Why Mrs. Clause fell asleep at 8:00 on Christmas....


I hope everyone is recovered from all the christmas festivities. I still feel wiped out, working until midnight last night did not help.

We had a wonderful christmas. There was plenty of eating, yummy crab legs and clam sauce; prime rib and roasted veggies and lots and lots of cookies and candy. We are blessed to have family near and visits from those not so close. Maddie had so much fun at her Papa and Gia Gia's that she wanted to stay there on Charistmas eve.
Santa delieverd on the princess calendar and vacuum and Baby Joey was under the tree. They have been enjoying doing puzzles, playing Cranium games-Hullabaloo and Cariboo. I love these games. My favorite part of christmas was watching how excited Annie was to give gifts and not just to receive. She stopped her gift opening to give me my gifts and was thrilled to give the grandma's their handmade goodies. Which I have no picture of, sorry.

It appears that the girls were very good this year because Santa left this in our playroom.

Putting on a show

Click here to see more.

They have definitly been enjoying the Two Sisters Theatre. We have been treated to many shows already. Annie goes right into character when she puts on her dresses and her cousin Ty even joined in on Christmas night.

the show

Santa also brought a nice little handmade stable and fence set.

handmade stable

Nice job Santa.

I need to get back to organizing toys and catching up on laundry... See ya in the new year.

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas....


Lots of holiday activity around here, including my christmas cold.
We've been


Making Kolachkey's DSC04273
Here's a yummy recipe:

Kolacky Dambrowski

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature 2 teaspoons sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 4 sticks (2 cups) butter, room temperature 3 cups flour Confectioners' sugar Preparation time: 45 minutes Chilling time: 4 hours Baking time: 10 minutes per batch Yield: 5 dozen Antonette Clark, who won first prize for these traditional favorites from her grandmother Veronica Dambrowski, says she enjoys keeping a variety of fillings on hand during the holiday season. (The recipe below calls for cream cheese filling.) Other kolacky fillings can be found in the baking aisle at major supermarkets, but any type of preserves also will work well. 1. For cream cheese filling, stir together 1/2 package (4 ounces) of the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract in a small bowl; set aside. 2. Beat together butter and remaining cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, until well combined. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each third in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. 3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove 1 dough packet from refrigerator; roll to 1/8-inch thickness on a floured work surface. Cut into 1 1/2-inch squares with a pizza cutter or knife. Fill each with about 1/2 teaspoon of the filling; fold two opposite corners of the dough over filling to almost meet in center. Place on greased cookie sheets. 4. Bake until golden, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to flattened brown paper bags, which will absorb excess fat; cool completely. Repeat with remaining refrigerated dough in 2 more batches. Sprinkle cookies with confectioners' sugar.


Christmas bag gifts

Gifts for all my nieces. Little bags filled with peg doll pal kits and goodie bags. They were handed out on Sunday and quite loved.



Gift of the music and stories we love for all our friends.



Always good to get the foot in there for help.



I tried to replicate my favorite Choxie Bar- Milk Chocolate with caramel and pretzel... not quite the same.



Not getting very far on that one. The light was all wrong and the girls were not into it.


DSC04263 DSC04311

What's Christmas without a taste or two from the wooden spoon? I hope you all get a few tastes of something yummy and lots of tastes of things that make the holiday season the delightful time it is.

I'm off for more crafting and some resting.....

Advent Garland


We always had advent calendars as kids. I remember picking them up at Alton's Drug Store in the card aisle. They never had candy or treats just a little paper door that opened to reveal a picture or quote. Opening those doors always seemed to make the wait for christmas more tolerable.
Last year someone told me about making an advent garland. We cut 24 pieces of paper and write a special treat for each day on the inside. Annie and Maddie helped me write out the treats. Some say "read a christmas story" or "have hot cocoa by the fire" special days are for a trip to Starbucks, the library or baking cookies. My favorite are the ones Annie chose, "help a friend" and "yodel" and "act like a butterfly" not sure what yodelling and acting like a butterfly have to do with christmas but I'm game.
The best part of this is that the girls can't read yet so I get to mix them up at will. Gotta love being the parent.
Here are some other nifty little advent ideas.

From the fun site Kiddley:

This and This

From Soulemama

From Family Fun:

This and This

From Martha Stewart

More Here and Here

Not sure where I found this but would make a nice advent calendar too.

cute craft

I also thought you could make a nice one with a board some nails and the metal framed hanging tags. Other ideas are little gifts each day or a box of envelopes that have notes or treats. Last one is for the adults in your life HERE.

Only 12 days to go.

boots and tutu's


This is a picture of Annie on her way to ballet class. I love the contrast of the boots and the tutu. Annie really struggles at being a little girl who often enjoys not so little girl things. She didn't know who a princess was until starting preschool.
I try to avoid too many characters in their clothing, books, etc. but at the same time they love the Cinderella movie and want what their friends have. And as Annie pointed out to me during a discussion about how mommy would prefer that we don't do characters for Halloween (hoping to avoid a Cinderella dress) "but mommy Alice from our book Alice in Wonderland is a character, right?" Um, yep you are right dear.
It appears peer pressure and my daughter being smarter than me is coming much sooner than the teen years. I have decided that if I let the girls wear whatever they want (taking weather into consideration) than they will feel confident in their own fashion choices and less apt to fall victim to the pressure that is put on girls.
Who knows if it will work, but it's worth a shot and I rather enjoy seeing Maddie in flower girl dress and jeans and tutus definitely look better with motorcycle boots.

Snow in/Snow Out and Walnut Head


Last week we got our first snow. It is still blanketing everything and has been much fun. My very kind neighbors came and helped me shovel the driveway and the girls have been having lots of snowy fun, both outside and inside.

playing in the snow snow fun

snowing inside

Nothing like bringing in a big bowl of snow to keep the girls entertained for a long while and make a big mess. I gave them spray bottles full of colored water, cups, muffin tins etc. As you can rain boots are a must.

We also spent Sunday putting up our tree. Each year Dan has given me an ornament for Christmas and we always bought one on vacation. Now the girls each get one from Santa and we make one for Dan so the tree is finally starting to fill up. I love taking each one out and remembering where we bought it or the Christmas that I received it.

The first Christmas Dan and I set up a tree we had no ornaments and even less money, so I made all the ornaments and decorations for the tree. The garland was grapevine from the back yard, I hiked through the woods and cut sumac, found bark and milkweed pods and turned all of these into ornaments. We still have some of them, Styrofoam balls covered in pine cones, bark with sumac berries. It was really very lovely and it always makes me smile to think about that Christmas. We were also without an angel for the top (must be an angel). I saw this lovely little folk art angel in a magazine that was made from vintage lac scraps, felt and a walnut for the head. It was $150.00 so way out of the budget. Off I went to Joann's for felt and some lace. I sewed her up, and added the walnut head. I was so proud of her. This was one of my first sewing adventures. I think Dan was a bit worried about what he'd gotten himself into with me. Well, walnut head (as she is affectionately know) is still around(13 years later), her milkweed fluff halo is gone and she could use a bit of fixing but every year she goes up on the tree.


At some point I am sure the girls will beg me for something new, and maybe we will make one together but for now she always represents Christmas to me. Each year one of the girls will finish off the tree by placing her on top and I will remember that first Christmas and how I made her out of love. The simplicity of her materials always reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas. She was the start of our Christmases together and is tucked away each year with anticipation for the Christmases to come.

Happy 10Th Birthday to Teresa my god daughter who has grown to be such an extraordinary young lady.

shopping shopping shopping


I get a wee bit crazy during the holiday season. I spend hours oogling all the lovely toys online that I would love to buy for the girls only to decide that it's too much money and leave all the goodies abandoned in the cyber cart. Well last night I did order a few nice little things from Amazon.com and did a bit more oogling.
The christmas lists are a bit thin and that is making things hard:

1. a Princess calendar
2. a Princess vacuum cleaner

1. a Horse calendar
2. a baby Joey aka Baby Huggums
3. a Zoe doll from Sesame street

That's it and mmm there is no such thing as a princess vacuum cleaner (and Annie hates to clean so I have no idea what prompted this). Problem 2 is that I really try to avoid the whole character thing in general and the princesses and barbie are my two least favorite. So what's a mommy to do? Here I am drooling over the likes of

and my child wants

When I suggested we ask for books or puzzles or games Annie said we could ask for those next year. Ya gotta love that she is not greedy.
When I suggested that maybe one of these would be nice she said "We can make one of those mommy!" It appears all our little projects are starting to have an effect.

Happy shopping.

TuTu's and Tonka Trucks



Finding a balance in life is never an easy thing. Finding a balance in your parenting can be very difficult, particularly with all the differing opinions on how one should raise a child. This morning I walked into the play room to find Madison happily placing dolls in her Tonka truck while wearing her favorite outfit of the moment. (as soon as we walk in the door she strips down and puts this on, at least she doesn't try to wear it out.)
Sometimes it is our children that provide the much needed balance in our lives. I am so glad she feels comfortable both dancing in her TuTu's (one for the top and one for the bottom) and pushing around a big truck.


Hope you find some balance in your day.

new banner


Here is a second new banner. Let me know which one you like.

New look


Allright, it's here my new holiday look. It's been about 9 months since I started this darned thing and I haven't changed my look yet. Blogger just added a new feature which makes changing the look eaiser so look for more changes to come.
I am not particularly pleased with the new look so it may change tomorrow or the next day. This is about as close to decorating for christmas as I have gotten. I did get the house tidied up today so that we can bring the tree up in the morning (my house must be tidied up before bringing up the decorations) and I made Dan leave the tree intact in the basement so I wouldn't have to fluff for hours.
Yes a fake tree at our house it is. For many years Dan and I would go to the tree farm, walk the rows and pick a tree. I would find the perfect tree and he would cut it down. The pain of it all. Each year I got sadder and sadder as we cut down the tree. The last year we went to the farm I spied all these bird nests in the trees and felt horrible. I actually argued with Dan to let me pay for the tree and leave it there, in the ground. I said I would go back every year and pay for it so it wouldn't get cut down. Umm, he didn't really go for it and the next year we were off to American Sale for a fake one. Ugh. I am so torn, I hate the fake tree but can't kill anymore.....
Anyhoo... hope you enjoy the new look and I'll let you know how the decorating comes along.
Must get ready for tomorrow Maddie and I have to don our black duds for an incognito snipping of some sumac and pine boughs to add to the decorations.

birthday present


Tomorrow Annie has a birthday party to attend. One of her preschool buddies is turning 5 and I am trying to make as many gifts as I can. So by combining a bit of this great birthday gift idea from Amy at Angry Chicken with a little bit of this adventure and throwing in a little sewn monogram tote you get a pretty nifty little gift. Tell me what ya think, one may be headed your way this holiday season.


Here is the little "A" bag. I used corduroy and some fabric I bought last spring.


In the bag is a paper bag with blank clothes pins, fabric scraps, ric-rac, ribbon, etc. I drew up some quick instructions and that's it. Annie and Maddie loved making the little dolls and this gift is for Annie's preschool teachers daughter so I think they will enjoy making them also.

I'm not sure if I should add a little bottle of glue and markers or if it works as is. What do you all think?

Well hope you are all having a great thanksgiving weekend. I am off to work soon and Dan is dropping the girls off at Grandma and Grandpa's for the night so he can play cards. They are sleeping over so I may get to sleep past 7:00 a.m. tomorrow. I may just give thanks for that by going out for a drink after work tonight.

Making Pretzels


I am finally up and running again. I still have lots of software to reinstall and we have not recovered the info from our old hard drive. It'll cost several hundred dollars to get it off so we are going to wait awhile. I have learned my backup the hard drive lesson.

Aside from computer stuff lots has been going on around here. I have been finishing off orders from the craft show and have decided not to make an attempt at doing this as a business. Between my job and the girls there was really not enough time and I ended up shipping Dan and the girls off on the weekends so I could sew and that just did not make for good family time. So maybe I'll sell a few things here and there but marytree and co. is officially on hold.

Now on to the fun stuff.

Last week the girls and I made homemade pretzels. They were pretty easy and quite yummy. I used a recipe from Martha Stewart Kids Fall 2004. The recipe is not online but here is a different one.
Making Pretzels

As usual, our pretzels were not all nicely shaped twists but crazy shapes like M's for Madison and Tinkerbell hair buns. It is much easier to just go with the flow on these things then insit we have knotted pretzels. Give it a try.

This morning we were playing with out Breyer horses (one of my favorite toys from my childhood) and decided we needed a barn, so out came the cardboard box and mat knife. I then taped down the backside of some wrapping paper so we could make the pasture and a riding trail. Here is the result.


The girls loved it, especially Annie. I often pull out the craft or wrapping paper for Annie to make her own "play rugs" we have made train tracks and roads, villages for little people and and entire zoo. We can use them for a few days and either roll them up for later or recycle them. It really is a great way to bring an added level to imaginative play and cheap to boot!

And here are a few pics from when the computer was down.

Annie as Alice, Maddie as a bride and the Mad Hatter.


Annie modeling a hat I knitted for my nephew.


The girls with their pumpkins. I gave them scraps of paper and they nailed them on with a hammer. It was very easy for them to nail into the pumpkin and lots of fun. We added pipe cleaners and other bits.


Have a great day and I'll be posting more soon!

comptuter down


Sorry about the lack of updates. My computer had the black screen of death and is still in the process of getting repaired. Our hard drive went out and we are hoping the magic computer man can retrieve the last year and a half of photos


oKAY hopefully we will be up and running soon.

Home for the Holidays..My first craft event.


For any of you all that check in I apologize for my lack of posting things have been a wee bit crazy around here. I am going to be doing my first little craft show this weekend and have been sewing and crafting nonstop for the last few weeks. There was also the surprise birthday party I hosted for my sister (and the recoup to the party) and a few baptisms over the weekend.
I decided to forgo any blogging or much computer time at all because I am an addict and 2 minutes just is never enough so it's better to just say no.

Alright, so here are the details for the show and I will post a few pics now and more later of what I am selling. I will also get a shot of the explosion of fabric and thread etc in my family room.

Sunday October 15th at the Churchill Club Clubhouse in Oswego,IL. 10a.m.-3p.m.
On Bluegrass Parkway just south of Douglas Road (look for signs)

In addition to my lovely crafty goodies there will be other hand sewn gifts,
Lia Sophia jewelry
Tastefully Simple
Little Faces Photography
Traveling Vineyard
Art Kits for Kids & wood working
Close to my Heart
Cherry Hill Jewelry
Pampered Chef
Mark & Alex's Toy Box
Party Lite Candles
Catering and gifts and more.

Click Here for the flyer (thanks brotherhood of the bean.)

We will also be collecting non perishable food items for the Kendall County Food Pantry. Donations will entitle you to raffle tickets for goodies from the show. Our friends at www.brotheroodofthebean.com will be handing out coffee. Yum.

So come buy stuff, drink coffee and say hi.

rocket bag bibs

I'm hitting myself over the head.....


Last year around christmas I had this idea for an ipod for the preschool set. I wanted to call it a TodPod. It would have nice big buttons, be rugged (drop in the tub rugged) and have icons that the preschooler could identify to scroll through songs instead of the names. You could access songs and stories online and download. It would have big headphones etc. I couldn't figure out what to do with the idea. I asked a few family members what they thought. I got hmmm, maybe to that's a great idea, but no one knew how to market it. So there was my little idea festering about in my head all year until today and the commerical and and and and there it was all neat and packaged and with songs and links and ahhhhhhhhhhhhh Fisher Price FP3 Player!

Go, just go ahead and check it out, buy one for all I care, It was still my idea first just because I don't get any royalties doesn't mean can't still take credit for a great idea, right?

TodPod is still a better name and it's mine Mr. Apple Computer you can't have it!

Ahoy Thar Matey!



It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Here are some pictures. I have tried to do this post 3 times and each time it has crashed and not been saved, alas someone does not like pirates. So instead of fancy pirate speak and cute links you get ARRRRRRRGH and some pictures from Annie's 3rd Birthday Party.




Sorry about the lack of posts lately, it's amazing how life (and my renewed friendship with my TV) gets in the way of blogging. Hope to update more soon.

Arrrgh, Matey!


Ahoy thar Matey.
We be wantin' to let thee know that today is
International Talk Like a Pirate Day
and we be wishin' ye a fine day at sea.

We not be wearin' ars seafarin' hearty clothes so we thought ye might enjoy some pictures from Capt'n Annie's 3rd Pirate Party.
We lift a mug of grog to ye and ask ye to check out these fine pirate sites.

Ye Books
Ye Music
Ye Talk
Ye Flickr Group




piratecake Posted by Picasa

New York after 9/11



Before leaving for New York most people would ask "Are you going to ground zero?". After we returned everyone asked "Did you go to ground zero?". My answer before the trip was usually "Um, I think so". As it turns out we did not go to ground zero. Three of the people we were with had already been there and Amy and I were both unsure of how we felt about visiting the site. My initial feeling was that I didn't want that to be part of my tourist destination.
I think that for most people the events of 9/11 come in and out of their lives. I am reminded of the day as I watch the news or see a bumper sticker or always when I see a fire fighter, but it is not something that is always there with me. As I traveled to New York I couldn't help but think more and more of that horrific day. When we drove up Park Avenue I saw the beauty of the city, the vibrancy, a city alive but at the same time I felt as if I was going to visit a widow.
I looked at the skyline and marveled at it's size while I tried to remember where the Twin Towers had stood. I walked down streets taking in the architecture and then wondered if this is where the ash fell and where all those people ran for their lives. One native recommended a trip on the Staten Island Ferry to see the skyline of Manhattan and finished with "of course, the towers aren't there." We watched a protest from the steps of the New York Public Library and watched some take the pamphlets and other shake their heads and walk away. I looked at the subway map and noticed 2 stations were closed, "oh, that's why those are closed."
When visiting that amazing city I felt the constant presence of 9/11 that New Yorkers must feel. Manhattan felt like a giant shrine that honors those that lost their lives and those that have kept life going without their loved ones. We were on a bus heading to the Staten Island Ferry and we caught a glimpse of ground zero. Just that passing view brought tears and emotion. I don't know if I could have managed the full view but I wish I would have tried.

My deepest sympathies to all the families touched by 9/11.

Shazam Anyone?


Tonight at work something happened and I said "Shazam". All the sudden I was about 6 or 7 years old, laying on my family room floor with my brothers watching the TV show Shazam. I asked around and no one a work knew what I was talking about. So I thought I would do a little search and share with those of you old enough to remember. Good old YouTube saves the day.

I do believe this was my favorite show....

and to think I won't let the girls watch Sponge Bob and this is what I watched as a kid.....


And do you remember these lyrics?

Movin' out in a new way!
Movin' out in a new way!
We're gonna turn it on!We're gonna bring you the power!
We're gonna light up the dark of night like the brightestf day in a whole new way!
We're gonna turn it on!
We're gonna bring you the power!
We're gonna tell you the truest words that you ever heard anybody say!
Movin' out in a new way!
Movin' out in a new way!
We're gonna turn it on!
We're gonna bring you the power!
We're comin' down the line, strong as it can be through the courtesy..of The Electric Company!

Check out more at RetoJunk.com

Fair Results Are In!!!!


First off, sorry for the lack of New York posts. It seemed like such a good idea, a whole week of posts, just the wrong week. So I will hopefully play catch-up tomorrow.

Now for the big news on my Sandwich Fair entries...

My two lovely photos didn't win anything. The competition was really very good and I will have to hone my skills for next year.

My Tote Bag did not win any premiums. I may need to start working on a bit sooner than 2 days before it's due next year.

The Wee wonderful Put-Together Book Bunny I made for Annie took 3rd Premium (2 whole dollars) Yippeee. Very exciting.(We are just going to ignore the fact that there were only 3 entries)


The big winner was my molasses cookies with a 2nd premium finish and $5.00 in prize money. Wahoo.
Mine are the yummies on the right. Sorry about the bad picture.

It was really great to participate in this fair. Annie was very excited to see "our" my items on display. I get to check this off my little list of things I want to do in life. I do think I am hooked though and will be entering next year.

We had such a lovely time at the fair, the weather was great, my mom joined us and we caught a bit of the fiddle contest. We even avoided taking the girls on any rides. The animals are always a treat to see and there were some really amazing entries into the open shows. Here are a few pictures. If you get a chance head out to the Sandwich Fair.


My creation