Kid Portraits

One thing I learned in making these portraits: I am better at drawing than I am at painting. The skin tone was excruciating to achieve, and I had the unnerving feeling that I was applying makeup to dead people. That difficulty of creating a natural skin tone on something the exact opposite of “life-like.”  Very. Hard.

I would love to take a painting class sometime when I have time.

This is how they turned out. I still think they’re cute, despite their flaws, and maybe because of them.

(with this first one I forgot to take a picture of the drawing)

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One more thing about drawing my own kids: each drawing took a couple hours, and I would just sit and listen to music while staring at photos of each kid. It turned out to be a kind of meditation as I focused on the curved lines, the slight tilt of the eyes, the subtle differences in the shape of each face, and every little detail. Drawing each child helped me see them with fresh eyes and gave me new appreciation for each one.

I enjoyed this project so much, I have plans to redraw each one with charcoals and a painted background.


Homemade Dog Shampoo?

I haven’t posted anything for a long time. My 2014 idea to post something to this blog every week has not turned out as planned, although I must say I’m not surprised. Even though I have already forgotten most of my goals for the new year, I am still working on a couple of them (more on that in a later post).

A failed creative attempt:

DIY dog shampoo. I tried a recipe on-line, because I wanted to wash our dog without having to go to the store to buy special dog shampoo. It turned out smelly, didn’t lather (I know a lot of homemade soaps don’t lather, but it was hard to wash the dog because I couldn’t spread the shampoo around), and I ended up just buying some after this failed enterprise.

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There’s the gross dog shampoo. And there is the dog (I had fun playing with the image in photoshop).

Has anyone ever made their own shampoo or pet shampoo? Do you have a favorite recipe?

BTW, this recipe used castille soap, vinegar, baking soda, and water.

Sock Animals


Here are a couple sock animals I made. They are very simple to make, and require only basic sewing skills (my type of project). There are many tutorials online. For the dog I used Martha Stewart’s how-to, and for the cat I checked out an amazing book from our local library. You really should check out the incredible creations by Daniel in that book. But I found online instructions here for you.

The dog actually rattles. My sister-in-law gave me a tip to put a plastic Easter egg filled with beans inside the dog. (I taped the egg shut, of course.)

Some process photos:

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I had a lot of fun making these. It’s great to do when your kids want you to sit and watch a movie with them that you’ve already seen 20 times. Or if you have kids that enjoy sewing, it’s a perfect gift for them to make for younger siblings, cousins, etc.

Newspaper Planters

February can be a difficult month–spring still seems like only a dream, and where I live there is almost constant inversion. One great thing to do this month is to plan a garden. Seeds for cool-weather plants can go into the ground mid-March, and some (peas and spinach) can go in even earlier. And if you have a sunny window, or if your neighbor lets you use hers, you can plant seeds for warmer months right now. 

Here is a neat trick that I learned from a very wise woman in my neighborhood. Instead of buying planting trays to do your starts, you can make them very easily out of newspaper and a bit of tape.


I tear the newspaper into strips (a full spread would be torn into 4 strips, with each strip folded in half lengthwise). Just wrap the newspaper around any cylinder, around 3 inches diameter. I use a short length of PVC pipe. Leave a couple inches of newspaper hanging beyond the cylinder. 

After it’s wrapped, fold the overhanging newspaper so that it forms the bottom of the little planter cup. 

Use a bit of tape to secure it. 





 You can make these pretty quickly. I made these while my daughter watched cartoons. Superbowl half-time activity?

When you’re ready to plant seeds, fill each cup with potting soil, plant your seed, and place the newspaper planters on any kind of plastic or metal tray.

Keep the soil moist. If you see the newspapers dry, you’ll know your little babies need more water. 

I’ve ordered my seeds, made my garden plans, and can’t wait to begin planting!


DIY Valentine Decor


Use stuff you probably already have for these 2 fun Valentine creative fixes!

1. Valentine Hanging Hearts Door Hanger 

You will need: 

  • strips of fabric (about 1 to 2 inches wide)
  • needle, thread (or sewing machine)
  • hot glue-gun
  • cardboard
  • yarn

First, cut out heart shapes from pieces of cardboard.

Now, cut long strips of fabric.

Next, sew a long gathering stitch, length-wise, along center of strips.

Gather strips by pulling gently on thread while bunching up the fabric.

Use your hot glue-gun to attach gathered fabric strips to hearts.

Finally, glue yarn on backs of hearts to hang. 




2. Valentine Tree

This one is so simple, you probably don’t need instructions, but just in case:

You will need:

  • thin cardboard (i.e. cereal boxes)
  • tin foil
  • needle, thread

First, cut out a bunch of hearts (all sizes).

Next, cover them with tin foil (no tape or glue necessary).

Use needle and thread to poke hole in hearts and make a hanging loop on each one.

Make the tree by finding bare branches and arranging them in a container you like. Fill the container with as much branches as you can so that it looks more full. 

ONE TIP: I started off using embroidery thread to hang the hearts, but decided they looked prettier hanging with thread that you can’t see.

Voila! So simple, so quick. Have your kids help you–add some cookies and turn it into a Saturday afternoon activity!