Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Allan family!

Christmas this year is very low-key. Usually we travel and that makes the first 2 1/2 weeks of December crammed with school, gifts, letters, and travel prep. But this year I finished most things in those first 2 1/2 weeks and have been leisurely taking on 'extra' activities like baking and crafts with the kids that aren't on a 'must-be-completed-by-X' schedule.  It has been truly enjoyable rather than stressful. Perhaps that is why I have accepted the blog hiatus without stress. Not that I don't care to update you on all of our festivities, but I am content to spend this sacred and precious time with my little girlies and my super-busy hubby. I can't imagine that blogging will pick up dramatically in January because school starts up again and there is so much I'd like to do when I'm not studying. If you are extremely disappointed that I might only blog once or twice a month, sorry. I suppose I might change my mind if exciting things start happening. But right now I'm going to ride this 'lack-of-guilt-and-stress' wave to its crest and feel absolutely wonderful about NOT needing to do things. I'm just going to enjoy living. :) So see you sometime after Christmas. :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Well, I'm more than a little pleased to announce that I just turned in my not-too-shabby-hopefully-an-A paper AND I finished up this cute little gal:

So now I've just got to finish up the cake pops and other treats and put together the goody bags tomorrow. No prob. We're pretty much ready to party on Saturday and I don't even need to stress about it!!! :)
ps. Admit it. You love the cake and want one too. Don't you just LOVE the edible pearl nails? I think my critter-loving-pink-crazy-almost-4-year-old is going to like her!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Eats

We got festive with the edibles this year. Something special for snacks or meals each night the week of Halloween. My personal favorites:

Mummy pizza
 Spider pizza
fyi, the dough for this pizza was the best I've ever made from scratch. Maybe that's because I didn't go healthy and use any wheat flour, or maybe I finally just landed the best pizza crust ever. Who knows. We'll see if it maintains that nice fluffy texture when I add in wheat flour next time. But it was awesome. 

 And skeleton cookies
 Just so you know, these are chocolate sugar cookies with orange extract and cinnamon to spice em up... and they were KILLER! I got the recipe here, but decided I didn't want to use royal icing to decorate because it doesn't taste so awesome. So I used glace instead with fondant bows/hearts. Trickier, and my skeletons are runnier to prove it, but I love them anyway. Especially this cock-eyed one:
So much personality!

Halloween Costumes

Caroline's Peacock costume: 
I LOVED how the bustle tutu wiggled from side to side when she ran around. 

Gwen's Rapunzel costume:
After reading this advice from an amazing crafting/sewing friend, I had Gwen help me make her yarn braid. 

Getting a picture of them together was... problematic. 
Gwen melted down every time I put her next to Caroline.
 And Caroline thought it was hilarious to torture Gwen by grabbing at her sleeves or skirt every chance she got. In other words, as soon as I got a weeping Gwen within Caroline's reach, Gwen's worst fears were confirmed by grasping fingers. 
 I managed to get this one, though the smile on Gwen's face is probably fake. 
Ah, siblings. When are they going to become pals for real?
Well, there you have it. 2012 Rapunzel and Peacock survived the cold & wet trick-or-treating experience this year!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Coolest Thing I've Ever Sewn! (keep reading...)

I've been busy. Life has been very full. Crazy, stressful, fun, and deeply satisfying all rolled into daily routine.
Besides the week we spent with Eric's family in Idaho (I won't be going backwards for photos this time, I've still got too full of a plate) and a visit from my parents last week (which I completely forgot to take pictures. Literally, I did not take a. single. photo. Shame on me. I'm sure eventually I'll get copies of their pics...) So besides the visits and recovery time that they require after so much fun, I've been in school. My final semester of regular classes before the 2 semester thesis. I have to admit, I'm not really all that into this semester. I find the books less engaging than I expected and the essays are not only boring, I'm struggling to implement the feedback from my teacher, so not even the writing is coming naturally to me. I'm half way through with the class and at this point I'm just trying to keep my enthusiasm up to finish strong rather than digressing.

But, what I'm REALLY excited about is how much I've learned in the sewing department. Perhaps this is really the root of why my class isn't holding my attention? Because I'd rather be creating things...:) I already blogged about the Rapunzel dress I figured out how to make for Gwen. Well, I also made Caroline's peacock costume. Both turned out so cute and I'm proud as a peacock myself! After Halloween I'll post pics of those.
With the help of a very talented friend, I made this diaper bag. We even altered the pattern slightly to fit my desires and specs (magnets instead of velcro, elastic instead of zip tie cords), and it turned out beautifully!

And lastly, I am sooooooo excited to unveil my latest creation: 

A Family History Advent  

an advent for the month of November leading up to Thanksgiving. 

I've often been struck by how Thanksgiving just gets glossed over on the way from Halloween to Christmas. I wanted to do something special as an advent to really get the kiddos excited about Thanksgiving. So I thought about a book advent, but it just didn't seem quite right. I thought about the things I'm really grateful for and want my children to appreciate too... and one of the greatest blessings in my life is knowing that my family can be together forever, even after death, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I have felt a connection to my ancestors for some time and love doing family history work. I would love for my children to feel that same connection, to have a relationship with those who have paved the way for us to enjoy the blessings we have today. After much thought and prayer, I feel that this idea came from the Lord to fulfill those desires. 
It is an ancestor advent, each day leading up to Thanksgiving will be a different ancestor. We'll put on their leaf, read stories about their life and their faith, and look at fun pictures. I've made enough extra leaves to add any additional children that join our family over the years (I figured they'd really enjoy each having their own day! Looking at pictures of when they were a baby, etc.). By Thanksgiving, the Eternal Family tree will be filled with the "blessings" of family members that are ours for all eternity because of Christ. 

 I designed freehand, cut out, 
and then appliqued on this tree and the script.
for scale, see my socks.

sewed on velcro circles
Then sewed on the sashing, sewed up the sides,
and put a binding on the top and bottom.

edited photos into sepia and re-sized as necessary
cut out those photos in circles
and mounted onto individually cut out maple leaves
(I used a printed off leaf from the internet as a template. )
Then laminated, cut out again, and glued on velcro circles.
The lamination was the most expensive part. It cost more than fabric,
thread, velcro, paper, and printed photos combined.
This photo is my maternal grandmother at 17 when she got married. 
By Thanksgiving, it will look something like this.
I sewed button hole openings in the back and inserted a dowel rod (I had to do button holes because the width exceeded the longest dowel rod I could find). I'll attach a ribbon to the dowel rod so it can be hung on the wall for the month of November. 

I'm STOKED about this project! Aren't you? Come on, admit it... you are tempted to make one too!!!! :)

Monday, October 1, 2012


Our family has made it a tradition to go pick apples at the beginning of fall. Ohio is excellent apple country, and there are TONS of varieties available for picking that you don't normally find in stores. We like to 'explore' I guess, and the past three years we have tried a different variety each time for our applesauce. This year's choice was Cortland, a mostly sweet apple with a tiny bit of tart. The pristine crispy white flesh made for awesome fresh eating! And eat we did. This was the first year they told us the policy is they don't charge for what you eat. He actually told us as he handed us the bags, "so eat your breakfast out there!" We were pretty happy about that  because keeping the kiddos OUT of the produce in the past has made it less enjoyable for them, I think. This year, they LOVED it! All the "a-poe"s little Caroline could possibly bite! (and she bit quite a few!) Now every round object that she can't identify with a word/sign she knows is an a-poe, including tomatoes, plums, and pumpkins.
There was apple eating
 and apple picking
 apple eating
 and apple color examining
 much running with apples to create mostly blurry photos... :)
 examining of ants all over the fallen apples
 peek-a-boo amongst apple leaves
 I think she was a Thundercat, most likely Cheetarah. 
 Repeated attempts at "escaping", but at least she just ran down these long rows of trees and we could still see her.
 and of course there was posing with apples.
We really had a splendid time, the weather was perfect, and our apples were/are delicious!
 We ended up with 18 quarts of applesauce,
partially consumed apples hiding in every room of the house (thanks, Caroline),
and memories of a great time!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rainy Camping

Our Ward (aka Congregation) had a campout a couple weekends ago. It thunderstormed. Because I wanted her to sleep in her own bed and not disturb her tempestuous rhythms,  Caroline and I were safe and warm at home til the morning. We rejoined the brave ones for breakfast, anxious to see how they fared... Eric and Gwen had a marvelous time anyhow! Gwen was just short enough that her feet missed the dripping roof and she didn't get soaked until she got up. :) and the rain didn't even seem to phase her AT ALL. She was just tickled to be outside! 

Caroline, not to be outdone, insisted on walking everywhere herself, even though her height meant she got pretty soaked in the wet grass. That was a day of SUPREME independence! (if we attempted to pick her up or redirect her, there was an eruption of squalling fits!)
After packing up the tent, we stopped at a boardwalk metro park to see if all the rain had impacted the waterfall. We were NOT disappointed! Both girls thought this was pretty awesome! The only way we could get Caroline to stop looking at it so we could take a picture was if I held her with my body as a screen. :)

 Caroline charging on ahead, full speed, despite the slippery boards. Gwen doing another 'pose' in the background.

 We found some beautiful leaves. Gwen and Caroline wanted to compare theirs. Daddy had to get in on the leaf-bragging session so he picked this one with fungus nubs all over it!

Walking along the boardwalk with my beautiful family, everyone so happy, the world so clean and glistening, the outing spontaneous and free with no expectations, schedules, or time tables, all worries and cares temporarily left behind... Money, school, work, projects, things to do and things to buy... none of it mattered. I was absolutely content and my heart was filled to the brim with gratitude. I am so happy. I am so blessed. My family is mine for eternity and I couldn't ask for anything more. :)


Gwen is at a funny stage of 'posing' for photos. Some are cute, some are sassy, some manage to look sort of spontaneous, but most tend to look like she is doing a crazy yoga balancing pose or holding in her pee. Some recent pics to illustrate the posing phenomenon:

She's such a character! :)