Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Achieved

What do you get when you have six Christmas celebrations at four different houses over the span of seven days with one camera in hand? 

2,000 Lego pieces, 747 pictures to process, and adult onset diabetes.

We celebrated with my family the weekend before Christmas. My brother flew in and surprised my mom, something he's done at least four times. My mom has cried every time, though this time was especially sweet. This was our first Christmas without my grandmother, her mother, and her absence was felt immensely, but having my brother here, and our family together helped to ease that pang in our hearts.

My brother flew out on Monday, and we made our way down to Houston to spend the rest of the week with my in-laws. This was our first stay in their new house on the farm. My in-laws have had a long, hard year after selling their house in January. They downsized to a small kitchenette/office area in the back of a barn that they outfitted with bedrooms and a bathroom, and lived there for almost a year while they built two grain bins from the ground up, grew and harvested milo and grass, and eventually built a house that they were able to move into just after Thanksgiving. 

One of the biggest benefits to living on a grass farm is that this is your backyard:

We had a wonderful time, shared Christmas with a lot of family, ate way too many sweets, and stayed up way too late every night. If I ever come off of my sugar high, I'm going to take a nap, and then share the rest of my pictures with you. [Only 738 more!]

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! 
nessa dee

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Sneeze...

Making this year's Tomie dePaola Award entry was a lot of fun. The prompt was to illustrate the following poem:

A sneeze
Is a breeze

I decided to go with an elephant sneezing on a cast of cute characters. This is the final entry:

The piece itself is three dimensional. The elephant's skin was created with tissue paper, and each little child was made separately and attached to the background using painter's tape. The balloon string is embroidery thread, and I love the effect it gives. 
The winner of this contest will be chosen in January by Tomie dePaola himself, and the prize is a trip to the SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC. While I have my fingers crossed, I know that even if I don't win, I still have a piece for my portfolio that I'm quite fond of.

nessa dee

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Big Boy Bike

No, this isn't an early Christmas present. It's a pristine hand-me-down. I finally found a small window of time  yesterday to start putting Christmas lights outside while the older two kids watched the baby. Audrie pulled out this tricycle, set it in a pile of leaves, and watched August air pedal to his heart's content.

 Every year I tell myself that I'm going to have all of my Christmas shopping done by October, I'm going to hand make all of my ornaments, have my cards sent out by the 1st of December, and I'm going to drape our house in lights,Clark Griswold style. And every year I find myself shopping for presents just days before Christmas, sending out Happy New Year cards, and throwing a string of lights on some bushes. It's my fault. I over think everything. I want every gift to have a special meaning. I want the lights to be spectacular. I want the cards to be perfect. I want us to sit around a fire in Christmas sweaters, sipping hot chocolate, stringing popcorn and cranberries together. Then, when I can't find those perfect gifts, or have a whole light show synchronized to Christmas music like my neighbors [seriously], or my Christmas card order is delayed, or I find myself alone in my studio trying to make crafts without my children, I end up scrambling to get it all done. I'm slowly learning to let things go. It's okay if my Christmas presents don't have significant meaning, or if my cards are late, or if I don't make any Christmas crafts, or sit around a fire, or sip hot chocolate. I don't even own a Christmas sweater. 
And it's okay if I only got one string of lights thrown on a bush because I decided to stop and watch the baby play with his new old trike. As it turned out, Audrie and Finn did a wonderful job putting up the rest of the lights [and making memories] while I got some shopping done. 

And if the kids want to see spectacular Christmas lights, we'll just walk to the neighbors.

nessa dee

Friday, December 13, 2013

Baby Faces

I was going through the pictures I took of the kids the other day when this particular picture caught my eye. 

It reminded me of another face that I haven't seen in a while.

This was Finn at 14 months. 
People tell me that my boys look alike, and I know they have similarities, but they've always looked like different kids to me...until I saw that picture of Gus. It immediately made me think of this picture of my first son.
And just in case you're curious, this is Audrie at 2:

I guess all three of my kids look alike.

Sweet memories.
Sweet baby faces. 
nessa dee

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Pictures

Snapping a good picture of a tween, a tyke, a toddler, and a Trixie together is not the easiest task. Running a marathon might be slightly easier.
I think individual pictures will grace our Christmas cards this year.
nessa dee

Friday, December 6, 2013

Crafty Friday: Yarnaments

What better way to spend a cold, blustery day than in the studio, crafting, [and wrangling a busy baby]!

 Today's Crafty Friday project is a simple, cute, yarnament [yarn ornament]. The idea started with these:

If you have a little one, you might recognize these as lids to baby food pouches such as these:

I've always liked the bright colors and interesting design of these lids, and thought they would be great for future craft projects, so I saved them...all of them. 
[Hello, my name is Vanessa, and I'm a craft supply hoarder.]
For today's craft, though, the color and design don't really matter. But, I'm upcycling, which is always a good thing. 
I've been wanting to create yarn covered ball ornaments for a while now, but Styrofoam balls are expensive, and I'm cheap, and I have about 75 of these plastic lids, so I decided to use them as the base. 

To start, I threaded the yarn through the opening and tied a knot, making sure I left a few inches of yarn at the end, like so:

Next, I started wrapping the lid with the yarn, leaving the extra string exposed:

 Because these are plastic, the thread tends to slide off easily unless I held it down with my thumb as I wrapped. You can also secure it with a bit of glue periodically. I kept wrapping until the lid was completely covered. Just a note, I used the same color lid as the yarn I was wrapping it with, so if there were gaps, they were less noticeable. Once the lid was completely covered, I knotted the end with the excess yarn from the beginning knot:

 Then, I made a loop, secured it with another knot, and cut off any excess strings:

Finally, I glued a button to the center of the ornament: 

I continued with the steps above and made a variety of ornaments:

Once the tree was decorated, I showed my sweet Gus, who absolutely loved...

                                                                      his dresser knobs.

Oh well, I like the yarnaments.
Happy crafting!
nessa dee

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy December!

November flew by, as the months seem to do these days. We spent Thanksgiving week visiting family and bringing them good tidings of snot noses. Despite our colds, we had a wonderful time stuffing our faces, celebrating a birthday [mine], and stuffing our faces some more. In addition to celebratory eating, I was also able to finish up the Picture Book Idea Month and Sketch a Day Month challenges. Here are some sketches from last week:

I'm excited to start developing my picture book ideas further, and see some of these sketches to full color portfolio pieces. December is chock full of to-do's and my list seems to grow by the minute. Between shopping, painting, parties, and crafting [Yes crafting!!], this month will be over before I can blink, so I better start checking things off my list!

Happy Monday!
Happy December!
nessa dee