Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Face Paint

It's starting to look like Clio has two modes for the camera: shrieking "Don't take my picture!!!!!!!!" and throwing her hands up in front of her face, and total, utter ham.

Dave took the girls to the Children's Museum this weekend for a little much-needed Daddy time (while I had some much-needed Mommy time at home), and I was surprised that they came home having painted their faces. Clio has a short history of starting to get her face painted and then changing her mind mid-stream; perhaps the difference here is that the paint was self-administered?

Whatever the cause, I think I may have found the cover for this year's Christmas photo book.

Next up: Headboards

I can admit that I am better at starting projects than finishing them. Better yet at dreaming them up than actually starting them. Which is why Dave has told me in no uncertain terms that he will not help me cut the plywood for the girls' headboards until after I have sewn the dining room curtains. (12 yards of beautiful chartreuse silk has been hanging by clips for months now. In past rooms, I have pinned up curtain fabric and then never took the project further, but my sister-in-law, a designer and maker of beautiful curtains, has asked me to please not do that to this fabric.)

Still, it can't hurt to get a visual, right? Oddly enough, I'm no perfectionist when it comes to this kind of thing--I'm more of an eyeballer--it's more to get an idea of the right scale and shape.

Cute, right?

I'll use the raspberry "velvet" that I ordered online online to discover that it was more of a microsuede--not great for the living room chair for which it was intended, perfect for headboards in a little girls' room.

I'll share photos if the actual headboards ever make it to fruition.

In the meantime, enjoy these rare shots of Clio hamming it up.

An actress, perhaps? Believe me, her crocodile-tears performances are already Oscar-worthy.

Monday, November 22, 2010


The girls woke up a bit under the weather yesterday, with Clio's fever clocking in at 102. Combined with the icy roads advisory in effect all morning, it was clearly time for some house-bound activities.

Clio had recently noticed a small city beautification project on the way to school: a number of decorative tile mosaics embedded along a curb. I told her they were called mosaics, that we could look at pictures of more of them online, and that maybe we could even make some. I thought I'd pick up a kit at Michael's, but necessity being the mother of invention and all, I realized I had everything I needed to make my own kit.
We started with a pile of glittery craft foam with sticky backs, and cut them into long strips and then crosswise into small squares. Clio and Eleri did a great job of sorting them into tupperware cups. Then we got to work.

In planning our designs, I tried to show Clio some examples online, but she was pretty sure that she knew what to do and therefore did not need such instruction/ inspiration. Sure enough, she dove right in with this strong graphic line across the paper.
She added some flowers,
And decided she would "cover every part of the black," ending up with a sculptural effect in the corner.

Eleri, meanwhile, made some play-doh worms.
All of this kept the girls occupied through until lunch, and Clio even needed to put on some finishing touches after we ate.

As for me, well, here's mine. Dave said "Honey, did you make some stylized flowers?"

I guess he does read this blog after all.

All those little stickers produce quite a pile of little squares of white paper. They would make excellent confetti, should you have a use for such a thing. I considered saving ours for just such a purpose, but quickly determined this was crazy, then considered using it on the spot, but knowing what the cleanup would entail, I decided this was insane.

We'll just enjoy our mosaics without the accompanying confetti celebration.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Toddler Field Trip

On Thursday, I volunteered to chaperone Eleri's class room on their very first field trip. (This is one of the upsides of not having found a job: more time to be part of the school community.) Miss Becca's ambitious plan: taking 13 toddlers on a city bus to the downtown public library for a story time presentation from cast members of the Curious George show playing in town.

Yes, that's right, 13 2-year-olds on a City Bus. When I predicted that this would be "interesting," my own mother suggested this was a positive choice of words. The adventure included getting on the "donut" chain gang, walking a block to the bus stop, boarding the bus and riding a couple of miles downtown, then chain-ganging it about 5 blocks to the library. Five looong blocks. Do you have any idea how slow a train of 13 toddlers moves?

You know what, though? It was great. The kids were great. Their teachers have amazing, unmatched reserves of patiences, stillness, and slowness (the good kind.) There is, in fact, nothing cuter than a toddler train, particularly the surprise of it downtown in a city where most children live in more residential areas, and many a smile could be found on the faces of unsuspecting office workers out on the sidewalk.

There were, off course, a few sour-pusses, and I feel it is my duty to call them out here.

1. The bus from school to the library was quite crowded, and while many people were absolutely lovely about giving up their seats for the little people, one guy suggested to Miss Sharon that we should have taken a school bus. When she laughed to indicate how silly this was (taking the CITY bus with the PEOPLE was part of the point), he said: No really. Next time, take a school bus. Sour apples.

2. Turns out, Eleri did not like Curious George, aka a person jumping around in a monkey suit, and therefore started screaming "Take me OUT" and pointing outside the moment the monkey, anxiously-awaited by others, appeared on the scene. I had to pick up my daughter, her coat, her backpack, my coat, my purse, my waterbottle, and various scarves and dead lift the kid and all the gear, all the while feeling guilty that the kid was a.) terrified and b.) ruining it for everyone else with her wails. Just as I was trying to maneuver out of there without knocking any poor unsuspecting children upside the head with a scarf, the nice woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Ma'am. Could you sit down please? We can't see." I will admit, I could have been nicer. What I said was this: "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm trying to take my terrified child out of here so she won't bother the rest of the children with her screams." Then I turned on my heel, carefully, so as not to maul tiny fingers, and went on my way.

For the record, Eleri insisted on being taken all the way out of the library, and would have preferred if I would have taken her all the way out of the building, but with temperatures south of 40 degrees, I demurred.

It was nothing a little snack could not fix. Apples, cheese, and water, perfect in the library atrium for the task of fortifying our kiddos before their 6-block walk back to the bus stop.

(Above, from left: William, James, Eleri, Gracie, Axel, Max, Justus, Hyadi, Koen, Bridget, Raquel, Sundjata, and Promise)

Tired, tired, kiddos.

Thankfully, the bus was nearly empty and we lined them up all in two rows.
(Here is Hyadi, Raquel, Promise, Max, and Bridget):

By the time we made it back to the bus stop by the school, at least 3 of the kids were asleep (or very nearly so), including William, in my lap. (Eleri and Koen were up on their knees, busily investigating everything that passed the bus by, past tired to that place that borders hysteria.)

When we walked back in to the school, we met with warm welcomes, and a little applause.

I imagine everyone slept well that night--parents included.

Outifit of the week, First snowfall edition

Winter is here, offering an endless array of new options to accessorize.

Love Eleri's choice of overscael prints and bold colors. Go, girl.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Trend

I have a post in the works, one in the What I Learned From Decorating a Rental series, that talks about using what you have. In it, I list some of the things I am drawn to over and over again: the color orange, shiny things, chinoiserie, campaign furniture, bird motifs, and so on.

Meanwhile, I've been trying to hunt down the perfect wallpaper for my dining room accent wall (tricky in part because the dining room is chartreuse, coral, and teal, and looks into the living room which is more or less orange and brown, but nicer than that sounds), and I found myself noticing this chrysanthemum in a bunch of supermarket flowers I used for a dinner party.

It kind of reminded me of the shape and texture of the chandelier.

And as I started looking at wallpapers with big, round, petally flowers (mums, peonies, magnolias), I started to notice a theme around the house.

It is likely no coincidence that I recently read an old post on Little Greene Notebook in which the designer is selling off her stock of fabric and mentions her love of stylized flowers. I did not at that moment go, wait a minute, I love stylized flowers! But I suppose it is no wonder that I love her blog when she loves stylized flowers, did an entire post on campaign-style dressers, and picked the very same Domino inspiration-photo of raspberry headboards in a pale blue room for a blog post that I singled out to guide the design of the girls' room.

At first I thought, the chandelier is new, the flower itself is new, all these wallpapers are things I am looking at right now: trend. But in fact, I have been digging stylized flowers for years now.

The tour:

A velvet pillow from Urban Outfitter, circa (approximately) 2000 and in and out of the living room since then.

Linen fabric purchased in 2000, used to reupholster a pair of vintage 50s cane-sided armchairs. The fabric left over is in consideration for use in the girls room (Oh my, it just came to me: Shower curtain!)

Chinoiserie headboard and armoire, purchased by my parents a long time ago, inherited by me in 1999.

Hand-blocked pillowcases from ABC carpet and home, purchased for said headboard around 2001 (I wanted an entire set, but the pillowcases were all I could afford! Now in the guest room but, sadly, disintegrating)

The Dwell Studio for Target bedding chosen to update said headboard, 2007 or 8 (I was so desperate for this bedding that, when it sold out immediately in Brooklyn, I had my mom pick it up in the Twin Cities and mail it to me. Don't I have an awesome mom?)

Anthropologie Eternal Blooms hand towels and vintage Magnolia prints in the girls' bathroom, purchased this year.

Isn't it funny when we have a thing but don't see it? Look around your house: any themes you weren't aware of?

I guess I better officially add stylized flowers to my list of love-it-forever decor.

Unless, of course, recognizing it is the first step in moving on. Hmmmm..... in tha case, what's next?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Teeny Tiny Ponytails

Eleri's hair is finally growing out from the super-short pixie cut I inflicted on her back in the spring. In fact, it is just long enough that we're back to the same problem that led to the twiggy look: a big rats nest at the back, which she does not want combed. I was planning to get her hair trimmed down a bit, when all of a sudden Eleri started wanting her hair done up in pigtails. The inspiration? Clio, naturally. Clio rarely wants anything done with her hair, but last week she had pigtails, and then yesterday she requested two braids. When Clio gets her hair done, Eleri insists on having hers done, too.

We call these "teeny, tiny ponytails" which you must say in a high, squeaky, teeny-tiny voice.

Dave walked Eleri out the door the other day and turned back to say "she looks like a tiny little ninja."

You know what? She often acts like one, too.

I do think she looks different with her hair back like this. She's gotten much taller, too, and suddenly she looks like a kid, not so much a toddler.

It always sneaks up on you, doesn't it?


Since Dave's new job has been keeping him away for most of the girls' waking hours on weekends, I've had to get a little creative to keep them occupied and engaged, while keeping myself sane. This is actually a good thing: while it can be a good thing to give kids plenty of free time to do as they wish, I think we've gotten a little lay about providing activities in the house.

Last weekend, I suppose inspired by halloween, the girls made masks. I had a bunch of craft foam from when I thought we would make crowns for their princess birthday party in July (we made castle picture frames instead), so I just drew up some different shapes, let them choose a shape and color, made eye holes, then let them get to work decorating. I set out feathers, stickers, glitter glue, jewels, and cut shapes from glittery craft foam with an adhesive back. They LOVE using scissors and glue, and they're always looking for ways to use the jewels, so everyone was happy.

This is Eleri's in progress:

And his is Clio's finished product. Well, finished at the time. She went back and made some adjustments the next day.