Work-in-Progress Wednesday 11

It's a different kind of WIP Wednesday today.  Sure I've finished a couple small projects and I'm still plugging along at the soccer ball pieces, but the main work I've done this week is emptying out our kitchen (and the basement, but I am not going to show you that). 


Yes, you may have noticed that the kitchen is still two different colors.  I was always planning to finish up the grey, but it never quite happened.  It looks as if the kitchen will be demolished later this week (nothing is positive, but emptying the kitchen in a manner that still allowed me to find things took some time) and then I'll be painting it a brand-new color.  I'm really excited!

Today I need to work on emptying the pantry spaces, removing the hardware & my radio, and determining if I need to find a new home for the food in our fridge (or if we can possibly disconnect the water line and move it into the dining room).

We may or may not have a new kitchen finished for Christmas, but I'm pretty happy we're starting on the project (seven years after we moved in & agreed that it was the first thing we needed to change)!

UPDATE: Looks like it's a good thing I packed the kitchen so things were accessible.  Our cabinets did not make the truck this week, so demolition is moving to the end of next week.

Doll Hair

A few months ago I asked for some advice on taming the hair on the girls' Dora vanity table.  I bought a wig brush, but I couldn't even begin to get it through her hair.  Then I stupidly left it with the table and the girls gave it a shot.  Do you see the brush in the photo on the right?  It was stuck!  Clearly, the hair was much worse and so I gave up and kind of forgot about it.

Last week I saw friend's pin to this tutorial on taming doll hair.  It involved the wig brush (which I already had once I pried/ripped it from the knotted locks) and a spray bottle filled with a fabric softener/water mix.  It took a lot of spray, a lot of patience, and a few lost "spokes" from the wig brush, but eventually it started working.  Can you tell which half is brushed?

Dora lost some hair in the process too, but look at the snarls and craziness I was up against!

A friend of mine recently told me about how his niece's AG doll was checked into the "hospital" due to hair issues.  In the end, they sent her doll back with a new head because the hair was too far gone.  Oh, how I longed for that to be an option during this process.  It took a really long time!

Her hair is super damaged, as you can see in the photo below.  All of this hair is combed through, but the back suffered less & so returned to a semi-straight look.  The sides were not so lucky!

In the end, this process was worth it.  Dora's hair has no knots (or things stuck within) and you can run a brush through it.  On the downside, it is greasy to the touch and will apparently always be styled a la Diana Ross.  It's not exactly "new head" condition, but it's much closer than before!

An easier Christmas

I saw this a couple times on Pinterest this weekend and thought it should be seen even more!  It's all good advice and we try to follow these ideas as much as possible!  Shopping local, buying experiences as gifts, supporting artists (local or through etsy), giving donations as gifts, and making things for others are amazing & easy ways to gift for the holidays (as well as the rest of the year).

We got started with some gift-making this weekend and the coffee table became craft central (I'm not sharing what we're working on because they are gifts for blog readers).

Our motto is...

Need ideas for handmade gifts? Check out the Projects page!

Work-in-Progress Wednesday 10

These are my current stacks of works-in-progress...library books and African flower pentagons and hexagons.  Last Christmas, I worked during every naptime & late into the evening on secret amigurumi animals for the kids.  I was a little tired and finished just before I needed to gift them!  So this year, I decided to still do a handmade gift, but let the kids each pick out a pattern.  Jack couldn't decide what he wanted, so he still gets a surprise gift.

Luckily for me, stacks of these white hexagons and black pentagons really don't give away what they will be in the end...a soccer ball pillow.  Cute, right?  I'm currently at 8 black & 7 white (of a needed 12 and 20)...and then I'll have to go into hiding to sew them together.

Joining up with Yarn Along at Small Things & WIP Wednesday at Tami's Amis.

A Different Kind of Black Friday Shopping

{our tree, circa 2009}

After over 15 years of loyal service, our tree is going to need to be replaced.  It's such a good tree (whether they were being kind or not, many people have said they thought it was real), but it has literally been falling apart the past few years, so the time has come.

We are planning to go with a pre-lit tree because, let's face it, putting on Christmas tree lights is a special kind of torture.  I'm hoping that is a good choice.

But my biggest problem right now is where to find an affordable tree (remember, we are a super cheap family) that you can't see through (I saw several at Target with about 15" between branches).  We bought our last one at a garden store in Illinois.  I'm wondering if that is where we need to go again...the garden centers around here?

I guess the plus side is that there shouldn't be any Black Friday craziness at the garden store.  At least I hope not!

Turkey Ticker

If you're a local friend, click here to donate a turkey to a family in need this Thanksgiving.  Rexnord is partnering with the Hunger Task Force and doubling every donation!  Currently the count is at 624 turkeys but there are so many families in need that we need to help this number grow before Thanksgiving.  You can click here for the current totals or if you happen to be on I-94 (near Miller Park) check out the Hunger Task Force's electronic billboard.

Fav Foto Friday, Grateful 2

Very thankful for 3 extra peanuts in our house last night!  I'm pretty sure all the girls (including their moms) stayed up too late talking (and will pay for the lack of sleep today), but that is what family is all about, right?

Linking up with Nora - see more reasons for thanks at Fav Foto Friday!

Funny Pages

My big kid is sitting next to me reading comics from the newspaper.  He told me he loves comics.  It made me think of a comic I used to love.  How old do you think you need to be to "get" Calvin & Hobbes?  What other comics do you think you I could get Jack hooked on?  I really think he could use some of this (and some extra laughs) in his life!

Work-in-Progress Wednesday 9

This is what became of my WIP last week...a little frog.  He was really easy to do and came out super cute (and tiny).  If you'd like to make one, the pattern is here. I may make another as this guy is on his way to becoming a Christmas gift.

I did try my hand at blocking this week.  I was super glad I hadn't purged the old alphabet block tiles in my basement clean-up efforts as they are perfect for this process.  It went much better than I thought it would, but if I'm going to need to block again, I'm going to need straight pins (safety pins were kind of a pain to use).

The lovely Miss EJ modeling the finished scarf.  This was a really quick and easy much so that I never had time to put it in a WIP post.  The yarn is Vanna's Choice Silver Heather (2 skeins needed) which gives a somewhat heathered, somewhat shiny look.  Love how it came out and can't wait to send it to its new owner!

The real work in progress this week is the haul I got at the yarn sale!  Each of these skeins was just $1.50!  This batch is for hats, scarves, and mittens to donate to the homeless (1 hat & 1 scarf are completed to date).

And this batch is needed for my Christmas projects for the kids (the 2 gray on the bottom right were for the scarf shown above).

Pretty sure I need to get hooking!  Joining up with Yarn Along at Small Things & WIP Wednesday at Tami's Amis.

Granny Square Cowl

This gift has been delivered so I can show the final result (it was a secret WIP in this post).  It is a granny square cowl that I made for a friend's birthday.  Liv is modeling the doubled-up way to wear it and here I am wearing it as a single loop.

In hindsight, I think I made it a little smaller than I would have liked (I did just six granny squares), but it fit (tightly) doubled over my neck too, so hopefully my friend will get some use out of it.  I went with a neutral color scheme with some brights mixed in to make it more fun.  I think you could easily make this cowl look a million different ways.

This is the original color scheme that Alice at Crochet with Raymond it!  You can find her pattern for the Granny Cowl here.
{photo courtesy of Crochet with Raymond}

Simple Pleasures

I know this photo is technically terrible, but it is my current absolute favorite!  This was also my absolute favorite part of the weekend...watching my daughter dance and laugh and play with kids that look a lot like her, that were born in the same place she was, and who now are a part of mixed families just like ours.  There is nothing like their joy and there is no replacement for a network like this...for the kids and for the parents.  We are beyond blessed to have such an amazing Latin American Adoptive Families group in our community and are thrilled to be a part of it!

This weekend was our annual Fiesta, which is always so much fun!  You'd think EJ would have been excited to see her friends (she was) and that she may have chosen an "extra fancy" outfit for the occasion (she did), but the thing she was waiting and waiting and waiting for cracks me up.  We did a workshop with a local chef to learn how to make guacamole.  She could not wait...and she did a great job making, and tasting, our guac!

One last simple pleasure from the weekend was watching the annual pumpkin smash.  I try to just be the documentarian of the operation but Matt and the kids are extremely hands-on!  I have a ton of photos of the destruction, but I thought this one was pretty darn awesome.

Have a great week everybody!

Fav Foto Friday, Grateful

This week we are thankful for...

1. The art easel coming out of hiding and joining the fun in the playroom.  The girls have been busting out crayon masterpieces one after the other!

2. The catalogs have arrived and, just like Mom used to, the kids are choosing all kinds of awesome things from their pages.  Jack has had a couple lessons on deciding if he truly likes something once he see the price, so that has been good too.

3. Date night with the big kids - They were deemed too germ-y to be around their cousins, so I took them out for dinner & we picked up a redbox.  No offense to Miss Livie, but wow the night was easy without a 2-year-old in tow.

4. Fish face - Seriously, this girl cracks me up every day with the things she does and says.  This is good because it balances out her ugly 2-year-old fits (yet another thing I've blocked out of my memory, like childbirth & potty-training).

5. A new notebook to start my Christmas gift list - Say Anything was full but then I remembered I had Sixteen Candles waiting in the wings.  It's truly the little things in my world and VHS notebooks are a big one!

6. And speaking of the holidays, fun to see our pics from last year on this super cute card design from Nellie*Design.  She has many more incredible designs right here if you need to start work on your holiday cards, and she is incredible to work with too!  In fact, I'm also very thankful that she did a custom design for our cards this year...I can't wait to send them out!
{card design by nellie*design}

7. All of you...MWAH!

Linking up with Nora - see more reasons for thanks at Fav Foto Friday!

Here Comes the Rain Again...

This week started out so beautifully weather-wise.  And then I finally got both big kids back in school (after extended sick days) and the weather went from September to November overnight!  The girls were not happy walking to dance class in the rain & cold, but at least they got to look cute doing it right?  Well, that is if you ignore their faces...EJ is freezing so she's mad that I'm making her stop for a pic and Livie had some challenges holding her new cat umbrella (so I carried it most of the way to school).

In other news this week:
-I know it's Fall, but every day I see at least 3 projects involving burlap.  And every time I see one, I think of Karri & smile.
-I'm cleaning the basement again (I blame Cyndi for cleaning hers and inspiring me).  I decided to take a different approach this time (so far it's actually working) and am hoping for the best.  You wouldn't believe the treasures (not really) I'm finding down there!
-I did find a bag of sample-size shampoos & conditioners we were "gifted" while visiting hotels.  We've taken them to women's shelters before, but this time around we're donating them to an organization that helps the homeless in our area.  If you travel, this is a really easy (and free) way to help others.
-Movember is here again.  This year Matt is growing a goatee.  It's still weird and annoying, but I realized (in the middle of a meeting at school) that it is less embarrassing than just the stache.  I feel like Matt should wear a button announcing that he is embracing the 70s for a good cause...for my sake.
-Saw this trailer for the new film about Kevin Clash (aka Elmo) and really hope it comes to our area sometime soon.  Looks like a great story about following your heart, passion and dreams that I would love to share with my kids.

Work-in-Progress Wednesday 8

This could possibly be the worst WIP photo ever.  Sorry...the nuts and bolts of the week is I started a new memoir, I moved on to season 5 and I've started a frog.   I've also completed two other projects, but they are gifts so they are top secret for a bit (but I really like both of them).

The big news of this week is that there is a major yarn sale happening at a certain national retailer this week and on Friday I will be able to purchase skeins of Vanna's Choice for about $1.50 each.  So, of course, I'm making a list of gift projects for birthdays and Christmas.

I'm also planning to buy a bunch to make scarves, hats and mittens to donate to a few charity organizations in our area for homeless adults and kids in need.  So I'm looking for simple patterns that I can hook up quickly but that will be warm and cozy too.  Here is my starting list...

I have one more day before the sale to make final decisions so I really need your help!  What are your favorite simple and quick patterns for cold weather gear (hats, scarves, mittens)?

Joining up with Yarn Along at Small Things & WIP Wednesday at Tami's Amis.