is the chocolate lover of the two of be specific, dark chocolate!  Ha, Michael inherited that gene of his :)

We had our neighbor over for dinner and another friend whose wife was out of town.  It really was a lovely evening!  I used a recipe from the little books I get each month, Everyday Food by Martha Stewart.  
I have a new FAVORITE cake!!  It was so tasty!!  I made fresh whipped cream for the top and added some fresh strawberries.  The secret is the lime juice and zest...AH-MA-ZING!

Coconut-Lime Berry Cake
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1 cup packed sweetened and shredded coconut
1 cup white sugar (you can substitute 3/4 cup of honey)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. lime zest
2 TBSP. lime juice
3 cups mixed berries (I used frozen blueberries and raspberries)
3 TBSP. orange juice

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, mix flour, coconut, salt, and baking powder together.  In a separate large bowl, combine sugar and butter and mix on high until fluffy, about 4 min.  Mix in eggs to the butter mix, one by one.  Add flour mixture in three additions, alternating the buttermilk.  Stir in lime zest and juice.  Pour batter into dish and smooth top with rubber spatula. Mix together berries and orange juice. Scatter berries and juice over batter.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Serve with fresh whipped cream and fresh strawberries (or berries of your choice)! Be prepared to go back for seconds :)

Sorry I didn't take a pic...we were too busy eating :)

So I *thought* Michael and I were over our sickness, but it came back again this week in full force, so we took a trip to the doctor's office today...sinus infection for me, ear infection for him :(  Poor kiddo!!  Just takin' it easy this week so we can GET HEALTHY ALREADY!

May Day is THIS SUNDAY!  Did you celebrate May Day as a kid?  My mom always helped us make little care packages with flowers or cookies to hang on our neighbor's doors...we thought we were so sneaky ringing the doorbell and running away...HAHAHA!  I laugh because we were the ONLY kids on the cul-de-sac...who else was going to do the ding and ditch routine?!  

I love classic, simple ideas to celebrate spring...and maybe I'm partial to May since that's the month of my birthday.  

A couple of cute and creative ideas that have inspired me lately...LOVE the idea of putting flowers in a cute umbrella!

Carryout bouquet

Or what about using take-out boxes?  And you could even do sugar cookies with frosting flowers instead of real allergies to worry about!


Or if your are trying to avoid allergies, you could make a floral-scented candle in a delicate tea cup.  Second-hand stores are great places to find inexpensive and unique tea cups.  

I think any of these simple gifts would be so much fun to deliver to friends and neighbors!  Hopefully I'll be feeling up to making some goodies soon so I can continue this sweet tradition with my own family.  I'd love to see your May Day gifts if you make some.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

L'arc en ciel de portes

I love COLOR!!!
the list goes on and on. 

I love the combos you can create and the inspiration you can derive!!  Maybe that's why dyeing Easter eggs is so much fun...can't wait to do it this year with Michael and John!!

Speaking of inspiration...
France has so much history and character...just a small part of the charm it holds for many, including me!  While we were there 2 months ago (it's been that long already?!), I kept noticing all of the brightly painted and unique doors in Paris and also up north in the smaller villages of Normandy.  I snapped some shots of my favorites to make a colorful collage.  Here are just a handful of my doors (and one window I think).  I know this idea isn't new, but I love it none the less :)  And the fact that they are my own photos makes it meaningful to me...believe it or not, I remember where each photo was taken and that makes me think of the memories I have from our time together in France.  

I do have a copyright on my photography and art, but as an Easter gift, I thought I would share these photos with you for your personal use should you desire to create something like a collage or's up to you!  You can download them individually here.  Can I make one small request?  If you decide to use these on your own blog or share them on the web in some way, would you please link back to this original post?  A million thanks!!  I hope you all have a memorable weekend with your family and friends!

Isn't this incredibly fantastic?!


I am in awe of this artist, Dalton Ghetti!  One word:


Just wanted to share something amazing with you on a Thursday!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Making me smile

I'm hopping in the car to get some cheese and nori right now :)  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Have you ever heard the saying...

...Tuesday's child is full of grace?  Michael was born on a Tuesday and I really would agree that his little disposition is one of kindness and compassion for others (unless he's ready for a nap...then he gets a little touchy...probably like most of us, including me!)  The poor kiddo has been sick for a week with a cold.    I ended up getting hit hard with it too, hence the lack of blogging.  But we're finally feeling loads better now and since my husband John is in Italy for work this week, I thought we would come over to Grammy and Grand-dad's house in Wenatchee to enjoy some gorgeous sunshine and bright blue skies!  IT.HAS.BEEN.WONDERFUL!!!!!  I've been taking Michael to all my favorite spots...
...the library for story time,
the park,
my favorite panaderia where I get these strawberry and coconut rolls...I wish I knew what they were called...they aren't too sweet, but oh so yummy,
and of course just running general errands.  

Yesterday while doing a bit of grocery shopping, Michael made sure to tell everyone "Nice to meet you!" as we walked past them :)  He also offered to share his lollipop with every child he passed and was quite offended when they didn't take him up on his offer :)

It's been a nice change of scenery to be back in my hometown and share it with Michael.  I always come across dear friends too which is one of the best parts.  Yesterday I ran into my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Mary Olson...isn't that the perfect teacher name?!  We both recognized each other...decades of teaching 1,000's of children and she still knew who I was!!  Whoa, I was impressed!!

So like I said, we're in Wenatchee this week just enjoying our time together.  I'm going to try and fit in some art time too so I can finally show you some stuff that I've been working on.  Thank goodness I have such a happy little helper to keep me company while coloring and creating.  I'll also spend some quiet hours at night putting together Michael's Easter basket!  I'm excited :)

And if you're like me, you might have some ideas of your own for an Easter treat or two!  Below are some creative and beautiful gifts that I'm sure any art-minded friend would love to receive!

I HAVE to make this Beautiful Bouquet someday!!!

This adorable cupcake stand would look cute even without any sugary treats on it!

How cool are these whimsical earrings?!

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping she makes a Washington one soon!

This charming children's mobile would add so much character to any little one's bedroom.

Hope your week is off to a lovely start!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A fresh idea for Easter

A very happy Monday to everyone :)
Did you have a fun weekend?  Ours was pretty simple...we played at the park on Saturday and went out to lunch.  I did a little shopping for my boy...he's growing so quickly that his pants were looking like capris!  We went to church on Sunday and took long afternoon naps.  Ahh, pretty low key and relaxing...just what we all needed after a super busy week!

And while we were out and about, we saw many signs of spring popping up all around us!  I'm reminded that Easter is right around the corner!  

Growing up, my mom made me and my sisters really charming Easter baskets with an assortment of festive candies and little gifts.  They were so cute and colorful!  She and my dad hid them around the house is some really unusual places and we had to hunt for them :)  I can't wait to do that for Michael this year!

Sidenote:  If you ever decide to hide an Easter basket in the oven, don't forget about it and push 'Preheat' in preparation for Sunday dinner's hot-cross buns :)  Mom, I don't think any of us will ever forget about that one!  I love you :)

I wanted to make a simple craft for the upcoming holiday that would maximize the cute factor of any Easter Basket!  Thus, here is the Carrot Box Template :)

It's beyond easy and super quick!  And with so many adorable scrapbook papers out there and ribbon choices galore, you can create lots of cute combos to give away...put them in a basket and deliver them to your friends and neighbors or mail them to your grandkids.  Lots of possibilites!

Just click here and print the pattern onto cardstock.  Cut out the shape on the red lines and trace it onto your heavy scrapbook paper using PENCIL (that way you can erase any lines you might see later).

Then, using a scoring tool (if you don't have one, just gently use the end of your scissor blade), line a ruler up where the gray lines would appear on the pattern (so much faster than actually tracing the gray lines and then scoring).  Then you just fold all the scored lines and make it into a box.  I used a glue gun to close the side edges.  

Fill it with a tasty treat (smaller candies work best) and tie a ribbon around the top!

It's an unexpected and creative surprise that I'm sure anyone would be happy to receive!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bitsy Bug Birthday Illustration

I just finished this illustration last night.  It's not one of the 4 that I was talking about yesterday (still working on those, but they will be coming soon), but it brightens my day and gives me hope for the warmer weather to come.  Picnics in the park...oh how I miss thee!  Anyhoo, I think a lot of my art is inspired by little animals and happy memories I have as a child.  I'm putting together a series of 'Celebration Cards' to be up in my Etsy shop.  This is one in the series.  

When I was a little girl, I used to believe that all the little creatures...insects, cats, squirrels, you name it...led human-like lives and carried on just like we did with birthday parties, brushing their teeth before bed, going to school every weekday, and on and on.  

I remember one night when I followed my cat, Patches, outside and I was careful to stay far enough behind so that she wouldn't notice I was following her :)  Haha!  I was so stealth!  She walked across the street and ducked into our neighbor's hedge.  So of course I followed after her.  I found multiple little tunnels that she had probably carved out over time just by walking through there so often.  I thought it was magical and a whole unexplored world and I was CERTAIN that my beliefs of their secret little lives were true!!  And who's to say their not? :)  Isn't imagination cool?  It can lead to so much creativity!

Hope you all have a happy day!  

Bitsy Bug Birthday by Emily Burnette

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Immediate Inspiration

Winter is trying his darndest (is that a super old fashioned word?  eh who cares, I like it!)  to hang around a little longer.  Like yesterday...I took my little boy to a free day at the Pacific Science Center and we waited outside for almost 45 minutes.  He was happy and bundled, and snacked on yogurt-covered pretzels while we waited.   I think my hands were numb by the time we made it inside, but it was definitely worth it!  HE LOVES THAT PLACE!  I think any 2 year old would!  We had been once before and he knew right where he wanted to see the huge animatronic Praying Mantis :)  I love watching his mind work as he figures out what interests him.  Soon after, we headed to the Tropical Butterfly House to warm up!  A very comfy 80 degrees :)  He also had lots of fun making music in a room full of drums and other instruments.  He loves to be creative.  I think regardless of what we create with, we all have that need within us.

This morning I woke up to SUNSHINE!!  Something about sunshine!!  It fuels my creativity and just brightens my outlook and mood.  

I did something SUPER brave (for me) this past weekend.  I'm sure some would say 'Yeah...and?', but it was a big deal for me and I'm proud of myself.  I'll share about my little leap of faith in a couple of weeks if when all goes according to plan :)  

But for now, I just thought I'd share a simple photo that gave me immediate inspiration to create 4 new drawings.  

Well, this photo and some silliness at my son's recent birthday party.  I have all my sketches all done and now I'm working on finalizing their details and coloring them.  I can't wait to share them with you!

Are you ever inspired so deeply by something that you just have to be creative yourself?  If so, I'd love to hear about it!  

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Anthro-Inspired Tea Towels

I'm back!  France was amazingly wonderful and inspiring and romantic...I could go on and on!!  I'm already looking forward to our next visit...whenever that might be :)  I keep telling John that we HAVE to return someday soon in the spring or summer.  The gardens alone would be reason enough!

Among my favorites were the countless yummy bakeries around every corner, the Musee d'Orsay, seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night, renting a flat in Montmartre with a view of the Sacre Coeur, the beautifully detailed and classic architecture and my very favorite, spending 10 whole days with my distractions, just us, hand in hand exploring the streets in the rain (getting lost a few times).   I'll post some pics of our trip over the next few weeks.

These are a few photos I took at the Palace of's unbelievably opulent and over the top.  Did you know that every single room in the palace has been redecorated over 10 times, some many more!!  And the expansive and manicured! 

A couple of weeks after I returned, I hosted a girls crafty night at my home.  We made vintage-inspired tea towels.  I love the cute tea towels at Anthropologie, but don't really want to pay $24 a piece.  So I thought...they can't be difficult to make and would cost much less.  Some of us purchased thick, textured linen to make our own towels using this tutorial.  If you don't want to go to the trouble of make the actual towel, you can buy plain, inexpensive towels pretty much anywhere...I love target!  We added embellishments like lacy trim (I found the yellow crocheted and rick rack trim (all one piece) below at my local fabric shop), pom poms, and ruffles made from extra fabric.  If you live around Seattle, Pacific Fabrics and Crafts has a great selection of unique trims.

I used a simple leaf stitch on my sewing machine to make the flower stems.  Then I cut up some flowers out of fabric and layered them and stitched them in place, placing a button in the middle to finish it.  I also stitched on top of the petals with some violet embroidery floss to hold the petals in place (I took this photo before I decided to do that part).      

The black and white towel below was a simple towel I purchased at Target.  I added the green floral ribbon and black cotton lace at the bottom.  I also added some of the yellow crocheted trim on the other side (not pictured).  I also added some embroidery detail using yellow thread...just simple little stitched circles!  

All in all, the two towels combined cost less than $20 to make.  I gave both of these away as gifts, but I can't wait to make some for my own kitchen!  I love the fact that you can customize them to the exact colors and style of your kitchen.  If you are looking for some creative fabric resources, check out this site!  It's great because you can choose what type of fabric you want...quilting weight, upholstery, linen, etc.  A friend also informed me of Fabric Worm.  She cut up some larger illustrations and stitched those on her towels (below).  You can also piece together different patches of fabric, sort of like quilting, to make a border.  

I loved our craft night and can't wait until the end of April when we hold our next one!  
A simple, useful craft that costs less than the original inspiration.  As Martha would say, it's a good thing :)