Monday, November 24, 2008


Warning: Once you begin making these little pine cone turkeys, you will not want to stop! There's something about the bend of the pipe cleaner and the cock of the feathers that gives each little turkey a personality of it's own. Before you know it, you'll have a whole gaggle of these guys to embellish your table on this Thursday!

We made our pine cone turkeys one year after a special tree in my mother-in-law's yard had to be trimmed back. We frantically gathered all of the pine cones and saved them away for future crafts. Of all the things we have made with those pine cones, this by far is my favorite.

I had planned on writing and photographing a full-fledged tutorial for this one, but let's be real. With Thanksgiving preparations and holiday card season converging upon me like a 1000 lb. weight, a tutorial is not in cards. But I will tell you how it's done. (just pretend it's a beautifully illustrated and written tutorial, OK. pretty please?)

A pine cone.
Stiff felt. (we used black because we had it on hand, any autumnal color will do)
Cardstock (we used burnt orange because we had some scraps of it lying around)
Brown Pipe Cleaner 
Hot glue
Tape or stapler

Step One: Cut a heart shape out of the felt. These will be the feet.
Step Two: Cut four or five long ovals out of the cardstock. Stack them on top of each other then fan them out from the top, keeping the bottoms stacked. Tape or staple together.
Step Three: Cut the pipe cleaner in half or in thirds (depending on the size of your pine cone).
Step Four: Position the pine cone onto the felt heart finding a spot where it balances fairly well.
Step Five: Hot glue pine cone to felt.
Step Six: Bend end of one piece of pipe cleaner to form head.
Step Seven: Position end of pipe cleaner into pine cone in a spot that makes sense. Hot glue in place.
Step Eight: Glue cardstock feathers to back of pine cone.

And that's it! This project is super fast and super fun. The spaces in the pine cone can hold place cards to be used as place settings or you can just group a bunch together for a fun little display. The grouping is especially cute if you have pine cones in varied sizes.

We have used these as placecard holders for several years, varying how we use them each time. One year, we cut out cardstock into the same heart shapes as the felt feet and the kids wrote why they were thankful for each person who was joining us for dinner that year and glued the note to the bottom of the turkey. It was a fun little surprise and the kids were bursting with excitement waiting for the first person to discover the hidden message! (you can see our turkeys at each place setting in the photo below, quietly waiting for guests to arrive and discover the hidden messages of thanks).


With only a couple of days left, this is the perfect little project to keep your little ones busy while you take care of all the holiday prep. 

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I've been neglecting you all and I'm sorry. But I promise that it's only because I'm diligently working on everyone's Holiday Cards. That gives me a pass, doesn't it?

In the meantime, here are some great Thanksgiving downloads from Martha. In true Martha fashion, these are beautiful ideas to make your holiday table extra special. The best part - they're quick and easy to make!

Monday, November 17, 2008


Back with another Thanksgiving tradition and this one is really fun!

I love to set a beautiful table, but it's also really important that the setting be personal and fun. Thanksgiving is all about family and our family is all about the kids. So each year, among the fancy napkins, shimmering candles and beautiful flowers, each person's setting is embellished with something handmade. We have done so many of these, that I will surely dig out at least one or two from past years to show you, but this year it will be this turkey, lovingly designed by Pumpkin and Petunia. Peanut is sure to help with some gluing and decorating as well! The turkey is made from brown paper bags (for the body), scrap pieces of paper (for the beak and legs) and finally, beautiful leaves from the weeping cherry tree in our front garden. He is a masterpiece of recycling and 9 and 7 year old ingenuity.

Each guest at our Thanksgiving table this year will have a turkey placed on his/her plate to admire and add to the decor. At the end of the day, he will serve as a treasured favor to be added to collections of handmade treasures from years past. We have quite a collection gathering in our Thanksgiving box and I love looking through them each year. The best part is that our guests of aunties, uncles, cousins and grandparents look forward to these little creations as much as we do; adding them to their own collections as a fun little reminder of holidays together.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Seriously, is there a little jar that can preserve a seven year old girl's sense of self. Keep it for those moments that are sure to come where she'll need a heaping dose of it just to get by? I need to know. Right now so I can get my supplies and extract the goodness. Not all of it. I'll leave some for now and save the rest for later. I know, it's like I'm speaking in tongues right now, isn't it? But when you see what Petunia brought home from school yesterday, you'll understand.

Tucked innocently in her folder between math and spelling was this. A little paper, a one page diary by Petunia, about Petunia. As I scanned the sheet, at first treating it like any other school paper, the first thing that struck me was how well she knows herself. Sounds a bit odd to say. Who would know her better than her, right? But then think about if some asked you for two words that describe you - how quickly could you come up with them? How spot on would they be? Would you be afraid to be boastful? Take the easy, self-deprecating approach? Here's Petunia's answer: "honest and athletic." And you know what? She is honest and athletic. But that's not the part that got me. "Honest and athletic" was sweet and made me smile. Here's what made me cry. Here's what made me want to freeze this moment in time while I gather my canning supplies and prepare the kitchen. 

Three things I like about myself:
1. I am helpful.
2. I am beautiful.
3. and I care for others.

It breaks your heart in the best possible way. She is all of those things. And more. And the beauty of this moment is that she realizes that she's all of these things. So if I can bottle up the I am helpful and beautiful and I care for others, toss in a good dose of honest and athletic and save it for those moments when she's 16 and was left out of the group or 18 and her heart is broken or 21 and ready to go out into the world, please tell me how. She'll need it then. It could serve her well and I want to be ready with a big heaping dose.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


{Thankful board circa 2004}

We have a chalkboard in our kitchen that is quite literally the center of our universe. Anything important, and even a bunch of trivialities, make their way to "the chalkboard." (I use quotations here because that's how we refer to it, as if it's the only chalkboard on the planet.) So as Thanksgiving approached several years ago when Pumpkin and Petunia were still toddlers (preschool and pre-preschool, respectively), I thought it would be cute to record what each child was thankful for and the chalkboard was the natural place for such a list.  As a family, we gathered around the chalkboard and I asked each child what they were thankful for. Pumpkin, being the oldest took the lead and dictated his list as I recorded it verbatim. Petunia followed and the list was ceremoniously placed back on the wall in the kitchen. 

When family and friends arrived for Thanksgiving, the list was the centerpiece of the discussion and we all had fun seeing thanks through the eyes of toddlers. When it came time to decorate for Christmas, I cringed at the thought of erasing the chalkboard. The list was made on a whim and I hadn't really thought it through. How could I erase something that came straight from my children's hearts? What kind of monster was I?! Then I realized (duh!) that I could take a picture. So I got out the camera, took a shot or two of the list and had the photo developed (yes, it was that long ago). Only then when I had the photo of the list in hand, did I erase it from the board. 

Since then, every year the children make their thankful lists on the chalkboard. They are old enough now to write it themselves and we have added a third list these past couple of years for Peanut. This is the first year that she will understand well enough to dictate her thankfuls herself and we're really looking forward to hear what she has to say. My husband and I do write our own lists, but we hang them separately so as to not take up space on the chalkboard that the kids would like to fill. 

What I didn't realize that first year as I took a picture of the chalkboard before erasing the list was that these photos, now taken every year on the day we begin preparing the house for Christmas, would become one of the most meaningful records that our family keeps. Marking moments in time, seeing the constants on the list each year: grandparents, cousins, the beach. And the things that change as each child grows and matures: Rescue Heroes lose their spot to baseball; the Wiggles lose their spot to High School Musical. I cannot wait to see what the list holds this year; there are always some suprises. Personally, I am always thankful for children who value the people in their lives enough to always put them at the top of their lists.

Remember to link to or write about your family's traditions in the comments. I would love to hear all about the things that make this holiday special for you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I realized today that Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. After I ran around the house screaming "I'm not ready! I'm not ready! How can this be?" (not really, but I wanted to), I started to organize my thoughts and put together a list. I host Thanksgiving for our family each year. I love to do it, despite the fact that this is the busiest time of year for Pumpkin Petunia. But it does make things interesting around here the week before between juggling holiday card orders, grocery shopping and preparing the house for guests.

Despite this hectic time of year, there are a couple of traditions that we have created with our children that I will always make time for; it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without them. And because I am uber-organized this year (read: I am actually aware of the fact that Thanksgiving is almost upon us), I am thrilled to be able to share our family's traditions with you. Over the next week, I will be posting about the things that we do to make this holiday special for us and I would love to hear about the traditions that are part of your family's celebrations. If you have a blog, kindly link to your posts about Thanksgiving in the comments section of my posts or simply share your story right here in the comments. I would love to hear from you!


Veteran's Day is the perfect day for my children to think about and honor their grandfathers, both Korean War Veterans. Discussions and assemblies at school peak their curiosity and their questions are the perfect opportunity to ensure that the memory of these two men live on in their grandchildren.

My father served in the Navy and was very proud of his service to our country, completing his tour as a decorated hero. I have always been proud that he continued to serve this country throughout his life as a champion of workers rights, long after his years of Naval service were complete. A legacy that I strive to live up to every day.

His love of country led him to enlist in the Navy and after spending those years at sea, his love of the ocean led him away from his midwestern upbringing to Boston. Whenever we asked him why we did not live near our cousins, whom we missed dearly and looked forward to visiting every summer, he would always reply: "This is the place to be. If it weren't, we wouldn't be here." and as a young girl, that answer seemed more than sufficient. Of course now, I cannot imagine living more than a short ride to the beach, so I guess he was right. Every time in these two years since his passing that we head down to the National Cemetery where he was laid to rest, I am in awe of the beauty of the site. Despite the sadness that the cemetery represents, I am always glad that it exists as a fitting and worthy tribute to those who have given so much for this country.

My father-in-law, also a veteran of the Korean War, enlisted in the Army. I cannot begin to comprehend the horror that he must have experienced during his service. I just know that it affected him deeply throughout his life. His courage and experiences during the war earned him more medals than I have ever seen, other than those displayed in museums and galleries. To have these medals in our possession is a great honor and a reminder that much was given on behalf of this country. We took the medals out of storage to display in my son's room when he was still a toddler. When my own father saw the medals, he was deeply moved by the honors received by the man he never met. He said that he would like to be the one to prepare the medals for display in the case that we purchased and we of course said yes. To see my father take the time to properly highlight each medal in the case with such thought and care made me realize what a precious piece of our family history was being created. My son is slowly coming to understand the valor and sacrifice that this piece represents. That is likely the greatest legacy that could ever be handed down from two grandfathers to a grandson.

Giveaway Winner: Congratulations czamama! You are the winner of the holiday print giveaway!!! 

Friday, November 7, 2008


A couple of fun new holiday prints and a giveaway! Just comment here and tell me which print applies to you or your children and I will randomly draw a winner on Monday. Have you been very, very good or have you honestly tried? Let me know! The prize? The print of your choice of course!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Today's the day.

Just back from the polls. You can hear all about my experiences here via the Motherhood's "Moms Call in the Vote" initiative by clicking on the play button of the audio feed below. 

Then head over to The Motherhood to hear about the experiences of other Moms across the country as they vote in this historic election.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


After much begging and pleading and countless tales of woe, I have decided to extend the early bird discount on holiday cards through November 7th! Ok, so there was no actual begging, but there would have been if I wasn't such a pushover.

The fact is, I understand how hard it can be to get it together for holiday cards. The weather needs to cooperate, the children need to cooperate and all the stars and planets need to be aligned in that perfect "i need to take a great photo" formation before it can all come together. And that's not even to mention the cooperation needed from the cold and flu season gods!

So there you have it, one whole extra week to place your holiday card order. But remember, an ordinary photo can become an extraordinary card, so don't hold back on those shots that you're on the fence about. Send them along - you just may be surprised with what we come up with!

In the meantime, you can browse all of our holiday cards designs here. Now get to it!