Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Knitting Fun

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! We went on walks and tried to not melt in the Oregon heat. I suppose we have officially adjusted to the weather here if I talk about melting and then have to admit it was only 90 degrees. But it is humid here. And we don't have air conditioning. So maybe those two things help my case. :)

One of my favorite ways to use up leftover yarn is knitting a doll blanket. This one is going to a niece for her birthday. It is so very soft and the colors are vibrant and happy. I especially like the wild pink yarn. I think I made a wallet out of that years ago. Anyway, it is fun to see this little blanket taking shape. I cannot wait to knit one of these for my little girl!

Monday, August 04, 2014

Why I Love Swagbucks

I don't usually write reviews but bear with me for a minute. I recently rediscovered Swagbucks and, wow it has changed. I initially signed up for it back in the stone ages when it had a terrible search engine and you had to accumulate 10,000 points to get a $5 gift card. (ok, I'm exaggerating...a little) But seriously, it wasn't really worth the time and the effort so I stopped using it and forgot all about it.

Recently, I've read posts from several different bloggers who were all talking about how great Swagbucks is so I thought I'd give it another try. I logged into my old account and found that I had enough accumulated points to buy several gift cards right away. Happiness!

The books above are two of our favorites of all time, "Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes" by Mem Fox and "Birdsongs" by Betsy Franco. I was able to buy these used on Amazon for $1 each (plus shipping and handling). And because I had accumulated enough Swagbucks to receive a few Amazon gift cards, the entire purchase was free. (Another bonus was both of the books were in pristine condition!)

If you sign up for Swagbucks, I'd recommend taking the daily poll and trying some surveys to accumulate points. You don't have to spend hours doing this every day, but you'll find that points do add up. The best deal is the $5 Amazon gift card that is 450 points. This may seem like a lot of points, but that is roughly 15 points a day to get a gift card each month. And if you sign up with the code, FreeGiftCards, you'll receive 50 points to start off with! :)

Anyway, I thought I'd share the love. Have a lovely day!

please note that the links above are my affiliate/referral links.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Reading Verses


Anyone who has ever read to a baby has quickly realized that if the text is not short and to the point, preferably with some sort of rhythm, the baby begins to squirm and look around for an escape. :) Or maybe this is just my baby. I also learned that reading the same book over and over gave her great joy--she loved the repetition and began to know what to expect with the pictures. Because of all the repetition, I began to memorize her favorite books (a very handy resource, by the way, when you can say several stories by memory in the car to distract the babe who does not want to be in her car seat anymore...)

I've talked about the importance of memorizing verses in God's Word, the Bible, before; it is life-giving and filled with truth. But here I was, filling my munchkin's head with sweet little rhymes that had nothing to do with the Lord. On one hand, there is nothing wrong with those sweet little rhymes but if that is all I give her on a day-to-day basis...hmmm. I bought a couple baby Bible storybooks and checked more out from the library but most of them were really boring. I hate to admit that because the Bible is far from boring, but she would get squirmy while I read, so...I decided to take some simple verses that were short and to the point and illustrate them. I began with, "In the morning, I will sing!" from Psalm 59:16 and drew a little girl with her arms flung out wide. (I found the more expressive the verse, the better. My daughter loves hand motions at this stage.)

The first time I read to her a couple of the verses I had drawn, she was so happy. And people, these are little more than stick figures (as illustrated above) but she liked them so I'm going with it. I love that we can read verses, and they mean something to her (the little girl in "children, obey your parents" is putting her toys away in the toy basket--something we get to do, albeit very slowly, every afternoon :)).

That is what God's Word is all about--truth for our daily lives. Truth that changes how we see the world and how we act. I love how these big and little bits of truth are being re-taught to me on a daily basis through interacting and loving my daughter.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Making Things


Someone asked me months after baby was born if I was working on any projects. Um...well...I felt like my whole life was a project of sorts, learning all of these new skills in taking care of a newborn that you're never prepared for no matter how much you've babysat and how many great books you've read.

Last year creativity took on a new life of its own. I wasn't knitting, but I made delicious strawberry freezer jam. I didn't sew except for a quick foray into making my own cloth baby wipes (which I love, though my mom's contribution to that cause was much better.) I learned how to make my own brown rice cereal, how to steam and puree and freeze blocks of veggies and fruit (that have now become the base of delicious fruit and green smoothies.) I learned how to strap a Moby on (our lifesaver during those early months of fussy baby evenings) and I learned to be brave and to run errands with a wide-eyed baby. And there are a million more random things that you just learn to do as a mommy in that first bootcamp year. :)

This isn't a post to give myself a big slap on the back for a job well done, but maybe it will help encourage someone to rethink what creativity looks like, especially if your life is in a season where you don't have time to fill that sketchbook or paint all night. Just do what you can. Little bits here and there will add up. Find ways to be creative in your everyday life, even if that creativity is 'merely' finding a new path to walk in your neighborhood. Seriously. Maybe the new view will inspire you.

Earlier this year, I began to draw in my sketchbook again and found much inspiration from the hundreds of books (or so it feels) I've read to munchkin this year (not that we own hundreds, but we frequent the library.) And now that she is very much into her ABCs and a little bit into counting, I thought I'd start making her mini-books. It has been a fun project to work on here and there. And the best part is, she loves it. It really is the little things.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chickadees in the Sunshine

We were sitting on the patio at my sister's house one afternoon in June when we noticed a commotion over at a bird feeder. Several chickadees that looked like they were babies (judging from their tinier than normal size) were fluttering around excited to find a snack to eat. We all grabbed our cameras and tried to catch the moment. Maybe I should have taken a picture of us trying to take pictures. :)

This has been such a beautiful and simple summer. We haven't really gone anywhere other than to my family's place in June. But we have gone on many long walks and have lately been picking bags and bags of blackberries. Oh, blackberries, how I missed you in L.A.! The first day we picked them I went a little crazy and made a jar of jam, a cobbler, and flash froze about 4 cups of blackberries. Goodness. Last weekend I gave some to our daughter as a snack and she ate one, paused, then stuffed eight of them in her mouth. Wow. Takes after her mommy. :)

Right now she is running around frantic with excitement about her ABCs. She sees them on a little toy that is in the living room and gets so happy I'm afraid she might explode. She reminds me daily that life is so beautiful. Yes, there are hard times. There is so much sadness in the world. But thank God, there is also joy.

p.s. single jars of homemade jam...why have I never done this before? It is so amazingly delicious!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The Best Days...


Just as I suspected, it has been nearly a year since I've updated this blog. I had good intentions, really I did. But the days are on some sort of super-speed and well, this is one of those things that keeps on being put aside for the time being. Ironically, tonight I'm making the same pasta salad that is pictured in my last post. Except that this time our daughter will get a serving. She particularly loves the olives.

The weather has been hot here (cool for Southern California, frying-pan hot for Oregon) so we have been getting out to go on our walks early in the morning before hunkering down in the house with the fans blasting for the day. All of the pictures above (with the exception of baby reading) are from our walks. And every one of them is within minutes, Minutes!, of our house. There is so much incredible beauty here. I hope I never get used to it.

Yesterday, we went out on the deck in the morning and sketched. My daughter drew lines expertly on her box drawing station (computer paper taped on a large box so she can draw all over it) and I quickly sketched some of her antics. 

These are the best days...