Category Archives: Mommy stuff

Random thoughts about being a mommy.

The Felt Forest

I’m really excited to share a project I’ve been working on with my friend Vicki, the photographer behind the lovely Jerney Studios photos I’ve shared in the past.  She asked me to help her design a fun and different backdrop as well as some scenery for an exciting idea she had for a forest-y kind of setting.  We had a blast making a cool felt tree with vines and some assorted plants, as well as an awesome looking tree stump for kids to sit on.

Here’s her information about an upcoming photo shoot she will be having in March.  If you live in the Cleveland area, this will be a super fun photo shoot to attend:

What is “The Felt Forest”?

I was wanting to do something new, something different photographically and that is when I became inspired by a project that Jim had worked on. It was an interactive touch display that featured a jungle/forest theme. But in order to bring this vision to reality, I turned toward my friend Meghan. She has done some beautiful work with felt and I knew she could help bring this to life. With Meghan’s help, we molded the felt into what you see here. A FELT FOREST!

What’s happening?

On Saturday, March 24, 2012, we’ll be setting up the forest for a fun day of picture taking! You’re invited to register for a half-hour shoot then immediately select your image(s)!

What you need to know.

To make a reservation for this one day event, give me a call at 330-203-8374 or email me at vicki@jerneystudios. Click here for more information on the event and packages.

And here’s a another cute one of Lexi that I want to share with you as well, where you can really see the tree stump, I also love the filter on this photo 🙂

Maple Sugaring

For the past two years Dan has been collecting sap from our maple trees in the backyard to make maple syrup.  This year we have seven taps at all of our trees and have collected several gallons of sap in the past few week.  We had only intended to make maple syrup again this year, but Dan accidentally boiled down the sap too far, that’s what happens when you’re also trying to put in new flooring and your wife spends all her free time scrapbooking and blogging about it!  Although honestly I think I was at work when this happened.  So he saved the overly boiled down sap and on my day off we collected more sap and actually looked up directions on how to make your own maple candy and gave it a try!  It’s really pretty easy, you can even do it with maple syrup you buy at the store.  You boil, while stirring occasionally, the syrup until it reaches at temp of 235 F on a candy thermometer.  Then take it off the heat and let it cool until it reaches 175 F – don’t stir during this cool down process.  Then use a wooden spoon and stir vigorously for 5 min- it turns a lighter brown and becomes creamy.  Quickly pour it into molds- or you can be like us and have ice cube shaped maple candy!  We’re looking forward to making more with the girls later this week once Dan has more syrup.  He estimated that he boiled down about 5 gallons of sap to make just those 6 little ice cube sized candies!

I made this page using the Amelia Kit Bundle from Shel Belle Scraps.  Don’t forget her entire store is half off this week 🙂

Jerney Studios Photography

Today, I want to share with you all about my very talented friend Vicki who is a photographer.  She does senior portraits, children, families, holiday, everyday, corporate, and school photos for day cares.  Her photos are wonderful and she is so easy and fun(!) to work with and will do her best to accommodate your vision as well as share her own fantastic ideas for taking your pictures.

This past summer, I asked Vicki to take some pictures of my girls and wanted to use our beach as the setting.  I’d seen this awesome photo of pelicans landing on a baby grand that someone had placed in a river in a National Geographic Magazine and loved it.  So I wanted to do something with our toy piano at the beach.

Vicki got some fantastic photos I was so pleased with all of them and it was incredibly hard narrowing down which ones to get.
You can check out her facebook page HERE and her website at

If you’re in the Cleveland area and are looking for a personal or business photographer I highly recommend Vicki!

Of course I had to make some scrapbook pages with her photos. 🙂

Importance of Old Family Photos

A little over a year ago I got really into genealogy, and when I get into a hobby there’s no stopping me-they become obsessions and it’s kind of scary.  I literally can not rest until I feel that I’ve done as much as I can with whatever it is I’m into.  I think it’s a trait I inherited from my dad’s side of the family.  I remember many years back he really got into making jello (of all things) and was obsessed with making his jello have the perfect consistency to his liking and the problems of adding certain kinds of fruit (like pineapple-which throws off the water percentage).  Anyhow, he kept adding and adding to his jello solution to make it perfect until he wound up with this gigantic bowl of jello that took up an entire shelf in his fridge.  It’s like that for me with my hobbies too 🙂

So anyway, it all started with a photo of my dad as a baby with his mom and his great grandfather on his mom’s side.  I took the photo out of the frame to scan it and found a piece of paper with all their names  and birth dates (as well as his grandmother’s- whose name my dad hadn’t even known) and a note to the great grandfather wishing him a Happy Easter.  Also behind the frame was an even older photo dating from 1919 of my dad’s mom as a little girl with her mother.  I was ecstatic to say the least.  My dad didn’t remember much about his great grandfather as he died when my dad was very young.  His only memory of his great grandfather is just seeing him standing at the top of the stairs.

My dad at just a few months old with his mother Dorothy and his great grandfather Gustav.  Below is the note and photo that were hidden behind this photo.

This got me really excited to see what else I could find out about my relatives and Dan’s as well.  With the help of my husband’s aunt Cris who did a lot of research about his mom’s side of the family and an old family history book about my mom’s mom’s side of the family I had a great basis to start.  I began using and to add even older relatives to the information I was given by Cris and the family history book.  Cris sent me loads of fantastic photos of people and I also ordered micro film images of my dad’s distant German relatives I’d discovered.  It as amazing to see Bible entries for births, marriages, and deaths.  I’ve had the most luck with my maternal grandmother’s side of the family and have traced them back to the 800’s.

My dad’s grandfather on his dad’s side, Adam who was a solider in the Spanish American War.  My dad remembers the huge scar that was on his forearm from where he blocked a bayonet attack.  I received a scan of this photo from one of my dad’s cousins after contacting him about it.  When I posted this photo on I immediately was contacted by another of my dad’s cousins who had never seem this photo before.  She said she had others to share with me, and I am looking forward to seeing them.

Then there’s this one from my mom’s side of the family.  It came with a letter that said it was Sydney (my mom’s maternal grandfather possibly with his father)  I just love the slice of life of this one with the horse, cart, and store.

Here is my husband’s 4th great grandfather Ephraim Walters Jr. who lived from 1776-1865.  Looked like a friendly fellow….

Here’s a beautiful photo of my husband’s maternal great grandmother Isabel.  I think she looks like a librarian with those wire rimmed glasses!

I cherish these old photos. They are so few and far between and only give you small ideas of the people in them.  I wonder if photos of today will be so special to generations down the line.  There are quite a few of my mom (not many of my dad unfortunately, many of me growing up, and so many of Fi and Lex that it is ridiculous.  Will the abundance of photos of the girls make them less special to their great great grand children?  Will their great great grandchildren not appreciate them as much since they are overwhelmed by the amount of photos we’ve left behind?

All Done!

I graduated this past Saturday from Kent State with my masters in Library Science.  I managed to drag a two year program that most people do in one year into a six year long event-I did have two babies during that time.  To say that I am glad to finally be done with school would be one of the world’s largest understatements.  Juggling school, work, children, and the fact that I actually want to have a life was often difficult.  But I made it through and can breathe a HUGE sign of relief that I never have to have another due date hanging over my head.
The whole experience was kind of bittersweet, also because my dad and step mom were not able to be there.  I found out the Saturday after Thanksgiving that my dad had been in the hospital for a week and was scheduled for open heart surgery on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  This was a complete shock, as I hadn’t even been aware he needed any of this.  He had gone to the hospital for minor oral surgery and found out that they thought he should have the valves in his heart replaced to avoid any probable heart attacks.  I couldn’t even go visit him in the hospital since I was still sick.  I didn’t get a chance to see him at all until this past Saturday, almost a month after his surgery.  He’s still really weak and short of breath, but seems to be pulling through well despite everything.  So it’s been a really rough but also exciting couple of months all at the same time. Here’s a scrapbook page I made about a year ago for my dad, it shows us at my 8th grade graduation with my mom (gotta love my bangs growing out!), at my high school graduation, and with my mom at my college graduation from John Carroll.  I really with he could have been there this time too…

Here we are walking in, I’m the one facing the wrong direction (of course) on the middle, left-ish side.

My graduate hood/scarf kept sliding down, but I do have the fun yellow thing, it’s just more around my waist than my neck.

Bonkers for Blocks

I love wooden blocks.  That’s an understatement.  I LOVEEEEEEE!!!! wooden blocks.  Soo much potential for all kinds of fun and imagination.  A few years ago my oldest daughter’s art teacher brought some blocks to class.  Those wonderful Melissa and Doug wooden blocks.  But her blocks were extra special, she had decoupaged images from the Cleveland Museum of Art’s collection on to the blocks.  I was totally inspired.  After class I ran all over the museum grabbing brochures and purchased a ton of postcards and even a cool little inexpensive guide book to cut pictures out of.  I found a few other favorite images online and printed them out to use as well.  My mom was very generous and purchased a block set for Fiona for an upcoming holiday and I got to work decorating blocks so she could have a beautiful set as a gift.  She loved them.  We like to use the plastic animals with these when we are playing with them.  Fiona builds them little houses (and Lexi knocks them down).

But it didn’t stop there.  I still had pictures I wanted to put on blocks and I also thought of how amazing it would be to scan some of Fiona’s artwork, print it out, and decoupage it to a block.  I just couldn’t see trying to fund a whole new set of blocks.  So I decided to make my own.  My wonderful, and very patient, husband helped me search for a place to buy quality wood (not Home Depot lumber) to cut into blocks.  Once that was settled, he helped me work the router to give them smooth edges, and then I cut the wood to the lengths I wanted, and sanded the edges smooth.  I was very pleased.  An important finishing touch for all the blocks was to spray a few layers of clear spray paint over the images after they are decoupaged on.  I discovered pretty quickly after making the original set that they stick together, the spray paint prevents the tacky decoupage paste from sticking to itself.

In addition to printing out Fiona’s art work, I also made some blocks featuring pictures of the with alphabet letters that spell out their names.  On the backs are more samples of Fiona’s art work.  I’m still waiting for Lexi to do more drawings, although she has been much more interested in coloring lately.

The clear blocks, filled with fun items, I found at discount school supply.  They are tons of fun too.  Fiona and I had fun looking for fun objects to put in them.

We use these blocks everywhere, inside-outside.  They are so beautiful and I feel they make playing more visually appealing than plain wooden blocks.

Also please don’t mind our lack of baseboard molding in the background of some of the pictures, we’re still working on getting our home back together after the foundation work earlier this summer.

Our first co-authored books :)

Fiona and I have lately been working our way through all the “Lonely Doll” books by Dare Wright.  Unfortunately, many of them are no longer in print.  But between the wonderful library loaning system and one ebay purchase, we have been able to read most of them.  After reading Wright’s books Fiona and I got excited about making our own books.

When Fiona was about 2 years old I started writing and self publishing books about her stuffed cat, Mr. Bunglie, through a website called  this site is fabulous!  You simply write (and illustrate) your own books in a Word document, save it as a pdf, and ftp it to their site (you can skip the pdf-ing and ftp-ing, if you prefer, and upload your Word document directly to lulu, but it takes FOREVER-especially if your document is image heavy, as mine are- and sometimes your formatting gets messed up.)  You can choose hardbound or paper back covers, dust jackets, full color or b&w printing, and a variety of book shapes. They have cover designing software on their site or you can make your own cover in Photoshop or what ever your preferred program is.

So with this knowledge already perfected (for the most part) we decided to embark on our newest project.  Fiona wanted our book to be about her American Girl doll Kanani meeting two bears, just as Edith in the original stories did.

Our first book is called Edith the Doll Meets the Bears.  We decided what Kanani should do and what kinds of places she should go with her new bear friends and set about taking our pictures.  Fiona and I each took many of the pictures for our book.  I wrote the words based on the ideas we had discussed and Fiona had a lot of input as to what kinds of things the characters should say.

Some sample pages…

Our second book is about Kanani and Little Bear playing pirate and is called Kanani’s Pirate Adventure.  This one is my favorite-I really had a lot of fun with it.  They find clothing to create pirate fashions, make a pirate flag, map, and swords, then ask Mr. Bear to hide a treasure chest for them to find.

They pretend the backyard play set is their pirate ship and “sail” away to a nearby playground that looks like a castle.

Some sample pages…

While we were working on these two books, Fiona decided that she really wanted to do a book completely on her own.  So I gave her the camera and she did all her own scenes (with only very marginal help from me when she needed help propping up her toys).  We arranged all the pictures together in Word and she dictated to me what she wanted her story to say.  Her story is about Kanani and Little Bear picking up and recycling some trash in the yard.  Then they get presents from Mr. Bear for doing a good job. 🙂

She also designed her own cover, after a very brief and basic lesson in using Photoshop.  I showed her some of my digital scrapbooking materials that I though would work well for a trash related story.  And then she went to town arranging the pieces on her cover.

A sample Fiona page…

Fiona is now looking forward to starting a whole new book, entirely by herself, about her doll house dolls.  So that will be our next big project. 🙂