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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Left my Heart in San Francisco....

Ah San Francisco....my old stomping grounds....and current home to a myriad of friends (some whom I've known since going to sleep away camp at age 8!)

It was such a fun trip! Just Mr. P. and I drove up together and were together for two days. When I started to think about it, I realized I really hadn't been alone with Mr. P. for this amount of time since his little brother was born over two years ago! It was so nice to have that special time traveling together!


He was happy listening to his books on tape on the way up and we made a stop at Anderson's Pea Soup (the only non-fast food place off the 5)






One of my smarty pants friends from grad school is now getting her PhD at UC Santa Cruz (my alma mater).. but lives in Oakland... so we stayed with her for a night and had fun eating breakfast in Berkeley....where I ate the world's largest burrito (in three phases) and Mr. P. was happy with his pancakes!







 We then walked around UC Berkeley campus. Never too early to have your kid feel comfortable on a college campus, right?






I have this odd talent I will share with you....ever since I was 9 when we went to deposit my sister at Emerson College in Boston and went to Boston Common, I've had a knack for squirrel wrangling. It sounds odd, but I make this clicking sound and the squirrels come running in droves. My PhD friend didn't believe me until I started doing it and the squirrels came running...down trees, out of logs...it was crazy! At one point Mr. P. was like, "please stop, Mom! There are too many!"





This is not a talent that really comes in handy for much, except for perhaps rabid squirrel round up....


Anyhow...


We crossed the Bay Bridge (I have a fear of bridges)






and went to visit dear friend who moved up to SF a year ago. Mr. P. has known Miss M. since they were a few months old (we met in breastfeeding support group) and they were SO happy to be reunited! As was I!

We spent the day hanging out...attempting a sleepover..and catching up. The next day we went to House of Air...a warehouse turned trampoline heaven! Floor to floor trampolines! So fun! And a great way to tire the kids out! 










Then we played on the beach overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and Mr. P.'s favorite: Alcatraz. I think we'll have to take a tour of it the next time we go.








My husband and Doodlebop flew up and met us and he babysat while I spent the next few nights going out and catching up with old friends. Look at this fun beer sampler...all brewed on site! (Thanks Thirsty Bear!)



And my old college roommate taught Doodlebop a fun party trick...picking his nose with his toes....



Then we all drove home together.....I can't wait until Doodlebop can last 5 hours in a car without having screaming spells! 

I've always appreciated a good road trip...the freedom it affords, the landscape from the car. I think Mr. P. appreciated his time alone with Mom so we're going to make it happen more often. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Vote for Me!!!


Please take a moment a do me a huge favor and vote for me for best mom blog!!! Click on the image below, look for my name, Meremade (you can scroll alphabetically) and then click on "Like".



You're the best!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Them Bones: Dinosaur Bones Tutorial


Check out my free craft book giveaway happening right now through June 4th! Click here for more details. 




We've been into bones lately. Reading about them. Drawing them. Learning about them at the museum. (We're so fortunate to have the La Brea Tar Pits at our fingertips!)





And along with an interest in bones comes an interest in Dinosaurs. I mean, who isn't fascinated by these gigantic creatures!!


Can you believe I did a project with my children and I forgot to document it? It's sad, but true. Which means a) I was feeling rather spontaneous when I helped them with this and b) you're stuck with these odd geometric representations of the dinosaur bone project. So....good luck!!!


The poster below is a bit of a misnomer...you'll also need tape, water, tempera paint and brushes. 



Step One:




Step Two: Make flour paper mache concoction:

Mix one cup of flour with five cups of water in pot. Boil and let simmer for three minutes while stirring. Take mixture off and let cool for a few minutes before continuing on to the next step. 

Step Three: 


Do this until all of the cardboard and newspaper is covered. It is both messy and therapeutic. 

Step Four: Allow to dry overnight. 

Step Five: Using White Tempera paint, paint dinosaur bone and again allow to dry over night. 

My children took this opportunity to use the completed bone as a clubbing tool as I imagine perhaps children of cavemen did many years ago (but not with dinosaur bones......even though the Flintstones makes you think they roamed the earth together.)


If you had enough patience, you could make enough bones to make up an entire skeleton!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Time to Give!! (Another Giveaway!!)

I've missed you. In case you were wondering why I've been radio silent - we just got back from five days in San Francisco...


More about the trip to come.....


After the earthquake in Japan, Mr. P. had many questions. A lot of information was coming in through school friends and through my addiction to national public radio and I had to walk a fine line between giving him information and not scaring him with too much information. I kept him far away from the terrifying news footage.


It's hard to know what the right thing to say is when things like this happen. I tried my best to answer his questions honestly but not share the kind of details that would somehow enter his visual memory bank and keep him up at night. It also helped that one of his preschool teachers is from Japan and she would come to school with reports from her family so that they could get some firsthand news of survival.


Mr. P. came home asking what he could do to help...which got me thinking.....how can I make meaning of community service for a five-year-old? What is the best way for him to help people across the globe? We couldn't hop on a plane and hand out food. He let me know that we should give money. While I thought this was a much-needed idea, I also wanted him to connect to the giving of the money, not just have Mom and Dad write him a check. Then he came up with the following:


We would take a week and he would do chores around the house...anytime he was asked. For each chore, he'd get a red dot (symbolizing the Japanese flag) and at the end of the week, the dots would be translated into dollars.


Here is a photo of our chart. He was SO excited each time he added a dot!






By the end of the week, he had gotten his two-year-old brother on board and raised $20! We were inspired by his generosity and doubled his earnings.....as were my parents and my sister - who both contributed.....for a grand total of $80 he got to give to the Red Cross.


In honor of his service I invite you to do something similar (or totally different!) that connects your children to the victims in in Japan. Feel free to share in which ways you've been able to convey the importance of community service in their lives! I'd love to listen and learn!


And, thanks to Japan Publications Trading Company, I have TWO copies of Crane Origami, by Joie Staff, to give away!!!


Over 95 pages of crane folding fun! 


You can make a gaggle of cascading cranes!


Cranes that are all connected. 



Chopstick covers...




Who wouldn't want to eat dinner off of a paper crane?



And my personal favorite, this crane and balloon display.....stunning! 



Anyone interested in the art of paper folding will love this book!




You can win the books three different ways:

- Add a comment TO THIS POST ONLY = 1 entry (While you are more than welcome to post comments to my other blog posts, only comments to this particular post will enter you in to the free giveaway.)
-  Add a comment to this post + become a follower = 2 entries.
-  Grab my button (just copy and paste the html code onto your blog) - if you do this, please be sure and let me know you've done so in the comments box. + become a follower + add a comment to this post = 3 entries. 

You can mix and match these options any way you'd like!


This contest will close on Saturday, June 4th and two winners will be randomly selected and announced on Sunday, June 5th. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Things in the Blogosphere

I have been less than productive lately. I have a two-year-old who has stopped napping (hopefully temporarily) and my back went out which means 5 more weeks of no exercise. I have an affinity (read: addiction) to dance classes, so this injury had been pretty difficult to stomach. 

So while I am over here being unproductive, I will take some time to share with you those in the blogosphere who are being very productive!

 For starters, did you know that Grosgrain is hosting an entire month devoted to free patterns? There's some really cute stuff here that I'd LOVE to make! 


These are a few of the fun projects available on her site! 

A laptop sleeve project....


A modified dress project.....



And my favorite....kids shorts! I will definitely be making some of these for summer when I get a chance!


Delia of Delia Creates just finished up (I think?) her rainbow of projects in collaboration with Katy from No Big Dill for their Color My Summer Month. 

Some of their projects include: 

Produce bags upcycled from t-shirts.....


This adorable bucket hat! 


And a No Sew! sand dollar pillow....


They're also running a Color My Summer contest that ends May 24th. Click on the icon below for details. 



So to those of you who managed to make May a bit more productive than some other crafters I know (me!!!) I say, thank you!!!

SILHOUETTE MACHINE GIVEAWAY!!!!

Grosgrainfabulous is giving away this silhouette machine! I hope I win! I hope I win! 


But you should enter too - and give it to me when you win!




SILHOUETTE MACHINE GIVEAWAY!!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day and Vomit.

Hello! 'Twas a busy week last week....but we managed to find time to celebrate! (my favorite pastime.)


First, there was Cinco de Mayo. Mexican food is Mr. P.'s favorite cuisine, so he was more than excited when his Dad presented him with a fajita bar. And yes, there were margaritas for the over 21 crowd.




Makes me hungry all over again just looking at these oddly placed photos! (some day I'll learn how to make my photographic presentations look...presentable.)













 And the marriage of Mr. P.'s two favorite things: Star Wars and Mexican Food - just about blew his mind!



Now onto Mother's Day....

We had a lovely day (the gym, soccer practice and then Vietnamese food for dinner.)

My thoughtful husband procured the most beautiful tulips ever! 



 As well as a raw food cookbook, more whiskey barrels for planting in and this made-to-look vintage Anthropologie copy of Wuthering Heights, one of my all time favorite novels! 


Then the evening culminated in....Mr. P.'s vomit! Yes, for the first time in his life (can you believe he made it all the way to 5 without throwing up?) he threw up....and then asked if he "got something" for making it in the toilet (which he didn't, by the way!) Today, I was bodily fluid bookended by Doodlebop's bout with diarrhea.....I'd say some sort of bug is moving it's way through the family. 

All in a day's work. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

We Have A Winner!

Sorry it took me so late in the day to get to this post! There was vomit on Mother's Day and then an impromptu smoothie party (yes, I'm still trying to do the cleanse....week three....with a weekend hiatus for wedding and mother's day frivolity.)


And now, the moment you've all been waiting for....the winner of two books (one being a signed copy of mine!) and a bag is......


Kesla P.!!!!!


Congratulations! I will try and contact you at the address linked to your profile, but if for some reason I'm unable to do so, please get it touch with me! (Look for the "contact me" section of my blog in the upper righthand-ish corner. 


Thanks for playing, all! More to come soon!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Vinyl Lunch Bag Tutorial


For the first time since I began sewing a year and a half ago, I am entering a sewing competition! It closes today and reminds me of the Iron Chef, except for this competition, the secret ingredient is....vinyl! You can check it out by clicking here! Who doesn't love vinyl with it's shiny sheen and easy sponge cleaning. With two little eaters in my household, I figured what better way to celebrate vinyl than by making some vinyl lunch bags.



Materials Needed:

1/4 yard vinyl
1/4 yard liner material
bias tape (double sided)
clothespin

I used 1/4 seam allowance for this project.

Step One: Cut out Material

For the vinyl:
cut 2 pieces that are 11" x 6 1/2 "and

cut 2 pieces that are 11" x 4 1/2 "


Cut the same for your liner pieces:

cut 2 pieces that are 11" x 6 1/2 "and


cut 2 pieces that are 11" x 4 1/2 "



Finally, from the vinyl, cut 2 pieces that are 6 1/2" x 4 1/2"


You are ready to sew!

Begin by placing a vinyl, piece A right side together with a vinyl piece B and sew along the 11 inch side.


It will look something like this. 


Do the same for the second set of Piece A and Piece B. 

Then sew the two sets of AB pieces together, so you will have piece A, piece B, piece A, piece B....the end result will be a box shape with no top or bottom (like an elongated arm cuff. 


Trim your threads. 

Now attach one of the vinyl C pieces to the bottom of the rectangular creation you've made. This is kind of tricky and awkward. Basically, you're going to pin that 6 1/2" x 4 1/2" piece, right side together to each A and B piece of the cuff and then sew it together, stopping to turn and pivot your needle down at each corner. 



Now do the exact same thing with your A and B pieces of lining material. Start with sewing the liner piece A to piece B and repeat with your second set. Then, sew them both together ABAB like you did with the vinyl. But before adding your 6 1/2" x 4 1/2" piece of vinyl to the bottom, make sure your seams are on the outside of the liner bag (for the vinyl bag, your seams are on the inside.) 


My picture is a bit of a fallacy because my seams are on the inside (I forgot to turn it inside out). Do as I say and not as I do! I should have turned the liner cuff inside out BEFORE sewing on the bottom vinyl piece! 

Trim loose threads. 


You now how two bags. One vinyl bag, with the bottom vinyl piece facing out. And one, more limp liner bag with the bottom vinyl piece facing in. 


Place the liner bag INSIDE the vinyl bag. 



Take your bias tape (I like a nice contrasting color that pops)


And carefully begin pinning it around the top of your bag, making sure you enclose both the liner and vinyl bag in between the two sides of the bias tape. 


Sew as close to the bottom of that orange bias as possible (away from the top of the bag). You have to remove that part of your sewing machine that holds stuff, as you would if you were working on a sleeve in order to properly sew around the perimeter of your bag. (I'm sure there's a technical name for this part of your sewing machine...but I don't know it!)

And here is your lovely new vinyl lunch sack! You can be fancy and add a Velcro closure. But I like the old fashioned wooden clothespin. 


A view from the font. 


A view from the back. 


When is the picnic??