Hallie’s Calligraphy…

Last summer I started taking an online course on modern calligraphy. Hallie showed some interest so I immediately got her watching videos with me. In true Hallie fashion, she quickly got frustrated that her strokes and handwriting weren’t perfect.

modern calligraphy

She wanted hers to look refined after watching just a few videos. But I encouraged her to stick with it. Last fall when she would come to me looking for something to do I suggested she should practice her handwriting. And she did.

modern calligraphy

More recently, I helped her to understand the importance of strokes. I’ve got several containers of markers sitting on my desk and we just sat and practiced one stroke. Over and over and over again. A couple weeks ago she wanted to start using my very favorite brush pens (Tombow dual brush aff link) which are a little harder to work with compared to the crayolas she’s been using. I told her once she mastered the single down stroke with a tail she could use them. Two days later she came to me with this page. She earned her right to my favorite markers.

modern calligraphy

After one day of using the Tombows she came downstairs with this page. I was seriously impressed. Of course I realized she had taken some of the markers to school which I quickly put a stop to.

modern calligraphy

This last weekend we made a visit to Michaels where she purchased her first set of Tombow markers (and I’m sure they won’t be her last) with her very own money. They’re not cheap and she was reluctant when she found out how expensive they were compared to Crayolas. But I can assure you she’ll take great care of them. I found this notebook she’s been practicing in for the last three days.

modern calligraphy

modern calligraphy

modern calligraphy

I think she’s passed me up. The teacher now becomes the student!  I asked her if I could post these pages and her immediate response was, “Well, not the bad pages.” She wanted to showcase what she’s done in the last three days. But I wanted to show progression. I wanted to show improvement. Most importantly I wanted to remind her what not giving up can look like. She’s come so far and she’s found a passion for it. Can’t wait for her to start addressing Christmas cards! 🙂

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Watercolor Wednesday…

I ventured out of hand lettering for my watercolor practice today and I’m pretty sure this is going to push me past my comfort zone. I’m not sure why I get so nervous every time I pick up the brush – still unsure as to how this whole process works.

watercolors

I had several questions regarding supplies and tutorials so I’m going to give you a quick rundown of how I’m figuring this out.

Scrapbook.com has 10 free watercolor classes which is great for the newbie painter. You sign up with your email and it will unlock the classes. I started with the first class that taught some basics and then worked my way through a few of them. Another great resource was a blog with so many video tutorials. One of my co-workers from college, Kristina Werner, is a creative genius. No, she really is. She was creative then and she’s even more creative now. I would often see her posts pop up in my Facebook feed and it always peaked my interest when it was watercolor based. So last fall I went through her blog and found all her posts/tutorials related to watercolors. She posts a video about her process on the project and then posts links to all of the materials she uses. I took notes on countless videos and comprised my own shopping wish list on Amazon. At Christmas, I just shared my wish list with Steve and miraculously he found all the things I wanted! 😉

Here’s a couple things from my wish list (Amazon aff. links):





Here are a couple notes: I love this Kuretake pallet. It has so many great colors and they’re so vibrant on the paper. And I’m realizing its going to last me a long time. I know they also have a couple other pallets with less colors making it less expensive. Watercolor paper is a must – its what allows the paint to stay wet for so long. I’ve been using both traditional paint brushes as well as some of these brushes that you fill with water. I think I prefer the brushes you fill with water for both lettering and painting. The tips seems to be more predictable.

If you need some inspiration, here’s some fun Instagram accounts based on watercolor painting I’ve enjoyed – I love when they post videos of their painting – it really helps learn the process.
@Prima_watercolor
@JeshyPark
@LuluInkDesigns
@hellolovelypeople_

 

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Christmas books 2017…

Our Christmas book collection continues to grow every year; both fun and playful and deep and spiritual. We’ve got all varieties. I had some great recommendations from readers last year that I picked up after Christmas and they got shoved in a box so it was a fun surprise to open the box and find new books my kids hadn’t looked through. I know some people wrap the books and open one every night but that just doesn’t work for us or our December schedule. The books are there all month long for the kids to look through and read whenever they feel like it.

Favorite Christmas Books

The books sit on a shelf in the living room and I find them left on the couches most every day after the kids have read through them. Some nights we read together as a family (we always choose our very favorites as a family) and some nights the kids read them to each other. But usually by the time Christmas rolls around we’ve gone through most of them. Here’s what’s sitting on our shelf now:

Snowmen at Christmas
Christmas Oranges
The Mansion
The Miracle of the Wooden Shoes
A Christmas Dress for Ellen
Christmas Bell for Anya
Christmas Day in the Morning (The first book we read every Christmas season)
Llama Llama Holiday Drama
Forgotten Carols
The Christmas Train
The Tale of Three Trees
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
Polar Express
The Christmas Candle
The Gift of the Magi
Drummer Boy
C is for Christmas
The First Christmas
The Visit
Great Joy
The Christmas Sweater (illustrated)
Snow Angels
Christmas Carol
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Olive, the Other Reindeer
Twelve Days of Christmas (Pop-up book)
Twas the Night Before Christmas (Pop-up book) (Our Christmas Eve book)
Christmas Sweater (novel)
Secret Santa
Christmas Jars
Christmas Parade
Beyond Bethlehem
A Christmas Story
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree
The Crippled Lamb
The Three Gifts
Mary, Did You Know
I Believe in Santa Clause

Favorite Christmas Books

The kids know their time with these books is limited – they make sure to get through them before they’re boxed back up until the following Christmas. Is there anything more special than reading a Christmas book by tree light? I love this time of year.

 

 

 

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Glow birthday party…

Hallie had her last themed birthday party this year. It was tricky to come up with a theme that was appropriate for the teenagers that were going to be attending. But Hallie seemed to have a clear vision from the start – she wanted a glow-in-the-dark party. Which took me longer to figure out than I thought it would – which meant she had a party two weeks after her birthday.

Originally I was thinking glow in the dark games in the backyard with glowsticks. Somehow that morphed to using a gymnasium and black lights and it was awesome.

Here’s a couple things I learned while planning this. I looked at renting backlights and they were a little pricey. I then started looking at buying them but a quick search on Amazon will tell you that the options are endless from all sorts of vendors and the prices range from cheap to expensive. I bought a set that had great reviews – only to realize, they weren’t really black lights, they were purple lights and they are not the same thing. I returned three spot lights and bought 4 bar black lights. They were more than enough for the space we were in and they made things glow great.

Glow Party Birthday

Here’s a little tip: When you go out shopping for things for the party – take a small black light so you can see if they glow. Some things seem bright and fluorescent and yet it didn’t glow.  For those of you not in scorpion country, you may not have a black light readily available – I noticed several things at Party City noted that they would glow under blacklight.

I found bright fluorescent fabric at Joanns and my black light proved it would glow. It was by far the brightest decoration under the blacklight and Hallie made the fabric banner. We also used those strips of fabric and tied them around the girl’s head or waist to help them glow in the dark. (We also suggested all the girls wear fluorescent or white clothing to make sure they would glow.)

Glow Party Birthday

Glow Party Birthday

Glow Party Birthday

We started by painting UV friendly finger nail polish on all the girls and they each made a sign with their name using highlighters. I found that yellow and orange highlighters glow really well and I bought a huge box to make posters. When making the posters, the girls realized that highlighters used on their bodies would also glow. They used up a large box of 24 highlighters by drawing all over their bodies. I looked at buying UV face paint and I’m so glad I didn’t waste the money. Buy highlighters!!

Glow Party Birthday

Glow Party Birthday

Glow Party Birthday

Coming up with games in the dark took some thought. Here are three games that were a hit.

Cupside Down: A game where one team tries to turn all the cups upside down and the other team tries to turn them right side up. At the end of the time, whoever has the most their way wins. If you want to play with more than 2 teams, you can buy each team a different color cup, and the team with the most of their colored cups turned right side up when the time runs out wins. We played with four teams and four different color cups. After playing some rounds as individually teams we started pairing two colors together to form a single team. We set the clock for one minute and the girls ran around frantically flipping cups. These cups are UV friendly and were perfect for this game.

Glow Party Birthday

 

Hungry Hippo: I’ve seen these life-size versions of hungry hippo floating around the web and recreated it in a black light setting which was hilarious. It was hard to get any decent pictures but we used four long boards (skateboards), a couple of buckets and a whole lot of tennis balls (which are great in the black light). The girls took turns laying on the skateboards and their partner pushed them in and out of the center of gym grabbing tennis balls with their bucket. We had those girls screaming and laughing the whole time.

 

Ball Toss: Because the tennis balls were so fun in the black light so centered another game around them. We had multiple baskets worth different amounts of points and the girls tossed balls to try and gain the most points as a team.

Glow Party Birthday

Glow Party Birthday

The girls had the best time and Hallie was so grateful for such a fun party – a party which she played a major role in the preparation. I created a glow in the dark party bucket for the garage and I’ve got a feeling we’ll be pulling it out a few more times.

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Thanksgiving 2017…

These people are at the top of my Thanksgiving gratitude list. They make me crazy happy and they make me crazy…I could be cliche and say I wouldn’t want it any other way, but that would be lying because I could do without some of the whining and crying and be just fine! 🙂

Our Thanksgiving was a little smaller than it’s been in years past. Several of Steve’s siblings spent time with their in-laws in the area which meant we had a small-ish group of 28.

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

With the Turkey Trot in the morning, I did most of my food prep the day before to make sure I could fit it all in. The rolls were made and shaped into knots and then frozen the day before. Thursday morning I pulled them out of the freezer and let them rise before baking them just before heading over for dinner. Fresh rolls without the same day hassle = win.

I also made my mashed potatoes the day before. I was skeptical of the whole idea, but my friend who caters gave me a recipe to be made the day before and then put in the oven the day of. They were amazing and you would have never guessed they were made the day before. My friend did let me in on her little secret – a potato ricer (she prefers this electric version of the ricer.) I’m from Idaho, the land of potatoes, and I had no idea what a potato ricer was. But after using hers to make my potatoes, rest assured there will be a ricer in my kitchen! It fluffs the potatoes just right without over mixing them. It is a game changer!

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Briggs was entertained with this chocolate mousse cup for some time. Each dip of his spoon had just enough mousse for him to taste it but not enough to make a dent in his cup very quickly. I found him unattended enjoying this cup. My immediate reaction was – that shirt is going to be stained in no time. To my surprise, over a half hour later, there was no pudding on that shirt!

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

The adults had a corn hole tournament in which Steve and I found ourselves in the championship game. I’m still not sure how we lost, but I suppose its best not to beat  the people that are hosting you! We had a great time.

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

We came home that night, threw on a Christmas movie and got to work decorating. My favorite season has officially arrived.

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Dr. Seuss Costumes…part 2…

Each of the kids chose their costumes from our theme (which is how we get our older ones to participate with us – they still feel like they have an option). I even tried really hard to use my powers of persuasion and failed. How can you have Dr. Seuss without I am Sam?? And the Lorax? I’m not even sure how Cannon knows the Lorax but he was determined.

Here’s the details of how we pulled off the costumes. I found an awesome website primary.com – they basically have every color of the rainbow in shirts and pants which is convenient when planning costumes. Hallie’s shirt is from primary.com, she made her skirt, tights were from Amazon and are an adult size (she had friends buy the kid size and they were ridiculously small) and the shirt emblem was from Spirit Halloween. She dressed up with 4 friends and they were darling.

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

Thing 1 costumes

Hunter was the first one to choose his costume. He wanted to be cat in the hat and there was no talking him out of it even when Steve wanted to be the same thing. This is the perfect character for him – completely fun and a little mischievous!

Hunter has been begging for one piece pajamas – this costume was the perfect opportunity. His union suit is from Amazon and he is excited to wear it after Halloween. We bought a piece of white fur and safety pinned it on. The bow tie is from Spirit Halloween and I would’ve purchased the hat from there as well but the quality was so poor I couldn’t bring myself to buy it – it was that bad. I found a pattern (McCalls 7675) and made the hat.

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

When Bennett found out Hunter was getting one piece pajamas – he too insisted his costume have a one piece. Luckily I found it in black as well as red.  His union suit was also from Amazon. We were going to make him a headband with ears but he found this fox hat and matching tail at Spirit Halloween. We also safety pinned a piece of fur to his chest. I made him some blue gloves and socks.

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

Cannon wanted to be the Lorax and I tried so hard to talk him out of it. (a red fish with Briggs or I am Sam was what I was pulling for) First of all – I found a Lorax costume on eBay (Pottery Barn Kids from last year) but they wanted $80. That was not going to happen. I tried finding a one piece orange suit. Which was unsuccessful. So I had to make it – for a character I don’t even care for!

I used the same pattern from Hunter’s hat (McCalls 7675) for the suit and hood. Then made the mustache out of a yellow feather boa. The mustache was supposed to sit on his face but within 10 seconds of putting it on he was crying because the feathers were bothering him. Then he didn’t want the mustache at all – which wasn’t going to work because then he would just be an orange jumpsuit. This was the compromise. He wore it like that all night Saturday and Halloween. Since Hunter and Bennett were sleeping in their Halloween costumes – Cannon too insisted sleeping in this (minus the hat and mustache). He just found his new favorite pajamas!

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

Briggs had the easiest costume – eBay (pottery barn kids last year). I bought his top and bottom from Primary.com when I bought Hallie’s shirt. The day his costume arrived in the mail – I put it on him and he was immediately in tears. I did this a couple days in a row and by the time Saturday rolled around for our Trunk or Treat he had absolutely no problem keeping the costume (including the hat) on all night, including Halloween night. And for the record – he was completely happy and pleasant both nights without being clingy to Steve or myself – I’m pretty sure the fish suit has healing properties!

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

Steve’s costume was the most fun to make and was the last one I worked on. Up until a week before, Steve hadn’t settled on his character. Grinch or I am Sam. He let me pull the trigger and I chose well – he was the perfect Grinch.

The mask and green fur were both from Amazon – thank you two day shipping! We took an old white long sleeve shirt and adorned it with ribbon, felt and jingle bells using fabric glue – no sewing involved.

I made a green fur hood (using his sweatshirt as a pattern), gloves, and leg warmers (safety pinned to the bottom of his pants). This fur is extremely difficult to work with because it sheds everywhere. My laundry room looks like the Grinch murder scene!

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

With Steve as the Grinch – naturally I was going to be Cindy Lou Who. I already had the black dress so my costume was mostly complete. I made a fur trimmed cape and bought some polka dot leggings on Amazon. The last step was tackling my hair. There is a red solo cup in all that hair with pony tails holding it together. It was surprisingly easy and didn’t give me headache – the only issue was trying to get in and out of my car. It’s not easy being a Who!

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

Halloween Dr. Seuss Costumes

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