Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Sad things seem to always happen when you least expect them.

Sunday. Sunday we had fun watching tractors with the boys. Sunday was our wedding anniversary.

Sunday night our cat died.

He looked terrible when he came home that night, and despite trips to the vet and clinic late at night, he didn't make it.

So yes, we're sad. Very.

And the only thing that helps a bit is knowing that we've always truly loved and appreciated that cat. Despite busy days, there was always time to cuddle with him. He'd get up early in the morning with me and purr while I brushed my teeth. He'd sit in the driveway with us while the kids rode their bikes around the street. He was always with us.

And he will always be with us. How could you forget a cat who purred so loud he'd sound a bit like a dove. Who loved ham and shrimps, but only the best quality. Who could open doors. Who wouldn't meow but make some strange sound instead. Who had this look in his eyes like he was a very wise old soul.

I know this might sound corny, but we do hope that soul will live on. Somewhere.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Beware of the sharks: party preparations

I could have sworn big brother would go for a guitar party this year. Sworn.

I was so sure that I actually got blow-up guitars and guitar shaped key rings, weeks ago. I mean, after this year's Rock Star Cats for carnival it had to be a guitar party, right? Right?


Instead, we're in for a shark party this year.

Which is ok for me - I mean, just do a quick search for shark party on Pinterest. See what I mean? Lots of ideas.

Good thing that I was anyway planning to reuse last year's bunting and the blueish party supplies with the stars. I mean, it's blue, right? Goes with sharks if you ask me. And besides, the store still carries some of it, so I could stock up on napkins, balloons and some other cute things.

Such as the cutest little favor boxes. Turns out they're too small for goodie bags, but they make nice invites, at least if you fill them with some gummy sharks. And they just happen to give those homemade invites something to cling to, because just printed on plain paper they looked just that. Plain.  Punch a hole, tie them to the boxes with some green raffia and - ah, much better. To anyone who's interested, this is where I found the shark clipart I used in the invites.

And since I has a kid-free house last week, I got the goodie bags out of the way as well. I don't know about you, but I don't really like when my kids come home from birthday parties with a lot of little things. They are treasures to them for a day or so, and then these little things turn into clutter. And they start to multiply. Take over their rooms, the basket of miscellaneous toys in the living room (it's a junk basket, if you ask me, and we weed it out every couple of months, usually sending at least a quarter of its contents to the trash).

Using simple white bags, I glued the shark to the front, added the guests' name on some washi tape and cut teeth into the top. They got filled with some more shark candy, a plastic shark and, my favorite, a shark bell for their bikes. Not too much crap, right? Right? 

Finally I did birthday shirts, and the traditional felt birthday crown and yarn wreath. Luckily I could reuse last year's letter and garland and just cut out the number and pinned it to the wreath. Easy. Which was good, considering the fact that I had been crafting, sewing and eating gummy sharks all day.

Stay tuned for more!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Making clouds

I've made a couple of clouds recently. Mostly soft, fluffy ones. Who doesn't like puffy little clouds? See, that's what I figured, too. So I made them, again and again, as gifts for some dear friends. No two clouds I made are alike, and that is not just due to the fact that I just cannot follow a pattern.

It all started out with the cloud mobile I made for my friend's third child. You might also remember the cloud pillow I made for her for Christmas. Well, it sort of took off from there. I made some more cloud pillows, gave them little sleepy eyes and a grin.

Then it went on to cloud teabags, cards and more pillows.

For a while I haven't been making much. There has been so much summer fun, work and plain daily life going on, that making things got pushed to the bottom of my list. You know, in to those parts of the list that you never really get around to, despite all the good intentions. And then my kids left for a vacation with their grandparents. Oh, bliss.

I still have to work and there are many things on my list, such as the new garden and preparations for big brother's party. But I decided that some of those things would have to wait, and that I was going to spend this kid-free time mostly with things I never get around to while the kids are here.

Such as sleeping. Taking naps in the middle of the day. Reading the paper and drinking a third cup of coffee on Sunday morning. Eating take-out Chinese food in front of the TV on a Monday night after an 11-hour shift at work. Going for a quick swim in the pool when I'd usually clean up the house and put the kids to bed. Grilling pizza and eating it on the patio at 9pm instead of 6pm. Ahhh...

And making things. Leaving the mess of sewing supplies out, not having to worry about putting away needles and scissors.

So I made another cloud mobile, for some dear friends expecting baby No. 2. I think it's always kind of hard to find a good gift for the second child. You have all the basics, have gotten rid of most of the excess stuff and the few things you could use new you actually like buying yourself, because now you finally know what to look for. But in this case, they have recently moved to a house, coming from a small apartment. That might leave room for some additional stuff for baby's room, no? Also, I am just so glad they decided to go for a second child. You see, they went through quite some sorrow and hard times with their wonderful daughter, and I think it's so great that they have the strength and courage to have another one.

I'm a firm believer in gifts for the big siblings when there is a new baby. Just ask my coworkers, both first-time mommies, about that email exchange recently where I was a little, uh, determined to get my point across about gifts for the older sibling being a necessity. But especially for the second baby and with little ones I do feel that while baby usually has everything he or she is going to need, the older child is so easily left out from all the gifts and congrats over the new arrival.

So anyway. Before I launch into a tirade here, let's just say I made an owl cloud pillow for the soon-to-be big sister. Or is it a cloud owl? Not even sure this makes sense at all. But I there wasn't enough white fleece left over, and the owls were so cute so an owl cloud pillow it was.

Turns out you can also cut two of the owls out, sew them together right sides facing, turn them right side out, stuff them a bit and sew them closed with some twine for legs. They also hang from puffy white clouds nicely.

Well, either making clouds in addictive or I am just not a very creative person. But I made another one. For another good friend, who is pregnant with her first baby. This little cloud pillow was made with soft fleece and fabric by Cloud 9. Seriously. I have been in love with their fabric since I started sewing last year, and I've been saving this fabric for a special project. And a birthday gift to a soon-to-be mommy is special, don't you think? And it could just be my favorite cloud so far. I almost want to keep it. Actually, I really do. It looks right at home on my couch.

Maybe if the kids stay a little longer I will make the time to sew one for myself.

Meanwhile, I'll go spend some time staring at the real thing and doing nothing at all.

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Summer fun

941. That is the number of photos I took during our summer staycation. It took me two nights to edit that down to about half, and then some more to pick a few to show you guys.

With the new garden and the first time ever we had to take our vacation during the school holidays, we ended up staying at home. And we had the most gorgeous weather one could imagine. The kids had a blast, and while we didn't get to sit around and relax much, it did feel so good not to look at the watch and stick to a strict schedule for two weeks. The kids went to bed when it got dark (which is way past 9pm here), we had dinner when we were hungry and got out of bed when we had slept long enough.


Still lots of garden projects, a fence and more weeds than I can count, but also lots of pure and simple summer fun.

I love that my boys are still perfectly happy with the simple things. Here's what we did:

Starting out with the kiddie pool. Which got very warm after a few hours. Little brother didn't care though.

Grilling bread on a stick over the new fire pit. I think by now I can make the dough in my sleep.

Having the neighbors and kids over for grilling marshmallows.

Decided we need a bigger pool and finally went and bought one of those incredibly ugly blue blow-up things. Not pretty, but sooooo much fun!

With unusually hot and sunny weather here, it was so worth it. Big brother could have stayed in that thing all day.

Tractor pulling events are a must around here. This is the season's first, and the boys are quite the experts by now.

Taking a day trip to a local museum. I wish we had taken more of those trips, but with some work creeping into the staycation, plus garden projects, summer flu and the heat, we often opted for just staying in the pool.

This is an old schoolhouse. What a far cry from today's fully digital, touch-screen whiteboards! Or take the school's restroom...

The biggest attraction however, was the museum cat.

Harvesting radishes. Big brother did that as a school project and we ended up planting the seedlings into the new garden.

Little brother also picked his radishes, though he didn't really like eating them.

The harvest.

They looked a little wonky from replanting the fairly big seedlings, but they still did taste good. Can't wait to start next year's crop.

Meanwhile, there are always ice cream sandwiches...

Now it's back to work and the weather has also cooled off somewhat. But despite all the work, I think we could do another staycation. I'm sure a full service, all inclusive hotel would have been less work, but the kids had so much fun just enjoying their home and the neighbor kids, all without school, schedules, kindergarten or homework. 

How has your summer been?