Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Host's Gifts

Happy Thanksgiving!

We're lucky enough to be in Maine with our families, enjoying two Thanksgiving meals that we aren't cooking ourselves. We're also staying a few days with each side of the family, getting to watch Will play with his grandparents and greatly benefitting from their hospitality and home cooked meals.

To show them how much we appreciate being home for the holidays, we put together gift baskets for each family with some specially picked treats. Will and I took a walk to our local cheese and specialty goods store where we picked out things like squash ravioli, candied cashews, and specialty teas and crackers for the gift baskets. Greg picked out some special jams to add, and of course we had to put in some coffee since this time of year relatives manage to clean out our dads' supplies pretty quickly.

We finished the packages off with some homemade truffles, using recipes we found at Surprisingly easy, unsurprisingly tasty.

In previous years I've had trouble deciding what to put little gift assortments in - I don't have gift baskets lying around, and the recipients don't need a little wicker basket on top of their consumable goodies.

This year I came up with a solution I'm mostly happy with. We took a double layer of cardboard taped with packing tape and wrapped it with a solid gift wrap to make a durable and colorful base for the items. Then we arranged everything, cut pieces of cellophane wrap (available at craft stores and some grocery stores) and tied the tops with wraphia and a small handwritten note.

I wish they didn't use plastic, but they look great and were very easy to assemble. No box hiding half the items either :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Elephant / Lion stocking stuffer is done!

Can't wait for Will to find this in his stocking, I bet he'll find the way it reverses even funnier as he gets older!

The elephant...

Turns into...

The lion!

This pattern is from Susan B. Anderson's Itty Bitty Toys which I got at my local yarn store and which you can also find on Amazon . I've knit quite a few things from this book and loved them! The patterns are well written and the toys are so, so cute.

Happy Knitting! Onto the next project - maybe something for baby number two?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What I've Been Up To

...which clearly has not been updating my blog. Our family has been pretty busy, what with 1 year molars coming in, the last half marathon of the season to run, and pumpkin pies that don't bake themselves. (Luckily they don't eat themselves either. Because that would be weird.)

Knitting: Currently working on a reversible lion/elephant toy to put in Will's Christmas stocking. Almost done! It's a Susan B. Anderson pattern from Itty Bitty Toys, my favorite book of toy patterns.

UPDATE: Lion is done, putting finishing touches on the elephant!

How cute is that?!?!

Sewing: Just adventured into the world of sewing clothes and turned one of Greg's old flannel shirts into a pair of pajama pants for Will. It was pretty easy following the instructions on another blogsite for making my own pattern: here and then for sewing the pants: here. It was pretty easy, and I liked turning something old into something new with the help of a little thread and elastic. Environmental, economic, and creative.

Cooking: I made some fun mini pumpkin pies for a Halloween gathering with Will's playgroup friends. I used mini muffin tins, a circular pastry cutter just slightly larger than the top of the muffin tin, and my normal pie crust and pumpkin pie recipe. Cook for less than half the time (crusts brown, center no longer jiggly) and pop them out of the tins for toddler and party friendly munching.

Reading: I'm currently reading Living Simply With Children by Marie Sherlock, and I love it. It's been good inspiration for rethinking what's important in our lives and how we can raise healthier children in this media driven world with too much screen time and consumerism, too little exercise and creative play. It might take a while to convince Greg to move the television into the basement, but I'm incredibly lucky he's the supportive spouse he is who would also rather play a game of pool or sit and talk after dinner than watch tv anyway.

Watching: About that tv we're supposedly not watching - we just saw a documentary called "Consuming Kids" that a friend recommended about the lack of regulation for children's commercials and how that's affected everything from kid's television programming to what they eat in schools. It's a little depressing if you're a parent, but worth watching so you can think about what you're bringing into your home and how to talk to your children about media influences.