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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Marzipan Moments - Christmas Shopping with 6 Children

This has been a wonderful beginning to the Christmas week.  I hear so many people complaining about how much they have to do, what is left to buy and where they have to go. I'm not immune to holiday stress. With my husband on the gulf and 6 children to manage on top of the present wrapping, goodie baking, holiday crafting and so forth, well, I can get all the marzipan squeezed right out of me. This week has blessed me so much. Monday I had an opportunity to take my 6 children shopping with me and then for lunch at an actual restaraunt. You know, the kind without any climbing equipment behind glass or plastic toys in the meals? They were excellent. They remembered to pray before our meal. They were polite to the server. They acted so well behaved and quiet. Ah...I actually finished a meal without making 15 trips to the potty and no one hurt anyone or made snarky comments. It was a Christmas blessing! Our shopping trip wasn't too bad either. Just one minor preteen moment with the oldest two, nothing I couildn't difuse quickly.  Today was another one of those kind of days. Oh, we had the usual dust-ups with the kids. Some things were spilled. Some things were broken. Some kid got popped in the face with a wrapping paper tube playing Star Wars while I was on the phone, but, they were also kind toward one another. They brought me tea in bed this morning. They were generous with their time and creativity to make special projects for our family, really cool little projects they made themselves. They helped each other with chores and even cleaned up after dinner. Just when you think that your kids only believe in Christmas for the big fat sack o' gifts...they show you something about the real meaning behind it. We talk about Jesus and how much God loved us to share Jesus with us even though He knew we wouldn't take care of him and he was going to get hurt. We talk about the way Jesus spent time with people who didn't have friends and how he taught them how to be better and to know God. Just when you think all of that is overshadowed by the commercial hoopla out there...Ah, there it is. The Christmas Spirit.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Star Wars Clothes Pin People

That's Yoda, Chewbacca, C3PO, Vader, Han, and Luke
I made these little clothes pin people with my son for another son for Christmas. I am having the kids make special gifts for each other this year. They are all old enough finally(except the baby) to participate so we have been working on this for about two weeks a little at a time. Today was Logan's turn to try. He did a pretty good job, I think. I particularly like Yoda, but they are all pretty neat!

Scarf practice

I am trying to learn some new crochet stitches. I am trying to learn a lot of things. My sewing is in it's infancy, my crochet skills are approaching toddlerhood and my knitting is still just a gleam in my eye. Sigh...I really wanna make great stuff! In the meantime, I am practicing stitches on practical projects. I completed a double crochet scarf for my daughter this week. It's one of those awesome swirly yarns. I don't know the correct term but it changes from blue to purple to white and shades in between. It suits her perfectly and she  loves it!
I think these yarns are terrific for beginners because they make my basic skills look much more fancy. I made this one rather wide for a scarf because that's the look she really wanted. It's thick and warm and has her favorite colors.  I have graduated to afgans recently but they are still all one stitch. I want to learn popcorn and shell stitches but I am so scared to try! It's irrational, I know, but it looks too hard. So, what were some of your first crochet projects? What do you think I should try next? I am up to triple crochet, which I think looks fancy. Any seasoned crochet veterans out there up for sharing advice? Any other newbies out there?

A Christmas EVE for a special girl!

I have been trying to make this little plush toy for my neice for weeks. I saw a wonderful tutorial on Happy Together here. I attempted. I failed. miserably. It wasn't the tutorial. It was my crummy sewin'. So, I decided to come up with my own simplified version to suit the sewing skills I have now, otherwise we might be waiting till next year for EVE. So, here I give to you, the Felt EVE with Directive(that's the little plant in the boot, y'all).

I simply cut ot felt pieces in the selected colors using an oval lid. I stitched on the outside instead of turning the whole thing. I trimmed away the excess after I was finished. I trimmed a little more than the last picture but my daughter was eager to wrap something, anything, and she snatched it up and wrapped it before I made any more pictures. ;) I hope you can follow the photos. If not, feel free to leave me a question in the comments and I will answer as best I can. I know you can make one of these and probably a lot prettier than mine ; /  I'd love to see it if you do!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Patching, mending, fixing...

It seems we are always patching knees of pants in this house. I thought you might enjoy a little patch inspiration. For my daughter, a pair of heart shaped patches and a little embroidery floss embellishment made some fantastic designer looking jeans!

For my sons, it seems camo is always a hit. I patched under the hole with camo and on the other knee I used a sewing equivalent to scribbling followed by a cool piratey skull and cross bones. He loves them so much I can hardly get him to take them off and let me wash them! He even broke out the cool guy dance for the photo shoot. That kid is a hoot, I tell ya.

Our youngest son wanted me to make something cool for his jeans and brought me this pair. I found a bit of scrap fabric and an old jacket that had a broken zipper and was too itchy in the first place. I snipped the numbers off the track jacket and made a little applique together and viola'! Brit calls them his basketball pants. He's really enthusiastic about anything I make for him. It's nice. Everyone should have one of those guys in the house. ;)  
I have lots of creative patching ideas. I have used the pockets of outgrown cargo pants as patches. I simply cut away the pockets and place over the area to be covered and handstitch down in some contrasting color that makes it look more deliberate. I also try to use the same thread to add fun little embelishments like the skull and cross bones that ties the whole thing together. I like having cute boys clothes and they are kinda tough to find, so if I can spice their things up a little, it's worth the effort to me.
What are some of your patching tips?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh, boy, are you gonna love tomorrow!

I have a whole day of crafty goodness in store for myself tomorrow and I fully intend to document in photos so you can join the fun. Hang in there for one more day! I know you can do it!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Marzipan Moments: Playing with a Stick

Ahhh, the simple joys in life. There are some things that are just right just the way they are. For children, boys in particular, one of those things is a stick. And so I give to you our latest drama...Playing with a Stick- a four part exercise in play.
 Part 1
"Mom, I'm Perry Hotter. This is my wand to turn people into toast! Swish! Swish! Aaaaa, I don't want to be toast!"
Part 2-the musical interlude
"Dancin', Dancin'. Dancin', Dancy. Dancin' dancy dancin' fancy dancin' with my dancy stick. "
Part 3-the sword fight, of course
"Aaaarg, aaaaaahh, grrrrr, yaaaahhhh, ah ha!"
There were literally no words here, just grunts and yells for, like, 15 minutes.
Part 4
"Look! Christopher picked me up and my stick can touch the ceiling!"
Daddy's gonna love this one after he just painted that ceiling.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with a quick switch up

Tonight I baked a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies for the kids to snack on this week. I used an old recipe book of my grandmother's but I made a few substitutions and changes. The end result was a soft, chewy cookie that held together despite having about a cup and a half of raisins for which the recipe did not call. The house smells divine. I am including my version of the recipe and the original version in case you would like to try that one as well.

I used a jumbo raisin mix which included white and red raisins(why are they called red? they are not red. they are brown.) I always soak my raisins in warm water while I prepare the batter. This leaves a plump chewy raisin after baking instead of a sharp as glass raisin shard. I have experimented with orange juice and flavored liquors but the results aren't that different from simply soaking in warm water.
I also added a big ol' shake of cinnamon. I don't know how much, but I am a cinnamonaholic so it goes in everything I bake. I swapped out the 1c. shortening for 1c. butter.That stuff creeps me out. What is it? Weird. I ommitted the coconut. I just didn't have any on hand. The basic dough was nice in consistency and not too crumbly.The baking powder kept it soft and not too crispy. I was skeptical that it could hold the whole 2 & 1/2 c. oats, but it worked in just fine plus all those raisins.

I cannot wait for tea and cookies in the morning! Oh, and while I was working so hard at baking those 3 dozen cookies, Maiden was doing this...

That's fair. I need me one of those automatic rocking chair dealies. There are many days I am just too tired to rock my own chair. Alack and alas, no time for more today. Have a wonderful Tuesday and go bake up a batch of these tasty cookies for your gang!

Robin's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies ;)
1c. butter
1c. sugar
1c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2  1/2 c. all purpose flour
2  1/2 c. oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tp. baking soda
One big ol' shake of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1  1/2 c. raisins(set aside in a bowl of warm water as you mix other ingredients)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Separately mix the dry ingredients and then add dry mixture slowly to butter mixture. Drain the raisins and then stir them into the batter. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes(about 6 cookies at a time). Cool on a wire rack.

Grandma's cookie recipe
1c. shortening
1c. sugar
1c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2  1/2 c. oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. coconut

Same instructions, omitting raisins and stirring in the coconut in the last step. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Why not try a blog?

Many of my friends and family members have suggested I write a book. Really? A book? I don't have anything else really going on in my life, what, with mothering 6 children ages 9 months to 13 years, homeschooling, pursuing a degree in education myself, tending to the general care and keeping of a home and then there's the sewing, the mending, the baking, the fixing of random broken items...No, I am not busy enough. I need something more to do.  Did I mention my husband is in offshore oil drilling and therefore travels for weeks on end?  In answer to all of these factors some suggest blogging. Why not try a blog? It's just a blog. Come on. You can write a blog.

Okay. Maybe I can. Maybe. So this is the beginning of my blog.
Now, you ask why The Marzipan Mommy. I have always been fascinated with marzipan. It's almonds. It's candy. It's a creative medium for beautiful confections and decorative flowers or creatures...but really, it's just nuts. So, the more I thought about marzipan the more it became kind of a metaphor for myself. A little sweet, but really just nuts. My life is very much like that. Crazy and hectic and full of the sugary sweetness married life raising 6 children brings.

I love to write. Some say I'm funny. Some say I'm weird. I say I'm probably both. I love to take pictures of my children and neato things we make or do or see. I love to craft or sew or paint a little something special. I LOVE LOVE LOVE baking and cooking. I love to share a cool homeschool lesson or link when I find it. You'll find projects,  recipes, musings, random thoughts and who knows what else here. Doesn't that sound a little nutty and maybe a little sweet?

Check in now and then to see what we've been up to.