Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm Wearing A Short-Sleeve Shirt

We didn't mind saying good-bye to the snow. With lots of sugar and movie watching, as well as a little bit of crying, we survived the 10 hour drive to Santa Barbara. Ironically, we only slept in Las Vegas and had our fun at the Buffalo Bill a casino in the tiny border town of Primm.
I'm so happy to be sitting in my grandma's living room right now. I find my taste has been shaped by this favorite place of mine. I love the Spanish style architecture, seeing the fruits of my grandma's green thumb in her beautuiful garden, and the character of an old house.
So far Brian's favorite thing has been his sleep overs with Eli, who refused to sleep in his porta-crib for the first time. Next in line is the fact that Master Jang is here and he always gives Brian a good work out.
Hope everyone else is having as much fun.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Job Change Surprise

It all happened pretty quickly and Brian wasn't really looking for a new job when a friend told him there was an opening at his work. To make a short story even shorter, Brian took the new job with Family Search. His old job, today's his last day at Deseret Book, is giving him his week of paid vacation. No Soo Bahk to gas... Santa Barbara here we come. We'll take off this afternoon and probably spend the night somewhere in Nevada. Can't wait to see my mom's side of the family and warm up a little.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

White Christmas

We noticed the snow coming down this morning and thought, in our warm, comfortable house, how timely. Then, during our present opening, we heard a poor guy plowing. I'm sure he and his family pray every year for a dry Christmas. I'm sure Bing Crosby wasn't singing about snow that comes down horizontally in howling wind, either. It made us appreciate our quiet, happy morning even more.After looking for something more than a silly blankie in his first box, he took his new Thomas train and disappeared to the play room for 10 minutes to put it to work. Sweet thing was content and excited with one new toy.In the mean time, Brian and I unveiled our big presents to each other. Brian got me the camera of my dreams along with some photography lessons at a nearby community center. Mr. Considerate. I had a hunch that this was my gift and felt bad just giving him my 2nd handmade blanket, until I saw how crazy he was about a Wii at some friends' house. He had no clue. Very exciting. And I think my shoulder's already out from a couple clumsy games of tennis. We were also spoiled with way too many presents from family, mostly asian-themed. Then we had a Swiss breakfast with salame, appenzeller, butter, good bread, and tea. Very gluttonous day.
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I Love My New Camera!!!

For the recent post on our Christmas tree I wanted to get a good picture of the beautiful ornaments Brian made, but the bottom picture above is the best I could get, even playing with all the settings and customizing shutter speed and aperature this and that. It had a hard time figuring what to focus on, and chose the tree branches instead of Eli. Unacceptable. Our point and shoot samsung is okay, but this Canon Rebel XS put it to shame. Thank you Amazon for a crazy good sale, and thank you Brian, for the best present ever.
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Sushi and Duck

That is the combination that happens when you let Brian loose in the kitchen to make Christmas Eve dinner. It makes sense, though, logical man that he is. He has been wanting to throw a sushi party for years and used last night's dinner as a time to test out recipes. Eli liked it, I was so pleased at our two year old with culture. Then came the duck, it's the cheapest meat that Brian finds to be a treat. He did a fabulous Martha recipe. Even more practical than the price was that it was a one pot meal, all the vegetables roasted along with the duck. It was a perfect peaceful dinner; I even had energy to get the kitchen spick and span afterwards.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our Christmas Tree

This year our Christmas tree isn't as stunning as I had imagined it would be, but I love it. My requirements: real tree and homemade ornaments. Unlike most people, I would imagine, I gravitate towards the trees with sparse branches. Apparently ours is an Alpine Fir from Montana. Its tall, thin frameworks perfectly for us. Our vaulted ceilings give us plenty of height but our living room is small. Brian thought the salesman to be the tell-you-what-you-want-to-hear type that sells used cars, but I believed him when he sensed my concern and said it is a wild tree harvested because the forest rangers like some thinning to prevent fires.
Brian's specialty was actually in the ornament making. After some fruitless online searching, I think he came to admire Martha for her well-organized and pictured Christmas crafts. He did an amazing job on the glittery photo frame ornaments. We also glittered some stunning red leaves from the fall and dehydrated citrus slices the way my grandmother does. Lastly we have Brian's mom's hand-painted teddy bears and a garland we made from hot-gluing pom poms from the craft store to fishing line we had laying around. I don't care if Tai Pan is a block away, I can't bare to spend $40 on some loveless plastic balls.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

I Love Cleaning

Ever since my clingy son was born, I have appreciated a good house-scrubbing so much more. Being able to walk around and clean with childless-arms is a newly appreciated blessing. Don't get me wrong, there are days when I feel like all I do is clean up after two boys, and I want to go on strike (and sometimes do). Brian is sweet and helps when he can, like the dishes last night, but this week the dishes and toys and boxes (thank you for the packages family) have been piling up while I rush to bake, sew, shop, do laundry, make cards, etc. This morning I took advantage of Eli's attention span. He gleefully helped me pop in Shrek and I went to town on the kitchen. I wish I was in there right now to enjoy the sterile empty sink and clutterless counters. I couldn't even wreck it by making lunch, so we just warmed up some frozen burritos.

If you think I'm crazy now, I'm going to be a real maniac in February. I'm going to my sister's in California so I can take care of the house when she brings home baby #3. Can't wait. I hope he'll have a quiet cry so I can sleep because I plan on cleaning, organizing, cooking (present and future meals) constantly.

Hmmm...Eli has taught me to be thankful for work. Amazing. And I thought kids just taught us about being a good example, forgiveness, and love.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lights On Temple Square

This weekend my mom came down from Idaho for a visit and we took her to see the lights and nativity on Temple Square. It was crazy cold of course, but luckily the geniuses at Maclaren made me feel pretty smart by including a rain/wind shield with our stroller. Eli was nice and warm while we briskly enjoyed the lights, nativity, and music in the freshly fallen snow. We came home and warmed up with some homemade hot chocolate (1 TBSP. cocoa powder+2TBSP. sugar/ C. of Milk) around the fireplace. Perfect Sunday evening.
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My Frist Sewing Project

For the first time I made something start to finish on my own, with my mom's reassuring presence, of course. Like all kids, Eli loves soft things, so I wanted to make him one of these pricey, luxurious blankies. At the fabric store he was already laying and slobbering on the satin, still on the bolt. I'm so excited for him to open it on Christmas.

I ran into a snag or two, despite the simple straight lines. Someday I will look at it and be bothered with the imperfections, but for now, I'm proud. I love making things. Probably because it makes me feel independent, and we can have nice things for -in this case- less than 20% of retail.

Friday, December 12, 2008


My name is Helena... and I love felt. Especially in the form of cute play food. I have no inventor to credit since it's been around since 6500 BC- yes, I've done some homework- but I have a serious admiration for the world's oldest fabric. It's so sturdy you don't have to finish edges and even hand-sewing on it is a snap. Project possibilities are endless: toy felt food, baby slippers, Christmas stockings, quiet books, stuffed animals, puppets, Christmas ornaments, and felt boards with cutouts for storytime.

Here's my next confession: I use, a place for people to sell their handmade goods, to copy people's good felt ideas and designs. Terrible. But my crafts turn out much better than if I had used my own, uninspired imagination. Maybe my creativity will grow as my skill with my new sewing machine does. Until then, my next copycat project is this lovely felt book for Eli's christmas present. I just finished stockings with Anna based on this easy pattern (without the cuff and shaving half an inch off the too-long toe) that you can print right off and use without having to go to the copy store to enlarge. We used a couple of etsy inspirations, one for easy-to-make flowers and another here that's my favorite.

With this versatile, cheap fabric and plenty of ideas stolen from etsy that eve a novice seamstress like me can recreate, it doesn't seem possible that I could have more motivation to go felt crazy. There is one more thing, though. The least expensive kind, containing no wool, is actually made from recycled plastic bottles. Handmade toys and decorations from reclaimed plastic, it doesn't get more green than that.
P.S. The stuff sold by the yard his half off at Joann's this weekend.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I can only assume it has to do with the change in seasons, but for the last week, Eli has been sleeping 12 hours a night instead of 10. I just heard somewhere that our bodies naturally sleep more in the winter. It must be true because his room has no windows and is always dark, no matter how high the sun is.
I've been dreaming of this for years, since I learned that most kids sleep 12 hours at night. Hope it's not a fluke, because I like learning what it's like to wake up peacefully on my own and to be able to get things done before the boy wakes. Quiet things on my to-do list here I come.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hoa Hoa Hoa

For the first time we went to a gathering put on by our community's HOA comity. Last night was the Christmas party, complete with ham and a hired Santa whose real belly bounced as he "ho ho hoed". Might as well go, since we're paying for it. That was my attitude, anyway. Brian has more of the holiday spirit, insisting on decorating, crafting, and such. As it turns out, there was a little something for everyone.
First, while talking in line, the Bishop told Brian he was going duck hunting Saturday and that we should do dinner. He's probably researching duck recipes at work right now.
I got happy when a nice lady asked if that was my salad and what the fabulous dressing was. She copied down my made-up recipe, and left me quite pleased with myself.
Now for the boy. I knew Eli wouldn't sit on Santa's lap- friendly people behind us in the grocery store line put him in a somber mood- but after dinner and a story with balloon reindeer for all, he actually did! I couldn't believe it. He stayed long enough for a picture and for Brian to tell Santa he wanted a MacBook and that the boy, who had been good, wanted a cat. After he got down he showed several people his newly-acquired bag of candy.
Pretty fun, more candy for Eli to share, and I didn't have to cook dinner. Perfect.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Last night Anna and I finished adding snaps to the last 30 diapers. Over the past two months we have made 66 cloth diapers. Anna worked the machine while I did all the cutting, pinning, and lots of snapping. Here is why it took 2 months:

First I had to trace and cut out 132 pieces, half in the white liner and half in the waterproof colorful shell. 66 rectangles and support pieces were needed as support behind the snaps and above the hole where the inserts go in and out. That took me 3 days.
Next came pinning the two diaper-shaped pieces for Anna to together and then she added elastic around the legs and some along the back. We trimmed and turned them inside out and I pinned around the elastic to make sure the white part stays curved inside while she top stitched.
I marked each diaper for 20 perfectly aligned snaps and then snapped them with this archaic-looking machine. A few weeks ago Eli happened to run off with a crucial piece of the snap press, causing an embarrassing situation. We had to call the friend who had to call the friend who owned it and didn't know it had been lent out to a third party to find out what size and piece we needed to replace. Lets just say we had to give the machine back sooner, thus our marathon Saturday and Monday.

It has all been worth it. Cloth diapers for 1/3-1/2 the price of new. I had planned on making some for my sister, since she's due in February, but I think I'll send her the small sizes to use before me. I stopped keeping track of man hours a long time ago, Anna figures it's probably good. And my new little $100 sewing machine had already done more than it ever thought possible.
We went out for some well-deserved pastries as soon as we finished. And don't worry, since this is my biggest project to date, there will be photos of our little gems to come after they've been washed and dried a couple of times to seal holes in the water-proof layer and are ready for my little model to wear.