Handmade Birthday Present.

ev's birthday pinata

ev’s birthday pinata

How do you feel about handmade and DIY birthday gifts?

There’s something sweet and genuine about the awkwardly tied bow, the quirky illustrations, and the novice scrawl of child-wrapped gifts.

But what about the gift itself? In our life of easy consumerism and excessive stuff, spending time on a gift holds a value that cannot be purchased. Let’s face it, time is priceless.

I realized that when we took on my recent idea to make this moon piñata for a special birthday girl.  As I cut and glued, I thought, more than once, how easy it would be to run up the street to the mega bookstore and choose a wonderful book or art project like I normally do. Then I saw ev threading the bracelet from the neat jewelry kit her uncle and auntie had gifted for Christmas. Then I watched as she collected little treasures that she had not used and thought her friend might like. I appreciated the time we had together in meaningful work.  As I stuffed seven dollars into a little wallet for the seven-year-old to be, I thought about how much I had loved the piñata as a girl.

For the little boy turning five we started with a pouch of five dollar bills.  Then we added a super ball and wrapped that on top of the cash. We ended up with five layers of little trinkets just right for a boy’s pocket. I imagined how fun it would be to unwrap a gift only to find another and another and another and another!

We’ve only done this twice. I hope the children are as enchanted as I am. I hope the parents don’t mistake me for cheap!

I suppose if we ever book out our weekends to birthday parties, as so often seems to happen, we will make that run to the bookstore.

Would you make a birthday gift for another? Would your child like to receive gifts such as these?

Stuffs for the Stocking 2013

Stocking stuffer ideas this year:

Harmonica: I chose this nifty little musical instrument and gave it to ev in one of our advent treat bags. She already noticed the high, middle, and low tones; and the sound quality, believe it or not, is pleasant.

Art supplies: two years have passed since I purchased art supplies for ev, and that is how I justify the price I pay for them!  I love the stubby pencil studio site.

Grooming tools: Children love real objects, and care of self is a lifelong gift to share. I hope ev enjoys this nailbrush.

Stethoscope: This speaks for itself! Just hide your giggle as they listen to furniture and other objects.

Kind words: In spirit of small things, a little note with a word of kindness goes a long way i.e. “you are my blessing”

Grateful Tree

I read this post awhile back and tucked the idea away for our Thanksgiving holiday week off from school.

Thanksgiving may be an American holiday, but I thought this tree of gratitude appropriate for anyone this time of year as we enter the holiday season. Actually, holiday or not, this tree could grace the home any time of year in function of the season.

I love the project for so many reasons: it’s for anyone; I did not purchase anything but gathered from outside and inside; ev added the word grateful to her vocabulary; the tree is dynamic always open for new ornaments or tickets of thanks, never quite finished.

We’ve left a vase of tickets ready for all guests who pass through our home to share their thanks.grateful

pussy willow seedtree stars tree thankful threadingstars tree

Back to School Necessities.

As summer’s end nears, we are preparing to dig into another year of work. Avoiding hype and minding function here are a few items I have found necessary as ev prepares to rejoin her classmates.

  • Comfy, ok if spoiled clothing: check out thredup, an online gently used clothing site. If you don’t already receive hand-me-downs from friends and family, this is a nice way to recycle clothing. I found some brands I like in great condition.
  • Comfortable shoes: If you live in a warm climate like we do, you might find these super cute Bensimon sneakers the perfect pair of summer closed-toe shoes. I like the lightweight, thin canvas upper and the sturdy but flexible rubber sole. This is the second time I have purchased Bensimon sneakers for ev. Funny enough, I nearly returned the first pair for how unattractive I found them upon opening. Aren’t they cute on though!
  • Lunchbox materials Kidskonserve is my go to for the lunchbox. I like how the lunch bags are made from recycled plastics and stainless steel speaks for itself.
Bensimon Star Sneakers

Bensimon Star Sneakers

I hope you find these products as useful as I do. I’d love to hear your back to school essentials.

Toad in the Hole

My sister often cooks this clever version of fried egg and suggested I prepare the dish for ev. And I am quite happy she mentioned so as ev just loves the whole deal.
In fact, I believe she would eat this for breakfast every morning if I never made pancakes!
I’m quite sure there are many ways to call this fried egg, but toad works just fine for us.IMG_0430

Burro e Parmigiano

Today, I shared this recipe with a friend so here I’ll share with all of my friends!
This pasta dish is ev’s favorite. If I remember right, she brought it as school lunch for three consecutive weeks. At which point, she told me she didn’t like “mac ‘n cheese” anymore. Really, maybe you are just a bit tired of it!

In any case, this is such a simple recipe, there’s really no need to make the boxed stuff. I’m pretty sure I use the same effort with this quick recipe as I would the box. This has to be the simplest Italian dish I know. In fact, the Romans like to say if your wife serves this pasta she was up to no domestic good all day! Can I say simple one more time!

Of utmost importance, however, is the cheese. You must use Parmigiano Reggiano. No other will do.

  • pasta (save some water when you drain)
  • butter
  • Parmigiano Reggiano

Cook the pasta, drain, and save the water. Stir in the butter, the Parmigiano and a splash of pasta water. You’ll know how much to use.

our lunch's leftover

our lunch’s leftover

Buon Appetito!

Recycled Projects

I am a big believer in using what is available. Don’t get me wrong, one stroll through the mega arts and crafts stores will entice me to fill a basket in no time.  But it’s much more satisfying to use your imagination and to reuse the things otherwise destined for the bin; don’t you agree?

I suppose since The Three Little Pigs is one of ev’s summer movie favorites, she decided this milk carton could be their house. I’m pretty happy with the house, although I’m not so sure about our little pigs and especially our wolf which looks more like a bat!IMG_2602IMG_2603 IMG_2605