Friday, December 31, 2010

zoo trip

one of our christmas gifts from grandma elaine and grandpa john was a year family pass to the zoo, so yesterday afternoon when mike got home early from work (and sam was all napped and perky) i thought it would be fun to head over there for an hour or so. afterall, beyond the gas it takes to get there, it was free entertainment. so off we went.
sam was quick to locate his favorite animal—the north american cherry-picker. i was glad it was caged, because i'm almost certain sam would have tried to pet it.

after that, we hopped onto the tram and rode up to the fish/primate/cat building, where sam was most excited to see all the fish.

then we had a little fishy-snack (goldfish crackers) while we rode back down.

it was a short visit, but it was a good outing for an afternoon, and we're certainly hoping to go back again soon.

stuffed animals

i also decided to give stuffed animals a try. they turned out a little odd, and not quite what i wanted, but it was fun to try. i definitely think my technique needs a bit of help (perhaps some construction instruction is in order), but i sort of like the fact that they're a little quirky.
i made a white rabbit for alice (or baby jones who we are all assuming will be an alice), since i thought she would need someone to explore wonderland with. for sam, i made a little monster (see other monsters for sam here and here). you'll recognize the fabric, of course.

other things i did during my "holiday break"

i finally got around to making this pillowcase for sam's little pillow. it was a fun project one afternoon while sam and i were hanging out at home. it took me a while because i didn't bother to pull out the sewing machine (it's hard to use a sewing machine when you're humoring a two-year-old who wants you to sit in his "mouse house" fort for four hours), but i was able to cut and sew it all before mike came home from work that day, so not too bad. i used leftovers from sam's halloween cape and a piece of the striped fabric from various other projects (this, this, and this are a few of them). the only problem with this project was that when i finally got it done, sam wanted the old spongebob pillowcase he was used to. so much for cute color-coordination.

happy holidays - cards from the nordstroms

here is the seventh swan a-swimming. in truth, i still have a few that still need to be mailed out (because i forgot to bring them when i had the chance to hand deliver them. on multiple occasions. ooops.) but they were done in time for christmas, so i'm considering them a success. i'll also admit that the design is practically the same as last year, which made them easier to do, and the use of mom and dad's "robobot" (as sam calls it) to do the cutting made them quick and (almost) painless.
i'm already thinking about next year's design, and have some ideas. i do believe, however, that i may have to enlist my father to help me with the mechanics.
you can see a couple of the previous years here and here.

this year's christmas cards (from the pilgrim press)

i worked up these quickie cards for pilgrim press to send out for the holidays.
since our logo is a red ship (the mayflower, to be exact), i thought i'd do a take-off on i saw three ships come sailing in. apparently i'm the only one at work that was familiar with this song, but they were agreeable and let me do my thing (that's what you get when people are pressed for time and ideas—free reign!).
it took me about a day to design, and about half a day to print, cut, fold, and stuff 150 of these. we did a special order for the blue envelopes, and after they arrived (from, i adjusted the color on the card to match.
i thought they turned out well.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

another reason i'm excited about bedtime

i hate to admit it, but i've been a little obsessed with finding a headboard for years. i've scoped catalogs, read tons of how-to's about making your own upholstered ones, and spent countless hours clicking around on the internet trying to find something that would suit my picky-but-cheap personality.
earlier this week i was combing through the craigslist postings (again), and i found this headboard. it's solid wood (possibly cherry, but the owners weren't quite sure), in really good condition (it has a few small scratches that very sleepy people probably wouldn't notice—and we're usually very sleepy people), and cost us all of 50 dollars. it reminds me a lot of the style of the twin beds that we've inherited from grandpa, and i was super excited to snatch it up before someone else could.
i believe this is the eighth piece of furniture we've found on craigslist, and i couldn't be happier with it. shopping craigslist is one of my favorite places to find furniture (unless you count hand-me-downs, of course—i love a good hand-me-down) because not only do you get a good price, but someone else gets to have the satisfaction that their old things are going to a good home, and (if you're into that whole "greening" thing) you can feel good that you're recycling someone else's stuff, giving it a new life instead of a spot in some junkyard somewhere. the previous owners said that this headboard had "been in the family for years" and i'm looking forward to having it in ours for years too.

crafty sam

this is the "placemat" that sam made at his last day of daycare for the year (last wednesday). it's made of funfoam with little funfoam stickers. the best part is that he can peel off and restick the decorations (for the time being, anyway), so it's been a great source of entertainment for him at dinnertime. my favorite part is that while he's busy sticking and talking about all the colors and shapes and whatnot, i can shovel just about whatever food i like into his little mouth. fabulous.
thanks daycare! this was a great early christmas gift!

Friday, December 17, 2010

tree fetching and a surprise

last saturday we went with grandma and grandpa h. to get our christmas tree. sam was already excited because we were going to ride in daddy's "big car" (the pick-up truck). usually all he gets to do is sit in it when it's parked, so this was a special treat.

when we got to the tree farm, we were happy to discover that santa had made a surprise visit. what luck!

sam was feeling a bit shy, but santa definitely made an impact. he talked about santa quite a bit (though he wasn't keen on another in-person chat). perhaps next year he'll have more to discuss.

then off we went, over the hills and through the woods to find our tree.

i think we picked a winner. in fact, i think it's the best one ever. sam is quite curious about all the ornaments on the tree, and we constantly are reminding him not to remove anything. in general though, he's been very good and very careful. he's certainly enjoying having all the decorations up (we had to have a little discussion about the tree "sleeping" during the day when the timer turns the lights off). i'm a little bit worried about what will happen when we have to say goodbye to the tree.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


just a few photos of sam checking out the heaps of snow we got yesterday. we didn't stay out long, but i'm thinking that one of these days when daddy's home we'll head over to the sledding hill at the school. i hope we can fit it in soon!

what happens when mom gets bored making lunch?—fancy lunch!

sam had turkey roll-ups + string cheese and pear + raisin toothpick skewers for lunch today. i added some yogurt for dipping the fruit, and voila! clean plate happiness all around!

bonus: clean floor and (relatively) clean boy. score!

how to: felt snowflakes

we've made a ton of these out of paper, but i thought felt ones would make good little gifts for co-workers.
white felt (or white and blue, if you're so inclined)
cutting board
rotary cutter
quilting rule
white thread

step 1: cut 8, .5 inch x 9 inch strips from the white felt.
cut two of these strips in thirds (you will have 6 3 inch x .5 inch strips),
and the remaining 6 in half (you will have 12 4.5 inch x .5 inch strips)

step 2: fold the 3 inch strips in half and stitch the ends together (you will have 6 of these)

step 3: fold one of your longer strips around the small loop and stitch the ends together. make 6 of these.

step 4: take the remaining 6 long strips stitch the open ends together.
stitch the folded end also (this will make them pointed at both ends).

step 5: string the loops all together and stitch the end to the beginning of the string. add some extra stitches until every
thing feels secure, and you're done. easy peasy.

i've tried a couple of variations, but this one is my favorite.
feel free to experiment, and remember to have fun!

oh my! oh my!

daddy and aunt missy will probably appreciate this one the most, since they know the book that's being referred to (what color is your underwear?). i'm very excited to finally get video of this because, unless you couldn't tell, i had to sneak up on him before he realized the camera was there—it all goes downhill once he notices (and it never takes long!)

the actual lines from the book are:
"what color is your underwear, elephant john?
oh my! oh my! i forgot to put mine on!"

his other favorite from this book:
"what color is your underwear, harry horse?
cherry red boxers, of course."
(to which sam responds "course!")

Monday, December 6, 2010

bits and stuff

in other sam news:
- he is currently obsessed with wall-e. apparently the "bo-bots" have replaced our beloved cars for the time being. the best bit: sam will sing "put on your sunday clothes" (from "hello dolly") as it plays during the introduction of the movie (and by sing, i mean he says key words as they come along). it's incredibly cute (as if you needed me to say that.)

- he is memorizing "the lorax". it's not exactly surprising since we're reading it every night (his choice). best bit: if you say "miff-muffered" he will answer "moof". (on a related note for aunt missy: if you say "what color is your underwear, elephant john?" he will say, "oh my! oh my!" in the funniest little voice. i'm working on getting video of it.)

- he also mimics cousin oscar's videos as if he's trying to be oscar's understudy. he is most fond of the s'more video at the moment, but will break into "mmm mmm's" or "sally the camel" on occasion.

- he has discovered the joy of watching the birds on the bird feeder, which means our birds are going to get good and fat this winter.

- he likes to hide under the blankets, and will direct us to "commmmmme in!" and sit with him. we have watched a lot of wall-e undercover lately.

- he is in love with pears. it is the fruit of choice these days.

- he will voluntarily wear his "warm hat" and mittens. he will not, however, wear his snow boots. it is a battle on snowy days.

i'm sure there's more i'm missing. i guess i'll have to update again soon.

riding the train to tower city

to cap off our thanksgiving holiday sam, mike, and i took the train to tower city last monday.
sam had the best time throwing pennies into the fountains, and he got his first happy meal (a rite of passage, i'm sure). he was very interested in the little animatronic children that were "dancing" between all the fancy gingerbread houses, though the ropes keeping him from touching them were just as big a hit (go figure). the weather was actually pretty nice, so we did a bit of walking around downtown (to the arcade and over to the building where i work), and by the time we got back on the train to go home, sam was pooped.
he was very disappointed when he found out we weren't going again a few days later.
i guess we'll have to make another trip again soon.


we haven't managed a visit to santa yet, but we're really hoping to do so soon.
so for the time being you'll have to just enjoy the photo from last year. i was glad that sam didn't cry, but a smile would've been nice. oh well...
i was showing sam the photo earlier tonight to see if i could prep him for this year's visit, and he seemed intrigued, so we'll see.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

christmas shopping

even though i know that sam doesn't really need any more trucks, i'm totally tempted by this one on etsy.
this one is more than we'd spend, but i could totally see him having a blast loading and unloading and spending hours driving it around.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

for anyone who doesn't do facebook

i shared these videos of sam on facebook earlier today.
this boy cracks. me. up.

just in case this needs a little clarification, he was listening to "five little monkeys" and singing along.

here he was watching the tractor tipping scene in the movie cars. notice how he tips over his tractor as the tractors in the movie get scared and fall over. also, you can hear him repeating some of the dialogue.
he knows this movie by heart, and often he'll tell us what part is coming up next and he'll recite the dialogue as it happens.

Friday, November 5, 2010

your life better

here are a few pages and spreads from a new project we've got going on at work. it's a series of small books entitled "your life, better" that will take a fun, quirky approach to finding spirituality in the everyday. these spreads are for the first of our four introductory titles, "20 ways to add more prayer to your life."
this is one of the more exciting things they've got me working on recently—exciting because it's extremely rare that i get to work on anything full-color beyond a front cover, and twice as rare to have a budget for this many images. not to mention that they're pretty much leaving all the image choices up to me! i feel like i've struck a bit of a goldmine.
we've already had the sample pages approved, and the titles are scheduled to hit the warehouse in early may of next year, so…there's a lot of work to be done between then and now, but it should be fun. yay!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

fairytales & meetings

a few photos from my sketchbook of the things i've been doodling (mostly during meetings). i can't remember why i was drawing the three bears, but alice was inspired by my niece-to-be (i've been thinking about what artwork to make for her), and the three little pigs were inspired by oscar (sam loves to hear oscar tell about the little pig). i think i'll have to keep working on these fairytale drawings, as i seem to have a theme going here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

what to do with your junkmail

for the past few years i've been pulling the stamps off most of the mail i get (both at home and at work).
over the weekend i finally had the chance to sit down and sort out some of the better looking ones. i organized them by theme, and mounted them on some illustration board, and after it was dry, i slipped it into this frame we got out of the discount pile at the local craft store.
easy peasy, and i think it makes a fun display for the table where we normally put the mail for sorting.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

my mother doesn't blog

we interrupt project week to bring you this special update:

my mother (despite much poking and prodding by her daughters), does not have a blog. so on her behalf i'm posting a couple of photos of sam's wonderful, gorgeous, fantastic "grandma quilt".
i thought other people ought to be ooo-ing and ahh-ing along with me. feel free to join in any time now.

we went by the house today to pick up dad/grandpa for a playdate at the park, and mom/grandma said we could take possession of the quilt with the stipulation that i take some good photographs. i took many.
now i just need to remember to burn them to a cd for her.
thanks grandma! it will be well-loved and well-used.

photoshop is my friend

here's another example of something i did for work using photoshop.
the headers for our advent series of igniting readers & leaders newsletters were constructed and illustrated completely in photoshop. with this year's illustration, i didn't even bother to scan a sketch, it was all photoshop all the way.
(had to add a few more for good measure there)
if you can't tell, photoshop is my friend.

Monday, November 1, 2010

photoshop isn't just for photos

until i started blogging, i rarely used photoshop for altering or correcting photos. most of the time it was my go-to choice for making illustrations that i needed for projects at work.
this is an illustration i did recently for a new book on our spring list. it may or may not make the cut, but i like the way it turned out (in its comp stage, anyway). we'll see how the review goes in a few days.

project week

in an attempt to prove that my world doesn't completely (just almost completely) revolve around sammy, i'm instituting project week. all this week i'll be posting about things i'm doing that have no (direct) connection to sam. i'll be showing some work things, some stuff i've been doing around the house, some doodles from my sketchbook, that kind of thing.

however, it probably won't be a complete "sammy-free" week. afterall, how could anyone survive that long without sam?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

happy halloween

a quick shot of our pumpkin (carved by yours truly)

we had a good halloween weekend. we started of on friday with a trip to mike's office. every year they have a halloween party for all the employees and their families. this was the first time we've attended, and it was a lot of fun. sam was rather impressed and did a lot of commenting on the monkey (person in a gorilla costume) and the rabbit (person in a bugs bunny costume).

sam running around super fast in his "supersam" costume.

sam had a really good time with trick-or-treating this year, or at least much more so than last year. he seemed to enjoy running around being supersam, but was mostly interested in all the kids that were showing up at our doorstep and walking around the neighborhood in their fancy outfits.

as far as actual trick-or-treating was concerned, he walked himself to all the houses on our street (i guess that turned out to be about five—mike took him while i manned the door). he was pretty interested in his loot (when it was chocolate), and was pretty certain that his tootsie pop was "daddy's candy". in fact, he didn't really get many things he is allowed to eat, but we swapped some of his contraband for a small bag of m&ms and a roll of smarties that he ate with two-fisted gusto.

the details of sam's superhero costume—side and back view

in general, i was pretty proud of sam's costume. we had the long-john pants and sweatshirt which came as hand-me-downs ($0), i bought the red shorts on sale at target ($1) and two yards of red fabric ($4.50) from the fabric store, the felt was from my stash, and the biggest purchase was the pair of red converse one-star sneakers ($18) from target (which i had planned on buying anyway, because i just adored the pair his cousin oscar had).

we got several compliments on how cute the costume was, and i have to admit, sam makes a pretty adorable superhero (he's been practicing being super cute for quite a while now).


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