Sunday, December 15, 2013

St. Lucy's Day

This our first St. Lucy Day with Little Miss. In the future I hope to dress her up in the white nightgown, red sash, and illuminated crown. But for now I have my Star Boys to help me serve breakfast in bed. This year the celebration fell on the same day we are hosting a third birthday party. I took a few short cuts, like no pretty greenery or linens to decorate our breakfast tray. Our tray is beginning to get crammed with coffee, tea, and hot chocolates. If only I could find the box that has all our other serving trays!
I found this little St. Lucia doll in a catalog and just had to have it. I think she complements our breakfast tray nicely.
Another short cut this year was not making luscatore from scratch.  I had purchased these caramel rolls as part of a fundraiser for my mom's school district and decided they would be an easy baked good to prepare. Hopefully I'll have more time to make luscatore next year.
The breakfast tray in bed with 3 children is always a bit precarious.  We definitely end up with crumbs afterwards.
 I read aloud from A Surprise for Kirsten about celebrating St. Lucia Day in Sweden. This year the children actually paid some attention to the story.
 Baby Boy strips down to his birthday suit at nearly every opportunity and this was no different. He especially enjoyed the hot chocolate.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Visit from St. Nicholas... and snow!

It is a little challenging doing St. Nicholas Day in the morning now that we have school age children. But I think it is worth it to keep this celebration separate from Christmas Day. Everyone heads down stairs bright and early to see what St. Nicholas has left in their stocking. 
Peeking through the portiere.
Baby Boy was mystified by what had happened to the cookies they left out.
"What happened?!?"
"It's a mystery...!" I was nearly cried from trying to stifle my giggles.
Meanwhile, Little Miss was content to play with her spinning toy.
Daddy got his traditional bottle of Samiclaus beer, which is only brewed once a year of St. Nicholas Day.
And the children got some movies in their stockings. Our Little Helper helped Little Miss with the contents of her stocking.
And as a special St. Nicholas Day miracle, it snowed!!!The boys were so excited to watch the snowflakes falling. It wasn't enough to have school canceled though.
Little Miss just loves to watch her big brothers.
getting all three of them to look at the camera at the same time to pose for a picture is an exercise in futility.
I also got my St. Nicholas needle point project back from the finisher in time to display with my collection. I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Count down to the birthday party

After Thanksgiving most people are prematurely celebrating Christmas. But in this house we are all about the count down to the Rocket ship birthday party. This party theme is based entirely on the plates I bought a couple years ago at Target. Outer space decorations abound so it has been pretty simple to collect things we need over the last year. (Yes, I picked his 3rd birthday theme before I had his Sesame Street birthday last year.)

Michael's sells unfinished birdhouses shaped like rocket ships so I planed long ago to incorporate them into the centerpieces. In all my sleuthing online it seems like everyone else uses these little wooden rockets too. I've primed these and am beginning to paint them similarly to those on the plates.
My preliminary plan for invitations was stylized rocket ship stickers on stationery, basically what I always seem to do. But Our Little Helper is so artistic and loves to draw. He presented me with a drawing of a rocket ship in outer space which included an astronaut tethered to the ship. And he composed the drawing so wonderfully with a border with Saturn, Jupiter, Earth, and the moon. I fell in love with it and thought it would be the perfect artwork for the party invitations. Mr. W added the lettering.
With a December birthday we have to hold the party indoors so I try to make up for that with the decorations. I ordered paper lanterns in varying sizes here and we are going to add some paint and tissue paper to create some texture to make them look more planet-y.  I think my MIL sent this set of poster paints when Our Little Helper was 3 and I never really let him use it.  So today was a big event since they got to use ALL the paints!
 This one will be Saturn.
 This largest lantern will be Pluto.
So much paint!!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

St. Andrew's Day

In honor of St. Andrew's Day I had a little afternoon tea party with my boys.  One of my great aunts had quite a collection of Scottish inspired linens and I ended up with them.
A couple of the luncheon size napkins, each is different but most have thistle, heather, or tartan ribbon.

I've also begun to collect some Lucky White Heather souvenirs. This small pitcher started my collection. I found it at an antique store in Eureka, California during a road trip. The footed dish I got on ebay and used as a sugar bowl.
The table square has thistles and sprigs of heather embroidered on it.
Oh how I love a cuppa tea. I just served store bought shortbread cookies with lemon curd. The boys had hot apple cider.

Mr. W read aloud from the book Wee Gilles, about a boy who learns to play the bag pipes. Our Little Helper has begun taking highland Dance classes this year. I was able to find a teacher who had another boy the same age starting at the same time. That has been immensely helpful in keeping my son motivated to participate. He does not like to be the only boy in any situation. He tells me he really enjoys it, what little boy wouldn't enjoy hoping around swords?  His teacher recommended we attend a dance competition recently, there were a few boys competing in that too. He's getting exposed to lots of Scottish heritage, mayhaps he'd be interested in learning to play bag pipes himself?

Later in the evening Mr. W had some friends over for a Scotch tasting. He did one a few years ago. I'm not a Scotch drinker myself so I have the opportunity to catch up on my Netflix movies.
He puts on a nice spread of cheeses, cured meats, pate and nuts. This year he ordered Scotch eggs to go from The Horse Brass and re heated them in the deep fryer. I made a baked brie which I filled with fig jam made from figs from our tree.

Friday, November 29, 2013


Mr. W and I have hosted Thanksgiving so many times now that we run like a well oiled machine.  Our menu doesn't change much:
  • Cranberry daiquiris
  • Appetizer of guest's choice
  • Butternut squash soup w/ cornbread
  • Barbequed turkey and gravy
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Corn
  • Brussel's sprouts
  • Gr Grandma's green beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Dinner rolls
  • Candied nuts
  • Stuffing of guest's choice
  • Brandy pumpkin pie
  • Pecan pie
  • Apple pie
  • Berry pie
In the interest of keeping people out of  the kitchen, I set up the cocktail station in the Drawing Room. My decorating theme this year was children's artwork, so hand turkeys and painted mini pumpkins abound.
We were having 15 for dinner, and rather than setting up an auxiliary table in the Parlor, we decided we could set up his and hers tables in the dining room so everyone could be together. This is Mr. W's table, two out of 3 little boys sat here.
 My table was longer and held all the older two generations. Wow, four generations in one room to celebrate the holiday. I have a lot for which to be thankful, in spite of all the loss.
 Nothing beats a boy in a bow tie.
 Mr. W, master griller.
 Continuing on a theme of meats without utensils...
This is as good of a photo as I'm going to get of a 6 yr old and nearly 3 yr old. I've got to learn to take these photos at the beginning of the party...before I give them desserts.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Decent Proposal

My mother has offered us an enormous gift. She will be giving us a sum of money to use toward reupholstery and wall papering, projects she knows are way down on our list. It is a little morbidly inspired, but she would like to be able to see what her money is going toward rather than waiting until after she is dead. I think that she likes projects just as much as I do so she is also looking forward to being a part of the process of picking things out. She has two caveats though. One is that we need to strip the wallpaper from the playroom upstairs, the second is we need to recover the two wing back chairs she gave us which are in our Family Room. She wanted to pay to have them recovered when she first recycled them to us, but we declined that offer since we felt the children would trash them anyway. Her new theory is that we ought to recover them with the consideration that this will be a short term fabric. Something to get us through the next 10 years and then we can recover them again. That made a lot of sense to me, so while I worry what destruction the children will cause, I ready to go for it.

I had already ordered a lot of wallpaper last year as inspiration for picking the exterior paint scheme.  I pulled those out and Mr. W and I began the process of selecting our favorites for different rooms. I think with our budget we can repaper the Parlor, Family Room, and Dining Room, and strip and paint the Play Room and Study. Mom also wants us to purchase a china hutch so we can unpack all of our boxes of dishes and serving pieces still lingering in the basement.

The original Povey window of a bird in flight (Portlandia has been putting a bird on it since 1890) has partly inspired me to create a peacock blue Parlor. The turquoise blue in the background and in the jewels in the scallop shell/shield in the other window are about the right blue. My other idea was to do a dogwood motif, since there dogwood flowers in the transom in the bay as well as a dogwood tree planted just outside. Mr. W liked the peacock blue idea though. We settled upon the Bradbury & Bradbury Anglo-Japanese Roomset in Eucalyptus.

We'll go high Victorian in the Parlor and use every paper, dado, fill, frieze and a 3 papered ceiling. This is what it will look like with all the papers line up. It even compliments our Oushak rug from our trip to Turkey. When I was just dreaming about wallpaper for the Family Room, I noted that our picture rail is set at 14" below the ceiling in every room. This creates a problem since the bird frieze paper in this set is 24". If we trim off the top and bottom bordered we can get to 14".  
 What to do with all that wasted border paper? While brain storming how to treat the walls in the Entry, which has an even smaller frieze at 10", I realized I could stack the trimmed border pieces and run them above the picture rail. Among the ceiling papers is the Valencia Panel, which has oranges cascading from a vase. That comes two to a sheet. If I order one of those and center it one opposite walls in the entry I can add a little interest to the frieze.
She and I drove around to several fabric stores over the weekend and I brought back my favorites to see them in the space and get Mr. W's input. Since our new sofa will be brown, green is the best choice for the wing back chairs. From these three options:
Mr. W and I favor the green counterpane. It is all natural too, a cotton & linen blend. It was in the middle of the price range, but had a 15 yd minimum.  That wasn't a problem though since I need 14. I can use the surplus to make throw pillows for the new sofa.

Mr. W wants to configure the location of the television in the room and run speaker wire under the wall paper. We drew up some schematics and there just doesn't seem to be a place for my Amanda chair and ottoman. I can substitute my Eastlake arm chair for it and place it next to the fireplace, I'm not sure how comfortable that will be for me long term, but I have been thinking it would be nice to include one period, wood frame chair in this room, especially with the new mirror. It would help to break up all the upholstery and modernity. Here are the fabric options. Mr. W had some visceral reactions to some of them. (He hates my second choice!)
My first choice is the 3rd option, and he likes it too. This is so exciting!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Closing a dooor

Volunteers of America is coming by today to pick up our donations and I put out all my maternity clothes. Even though I definitely don't want to go through fertility treatments, pregnancy, and cesarean sections again I'm feeling a little sad. It seems so final. And all those memories!  It took all my will power to not go out on the porch and bring the bags back inside.  And later in the afternoon when I realized they were gone I got a little sad again.

And just for fun, here's the tally of what I wore over the course of 3 pregnancies, (2 summer and 1 winter due dates):

(1) rain coat
(27) tops
(9) pants
(3) skirts
(6) dresses
(3) sweaters
(5) pajamas

Today is also Martinmas so it seems appropriate to be giving away clothes in honor of St. Martin who gave away his cloak to someone in need.

Monday, October 28, 2013

PIstachio and Plum Nursery Reveal

I finally had a chance to take photos of the nursery. The framed Kew Garden print was finally finished right around the time I received the vinyl wall decal and the glider. A lot has come together in the past few months to create this unisex cum feminine nursery. What started out like this in April is now complete. This is the view that greets you at the door.

The dresser and crib are on the same wall, this is configured a little differently than when the boys shared this room.
When we began this nursery we didn't know what the sex would be. If she had been a boy I would have added purple elephants. But since she is a girl I'm doing a flower theme, hence the violet doily and tea pot. Mr. W brought the leather kangaroo back from a business trip to Japan. I've been coveting this Big Ben alarm clock for a long time for myself, but realized it would be perfect in the nursey. Moms always need to know how long they have been nursing!
A closer view of the wall decal. I know I'm late to the wall words trend, but it didn't seem to work in the bungalow, and there wasn't enough vertical wall space in that nursery.  I ordered this decal in plum and  I was able to reuse these wall plaques (from SL@H) which were a gift from a friend.
This is a nice view in which you can see how the crib skirt matches the extra hem we added to the curtain. My friend randomly gave us the crib sheet since I didn't register for a 3rd child. It fits perfectly!
We were able to put the changing table along this wall on it's own. A friend bought this pansy painting for me when we were in college, and now it works perfectly in the pistachio and plum nursery.
My nursing station. The new glider finally arrived as well. The plum color ties in with the curtain fabric and gives a great pop of color against the wainscot in this corner.

I'm so glad we decided to buy a new chair for the new nursery. It is very comfortable and I love that it spins. It makes it so easy to turn to reach a cup of tea or whatever I need from the side table.
A view back toward the door. The one thing I have yet to do is strip the paint from the transom window. I never climber a ladder near the end of the pregnancy to clean now who knows when I'll have time.