Friday, November 20, 2009

paper bag crafts

I was looking through a book of Holiday crafts with the 6 year old, and we came across this penguin potato print idea! Since we are all quite fond of penguins around here, I took the idea and tried to incorporate it with some found materials: sticks, paper bag, some yarn- plus acrylic paint and brushes to add the finishing details. We made 5 penguins, each representing a member of our family and tied them through holes we made with a hole punch! It looks really cute hanging on the wall in the living room and it was super easy to do:)
Keep creating!
Thanks for reading

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Post Secret

I just recently attended a Post Secret Show in my wonderful town and felt like it was worth a post. For those who aren't familiar with the Project, check out the website
or take a walk to your local library to flip through the books.

Frank Warren and his comforting, empathetic presence, shared with the audience his experiences while working on Post Secret, touching many not only by showing some of his favorite secret post cards but also by providing the audience with an opportunity to share their own secrets, right then and there! At first, I felt uncomfortable with people going up to the microphone to share their most intimate experiences, until a woman came up to the mic to talk about her post-partum depression. The familiarity of her account hit me like a rock, and I began to listen to people who declared their love to members of the audience or admitted to be "scared shitless" of an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
The liberating power of releasing these secrets, as put by Frank Warren, can open up a world of intimacy when shared with a loved one; or perhaps have the function of comforting a complete stranger who may be going through similar challenges- the latter, one of the reasons for the popularity of the project.
From my perspective, the courage in being vulnerable allows people to become empathic with one another, and it releases us from feeling so inadequate in a world that constantly seeks to achieve perfection. Feelings of despair, shame and guilt experienced by all humans can be life giving when shared.
What does not kill us makes us stronger and it can make others stronger too.
Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Story of Stuff

"Bella and the caterpillar" Photographed by Erik (the husband)
Even though my latest posts have focused on homemaking and family life, sometimes even sounding self-indulgent, a lot of contemplation has taken place in my home in regards to the bigger picture, and how our presence in the world today will impact what we leave behind.
This is no news, the debate is going on everywhere and I just hope to be able to somehow continue with the conviction that a family can take steps to become closer and more loving, without becoming self-centered.
I truly believe we can inspire a sense of community responsibility in our children if we are cognizant of our own duty. To us, this means reading more, talking more, cooking, crafting, listening to music, asking questions and becoming involved in community... Caring for one another at home makes it easier to care for the world outside, its people, animals and resources. It means not having the tv on (maybe once or twice on the weekends for movies), it means NOT going to stores when we are bored, and doing whatever we can to be outside in nature.
The reality is that this way of living simply, taking the focus AWAY from consumption, makes a lot of impact- we have seen a huge difference in the way our family thinks and acts because of it.
We are conditioned by society to become Slaves of Consumption, and it becomes easy to push aside concepts like conservation, reusage, and community building.
I would go as far as saying that a holistic approach to life can lessen the individualistic tendencies that poison us. With that said, I am posting a link to the "Story of Stuff" video (the international web site so you can have subtitles in many other languages.) Please watch, it is soooo worth it!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 26, 2009

good is here

"Walk in the Woods" photographed by allypye

Hello everyone! I've missed blogging for the past couple of weeks, so busy with life, there isn't time to just sit and decompress... I think I am finally getting out of the rut from just before my birthday last month. I have begun to exercise often and am being diligent about taking my supplements.
Old friends came back into my life when I thought I'd lost them forever and new possibilities arise at the end of this intensely burdened year. There is so much beauty in what is beyond my understanding, and I can't help but to feel so blessed by the changes that have taken place when they were most needed.
It is interesting to look at personal growth from the perspective of now, and admitting my shortcomings and imperfections push me on a direction of self acceptance; there is so much that is wrong, but so much that is right too! I am just so glad for today, for the wonderful ability of the universe to wash away the debris on the shore, wave by wave.
Getting to know myself better is exciting, even when it doesn't fit the mold; I am who I am now but ready to change tomorrow, because nothing in me is motionless or inert; Within each of us there are hundreds of others, and that's just how it should be!
Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Homemade Halloween

MY favorite month ever!!! Not growing up having Halloween sure makes a kid out of me in the early Fall! I love everything about it, the costumes, trick or treating, hay rides, apple cider, pumpkin carving, and... the chance it gives me to be CREATIVE on my own and with the kids! This year money is SUPER tight, so I have had to come up with frugal ways of decorating and re-using stuff that I have around the house...I would love more ideas for Halloween crafts, so if you have any, let me know...

My little love (the 6 year old) and I making a Spooky Scene on a shoe box lid and threading leaves gathered from our neighborhood. Going outdoors for supplies is one of my favorite things to do, since it gets them to see beauty in places never before imagined. Plus, it gives us a chance to say hello to the neighbors...

Other stuff:

Hanging Halloween Scene: I finished this one last week and it was so much fun! Probably two or three hours from beginning to end and pretty much the same procedure as the little pillow (see below) with the exception of the batting;

Little Ghost Pillow: I love this little guy!

  • Felt, Embroidery floss, Ribbon, Quilt Batting and Felt Glue. So easy, and you can be done in a couple of hours.

  • Just get some felt and draw the patterns with a sharpie pen, cut them out and glue you scene on the felt piece that will be sewn into the pillow; then sew three sides of the 81/2 x 11 felt sheet and stuff it with the batting; sew the little pillow shut and add embellishment stitches with the embroidery floss.DONE!

Pumpkin Mosaic: Did this one with the three year old last week.

  • All it takes is some construction paper, a glue stick, some crayons, ribbon and a hole punch.

  • Draw a simple outline of a pumpkin on a piece of paper and let your child go nuts with the ripping and tearing; glue the pieces on and add the details with crayons! We did this after reading the book "Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden"

Little Ghosts: These little ghosts were done by my boys last year, but they are in great shape, so I am putting them up again:

  • You need round circles of white tulle (dollar store), tissues (yeah, like Kleenex), a black marker, small Styrofoam balls (other more environmentally friendly option would be better, but that's what I had), black pipe cleaners. I thought it would be cute to add ribbons to the necks but I didn't have any at the time so they are tied with black string.
  • To make them, just cover each ball with one or two sheets of tissue paper, draw the eyes with the marker and cover it with the tulle. Stick the pipe cleaner through the little ghost's head and make a loop at the top for hanging.

That's all for now, thanks for reading!

beijos, allypye

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Rainy day play...

It has been raining all day today, I am feeling a bit moody and without much motivation to take on a full art piece, but I can feel my soul craving, begging me to do something creative...I decided to do something small, and came up with a couple of little barrettes for my Bella Boo (the three year old). I love working small on paper, but these little hair pins became more of a challenge than I thought!
I give all the props for the people that do this full time check out some of my favorites:
Hope everyone is having a great weekend and remember to keep those creative juices flowing...
thanks for reading

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Birthday Presents

About two weeks ago I turned 31. This is the first time I have actually written about it, so I must take a minute to let it soak in...

Okay, I'm good now.
Anyway, I wanted to share my birthday presents with you! I think they say a lot about where my interests are at this point in my life; Hope you like them...

Boots: I love these! They make me feel pretty and powerful all at once! Who does not need that every once in a while?

Book # 1: Beautiful book, I absolutely LOVE the ideas here!

Messenger Bag: Kohls rocks my world! This brand (AXCESS), is my favorite!

Real Simple Mag Subscription: If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I was happy about this one...

JULIA, oh, JULIA!! The missing piece to my love affair with the movie and the book; So far I have only chopped veggies "Julia Style", didn't go so well but I will keep practicing!

Soldering Iron: I cannot wait to get started on some mixed media stuff with this heat machine!

Book #2: A while ago I had a post on this book. Beautiful and Inspiring, now it is mine:)

That is about it! I also had a really great dinner and a movie date with my partner in life and actually, that was the best part of it all! Hope your next birthday is wonderful! You deserve it!



Monday, September 28, 2009

The rest of the entryway...

The AFTER...

In between...

Very ugly beginning...

I still haven't finished the details, but I am so far happy with the results! It is nice being able to have a place to sit to put our shoes on, and its cute too...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Get up and do something!

This is what happens when I go through rough patches: Things get done. I cry for a short while, hide from the world for about a week, and focus all my energy on things that I wanted to do but left behind to take care of others. We won't go through the details of my visit to the pit last week, lets just say that it was bad enough to get the entire entryway of my home remodeled. So, all I have to say to the ones who hurt me is "thank you!" first pics are the "before and after" of this small wall just past the real entryway area of our house (which is almost finished too, I just need some final touches yet). We needed a cute area that could be used for the kids' chore charts and reward charts, plus, a couple of baskets to hold backpack junk that comes back from school and has nowhere to go. The trick was to make sure we didn't have to look at that stuff all the time, so here is what we came up with:
Very boring, useless wall!
Added some color, hung a cute curtain and the new sconce
(stuff that has been waiting in the basement FOREVER)
plus got some baskets big enough to hold the backpack junk:)
Sewing (hardly) their new rewards chart
(these are the days of the week chips)
Final product, I like the colors...
All four charts hanging on the wall

I love this because when we are not using the charts, the wall still looks super cute with the shades drawn in. The hubby thinks it is kind'a weird because there is no window there, but I think he will grow to like it don't you?
Anyway, I will post pics of the rest of the project as soon as it gets done. I would love to hear what you think...
Thanks for reading

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Short Break

Hello Friends, this is just a quick note to say that some pretty intense personal issues have surfaced this past week, and I need to take some time to reflect and recover. Hope to be back here soon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Balancing Life with Kids- Part3: Housework and Organizing

Photos in this post are of pages in "Keeping Life Simple" by Karen Levine

The first thing I have to say on this topic goes back to my earlier posts on simplicity. DECLUTTERing is the single most important thing needed for effective housecleaning and organization. This I can say with no fear of doing wrong, because I have been doing it for a long time. It works. My house is sort of known by friends for being"clean" but the truth is, we just keep our possessions to a minimum, which makes it easier to tidy and manage. This post is divided in two categories: Cleaning and Organization; These are by no means as comprehensive as the info you will find in books or other web sites, but hopefully, it will give people an opportunity to get started without becoming overwhelmed. Some very useful links will be provided for you to check out as well...
Are you ready?

  • Points # 1, 2 and 3 come straight from Karen Levine's little book "Keeping Life Simple", and are the steps I have been following for about 5 years now;

  • Divide your housecleaning tasks in four categories:what needs to be done everyday; what needs to be done every week; what needs to be done every month; what needs to be done only a few times a year; Check out this handy house cleaning checklist from Microsoft Office Online:

  • If you absolutely despise one or more tasks, do something fun as you move along: listen to music (while cleaning), watch your favorite movie (while you fold clothes), talk on the phone...

  • Delegate chores, and for goodness sake ABANDON GENDER ROLES! The dishes don't care whether you have boy or girl parts, they just want to be clean!

  • The best web site (and magazine) out there, in my opinion, is REAL SIMPLE. Check out this link for more info on house cleaning, find out your cleaning style, fake a clean house, and much, much more!

Wise words from Beth "Keep in mind - no one gives you an award for cleanest house or smallest pile of dirty laundry. This time with your kids goes so quick, don't spend all of it overdoing the housekeeping part. I want my home to be the background of the activity, not the focus."

  • My kids have these brand new chore charts that were created and put together by my hubby (who needs Brad Pitt when your husband does chore charts?), anyway, we've tried tons of things but I think this is the best one yet! All you need is a magnet board (for each child), some computer printed pictures that represent the chores of the day, glued on magnet strips; The boards have two columns, "to do" and "done" and all the kids have to do is make sure all magnet chips are on the "done" side before they go to bed.

  • Have cute baskets and bins in strategic areas in your home, to pick up all sorts of things. We have a huge trunk that serves as coffee table and toy bin, no one sees the mess but the stuff is always available for the kids when they want it.
  • Routine is a biggy too, kids just do so much better when they know what's expected of them. My kids are full of energy, with strong personalities, but you can be sure, they will not visit someone's home and leave it messy, its a learned behavior, and they have learned to understand how much work it takes to run a household.
  • One thing that I have discovered to be helpful, is an online family calendar.What's the use of having all the stuff written down at home, if when you go to work you don't have it in front of you? Beth uses yahoo for her calendar, which allows her to share her familie's activities and plans with her husband while he is at work. I use the google calendar on and I love the fact that you can color code the activities by person, set up reminders, repeat events with a click of a button...
  • Last words of advice before I send you to another wonderful link at REAL SIMPLE: Try and prep for the next morning activities the night before, your mornings will be less crazy, and you will sleep better; Also, put the kids to bed EARLY- they can use the sleep and you can use some time to breathe! Our bed time is 8:30 p.m. But of course for those with babies that's a whole different story...
  • Now go check this out: again, REAL SIMPLE has so much good info!

    That's all I have this time, thanks for stopping by!



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Balancing Life with Kids- Part 2: Meal Planning and Shopping

Hello, and welcome back! Today I will try and sum up some facts and useful tips on meal planning and shopping for groceries (the latter being the one household obligation I loathe, and would give my right arm if someone offered to do the job for the rest of my days!!! Yes, it is that bad, surprising for someone who adores cooking!) Anyway, this post is divided in these three sections: what to eat?/ lists and shopping (as I cringe with the thought of it) and tips and variations... And remember, this is just advice that I gathered from my own looking around for better, simpler ways of living and the suggestions of friends. I quoted some ideas and thoughts from Lisa and Beth whom I've mentioned on yesterday's post.
No, we are not experts, everybody is in the same boat here, so if you have more ideas, throw them at me would ya?
With that said, here we go:
What to eat?
Tired of standing in front of the fridge and asking yourself "what should I make for dinner"? You are not alone! Erik (the hubby) and myself have done that so much, the result almost always being a quick fix that isn't healthy or satisfying!
I have two words for you: MEAL PLANNING- stress free, healthier and money saving, this is what we need to be doing.
write it down, and put it up
  • I am now using an excel spreadsheet that outlines the days of the week, snacks for the week, plus a grocery list and room for notes all in one page.If you want to see it, just let me know, I will e-mail it to you, just couldn't figure out how to post it here...
  • You can do this anywhere, just make sure it is easy to see and to use- people get super creative with this stuff, poster board, magnet boards or just a neatly drawn meal plan on computer paper.
  • use your own cookbooks and online recipes, but if you are new at this, just do one week with meals that your family is used to, so you can get a hang on the process rather than worrying about what recipes to make.Do this for as long as you need to make it a habit, and then add some jazz to the deal!

Beth suggests: "When you bake, double the recipe. Then eat one and freeze one for later. Most pasta recipes make way more than our family eats in one sitting, so by dividing it into two meals saves time down the road...Plan your meals for the week and do the grocery shopping all at once. There are lots of great meal planning sites online. Keep a list of meal ideas you can rotate to keep from getting in a rut. "

Lisa's tip: "It’s amazing how much time and money can be saved by simply planning ahead on your family meals. Food costs can vary greatly from month to month and with no planning, our family’s monthly food bill could easily be double that of our house payment! What I’ve found works best for is to plan one week at a time. I make my shopping list based on the meals I planned for the next week. I rarely come home from work thinking, “what’s for dinner?” A fun meal-chart generator is on"

Lists and Shopping

  • Beth's Grocery list is simple and helpful: she writes it so that it corresponds to its location at her preferred grocery store. That way you don't have to go from place to place like a monkey with your head cut off! Simple, just so simple...
  • clip coupons if you are going to use them. I hate doing this, so I probably never will for lack of patience, but if that's your thing, go for it!
  • NEVER, I repeat, NEVER shop hungry! Always, always eat before you shop! I am not going to say the name of this Brazilian woman I know, but I will tell you how she shopped hungry, bought a jar of nuttella (it is heaven I swear!)and finished it off before she got home...pathetic!!
  • Clean out the fridge BEFORE you go to the grocery store. There is nothing worse than coming home exhausted from wrestling with an overflowing shopping cart and have to go through leftovers and other yuckies! If you don't clean it, you will risk doing it like this Brazilian woman I know, and just shove all the new shiny sealed items in the fridge only to have to perform an emergency evacuation in your home a week later, when the yuckies you pushed to the back of the fridge can no longer contain their foulness inside.

Other things to think about

  • Have a couple emergency meals for when stuff comes up. Stuff comes up now, doesn't it? Got home too late to make what you planned or forgot to defrost something? EMERGENCY MEAL TIME! I like to have chicken nuggets available for babysitters that can't cook:) Oh, well, its the truth...
  • Have the kids help plan the meals. Beth says " Let your kids help pick the meal for the next day. If you have the time, let them in the kitchen to do some cooking. It is amazing what a picky eater might try if they have a hand in making it."
  • Eat together. Eat together. Eat together. Some of the best conversations, discoveries, and bonding experiences I have had with my children and husband were at the dinner table. We do this religiously. And I know it helps us be a closer family.

This is it, I know, it was long, but I hope it helps, feel free to e-mail me or post your comments here if you have more to add! I am going to bed:)



Monday, September 7, 2009

Balancing Life with Kids - PART 1

Cone Flower- photographed by me this weekend

It all began with a routine trip to the library. Eager to leave the house, we jumped in the mini van and headed downtown for a relaxing couple of hours of reading and learning

...Or so I thought...

The kids were cranky; the 12 year old vanished in the teen room the second we arrived, while the 6 year old pouted about wanting to go in the teen area, and the 3 year old decided it was a good idea to sneak up two flights of stairs for a game of hide and seek.
Soon after, they were all accounted for and taken to the appropriate location in the library (that being the children's room, what a concept!!) There's crying, pouting and eye rolling (may I add that at this point everyone in the library is engaging in the rolling of the eyes, as they watch the spectacle!!), not to mention us walking out with at least 20 items (I forgot the canvas bag at home) and setting off the security system!!! Back in we go, with the crying, pouting, rolling of the eyes reaching record levels... I just wanted to sit right there and cry.

How do other mothers do this?

That was all I could think about that day. I felt exhausted, overwhelmed, defeated and inadequate. And this was not the first time!
In my mind, I am adding to this catastrophe of a trip the following: 6 loads of laundry in the basement, bills to pay, movies to return, groceries to buy, dinner to make, art projects to plan, and much, much more!
The truth is that balancing life with kids is something that everyone struggles with, and I found that perhaps sharing valuable tips with others isn't such a bad idea. I asked a couple of moms (these are moms you look at and go, "wow, she really knows what she is doing") to share their wealth of knowledge in making life work.
It was important for me to gather info that could be modified to different family set-ups and lifestyles: husband or no husband, full time stay-at-home or full time job. It is my hope that whoever reads this will be able to gain something or add something to the conversation.
Throughout this week we will discuss Meal Planning and Shopping, Housework and Organizing, and Time to be YOU. Though it may sound meaningless and too "domestic" of a talk for some, life's chores and obligations are said to be the cause of most couple's sense of unhappiness and overall sense of burden in Americans. So why not share ideas?

Thanks to Beth and Lisa, who will be featured in this series for the next three days. Your help is appreciated and the love you share with your family through your dedication is inspiring!

Thanks for reading, hope to have you stop by again tomorrow:)



Friday, August 28, 2009

this week's art

This is a short one, just some pics of two things I worked on this week... A mixed media piece for my living room and a book mark. I also painted a portrait of my daughter but you guys already saw that... So tired this week, I am glad it is over!!!

Have a good weekend!