Wednesday, November 30, 2011

fa la la la la

We've broken the seal to Christmas. No turning back now. The tree, the carols, the movies, the gingerbread. It's all so good. We are not a religious family, but Christmas is so magical, so sweet, so exciting. Even as an adult I get caught up in it. Thank you, dear Christian friends of mine, for letting me join in on your celebration.
We've baked our gingerbread cookies, and decorated our gingerbread houses. We've decorated our tree and listened to upteen Pandora Holiday mixes. (My faves? Glee Holiday mix, Amy Grant, and, of course, Michael Buble). We've dried apples, oranges and pears, and scented them with clove and peppermint for garlands. Our trolley tickets are bought and Holiday party arranged. And I've sewn and sewn and sewn, a sure sign in our house that the Holiday is near.

And, it's still November. :)

So, I invite you to share a bit of our Christmas spirit through these pictures. I have a special treat awaiting you at the end. My early Christmas present to you.

Best to be enjoyed with cocoa and fresh baked cookies.

One of the coolest things about Christmas is that nearly everyone who celebrates has a tree- but they vary so widely. I love going to friends homes this time of year, to see how they've displayed their tree, their ornaments- to see their tastes and what they find meaningful. (Have your tree up? Invite me over!)
Our tree is fake. (Although I LOVE real trees, it's a bit saddening to me to see the piles of pine carcasses by the refuse the days following Christmas.) It has little pine cones and berries and Asher is mad about it, pulling the berries off and running his little baby fingers through the branches. It's been hard to develop the "ooo-saaa" reaction to this, but we're working on it.
Our tree is also almost entirely handmade in decoration. What is not handmade has been given to us- there is only one ornament on it that I've bought, and it was a present to Mr. for our first married Christmas together.
I love the stories that are hanging on our tree.

Like the ornaments my grandmother made. There are quite a few, and now that I'm older, I cherish them more than ever. She gave us something she painted/sewed every year for Christmas, and I really miss that. And her.

There are ornaments given to us by some we hold dearest:

And beautiful ones made by friends:

And those that just make me laugh:

There are so many! The day that we put up the tree is a day that I look forward to all year, and I spend a good part of each evening while it's up looking at our tree.

Eww, what a sap.

And speaking of sickly sweet- here's this years gingerbread house. I think "MacKenzie" has gotten quite good ;)

I love her expression in this picture. I think she might have just been told she could actually eat a piece of the candy.

Now for YOUR treat.
While not a Christmas carol by any stretch of the imagination, the song Hallelujah is frequently listened to in our house, and evokes some serious emotions. I'd like to share Mr's version of the song. Be sure to listen to the end- I think it gets pretty spectacular.
Enjoy, and if you'd like to leave him some kind words (there's a comments section!) it could even result in further recordings in the future. It just takes a bit of cajoling.

See why I keep him around?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

gobble gobble gobble

Hello, and "Gobble gobble gobble" (as our family greets each other on this day). Happy Thanksgiving!
Our day is winding down- our tummies are full, our Christmas tree is up, the kids are tuckered out. So I thought I'd spend a few minutes with you guys.

This year, in light of no real group plans for the day (we are both really missing our non-nuclear families, I think), our family decided to volunteer. I made calls to arrange something, and kept hitting dead ends. They already had enough help, or we couldn't work with the baby, or they only needed monetary donations... essentially, no one wanted us! So we did our annual food bank donations and set about planning something last minute and low-key. Our good friends had a fun Hawaii Thanksgiving tradition of picnicking on the beach, and with this as our local beach park, how could we not?

In truth, I was kinda happy our plans changed. I love cooking, and it's not very often that we eat so many different dishes at a time. It being just the 3.25 of us, it was still a modest meal by Thanksgiving standards, but soooo yummy. I'm thankful for food!!

The menu this year:

Rosemary roast chicken (couldn't justify the turkey for just Mr.)
Roasted grapes with pecans and sunflower seeds
Savory sweet potato/apple bread pudding
Wilted greens with fried shallots, walnut, garlic, and pomegranate seeds
Roasted garlic on sweet bread
Sweet potato pie
Dark chocolate pecan pie

Um, yea.
It was fun creating the 'recipes' for these dishes, and everything turned out quite nicely. I tried to use a lot of stuff that we already had in the fridge to cut down on shopping- afterall, I'm nothing if not cheap ;)

The spread on our table. Couldn't have asked for a better beach day, either.

Have you ever roasted grapes? Do it!!

This pie is my favorite part of the holidays. Dark chocolate and real dark molasses make it so rich and different.

Cheers! Kenzie had her own bottle of sparkling cider and thought it was the best thing
ever ever ever.

After dinner we ran off some of our excess calories, playing in the field and along the shore. We really are so lucky to live here. It never gets old.
Trying for a family shot.

We took Santa to the beach! I love digging this quilt out on Thanksgiving each year. My oh-so-talented MIL made it for us. It's got Santa's booty on the back.

Kenzie got the bag of seeds as an after-dinner snack. Think she was happy about it?

Asher was just happy to roam around collecting trash. I swear, we can't take him anywhere.

Rocking her American Indian headdress and bathing suit...

While daddy and baby watched waves. Surf was up today our side! Perfect.

But it was getting a bit late,

And the little ones were tired, so we wrapped up our picnic and drove the five minutes back to our house. To eat and drink more while the babies sleep.

gobble gobble gobble

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ghost of Halloween past

[little disclaimer- I've been having some technical difficulties with this post. I had always thought myself fairly tech savvy, but I can't get my images resized/organized the way I want them- I've been trying since oh, the day after Halloween- and this is me throwing in the towel. You get what you get.]

We love Halloween, and lucky for us, so does Hawaii. We always have a few parties to go to, and a big trick-or-treat hullabaloo to attend night-of. And every year I make the kids their costumes. In trying for something a little different this year, I thought we could go as famous paintings. It looked so great in my mind, but turned out kinda, meh. So for actual Halloween night I dressed Kenzie in another costume (made the night before), and Asher wore a three year old hand-me-down. I know they could have really cared less, and it all sounds kind of OCD. But, it made a difference to me, and, really, that's what counts ;)

So, this post is a multi-part share. The original Painting themed costumes, and then the night-of costumes. Followed by a Mishap Sob Story to round things out.

Costumes, Pt 1

The paintings I chose for our costumes (here's the part where the formatting is all mucked up):

So a Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollack, Roy Lichtenstein, and Van Gogh. I think part of the issue I had was the painting selection- the Dali and Lichtenstein turned out to be unrecognizable to all but a very few people. I think it was also that the kids weren't cute. You know- they were pretty, interesting, different- but not cute. And I like to see cute costumes.

Anywho. Here's Kenzie's Starry Night outfit. She also had a mask and a moon and star sequined veil.

For her dress, I took a velvet dress from the thrift store and added fabric from a satin pillowcase to make the skirt, and then painted it with acrylics. Once she tried it on, though, it was a bit of a blob, so I added a sash belt. The pictures above show the before and after. Kenzie likes things to be fancy, so we sewed some starry tulle underneath to make it poufy. She enjoyed showing that off.

For Asher's melting clocks costume, I just velcroed sewn clocks onto a black sweatsuit. I tried to make the clocks look liquidy- and used this slippy gold material for the clock backs. I will NEVER use that crud again. I really think it killed my machine, and I stayed up way too late one night fighting with it. Yuck.

Mr's outfit was simply a white shirt and pants splattered with paint. Kenzie helped a fair amount with that one, and it was a fun, messy family project. We now need to pressure wash the deck.

My costume just involved face paint. Here's another area where things went awry. I used goopy face paint, which couldn't get the detail I wanted, combined with a q-tip for application. Add the fact that I was sensitive to the paint so my eyes were red and watery? Insta Scary Zombie Girl with Chicken Pox costume. I had children running in tears at the Fall Festival we attended. It's kinda funny how off it was.

Here's a family portrait of the Paintings:

The best thing about my costume? Washing it off :)

Costumes, Pt 2

A while back I started this skirt, using a fun Japanese import fabric I had. Like, two years ago *blush*. I loved the other side of the skirt, as well- one of my grandmother's fabrics (remember that I inherited her collection?), it was bright candy-cane striped and slightly sateen in finish. Loud, fun, and cute. I stumbled upon the pieces I had cut and decided to make it into a costume. Using some felt birds as applique, I made her a "birds in a cage" costume. Yea, I know- I went from obsure to obscure-er- but it was pretttty darn cute! :)

Two blue birds, in their cage.

Fully reversible! I love this. I love it so much that I've made another for a Christmas present. And I loved that one so much that I'm going to make another for another Christmas present. AND, as a special gift to you guys, I'll do a tutorial for you. It's pretty easy! So stay tuned for that.

Her fascinator. I want one for me!

MacKenzie was classroom helper on Halloween. She took her job very seriously.

Mr. Asher, as his sister was "birds in a cage", was "free-flying bird". See, it all makes sense. Right? I made this parrot costume for MacKenzie three Halloween's ago. I had to make some adjustments to make it fit him as he's sucha little guy, but I'm so happy I remembered it. It used to have a parrot hat complete with eye patch and feathers but I found it destroyed in the back of the drawer. Sigh. Kids. He wouldn't have kept it on anyway, though, so for the best.

Fly, Ashman, Fly!

First time soliciting. I'm so proud.

And with that, we now arrive at:
Mishap Sob Story

You know what babies like? Bright shiny things. And my dear son is no exception. He is also curious, and fast as heck. These qualities create a horrible combination, the perfect storm really, for injury. Halloween night, after we had finished trick-or-treating, we reconvened on a friend's deck. Who had jack-o-lanterns. Asher thought they were pretty (they were!) and stuck his hand inside to investigate further. It's now three weeks later and that burn is just now looking like it's healing. The screaming. The blisters. The endless doctor's appointments and consultations and bandage changes and crying (from mommy). He has another surgical consultation on Monday to give the final word on skin grafts, so send a little luck his way then. He's been a happy boy, and fully cooperative during examinations and bandage changes, but I am so ready for him to get a clean bill of health. And for us to be allowed back to the beach.

So, Happy belated Halloween, and Happy early Thanksgiving, in case I don't catch you in time. I'm thankful for all of you!