Sunday, September 30, 2012

grub gab

If there’s one thing that’s taken seriously in our household it’s mealtimes. I put a lot of effort into planning our meals and both my husband and I work hard to prepare food, so coming together at the end of each day is a really important time for us all to connect and check in with one another.

But it’s not always a pretty picture…there’s “party spillage” as my kids call it, loud voices, mass exoduses from the table to do some sort of physical comedy, tamper tantrums and refusals to eat certain foods (usually of the vegetable or protein persuasion.)

In an attempt to thwart unwanted mealtime behavior, I’ve come up with the Grub Gab Jar.

To make it, I’ve simply taken an old popcorn kernel jar, removed the label and using Etch-all glass etching and some Silhouette Vinyl, I etched on the words Grub Gab:

To see how to work with glass etching, click here. It's really easy!

Then I printed out a  myriad of possible dinner time conversation starters that I culled from both the Internet an my own imagination:

I cut them out individually and then folded them up. When things start to heat up at dinner, the kids can just grab one to get us going.

I also ripped out a few interesting items from magazines or newspapers I came across that I thought would be of interest to the kids. (explanations of why you can't tickle yourself and things like that.)

Talking around the table in our family serves many functions: it allows the kids to express themselves, it teaches them the art of conversation the give and take of listening versus talking) it distracts them from the foods in front of them that they might not be so enthused about eating, it keeps them physically and mentally at the table, it avoids conflict between siblings who will find something to argue about if left to their own devices.

And Mr. P. can practice his reading!!! Bonus!

The idea is to get more than a yes or no answer and to have the question morph into a table conversation that really can lead anywhere…this is just the springboard. (i.e. the same question asked on a different day would lead to an entirely different conversation.)

If your interested in further reading on the topic, here’s a great New York Times article on the importance of table conversation.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Guest Post: Sugar Bee Crafts!

Today, we are lucky to have a visit from Mandy from Sugar Bee Crafts to talk about photography! Thanks so much for visiting, Mandy!!

She's taken on a plethora of amazing projects, such as this birthday board:

This ingenious plywood rug:

And how cool is this T-shirt skirt?


Hi Everyone!!   I am Mandy from Sugar Bee Crafts and I'm excited to be stopping by for all of these back-to-school tutorials.
Sugar Bee Crafts: sewing, recipes, crafts, photo tips, and more!

I have 4 kiddos and love to craft and blog (obviously!) - - I feel like if I can do something, then you can too!!

I LOVE taking back-to-school pictures on the first day of school.  If your kiddos have already headed back to school, and you missed the photo opportunity, take some anyways.  A picture from 2 weeks into school is better than no picture at all!

A couple of heads-up for taking back-to-school pictures.  I'm sure you'll take the usual line-up, but try mixing it up a little with a "alright, now, everyone make a CRAZY face" type of picture:
And I don't know where I got this idea, but each year I take individual pictures of the kids next to a sign that states their year in school - that way looking back I won't get confused...

You can even get artistic with the pictures - this doesn't show her face, but shows the grade and her backpack and shoes:

Bright colors make a fun background.  This is just made from paper strips.  I love the fun jumping for some action:
So grab that camera and go take some pictures!!!

Hope to see you over at - it's awesome over there :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Back to School Month Giveaway

Today is the first of two Back to School Month Giveaways. Moms spend a lot of time organizing things for their dates, extra curricular activities, school events.....

Enter the Kate Spade Limited Edition Premium Hard shell Case!

Might as well look stylish while multitasking!

It read very Sex in the City with this hot mama and her Martini Glass.

And would you believe this special phone protector retails for $40.00??

All you have to do to win is become a follower of my blog AND leave a comment after this post. Be sure and leave your email address. name (at) email address (dot) com is just fine! This is open to U.S. mailing addresses only. This contest will close on October 2 at 11:59 pm ET. 

Good Luck!

Monday, September 24, 2012

DIY pencil case

I'm kicking off Back to School Month (er....14 days) with this simple but oh so useful pencil case tutorial!
I've included two examples here, the first is a see-through vinyl case (which will require a 7x4 piece of vinyl and a 7" zipper) and a fabric pencil case (which will require a 9 x 6 piece of fabric and a 9" zipper). 

For the sake of simplicity, I'll demonstrate the how-to using the vinyl pencil case, but if you choose to make the larger, fabric one (or a larger vinyl one for that matter) it's the same instructions minus the size of the fabric and zipper. 

Here we go!

Materials Needed:
1 piece of 7 x 4 clear vinyl
1 7" zipper
matching thread

Cut your piece of vinyl into a 7 x 4 rectangle. (My piece had creases in it, which is hard to avoid if you fold it up for long periods of time. You can avoid these creases by not procrastinating or by placing the vinyl under a few heavy books for a few days.)

We're going to begin with the sipper. Place the zipper, right side facing up (see the part you pull over there on the left?) Line the top edge of your vinyl with the top edge of the zipper and pin. 

Sew down the zipper (I like to get pretty close to the teeth.)

Now loop your plastic vinyl all the way around forming a tube and pin the same way you did last time but on the other side. So you want to line up the other edge of the vinyl with the right side still facing up but on the side of the zipper you have not sewn up yet. 

Pinning this is one thing...sewing it is a whole other story. If you don't undo your zipper about halfway, your intended pencil bag will forever remain a weird tube. So to offset this happening, unzip your zipper halfway before you sew. 

As you are sewing, that stupid zipper is going to get in your way and you're going to want to move it up to an area you've already sewn. This is fine. Simply stop your machine, move the zipper up and then keep sewing (otherwise the presser foot will get caught on the zipper)

You can see in the photo below that I stopped sewing midway through to move my zipper. That's the point where that extra piece of thread is hanging out midway through. 

Okay, the hard part is done. Now you just need to sew up the sides! (Hopefully you remembered to unzip a bit or else you're cursing my name!)

Do the same to the other side! Then cut all your strings. You can cut as close to your sewn seam on each I cut away all the vinyl you see below my blue seam line. (including the extra zipper bulk.)

Now you're happy you left the zipper partway open because you can stick your hand in there, unzip it all the way, and turn it right side out!

Use something (one of these tools below, or a pen or pencil) to push the corners out neatly. 

Load up on some school supplies and you are set!

I think these would also make nice teacher gifts....or gifts for friends in school!

Come back Wednesday for my first giveaway of the series! I'll give you a clue.....Kate Spade!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

farm camp

Things have been a little hectic over here.....sick boy......husband was out of events....and a little minor surgery for Mom. So apologies for lack of posts!

Today, the shuttle Endeavor flew across California and circled around various landmarks in L.A. Apparently, they got confused and thought our house was a significant landmark because it flew right over! It was so exciting!! Mr. P. was home sick from school, so he got to experience it as well (I wonder if they took Doodle out of class to see it? Hope so!)

I'd post a pic, but by the time I got my was gone! Nice to see my San Francisco friends and other L.A. friends posting their photos over Facebook. 

This was, all in all, a pretty mellow summer with a road trip to Sonoma and another road trip to farm camp!

Let me give you a little history about Plantation Farm Camp for Boys and Girls. 

I started out as a camper there when I was eight years old (I somehow summoned enough bravery to leave town for 3 1/2 weeks to go live on a farm.) It was love at first sight!

I loved the rustic environment, being responsible for the animals and the great friends I made. 

So I kept going and going and going until I was no longer a camper. Problem solved...I became a counselor! And I stayed and stayed and then I became art coordinator and then assistant director and then finally when I was 23 years old, I retired from camp....or so I thought.....

Enter family camp!!! We went when Mr. P. was three years old when Doodlebop was still in my belly. 

And this summer, I finally felt as though Doodle was old enough to appreciate it and not fall out of the tent at night (as Mr. P. had the first time he went.)

We did SO much during our time there!

There was lots of swimming:

Taking care of the animals:

collecting chicken eggs:

milking the goats:
(and this is what I look like camping. I'm still in my pj's in this photo!)

and then giving the milk to the baby goats:

We strolled through the garden:

picked snap peas:

ate blackberries:

rang the lunchtime bell:

they got to work a slingshot:

shoot an arrow:

strolled to the lake:


Mr. P. even got to paddle a canoe all on his own! Pretty cool feat for a 6 year old!

Boogied at a barn dance:

and experienced the best sleeps of our lives:

time in the woods does wonders:

And so does catching up with dear friends. This is my closest camp friend. We were campers together, counselors together and then met up at camp this summer with our little ones!

I can't say enough about how much being at camp changed me as a person. At camp I found my independence and fostered amazing, lifelong friendships. At camp I was treated with respect and given a tremendous amount of responsibility. At camp I was allowed to make my own choices about activities and interests. As a camper, I met kids from all parts of the country and from all different backgrounds. As a counselor I worked with people from England, Scotland, Russia, Tanzania and Australia. And I have to say, when it came time to leave home and go to college, I was unfazed as I had already spent 9 summers away from home. 

I feel so lucky to have chosen them at a camp fair in Los Angeles over 28 years ago!!!

happy camper age 14

What did you love about camp?