Fears of a four-year-old

Malayna has recently become afraid of thunderstorms. After lots of listening and hugs, we finally figured out that what's really worrying her is the idea of the power going out. It happened right before we went on vacation in June - the power was out for hours, and we all slept downstairs, in the heat, with Luco panting all night. Not fun. Oh, there was also the time tree limb fell on our house during a storm. Also not fun.

She has always been a great sleeper, but lately she's been tossing and turning and worrying about thunder and her nightlight going out. After a few worried nights, we came up with a solution. I put one of those window candles in her room - it takes batteries, so all we have to worry about now is the battery dying (hehe). She also has a little lantern her friend Lily gave her that she can keep next to her bed. That way she can control turning it on and off. It seemed to work last night, but there were no thunderstorms. I told her that if the power does go out, that I would come to her room and get her. I also told that if she hears thunder and gets scared, she can call me and I'll come give her some hugs.

This happens often - just when I think I have her all figured out, she surprises me. Sure does make life interesting!



When we first got Luco, Jimmy and I used to take him to Evansburg State Park. It's beautiful there - lots of trails in the woods, people riding horses and a creek for exploring. We thought Malayna would love it, too. She did - for the first half hour. After that, she was "tiiiiiiirrrrreeeed." But I didn't take pictures of the tired child - just the happy one. Maybe we made her walk too far. Maybe it was too hot. Maybe she really was tired. Who knows. I guess we'll have to wait a little while until we take her on another hike.

{My guest post is up on Scoutie Girl today.}



Head on over to milkshake crafts, enter code "summer08" during checkout and get 15% off your order!



Guest blogger day and upcoming show

Wednesday is my official guest blogger day at Scoutie Girl. When Jan asked me if I wanted to write for her blog, I originally thought that finding wonderful, different art by independent female artists would be easy. Ha! I'm slowly building a list of bookmarked sites to feature in the future. Do you know of any fabulous, undiscovered artists? If so, please email me at milkshakecrafts at comcast dot net. Thank you!

On Friday night I'll be participating in a Vendor's Night Fundraiser. In other words, someone is holding a show in their home and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Leukemia Society. I did a home show back in May, and I was one of only a few with handmade items. I thought that would work against me, but it didn't at all! I did better at that show than I have at a few craft shows I've done. I was surprised that a lot of the customers didn't even know that my items were handmade. The big difference between the home show and craft shows is that I mostly took orders at the home show and I take almost no orders at craft shows. I think it was because all the other vendors were the type that don't do cash and carry - you have to place an order. I think I'm the only one with handmade stuff this time, but hopefully it won't make a difference this time, either!

The info for the show is in the flier below {click the image to enlarge}. Come by and hang out with me! {Pssst: there's a happy hour!}



I did some drawing in my sketchbook yesterday. I've always loved drawing, but I really don't do it as much as I should. It's one of those skills that you really need to keep working on. When I was in college I was sketching every day {and I was good at it}. Now? Not so much.

Malayna and I went to the park around the corner. It's one of my favorite places - it's wooded with a small lake, a mini-golf course, 2 playgrounds {shaded and surrounded by trees} and a small pool for kids under 5. There's also a trail around the park, which we usually walk if the weather is nice.

{The lone swimmer - for a little while, anyway.}

We packed some snacks, a towel, a few pool toys for Malayna and a sketchbook and pencil for me. Since she's much more interested in playing with other kids than playing with me, I was able to sit on a bench and sketch. I used what was around me for inspiration - the chain-link fence, a leaf Malayna found, her ponytail, the tiles in the pool. I wasn't going for beautiful illustrations here - just quick sketches to get my creativity going.

You may be recognize some of these little sketches in future patterns!

{Quick sketches.}


Belmar Beach

Jimmy, Malayna and I drove to Belmar Beach on Saturday. We had never been there before, but since it was only an hour and twenty minutes from home, and we were just going for the day, we decided to give it a try. We usually go to Cape May, but that drive takes over two hours. Belmar was okay - we had a great time - but we won't go back. The beach seemed a little trashy and the sand was kind of yellow instead of the nice white sand in Cape May. There were lots of twenty-somethings in bikinis and not many families. Malayna didn't even notice - she had a good time all by herself. She found a ladybug {on the beach?!} and spent most of her time building a house for her and keeping the ocean away. Next time we may just spend an extra half hour, drive to Cape May and stay over for the night. That way we'll have TWO days on the beach!


Photo Friday

A few highlights from our week:

{Painting birdhouses with Aidan. No clothing = less mess!}

{Click on the photo collages below to enlarge them.}

What are your plans for the weekend? We're thinking about going to the beach tomorrow, since it's supposed to be around 100 degrees here. Any weather is tolerable as long as you're sitting in the sand and looking at the ocean, right?



My niece, Davyn, was baptized this past weekend. Since my brother David and sister-in-law Maria asked me to be her godmother, I knew I'd have to make her something special.

I had a great idea, and needed Malayna's help for part of the gift. I asked her to draw a picture for Davyn - I gave her no ideas and no direction. She drew a portrait of an extremely happy Davyn, complete with a cute little belly button. I took her drawing, made a copy, and shrunk it to the size I needed {about 9x9}. I outlined the copy with black marker and placed it under a piece of 10" square fabric. I put both pieces on top of a light box and transferred her drawing to the fabric with a marker. I spent the next few days embroidering Malayna's drawing of Davyn. It really doesn't take that long - I just did it while watching TV or while Jimmy and Malayna played and colored. After I was finished I framed it.

{embroidery in progress}

{finished product!}

They loved it and Malayna was so proud of her drawing. Her favorite parts are the blue eyes. Mine is that little belly button.

In other news, my first guest post for Scoutie Girl debuts today! Starting today, I'll be a guest blogger for Jan once a week. Go check it out!



Ever since she could hold a crayon, Malayna has loved drawing. Her latest obsession is with coloring books. As an artist, I don't really have much against coloring books - as long as other materials {blank paper, paints, markers, clay, etc.} are made available. There's something a little therapeutic about coloring inside the lines. I used to love coloring books as a kid, and would outline things in thick black crayon {turns out Jimmy did the same thing when he was little}.

Malayna and Jimmy like to sit at the dining room table and draw things they see. We have a one-and-a-half year old blue beta fish on the table named Mica. Here's a {blurry} picture of her:

And here's Malayna's interpretation of Mica:

How awesome is that?! I love that she's looking at things and putting them on paper and that you can tell what it is! I know, I know, making art is about the process, not the product. But it's still amazing to watch your child's little hands recreate the scene in front of her.

I don't do much drawing around Malayna, which I know I need to change. So yesterday we sat together at the table, and while she worked in her coloring book I started a drawing that I've been meaning to get on paper for a few weeks.

When we went to Cape May, Malayna collected bucketfuls of shells, stones and even a piece of crab shell. That piece of shell has been sitting on the table since we got home because the pattern is incredible. I've been wanting to draw my own pattern based on the real one. Here's my work in progress:

And here's my inspiration:

I've started on another pattern based on a leaf I photographed at Tyler Arboretum the other day. I have no idea what kind of leaf it is, but maybe when I'm finished one of you will be able to identify it for me. I've taken photos of leaves and flowers in my own garden, and will eventually turn them into patterns to use in my clocks and stationery.

Now if I could just get about 12 more hours in each day…


Our weekend in pictures

We had a long, fun weekend. How about you? {Okay, so the entire weekend wasn't fun. Malayna was acting like a crazy person on Friday afternoon. We had a barbecue for the Fourth, and people were splashing in the pool. Splashing in the pool?! What were they thinking? Apparently she doesn't like being splashed, and it set her off. She was a grump for pretty much the entire afternoon. Fun!}

{Coloring outside after swimming.}

{Neighborhood parade on the Fourth.}

{Day trip to Tyler Arboretum
in Media, PA.}

{Hatching an egg is hard work!}

{Pushing daddy. The hammocks are an exhibit
at Tyler called "Hanging Out."
We could've spent all day here!}


{View from the hammock.}

{She did this over and over and over and over. And over.}


New ideas

{idea #1}

It turns out I really WAS inspired by my trip to Chanticleer! I haven't really had the urge to create anything new so far this summer, but last night I felt the need to get a few ideas down on paper {er, I mean, on computer}.

I think I'll offer these as desk clocks, or maybe even 8" wall clocks. I haven't played around with these designs, so I may need to do some tweaking before I print them.

{idea #2}

I know the bird thing has been done {over and over and over}, but this idea has been in my head for a while and I had to get it out! I don't usually like following design trends. However, I have quite a few bird feeders around the yard, so bird-watching is a daily thing around here. Do you think I need to make the birds the correct colors? In other words, if I use a cardinal, should it be red? Should the orioles be orange and the sparrows brown?

Sometimes I feel like I'm creating designs in a vacuum since I work from home, so I welcome your opinions! What do you think? Do you like the colors? Would you like to see other colors? I don't usually THINK about the colors I use - I just go by instinct and what I think feels right for the design. However, I realize I may be a little more adventurous with colors in my home than most people are. Would you put these somewhere in your own home? Or maybe in your office? Any other thoughts about the designs?



If you live in the Philadelphia area, get in your car right now and head over to Chanticleer - a "pleasure garden" located on the Main Line in Wayne, PA. Oh, my. What a beautiful, inspiring place!

I visited Chanticleer on Sunday with my friend Wendy, and even though it was hot and humid, the trip was so worth it. This is the kind of place that gets my creative juices flowing. I came home feeling so inspired and full of ideas. Of course, I have lots of ideas for my own garden now, but views like this also inspire my artwork.

I love how the group of evergreens at the bottom of the hill are lined up and create a sort of horizontal line, which relates to the horizontal lines the stone steps make in the foreground. The other trees and shrubs are vertical lines of varying heights. I like the pop of purplish red on the left, and see it repeated in the centers of the flowers on the right. Do you see it?

And this? Sigh. I wish there were a place I could visit everyday that looked, sounded and smelled like this. We crossed this little stream and sat on a bench under trees with just the sound of the water trickling and the birds chirping. It was kind of hidden, and Wendy and I talked about how we wished there were a little stream near us where Malayna and Aidan could explore. We both remembered times when we were kids, playing in streams, finding little frogs, looking at stones and exploring. Kids {and adults!} need activities like that - totally unstructured and free.

There were drinking fountains throughout the gardens, each one a little work of art. The brochure said they were created by employees! In fact, the fountains, furniture and other structures were all created by employees. Sounds like a dream job to me! When you took a drink from the fountain above, the water would drain where the wood and stone meet. It would then trickle down the valleys in the stone and into the bushes. It was so beautifully made and so carefully thought out.

Tucked into the gardens were little boxes on posts, inside of which were plant lists for that particular garden. These were also works of art, each one different, and each related to the theme of its garden. The one above was for the Asian garden - can you see the little hand on the right? When you lift the hand the door opens. You can't really tell from the photo, but the words "plant list" are made of clay. Even the bathroom signs were made of clay letters.

Can you see the people in the background of this photo? They were sitting on benches made of stone and slate. Chairs and benches were placed throughout the gardens, and we took advantage of them - especially when they were situated under big shade trees. There are two green chairs in the photo below, in front of a little pond. Those grasses in the foreground made me want to lie down and take a nap!

By the way, my photos don't even begin to do this place justice. You must go and see for yourself! I'm already planning my next visit…