Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Project Pinterest: Halloween garland

As I'm spending a lazy (sore and tired, really) afternoon on the couch while Espen sleeps, I thought that I might as well do a Project Pinterest about the Halloween garland we have hanging in our kitchen.

Excuse the weird angle, it's impossible to get a straight shot of this area without getting the lamp involved.

We recently got a color laser printer, and I have been celebrating by churning out all sorts of colored printables. I stumbled across a great birthday bunting/pennant/garland for Nick's birthday a few weeks ago, and quickly found it impossible to live without a festive garland over our dining table. Luckily for me, it's the holiday season, so I should be set through the end of the year at least! Are there any good holidays in January that call for a garland?

Well, after Nick's birthday my hunger for garlands was insatiable, so I hopped on Pinterest and did a quick search for "free printable Halloween garlands", and soon came up with this one from Talk Crafty To Me. It has that slightly retro vibe that I love in my Halloween decorations, and was cute (but not too cute) without being creepy.

I printed it on card stock, and just cut out the circles by hand. It was a bit time consuming (especially when someone kept stealing my stuff to for his "Espen store"), but still easy enough that I could do without too much concentration. Then I just punched two holes at the top of each circle to thread ribbon through. I bought a length of ribbon at good ol' Walmart for less than $2, and that was really my only expense, seeing as I already had card stock at home.



Here's where things got a wee bit tricky: The circles aren't printed in order on the PDF, and the website doesn't show you a photo of the finished result, so you are a little bit on your own as far as positioning things on the ribbon. The text part was of course simple enough (just keep track of your H's and A's, so you can stick to the alternating black and orange pattern), but things took a bit more thought and creativity with the patterned and illustrated circles. I just laid everything out on the living room floor and shuffled it around until I liked how it looked before stringing it onto the ribbon. At this point it's a good idea to make sure your ribbon isn't twisted so the circles will hang flat against the wall.

And then just hang it up! I climbed on the chair in the kitchen and hung it myself at first, but then Nick helped do a little adjusting when he came home. He untwisted the ribbon in a few spots, and then grouped the circles so there was a little bit of ribbon space in between each word and section of circles.

Pretty quick and easy! The printable itself is free, so your only real cost is the use of the printer, card stock and ribbon. The most time consuming part is cutting out the circles, and the rest is honestly done in a few minutes.

I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, and feels like it packs quite a lot of festive punch for something so simple. I also love that it's durable and easy enough to store that I can just plop it in a ziploc bag and pull it out again next year. If you were feeling really fancy, you could laminate each circle before punching the holes to make it really long lasting.

So my verdict is thumbs up for Talk Crafty To Me for this great little freebie, and maybe a tiny thumbs down for not including any photos of the finished result. While putting it together myself was fine, it would have been nice to see what the person who actually created this had in mind. All in all, a good find!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween at our house.

Halloween is only two days away, and we are feeling pretty festive around here, I must say! I've always thought Halloween was fun, but now that Espen is old enough to understand it better and get into the "spirit" of things, this year I'm enjoying Halloween more than ever. He's been excitedly talking about his dragon costume for weeks and weeks, and loves pumpkins and all the "creaky" (creepy) decorations we've been putting up lately. I've always loved a good celebration, so it's been extra fun to have an enthusiastic sidekick to get excited along with me. My two year-old son can say garland! 

I wandered around the house and took a few snapshots of our decorations so you can see how we've been getting our Halloween on:


As you can see (I hope!), we're more into cute Halloween than we are into anything too scary-looking. There's also a solid dose of homemade thrown in, because Espen happens to love "making art", so we try to come up with a project or so every week. You wouldn't see much of it on Pinterest, but it's a good way for us to spend time together doing something we both enjoy. Earlier this month we spent almost two hours painting with water colors, and any parent of a two year-old will tell you how golden that is.

In case you were wondering, the little haunted house, the spider web, the ghost bucket and the kit for the bat pumpkin all came from Target, and I wish they would sponsor me for how much Halloween stuff we've bought from them this year. I found the Halloween garland on Pinterest, and if anyone is interested, I'll do a quick Project Pinterest post about how I put it together. The Witch sign is something I made with friends last year (so crafty!), and don't easily have a resource for. Points to Halloween, though, for coming with a ready-made color scheme! I didn't really notice that everything we have is orange, black, purple and green until I put this collage together, and now I feel totally accomplished.

Now we have one more pumpkin to decorate, and a ghost lantern to hang, and then I think we're ready. And if I can manage to not eat all five lbs. of it by Wednesday, we are set with our Halloween candy too. I'll be back on Wednesday with some photos of our little dragon after we have pillaged the neighborhood for Halloween candy.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 19, 2012

One month and two days to go.

I happened to have my phone with me when I was getting dressed, so I snapped this photo of me and the bump (and our inglorious bathroom) to show you what I look like these days. Huge! My doctor keeps congratulating me on my enormous babies, and I keep thinking he's insane.

What's important is that we're all healthy, and so far, so good. I can't believe we're so close!

Have a good weekend!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy Monday

Before we can go on any further, I have to tell you something: I like Mondays. Mondays feel new and fresh to me, like the start of a brand-new clean week. Sure, I'll be counting down the minutes until Friday like everyone else by Wednesday, but on Monday morning the week is mine, and I am getting stuff done.  Can we still be friends?

Having said that, this is what my Monday looks like right now:

The bump, some knitting, my feet up and a view of the living room that needs to be cleaned up. 
After a pretty productive morning of laundry, bathroom cleaning, laundry and some tomato picking, I am putting my feet up while Espen takes a nap (courtesy of uncle Cody the nap-time ninja). I am working on a blanket for Squiggle, using what has to be the simplest pattern ever. You can find it here, although the picture is rubbish (cute baby, though). There's a much better view over here, at Magweed's Mayhem.  I chose a soft, brown yarn and a very simply pattern, because I feel like Squig's babyhood is going to pink and ruffly enough as it is. The lace edge should add a little feminine touch, though, and it's not like chocolate brown and the inevitable pink don't look great together. Five more weeks, and I'll let you know!

Did you have a good weekend? We had a really great one: Friday was Nick's birthday, so he took the day off and spent the weekend in the loving arms of his family. Friday morning was filled with presents and cake and Nick's requested full English breakfast (not including black pudding, because, eeew), and the rest of the day was spent relaxing and playing at home. It rained pretty hard all day, but that didn't really matter because we just stayed home. Friday night Nick and I got to go on a 4 realz date. We were feeling pretty down with the hipster kids as we ate dinner at Cubby's* (I had the Houdini and loved it as much as the Dragonslayer) followed by a play at the Echo Theatre. 34 years old, you say? We laugh in the face of 34. Other than me being very obviously 8 months pregnant, we were just like any of the other cool couples holding hands in the rain on University Avenue.

Can you tell I'm a little giddy about going on two dates in two weekends?

Saturday was spent on sleeping in (me), breakfast dates (Nick and Espen), and urban living in Salt Lake City. We even rode the trax (tram/trolley) in Espen's honor, and made our pilgrimages to Anthropologie and West Elm like every good blogger should. We also picked up a few things for Squiggle at H&M, and didn't get a jacket for Espen. I won't bore you with the reason why, but suffice to say, I've shopped at H&M my entire life in Norway and loved it, so why does the American version of the store have to make me want to strangle people? (Psst, in Scandinavia at least, H&M has the same coolness factor as Old Navy). After our big city adventure, we rounded off the evening with dinner at the Bombay House. Mmm-mmm-mmm! I swear some part of me has got to be Indian.

And I suppose that now that I appear to be giving you the complete day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of my weekend, I should tell you that Sunday was spent primarily at church, and having dinner with friends from Norway. Espen claimed the spotlight (as he often does) and insisted that everyone play, talk and build blocks with him. Nick and I kicked back, let other people wrangle our child and ate tasty Thai chicken curry.

Seriously, did you have a good weekend? What did you do?


*And here's a blatant plug for my friend Janey's blog, Utah Valley Foodie: Read her review of Cubby's here

Monday, October 8, 2012

And that's how he became the manny

Time for a new picture of these guys!
Taken two years ago before Cody left for his mission. 

I don't think I've told a lot of you yet that we've had an addition to our family recently! Nope, no baby yet (thank goodness, we are so not ready!), but we have acquired a 21 year-old man. Nick's little brother Cody just got back from serving a mission for our church, and is staying with us while he finds his feet (and a job and an apartment) and starts college.

A lot of people have questioned our sanity at having someone come and stay longterm with us just as we're expecting a baby, and we have admittedly occasionally been among them. But as we near the two-week mark, I have to say that this situation has some pretty clear perks. Shall we do a list? Oh, go on, then:

  1. Cody is more than a decade younger than either of us, and infinitely less pregnant, so he is basically always willing and able to help out. Basically, if I ask, he will do it. I'm trying hard not to take advantage of this fact. 
  2. He asks for ways to help out every single day. Which means that he does the dishes, vacuums, mops the floor, keeps his bathroom (shared with Espen) clean and takes out the trash on a regular basis. 
  3. Having Cody take care of a lot of those day-to-day things that have been just about killing me (like vacuuming), leaves me with time and energy to do other things, like spend time with Espen, cook some non-awful dinners or work on other things around the house that need doing, but typically get ignored while I take care of the day-to-day. 
  4. We've also assigned him a dinner night, which meant that last Thursday I got to sit quietly and ready my book while Espen drove cars up and down my legs and Cody cooked dinner in the kitchen. All I had to do was occasionally tell him where to find something. And we're going to do it every week! 
  5. Espen loves his uncle Cody, and Cody seems to be blessed with infinite patience of the variety where he's almost always willing to play cars, wrestle and generally pay attention to Espen. 
  6. He will often keep an eye on Espen while I take a shower or run an errand, which allows me to have my head to myself for a few minutes, and Espen doesn't end up being glued to the iPad. 
  7. When I go grocery shopping with Espen, Cody either comes with us to drive the cart and lift the heavy stuff, or he comes out to help me carry the groceries when I get home. As I enter my 8th month of pregnancy and get out of breath walking up the stairs, you just can't put a price on that kind of thing. 
  8. And he babysits! On Friday Nick and I went on a really real date to dinner and a concert, safe in the knowledge that Espen was with someone we all love and trust, and who even knows how to put him to bed the "right" way. Things like that mean so much to us right now, because we know  that once the baby gets here, date night will be Netflix and takeout for the foreseeable future. 
  9. Nick gets someone to play with too! I'm happy for them to play video games, go to movies and go hiking together, because it let's me curl up with a book or my knitting, which is all I want to do right now. Just because his wife is pretty boring right now, Nick doesn't have to be bored because he has a little brother to play with. 
  10. And finally, there is just something reassuring about having another adult around as we enter the last six weeks of pregnancy. I'm really, really, really hoping that things will stay uneventful, and we won't enter into sitcom territory, but having another adult around significantly lessens the odds of me and Espen entering into any type of labor situations on our own. It's like having an insurance policy that you really don't want to have to use. 
This situation won't last forever, and that's probably a good thing all around. Eventually we're going to need Cody's room to be kid's room, and eventually Cody's going to want to live around other college students, but for now, we're all enjoying the benefits that this situation brings. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Done-list

My kitchen looking close to spotless. Please note that this actually happened.

So, as I might have mentioned a time or two, I've been feeling frustrated a lot lately. Frustrated that I'm not getting the things done that I need to or want to. Frustrated that keeping up with the day-to-day stuff doesn't allow me enough time or energy to move beyond the basics. And especially frustrated that on the one hand my body is telling me that I need to prepare and get ready for this baby, while on the other hand it hurts and gets tired and is getting too big to accomplish the things that feel so necessary.

Do you ever feel like the simple act of walking into a room in your house presents you with a checklist of things that require your attention, time and energy? And every where you go, that list just keeps getting longer and longer. Sigh.

Anyway, what has been really getting to me is the idea that not making it through my to-do list makes me feel bad. Guilty and inadequate bad. Like I'm not doing my job, which makes me feel like I'm letting down my family. Guilt guilt guilt.

Then, on Monday, I had a bit of an epiphany: What if I started keeping track of the things I have accomplished in a day rather than the things I haven't? What if I kept a done-list instead of a to-do list? At the very least, I could do both. So this week, I have at least mentally noted the things I have managed to do instead of simply adding to my to-do list. Want to see?

Monday

  • Weeded and watered the garden 
  • Called Amazon and convinced them to replace a book that was missing 40 pages.
  • Cleaned the kitchen (Remember this?)
  •  Did the dishes (handwashables and all)
  • Helped my Mama book plane tickets for Christmas (Yay! Yay! Yay!)
  • Washed and folded and put away a load of laundry
  • Made our bed (hey, it doesn't happen that often!)
Tuesday
  • Cleaned the downstairs bathroom
  • Washed, folded and put away more laundry
  • Put hall closet back together
  • More dishes
  • Made the bed
  • Ordered a few birthday presents for Nick
  • Took care of a sick Espen all day long. 
  • Made it to my doctor's appointment on time (everything is looking great!)
Wednesday
  • Shopping trip to Target
  • Put away laundry x2
  • Ironed Espen's tiny church clothes ("Today is church? I want to go to church! Please!")
  • Cooked dinner and lunch (pretty unusual for us to eat two hot meals)
  • Made the bed (three days in a row!)
And in between these things I have managed to read my book, do a Halloween craft project with Espen (we are both still covered in glitter), and keep everyone clean, dressed, fed and rested. So even if my to-do list is long (and getting longer), it turns out that I do in fact actually spend my days being somewhat useful. And, honestly, it was kind of an eyeopener to note how much stuff I actually accomplish in a day, but don't count as productive because it's the everyday stuff. 

If you're feeling like you're not getting much done, maybe take a minute or two to sit down and make a list of all the things you actually have done, and I promise you'll feel much better.