It begins...

A friend recently forwarded an email to me titled "The Invisible Mother," a short essay comparing the tireless and often thankless job of a mother to the builders of Europe's great cathedrals. Both give their whole lives for a work they will never see finished, both make sacrifices and expect no credit, and both are fueled in their passion by the faith that the eyes of God see every detail. The writer of the essay was inspired by the thought that our endless efforts in motherhood, invisible as they may seem, are worth it and can make an enriching life.

For many of us, the way we choose to hold our invisibility at bay is by creating something tangible. For me, my days often end with knitting - my love of fiber and the need to do something relaxing end up producing something I can hold and look at. Nobody will know how many times I swept under the high chair that day, or how many toys I picked up, or how many times I tried to coax a "please" or "more" or "sorry" out of my 5 year old. But a darling, handmade infant hat? That you can see.

I start new projects every day, and my 10 year old does the same. In this process of creating (and yes, often not finishing our projects!) we connect with each other and a bigger picture of ourselves in the process. My plan for this blog is to share the projects that excite me and bring some accessible proof of my existence in this invisible world of mothering!

So, this blog is dedicated to the mothers out there whose days are filled with the minutia of tasks that build our children and our families. I often tell people that I haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up. But for now, I am the builder of a great cathedral. With every shoelace tied, lunch packed, and forehead kissed, I build.

And I can hardly wait to create something new...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oh So Busy, But Gettin' Giddy!

Talk about amping up the crafting around here - CRAZY times! But it's all good, and at this point the gift-making is almost done and the gift-giving has kicked in daily. The last week of school is always jam-packed with parties and events, and so far I've managed to stay on top of things without any late nights or crankiness!  Here's what's been shakin' (get ready, people):

Cooking and Baking

For a Moms Club recipe exchange, I decided to make some cinnamon honey butter in 1/2 pint mason jars - this brilliant plan turned into a giant production! I filled over 40 jars with this delish concoction, for teachers, neighbors, friends and family.
I few samples, along with the gift bags I used. Each recipient is getting a biscuit mix packet along with the honey butter. Yum!

Rowan's teacher needed plain gingerbread men for a class project today, so I got out my cookie cutter and went to work.
What is this? Not too appetizing in this form, but oh so delish when made into "Nut Goodie Bars"...
I made three giant trays of this peanutbutterychocolatey goodness. Some to give, some to bring to various functions, some for the annual cookie exchange, and some to take home to Iowa for Christmas...if they last that long!
But let's not forget the super cutie snowflake cookies I made and brought to Rowan's recital on Sunday. She did great, btw - so proud! Here's a picture of her with her teacher after they played their duet:

Knitting (still a little cowl crazy!)

My blocked cowl is done, and I've worn it - woo hoo! Here's my model, Frosty, showing you how great it turned out:
I am almost done with a luscious Rowan Lima cowl I am giving away on Christmas...
And have the yarn to make one just like it for a January birthday present (oh yay, something to actually knit over Christmas that doesn't have to be DONE yet!)

Girl Scouts & School

And today is our final Brownie meeting of 2011. My second attempt to stiffen the snowflake ornaments (using a mixture of 1/2 water and 1/2 Elmer's glue) worked perfectly! Rowan is helping me take them off the blocking board here (and I was SO SMART to put plastic over the cardboard before I blocked them - they would have stuck terribly!):
I made a large card for each Brownie, and attached the snowflake ornament inside.
Our big project at today's meeting is to make Brownies in a Jar (Brownies, get it?!?) Here's a sample of the finished product (and you can see the large stack of m&m cookies made for Brynn's school party and to take to Iowa for the kids)...
For Rowan's class party on Friday, I am bringing a "Snowman Soup" craft. Each kiddo will get to assemble a little kit of soup mix (hot chocolate), freeze-dried snow (marshmallows), stir stick (candy cane) and a little poem to take home and share or give.


Gift wrapping always brings me joy - I love coordinating papers and ribbons (usually ribbons recycled from gifts we received last year!) and watching the pile grow under the tree. This year we're going with red, white, silver and gold.
Here's a big stack that I wrapped this morning...I wonder who the recipient is?? (Hint: Best Mom Ever)
I have finished shopping, almost finished wrapping, and only have an hour or so left to finish my knitted gifts. We may have been without food or clean clothes for a week or two, but Christmas prep is coming to a close. In just a few days, we'll be leaving for Iowa and the wonderful bustle of family and playtime and meals and laughter. Can't wait!  Wishing you all a wonderful holiday...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Some Stuff We've Made Recently"

I'm stealing that line from my brother, Abram. He sent the family an email a few weeks ago with that subject line. The email contained no text, just 3 photos: the stairs he had built, the jack-o-lanterns they had carved, and then an ultra-sound photo of the baby he and Raena are expecting! The email came at night, when I happened to be in Iowa at Mom's. When she discovered it at 11:30pm, after I'd gone to bed, it warranted a "Heather!! You have to come up here!" shout-whisper down the stairs. Oh joy, a new baby in the family!

But back to me. Here's some stuff I've made! Here's one of my best creations ever, opening gifts this morning for her 3rd birthday.

And here's one of my other best creations ever, reading the note and music lyrics she wrote for her sister's birthday.
LOVE  those girls!

Brynn celebrated her birthday at her Day Out program today, and I sent cookie treats for her to share. All the kids loved them...except Brynn. :P I even made one for her with hardly any frosting, but her teacher said she wouldn't try it.
For preschool tomorrow, I have already made a second batch of cookies to take. Maybe they will have better luck getting her to eat her special cookie!
For her birthday party on Saturday, I was going to decorate sugar cookies with m&m's, but I think we'd better just go for chocolate chip or plain sugar cookies, which I know she will eat. (I have stuck the round cookies I was going to frost for the party in the freezer. I will pull them out and decorate them Sunday morning for Rowan's piano recital!)

We had a really nice time in Wichita for Thanksgiving, and I must say, it was our easiest Brynn-visit yet! She was up for a couple hours the first night with a cough, but after that we all slept great. We were able to blockade the front living room off limits, and keep her contained to the family room/kitchen/ sun room, which meant I could actually SIT for periods of time, and not constantly hover over her to make sure she wasn't going to break something. I got WAY more knitting done than I thought I would - woo hoo!  I finished 4 more snowflake ornaments on the drive there, and 4 on the way back. (More on that later.) So while we were there, I got to work on my new green "Summer Wind" cowl. I was a couple inches into it already, and finished that puppy Saturday night!!  It is now blocking, and I can't wait for it to dry so that I can wear it.
It is a long loop (can't tell because it's blocking flat), which I can wrap around my neck twice for extra warm yumminess. Here's a closeup of the pattern (although the color is truer in the first picture):
Back to the snowflake ornaments. In my last post, I was ready to spray starch those sparkly dudes to get them stiff. Totally did not work. They are as limp as ever, even after several coats of starch and ironing. So, the next step is to concoct a mixture of Elmer's and water, dip the snowflakes in, and then pin them into shape to dry. I'll attempt that messy process one of these mornings while Brynn is at school!

And I'm having another dilemma. Remember the second Honeycomb cowl I've been working on? It's almost done, and I just don't know about it. I think I will keep the first one I made, which means I should give this one away...but I'm thinking it would look much better as a longer infinity scarf that can be doubled over. Hrrmmmm...what to do. Need to table that.

But since I need something to knit, I've planned a new project and bought the yarn for it this morning at Knit Wit. Wonderful, delicious Rowan "Lima" blend - can't wait to use it! I won't say what it's for...Christmas secrets and all. ;)
Speaking of Christmas secrets, there may be a lot of hinting and very few pictures over the next few weeks. Oh, crafting will be happening, people. Crafting will be happening!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Oh Where, Oh Where did November go...

Oh who am I kidding. Every year it's like this! One minute it's Rowan's birthday in early October and the next minute we're baking pies for Thanksgiving. Sadly, my blog time has suffered, but sometimes you just have to be living your life and not recording it!

Today, my house smells deliciously of banana bread. Which. I. Will. Not. Eat. I've been ripening the bananas all week so that we can take yummy bread with us to Wichita for the weekend. Love, love my Williams Sonoma gold mini bread pans, and need to remember to ask for a big gold bread pan for Christmas!
To stay away from the bread, I have been sticking to the craft room since Brynn fell asleep (which I wasn't sure was going to happen today - she was pretty chatty for 10 minutes or so, and I heard some definite crib jumping going on.) I unpinned the 8 snowflake ornaments I blocked over the weekend, and now need to figure out the best way to starch spray them to make them stiffen up. I decided to make these ornaments for my 14 Brownies as a holiday gift, so I need to have them done by the 14th for our final meeting of the year. 8 down, 6 to go! I chose a silver and gold yarn that has a sparkly thread running through, to add a bit of pizazz. Hope the girls like them, and hope they don't fight over who gets silver vs. gold!

I've gone a teeeny bit cowl crazy this fall. Hee hee! A previous post boasts my pale beige honeycomb cowl, but since I bought a second skein of yarn in a brown I decided to knit a second honeycomb. Don't know if I will keep both, give them away, or what. I'm actually wearing the finished one now, since it's COLD in here. (Brad likes it brisk, and since he's home today I can't fiddle with the thermostat!)
Using the same delish yarn, but in a dark mottled green (look at me! straying from my usual colorchoice of neutral or orange/brown!) I started a 3rd cowl after seeing my mom's finished one. Nice, easy lace pattern - and this one is made thinner but twice as long so you can wrap it around more than once.
I finally bought a winter coat (overdue by several years) in a dark grey, so pretty much every fun scarf/cowl I make will go with it. Yay for versatility!

Last night Rowan broke out her "herb kit" and did a little bit of stencil painting on the side. She's very excited to plant the herbs, but I convinced her to wait until after we get back from Wichita so we can care for them properly. The little pots and tray will fit perfectly on the narrow kitchen windowsill I have, so hopefully the little guys will sprout and grow for us!
Tomorrow and Wednesday, I'll be doing laundry and packing, and making 2 pies. I'm making my first pumpkin pie from scratch this year (thank you Jen!) and can't wait to try it! Also, Rowan requested we make a lemon meringue pie. Haven't decided whether to go with a regular pie crust or a graham crust...what to do, what to do. 

Alrighty, time to go pop those breads out of their pans and wrap them up. And it would behoove me to start in on the next batch of snowflake ornaments too. Off to craft I go!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Let the Good Times Roll (oh dear, my waistline!)

During the past week we've been crafting, cooking, and hosting up a storm. Not to mention, I shampooed every carpet in my house. It is CLEAN around here, and I've got blisters on my right hand to prove it!

Rowan's homework assignment last week was to create a book holder for her desk at school. Her teacher gave us instructions on how to shape the cereal box, but the kids got to design their own covering. Rowan chose to use leftover gold wrapping paper from her birthday, with some "Rowan" heart stickers for decoration. Pretty fancy!
Rowan also had a friend over to play last week. The two girls always come up with an elaborate (albeit messy) plan to turn their playtime into a "show" which involves posters and set design and tickets and of course a performance. I love it! They get so creative, and so excited about their project and it keeps them entertained for hours. Their show last week was called: Balloon Exploders. Here are the tickets they created...
Other than me, the audience consisted of Emily, Jenny, Lanie, and Kanani:
The set/stage was designed using available resources...
Note the explosive TNT poster on the side...
The entire show consisted of the girls pumping air into long balloons and then letting them escape to fly, farting, across the room. Every effort was made to hit me with them, but only one came close. They were very proud of their efforts, and much giggling took place.

I hosted Knit Night as well as a PartyLite candle show at our house this week, and my inner Martha Stewart emerged in the form of mini corn fritter appetizers...
...rosemary buttermilk scones...
...a "Rustic Fall Tart" made with plums...
...spiced cranberry apple cider, and a few other goodies. I broke out the few dishes that were left of my grandma's set to add a festive, autumn feel to the array of culinary yumminess.
I made way too much food, of course, and am happily still eating leftovers!

Much to Rowan's utter delight, I purchased a re-usable gingerbread house "kit" last weekend at the Holiday Mart. The plastic house base can be used over and over for different holidays and occasions. I bought a bunch of candy on Thursday, and Rowan got right to work that afternoon...
Here's what she's completed so far - and she's VERY excited to practice the art of frosting things, which can be really tricky for an 8 year old. I wanted to help her SO badly - it was hard to just stand back and let her learn but I did it! Mommy victory! (P.S. Her hair is green for "crazy hair day" at school!)
Today starts the official sale of Girl Scout cookies!  If I haven't already harassed you via email, be sure and let me know if you'd like to order some. How can you refuse this face?
And before I sign off, I'll just leave you with a few cutie pictures of my girls as we gear up for Halloween weekend!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Party Central

We survived the Golden Birthday! Here are just a few photos...

Pizza time

Rowan's finished star box

Birthday Girl

Pile O Presents

Worlds of Fun - Haunted Garden

Fury of the Nile (Cliff got SOAKED)

Turtle Prize

Look Mom, no hands!

Brynn and Me on the Rocket Coaster

Cutie sisters and cousins
And now, we can concentrate on Halloween at last! I "dressed up" for Bunco Wednesday night in this shirt - "Tic Tac Toe." Get it?

Yesterday, Rowan helped me get our decorations up and the house looks very festive and pumpkin-y. I spent a couple hours figuring out how many parties/groups/care packages I needed treats for over the next two weeks, made a Target run, and got things divvied and bagged. I turned the kitchen into a giant mess of raffia particles in order to construct the "witch broomsticks" filled with treats for my 14 Brownies. They turned out pretty cute!
I also finished building the doll kitchen set that we gave Rowan for her birthday. Again, turned out pretty cute!
And after patiently waiting several weeks, I told Rowan we could finish working on/planning her Doll Halloween Party. We spent the afternoon today cutting out the decorations, making a banner, putting ribbon on the bat masks, creating 4 black bat capes so that each doll at the party will have a costume, chose candy for the treat bags, and emailed the few girls Rowan chose to invite. She can't WAIT for the 31st!
It is blustery, cloudy, and cooler today. Our lawn is sprinkled with crispy leaves and the trees around us are just starting to hint at color. The magic of Halloween is definitely in the air, and I am so fortunate that I get to experience the excitement all over again through the eyes of my children and their friends. Good times, people, good times. :)