Custom wall squares

{custom wall squares}

These wall squares were created for a customer who purchased a clock over the summer. She and her husband attended the Harvest Day craft show in Yardley, PA, where I had a booth for the first time. The clock they have is the one on the upper right, below, and they wanted wall squares to match. {The colors are a little off in the photo below, but they do match!}

{clock display at the Yardley Harvest Fest}

I'm not sure why, but I had not thought of matching wall squares to the clocks before. Seems pretty obvious, though, doesn't it?


Three-cheese veggie quesadillas

My friend Kerry sent me a bunch of vegetarian recipes a few months ago. {Thanks, Kerry! Have any more?} Here's one of my favorites - it's delicious!

Three Cheese Quesadillas

{Serves 4}
1/2 c. grated part-skim mozzarella
1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
2 t. crumbled blue cheese
1 t. olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, diced
6 scallions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. dried oregano
3 T. chopped cilantro
4 large flour tortillas

* Combine cheeses in a bow and set aside.
* Heat oil in nonstick pan over medium heat. Add tomatoes, scallions, garlic and oregano. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in cilantro.
* Remove veggies from pan and set aside.
* Add one tortilla to pan. Top 1/2 tortilla with 2 T. of the cheese and veggie mixture.
* Fold over top of tortilla and cook one minute per side, until cheese melts.
* Remove from pan and cover with foil to keep warm until cooking others.
* Cut tortilla into 3 wedges and serve warm.

Malayna and I went to Trader Joe's yesterday afternoon to pick up the above ingredients so we could have this for dinner last night. As we were checking out, Malayna decided to announce to the cashier {and anyone else who would listen}: "Someone has a baby in her belly! She does - my mommy!" The cashier looks at me and says, "Oh! Do you?" I probably replied a little too loudly that NO! I don't have a baby in my belly. She said, "Wishful thinking, huh?"

In a previous post, k had mentioned that her daughter - who is also 4 - has been talking about babies a lot lately, too. I may have to break it to Malayna soon that she's our one and only!

Anyone else have a little one with baby lust?


Happy birthday, Luco

{Happy birthday, Luco!
Sorry you can't have any of this yummy cheesecake.}

Our big, sweet Luco turned 12 on Saturday. We had a little party for him {yes, we're corny} and invited Aidan, Wendy and Daniel. Really it was an excuse to have them over for dinner, dessert and grown-up talk while the kids ran around, argued, and had messy tea parties. We had sandwiches and cheesecake and Luco had Frosty Paws.

{opening present - 12 tennis balls}

Jimmy and I got Luco one year after we were married. He was the center of attention for a long time, and I think he's still wondering who the heck Malayna is and when she's going back. He was never a very active dog - always content to lie around and chew a bone or two. Even though he's 90+ pounds, he thinks he's a tiny lap dog - squeezing into spaces way too small for him, getting nose-to-nose with whoever is sitting on the floor and jumping into Malayna's baby pool in the summer.

If you happen to come over and pet him, don't expect to stop until you leave. He'll follow you around and tap you with his paw to remind you that he's there. When I was pregnant, he was my protector. He always seemed to be underfoot and the minute I would sit on the couch, he would jump up next to me and lay his head on my lap. It was nearly impossible for me to take him for a walk - the minute another dog would appear he would growl and and go into attack mode {not normal Luco behavior}.

He has slowed down in the past few years. As of a few weeks ago, Jimmy has had to carry him up the stairs at night. Luco will wait for him at the bottom and look up at him like, "could you please help me out?" I try not to think about the inevitable - the day we'll have to say goodbye to him. Especially now. It seems as if Malayna has just discovered that she has a dog living with her. She pats his head and calls him "my sweetie Luco, my sweet boy." She lies next to him on the floor and talks quietly to him. One part of me wishes that she wouldn't like him so much - it'll be harder on her when he's not around anymore.


Those of us who are dog lovers know that's not what we think of when we adopt a puppy. We think of the unconditional love they give us. The way they greet us when we come home {happily - every single time}. The way they know when something is wrong and try to make it better with cuddles and nuzzles.

There's nothing like the love of a dog.

{Luco - twelve years ago}



I received my first email from Malayna today {she's at mom-mom's and pop-pop's house}.




I'm pretty sure it says, "malayna, mom-mom, lisa, jimmy, puppy. LOVE MALAYNA."


3 brothers

I opened Malayna's bedroom door one morning last week and she greeted me with: "Mommy! I'm going to show you the baby brother I want!" She was holding a parenting magazine and quickly turned the pages to one with a dark-haired baby and said, "This is the baby I want for my brother." More page turning.

"This is my second baby brother."

More page turning.

"And this is my third baby brother."

I asked her where they were all going to sleep and she replied, "Pffft. In CRIBS." {I caught a glimpse of her future 13-year-old self.}

"Well, what I meant was - which room will they sleep in?"

"They can sleep in here with me! I will feed them and take care of them. The first baby brother will have a round crib, the second one will have a square crib and the third will have a rectangle crib."

She's got it all figured out.


custom collages

{click on the image to enlarge}

Malayna's little buddy Aidan will soon be four, and Wendy asked me to design his birthday invitations. Aidan loves to sing and play his guitar, so we decided to work that into the design somehow. I created the figure first, with tie-dyed fabric for his shirt and actual denim for his jeans. I then drew the arms, neck and shoes with marker and colored pencils. The guitar and head were printed from my computer and then applied to the collage. I then scanned the figure, opened it in Photoshop, cleaned it up {erasing stray marker and pencil lines} and added the stars, type and background {"happy birthday to me"}. This was a lot of fun to work on. {Thanks, Wendy!}

{poor Luco!}

I got the idea of the collage from last year's Christmas gift for my parents. This one was created entirely off the computer on a canvas which I painted, then used fabric and paper to create a collage. The buttons on their clothing are from my mom-mom's collection {she was a pack-rat just like me!}. See Luco in the corner?

{for Jack's first birthday}

If you'd like to have your own custom collage created, email me at milkshakecrafts @ comcast.net. {Take out the extra spaces.} They make great gifts or a fun addition to a child's room!


lunch and a movie

Yesterday my friend Wendy and I had lunch at our new favorite restaurant - Blue Sage Vegetarian Grille. We had been there once before, and when Wendy said she had taken a day off to get together {with no kids!}, we both knew where we wanted to go. The place is cozy and has the most delicious food. If you're in the Philadelphia area {Blue Sage is in Southampton} I highly recommend having a meal here!

After lunch we saw Juno. Have you seen it? What a great movie! It's funny, smart and the soundtrack was perfect for the movie. One of my favorite scenes is the one in which Juno tells her parents that she's pregnant - especially the part after Juno leaves the room and they talk about what they thought {or were hoping} she was going to say. See this movie!

Do you have any movie recommendations?

On another note, someone requested the recipe for the White Chili I made the other day. Enjoy!

White Chili

2 cans great northern beans, drained
2 lbs. (about 3-4) boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 medium onion, chopped
2 4 oz. cans chopped green chilies
2 t. cumin {I only used one - cumin has a really distinctive taste that I'm not crazy about}
1 t. garlic powder or minced garlic
1 t. oregano
1 t. dried cilantro
14.5 oz can chicken broth
1 c. water {I think next time I'll only use a half cup}

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Brown in oil with garlic. Put everything in slow cooker on high for 5-6 hours. Additional water or chicken broth can be added if needed.

Before serving, add 2-3 T. lime juice.

May be served with:
monterrey jack cheese {this is what I used}

red bell pepper
fresh cilantro
tortilla chips


new etsy shop!

{custom sketchbooks}

I just opened an Etsy shop today. Check it out!

I'll use that space mostly for products I've made in the past {and had listed on milkshake crafts} that I love to make, but just didn't fit in with my website {and where I want to take my business}. Most of the items I'll be listing are ones that customers have asked about {and ordered} after I've stopped making them. So instead of ditching my great ideas, I've decided to have an Etsy shop. There are only a few items there now, but I'll be listing more over the next few days.

I'd love to know what you think!


crockpot recipes

I made yummy white chili in the crockpot the other day, and I realized that I love crockpots! I can start it in the morning and forget about it all day. I don't have to worry about entertaining Malayna at 5pm {not her best time} while I cook.

Anyone have any good crockpot recipes? Or maybe a crockpot cookbook you can recommend?


parenting, judging and supporting

Over the weekend, the three of us went to Ikea. We were in the elevator with an older woman when Malayna asked if this was the Ikea with the balls. (The Philadelphia Ikea has a little area in the bedroom section where kids can play in a ball pit. This one only had a play area where parents can leave their kids and shop alone.) I told her that this store had an area where she could play, but we couldn't go in with her. When I asked her if she wanted to play there, she raised her eyebrows as high as they could go, gasped loudly and said, "NO!! I don't want to go there without YOU!"

The woman in the elevator with us laughed and said, "My son wouldn't go in by himself, either. By the time he was ready, he was too tall." (Ikea has a height limit in their play area.) "Maybe she'll go in there eventually." I told her I doubted it, and she said something about kids having their own personalities and temperaments. I told Jimmy I wanted that woman's phone number so we could be friends. I could call her when something Malayna does annoys me and she could remind me that it's NOT MY FAULT. That she was born with a temperament that I can't change. I need someone to remind me of that daily.

Do you realize how much pressure we put on ourselves and each other about parenting? When you see a child having a tantrum in public do you blame the parent? Do you secretly judge a parent whose child is whiny and clingy? I know I did - before I had Malayna. I had NO IDEA how little control I'd have. I'm not saying I'm a slacker parent. I don't let her do whatever she wants. I try to remember that she has her own ideas and opinions about things. Just because she's a child doesn't mean she's less of a person. I don't like when kids are bossed around "because I'm the parent and I said so." What is that actually teaching them? How is that helping them grow into respectful, responsible adults?

My job as Malayna's parent is not to force her to be something I want her to be. She's not clay - given to me to mold. She is who she is and as her parent I will help her get along in the world.


daddy saw a bear

Malayna has been drawing faces and bodies for a while now. Usually it's from her imagination - meaning she's not copying something she's seen.

{"daddy when he saw a bear"}

She made this drawing a few weeks ago when we were at a holiday party. While she was drawing she told me that this was "daddy when he saw a bear." I instantly knew what she was talking about. We have a few Todd Parr books, one of them being "This is My Hair." Here's the page she was referring to:

She added a few extras - like daddy's moustache and beard. She was so proud of herself when she finished!


a spring day in January

{swinging without a jacket in January!}

Wow. Yesterday was BEAUTIFUL. It felt like spring in January - my kind of day! Malayna and I were happy to get out of the house and go to the park. It seems like forever since we've been outside playing. I'm not a cold-weather person, and Malayna is perfectly content to be inside on chilly days. Needless to say, we don't brave the cold weather to play outside much.

We have a great park that we can walk to, so I uncovered the jogging stroller {nope, I've never jogged with it, and never will}, packed some apples and water for each of us and off we went. As we walked, I wondered if Malayna will fit in the jogger next year. If not, what will we do? Will that be the end of our park walks together? Say it isn't so!

{Malayna in motion.
You can click on any of the
photos to see them larger.}

I had forgotten how wonderful our walks together are. It's just the two of us, talking about what we see and enjoying the fresh air and open space. When we first entered the park, I took a deep breath and told Malayna how much I loved the smell of the park on a nice day. A little while later, as we got closer to the playground, she said, "Do playgrounds have a smell? I can smell the playground! Let's hurry up and get there so I can swing!"

Surprisingly, most of the park is very quiet {even though it's in the middle of a neighborhood with busy streets}. We could hear the creaking of the trees as they swayed in the wind. Malayna said they sounded like they were talking to us, so I asked her what they were saying. Her response was, "I don't know! I don't speak tree!" Of course. Silly me.


custom work

Over the holiday, I made a few custom pieces - some to give as gifts and some that customers had ordered. I always make my parents something for Christmas, and it's usually created on Christmas Eve. I have to wait for the ideas to come, and luckily this one came before 2am. You can't force creativity!
This "frame" is fairly large - it measures 10x16, has three 4x6 photos, my custom-made paper and a quote about grandparents: "What children need most is what grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies." {Quote by Rudy Guiliani.} There's a picture-hanger on the back so it can be hung on the wall.

Of course it made my mom cry. If you knew my mom, you would know that making her cry isn't very hard to do. It's my goal at Christmas, Mother's Day, and her birthday - make her a gift that sends her running for tissues. She starts before she even opens the present!

I would like to create something like this for milkshake crafts, but the fact that the photos aren't covered with anything bothers me a little. But I'm stuck - I don't know how or with what I'd cover them. A thin piece of plastic? Plexiglass? I think glass would make it too heavy.

What do you think? Any ideas for how I can protect the photos?


just a teeny bit defiant

First, let me say that four is better than three. Anything would be better than three. Three was tough. I know I've said all this before, but I don't want you to forget how Malayna wouldn't leave the house for an entire week last winter (because it SNOWED), how she would yell at strangers when they looked at her, how she refused anything new or different, how she clung to me during all her waking hours...

So her new phase is nothing compared to previous ones. So far. Lately she's been a teeny bit defiant. When it was time for her rest yesterday, she decided she wanted to play with paper dolls. I told her she could play with them when her rest was over, but apparently she didn't like that answer. She told me, "No, I'm going to play with them NOW." And sat down at the dining room table, ready to play. She was so sure of herself and had such confidence in her little voice! Jimmy and I looked at each other in surprise. Where did that come from? Before I could answer her, Jimmy told her that it was time for a rest and that the paper dolls would be there when she came down. She whined a little, but she did go along with it. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work when I do the same. Is it the deep male voice that makes her comply?

I'm pretty sure this new phase is about control. Along with the defiance, she's also been telling everyone around her what to do. We even have a new nickname for her - Scorsese {as in the director Martin}.

It looks like it's time to break out one of my favorite books - How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. Have you read it?



Click here to see some Christmas photos!


back from a long break

{birthday morning}

Happy new year! I hope you all had a great holiday. We were very, very busy around here - celebrating Malayna's birthday, going on lots of outings, and having a fun Christmas. I'll start with the birthday...

Malayna was very excited this year. The first thing she said when she got up that morning was, "Am I four yet?!" Four has already been so much better than three. Three was tough - lots of insecurities, not wanting to go out, rejecting new experiences (that has only changed slightly), and many days of grumpiness. She's mostly happy these days, gets excited to go out, and has stopped yelling at people who try to talk to her. Yay for four!

{Malayna, mom-mom and the new twins}

Mom-mom and pop-pop, Aunt Michele, Uncle Pat and Sean, Uncle David, Aunt Maria and Jack, Wendy, Daniel and Aidan and grandpop and me-mom all came over that night to celebrate our girl's special day. She was excited to see everyone and received lots of gifts. {Yep, more baby dolls were added to her collection that day.}

{Aidan, the twins and Malayna}

All the kids {and pop-pop} had a good time with the gift from Uncle David, Aunt Maria and Jack. They gave her a toolbox filled with painting supplies - brushes, stencils, paint and sponges. Look how much fun pop-pop had.

{I know I will have to pay dearly for posting this picture. It's worth it.}

{Jack enjoyed the cupcakes...}

{...so did Aidan.}

Happy, happy birthday babycakes. Those four years went by so fast. Can we stop time right now?