Monday, December 27, 2010

The playmat is a big success!

I hope everyone had a great (and maybe handmade?) Christmas!  Hopefully everyone's grievances were aired properly and massive quantities of refined sugar consumed.

The highlight for me was setting out the playmat on Christmas morning and having my son run out to see it.  He stopped and just took it in.  Then he started pointing out all of his favorite places!

"My house!  D's House!  Cupcake store!  Library!  Fire Station!  Market!  I go to market now, mommy!"  And he handed me invisible fruit bought from the image of the market stand.

I was so proud.  I ended up finishing it with a quilt binding that he unknowingly picked out at the fabric store last week. He told me he wanted something made with orange stripes, so that's what he got.  Here are a few pictures of him enjoying the project!

Also, since I already sell maps over on etsy, I added a listing for a custom play mat over there as well.  Because every kid totally needs one of these!


Monday, December 13, 2010

The playmat has landed!

I am SO excited!  The playmat that I designed for Henry just arrived!  It's a snow (or cold, rather) day from work and he's napping so I ripped open the package and took some pictures of it.  It is amazing.  Yeah, it could use a good ironing but whatever.

The fabric is cotton twill and the cars on it will be part of his Christmas present (he's getting some plan city cars).

I can't wait to give it to him!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Handmade Christmas, part 2

I finally finished up the design for Henry's play mat!  It will be delivered in the next few weeks on a cotton twill that is 58x36 inches.

He saw the picture of it on the computer and got all excited, yelling "Ooo!  That my house!  That library!  That d's house!"

The roads are 3 inches wide and I am thinking of buying a few plan city cars to drive around this town.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Handmade Christmas (part 1-point-something)

I've been thinking non-stop about this playmat idea that I have for Henry.

I am getting more and more excited.  I've been really busy and my scanner has been soooooo slow that I haven't gotten much done on it yet, but what I do have I'm excited about.

I have the base for the streets and green spaces done!  It is to scale at 42x36 inches and each road is 2" wide.  I have draw the library, our home, daycare, the farmer's market, a bakery, a fire station, a park and a few other trees and stuff so far that I need to get placed on the mat.

Here's what I have so far, I'm still making some decisions about which direction things should face.  I'm deciding between having them all face the same way or all face the streets they are on.  So tough to choose!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Silhouettes on iheartfaces

This week is for silhouettes on  Every time I go to this one hill I make people do a silhouette for me.  I have fun editing them later on and it's super easy to turn a silhouette into fun stationary (coming up later on that long list of projects)!

The best part about this shot was how quiet and reserved the little boy was.  Until he found this dandelion!


Friday, November 12, 2010

A Handmade Christmas, part 1

Last year every single gift we gave was made by hand.  From the photographs to the frames we built.  We did a fake wood learning tower for Henry and a felt house.  People got reusable grocery bags and muslin tea bags.

And, frankly, it was a lot of work.

But the principle of it was great and it was a lot of fun.  We're doing a mostly-handmade Christmas this year.

Lowell is building a mini-workbench for Henry and I have been inspired by all of the car playmats.

The time it takes to applique all of the things like Jill did on her blog seems overwhelming.  There are some great fabric ones on etsy where it is one yard of fabric with the pre-made design backed onto a cute print.

But, I think that I will design my own fabric and print it using Spoonflower's printing services.  I have designed fabrics in the past and been pleased with them.  Plus, if I design the fabric I can then make it personalized just for Henry.  It can have his library, Daddy's work, our playground and the grocery store.

I'm pretty excited and realize this is going to be a lot of time in front of a computer designing it!  But, I will be so proud of it when it's done.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

iPhone photography

I've been really busy lately with my photography side business.  I'm madly trying to save for a new camera body.  But, at the same time I'm realizing that gear doesn't really matter.  Photography catches a quick glimpse of something and can tell a story, so what if that story is a bit imperfect.

Most of the pictures I have of my son have been taken on my iphone.  I don't always have time to run back to the computer room, grab my camera, switch out my lenses and attempt to capture something I want to remember.  I might be lying in bed watching Wall-E with him and have my phone on the nightstand and I want to capture something.  Or, eating dinner he is making a crazy face.  So, yeah, the pictures might be grainy and imperfect, but I am still happy to have them.

I'm going to be looking into good apps and exploring more on iphone photography and sharing it here over the next few weeks.  

But here are two imperfect pictures I took using an iphone that I am nonetheless glad I have.  They have been edited, but only on free iphone software, nothing else.

And, since it's my own child, these images are still beautiful to me.  I'm excited to explore some more iphoneography soon!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Hhappy Hhalloween Hhenry!

Here is the simple project I talked about last week. Ok, ok I know that it is not quite Halloween themed, but it is a little bit related. A while back Meghan mentioned that Henry sometimes refused to wear his underwear (he is potty training). She suggested that maybe she should make him some h underwear because he always wants to wear his h shirt. So I beat her to it.


The project was easy. I bought a package of boys underwear from target. I was amazed how hard it was to find little kids underwear that do not already have designs or cartoon characters on them.


Next, I printed out some large h's from my computer. I pinned them to an old t-shirt and cut them out. Then I pinned them to the back of the underwear and sewed them on using a zigzag stitch.


My personal favorite are the black skull pair with the orange letters. Very halloweeney.



You could do this with pretty much any letter, although some would be a little bit tougher to sew on than others.




Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More iheartfaces

I am getting really addicted to

This week is "Pink Week" for breast cancer month.

I hate the stupid memes on facebook about cryptic things that sound sexual but are for "awareness."  Seriously?  That is ridiculous.

But, photos of cute kids in pink?  I'm all about it!

Here's my entry this week!

Relatedly, did I mention that the Down Syndrome network is awesome?  I did?  I'm going to do it again!  I have another photo shoot with a family who has twins where one has Ds in a few weeks.  Totally fun.


Colors of Autumn

So, I decided to go outside and capture three shots:

One looking up (couldn't help but want to do a long exposure and spin around with this one!):

One looking down:

And one looking out:

I think I got a lot of colors of the season.  Another fun thing to share later this week is that our playhouse is getting close to being done for the season and H loves it.  Totally adores it.  He plays in it all the time and really likes the old school plastic kitchen I picked up at Goodwill.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Costumes-Ghost!

Henry wants to be a "Ghote" for Halloween.  Not the kind that says "maaaa" but the kind that says "OOOoooOOOoooooo."

He is super excited about Halloween and understands the concept.  Maybe too well.  I am working on his costume and he wouldn't try it on.  I asked when he would wear it and he told me "to get a trick or treat."

So, I had to bribe him with M&Ms to get him to put the body of the ghost costume on.

Here are some pictures of him trying it on.  It's not done yet, hopefully the voile headpiece that he loves will be pretty easy to assemble.  Right now it consists of running around with transparent fabric over his head.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween Costume


This week we are featuring some Halloween related projects. This is Mary's Halloween costume in progress.

My sister and I planned to work together to make this costume for my niece. However, when she came over to work on it I did not end up doing much except supplying some materials and chatting her ear off. So I cannot take much credit for this one.

When my sister was about two my mom made her a red crayon costume. We thought that it would be cute (and easy) to make Mary a crayon costume this year. We chose Orange because I had a bunch of felt left over from the felt house. You can see the picture of my sister in the early 80's in her costume in the corner of the picture above.

- Laura

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy birthday to me!

I am very excited because I have been dropping hints to my husband for months now that I wanted an iPad for my birthday. After giving me a decoy gift a few days ago, which had me thoroughly disappointed that he did not get the hint, he surprised me with an iPad last night! I am super excited about how much more convenient it is going to be to write blog posts compared to my really old and really slow computer.

I also got a free cookie today at lunch because one of my coworkers mentioned at a restaurant that today was my birthday. So all in all it has been a pretty good day!

I have a simple and fun project coming up later this week so check back soon!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I heart faces-Orchard

It's orchard week at i heart faces.

I love going to our local orchard, and to be honest I wish less people went there because it used to be so peaceful and then everyone realized it's so fun!  Which I guess is good, but I like the solitude.  I need to find a time to go when it isn't so crowded so I can get pictures of my own little boy at the orchard.

Here is a photo of one of the little guys I have been able to take photos of through my new photography business!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Somehow October came up on me really quickly this year!  Weren't we just starting school?

I forget every year what days are the ones when the trees change colors.  Is it October?  November?  Do we snow in November this year?  All of this change is really hard to process sometimes.

But there is so much anticipation with fall.  Waiting to see the leaves turn, choosing a Halloween costume, sewing the costume...

And that leads me to:
My Son Wants to be a Ghost.

How can he be a ghost without looking like a klansman?  Seriously, I think ghost costumes are adorable on little kids, but I also have seen some that forgo the face and put on a white hood.  And that just seems to be a little ambiguious.  Last year his cow costume was mistaken for a rhino, dinosaur, goat, dog (really!? with horns?!).  I want this costume to say "I AM A GHOST!"
I'm thinking a poncho with some gauze?  And maybe a white skullcap?

If anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Oh No!! Not the Gutter Garden!

I live in a condo complex that has three buildings, each with 35 units.  Our board recently changed management companies.  I thought that this would be a good thing because our old company was really bad about responding to residents' issues.  

I guess in the long run it is still a good change, but as you can see this company is way more thorough when it comes to enforcing the rules and dealing with residents' issues.  I recently got this letter in the mail: 

I called the company, and we are not allowed to have anything hanging from the balcony railings, or even on the balcony unless it is patio furniture or has been pre-approved by the board.  The balconies  are considered common areas, and residents are not allowed to make any changes or alterations to common areas.  Apparently the complex is more appealing if everything looks uniform.  I guess that I will need to find a different solution for my gardening needs this spring. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

More Whole Wheat

One whole wheat switch that I have been resisting is pasta.  In the past whole wheat pasta has always been too bland and heavy for me.  Just not the right texture.  

Anyway, I had been resisting the change, but I recently bought some organic 100% whole wheat pasta that claimed to be light tasting.  It actually was much better than I remember the whole wheat pastas of the past being!  But just in case I was planning on trying to add flavor to the dish in other ways.  I also like to try to maximize my vegetable intake at most meals.

My husband does not like as many veggies as me, so I cooked the veggies separately and added them to the sauce at the end.  I put browned ground beef and sauteed mushrooms into all of the sauce.  Then I also added sauteed yellow squash, onion, and red pepper to my sauce.  I topped it off with some Parmesan cheese and some fresh organic basil from my herb garden, and it turned out to be a delicious dinner!

- Laura

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I am a high school special education teacher.  I co-teach mathematics.  The master's degree that I just started working on is in mathematics.  This way I will be certified in both special education and mathematics.  I did not really take any more than the basic general education requirements for mathematics in undergrad, so I was pretty nervous about starting my new classes head first with calculus.

I got my first test back...  90%!  I made a few silly mistakes like converting .036 into 36% instead of 3.6%, but all in all not half bad for a girl without a lot of math background.

- Laura

Monday, September 27, 2010

Homemade 100% Whole Wheat Bread

In my quest to eliminate or at least greatly reduce my white flour and sugar intake I have started making my own 100% whole wheat bread.  I have found that it is hard to find bread that is 100% whole wheat without any preservatives.  The brands that I have found are usually very dense and sometimes a little bit too hardy tasting.

I decided to start making my own so that I will know exactly what is going in to the bread.  However, as always, limited time is an issue for me.  So I found a recipe in the same 5 minute bread book that I posted about earlier.

I would post the recipe, but I do not want to break any copyright laws.  However, the bread has very few ingredients and is simple to mix and bake.  The only ingredients are whole wheat flour, honey, oil, yeast, milk and salt.

I mix up the bread and bake it on Sunday evenings, and then it lasts for the remainder of the week.  I have been experimenting with the recipe a little bit over the past few weeks.  I have added flaxmeal, whole flax seeds, oatmeal, and walnuts.  The flaxmeal I substituted for an equal amount of flour so that it would not change the ratio of dry to wet ingredients.  All of the other items I just added in addition to the regular recipe.  So far all of the additions have turned out fine.  The bread is a little bit dense, but has a great slightly sweet flavor to it.

I am hoping that I can soon start grinding my own flour rather than buying it in bulk from my local natural food store.

It is good with all kinds of toppings. . . 

PB&J, ham and cheese, 

chicken salad,

 avocado and cheese. 

 No matter what kind of sandwich, it makes for a great little lunch! 

Hmmm, I guess that I was feeling very orange today!  

- Laura

Friday, September 24, 2010


My parents are avid bikers.  My mom has been searching garage sales for a bike trailer for my niece for a long time.  I recently saw one listed on freecycle.  Usually any kind of kids stuff goes really fast, so I was surprised when it was still available.  When I picked it up it was a little bit bigger and older than I expected.  From the mid to late 90's.  My mom was a little bit unsure about it because it is open on top which could lead to flying debris.

So then my dad suggested that it could be used for trips to the grocery store.  That did not make a lot of sense for my mom because she would have to ride down a busy street.  I realized that it would be perfect for me!  I live about a mile or so from a forest preserve with about an 8 mile bike trail loop.  At the opposite end of the loop is a small offshoot that leads straight to my local natural food store.  I always felt bad shopping here because this store is about twice as far of a drive as my closest conventional grocery store.  This solves my guilt problem because now I am getting exercise and not having to drive at all.

So last week I strapped my reusable bags into the trailer and headed to the store.  Not a bad view for a ride to the grocery store right? 

It is about a 5 mile ride to the store in each direction.  I made it!

I loaded my bags full of groceries back into the trailer and headed home. 

I am actually kind of looking forward to going to the grocery store this week.

- Laura