Extended Christmas Break

Dear Reader,

With only a few more days until Christmas, I hope that your final preparations for the holiday are coming together well and that you are enjoying these last days of anticipating the celebration.  My son and I made a batch of Christmas cookies that we completed at about 7:30 in the evening, and then we both sampled one.  Not a wise move on my part to give my dear four year old a cookie so close to bedtime, but he thoroughly enjoyed it!

My husband, son, and I are certainly looking forward to Christmas.  We will be celebrating with my family on Christmas Eve and with my husband's family on Christmas Day.  We love that our small families and proximity to one another allow us to see everyone on holidays!  And after Christmas the anticipation continues.  We are looking towards the arrival of our second baby before the end of 2011!  We can't wait!

As you would imagine, I am hoping to savor this next period of time as fully as possible.  I will be writing here as time allows.  The shop will reopen sometime in the New Year.   And in the meantime, I hope and pray for healthy, happy moments with my growing family.

Merry Christmas!  Best to each of you as you begin 2012.  And thank you for reading.

Quick Shop Update

Dear Reader,

Each day seems quite full right now, and I'm certain that I am not alone in feeling this way!  I am planning to close the shop on Friday, December 16 until after the holidays.  If you have an interest in blocks for now or early in the New Year, please consider a set this week.  Also, I've added the promo code of THANKS15 to take 15% off your purchase.  Enjoy!

I am grateful for the opportunities to also have my blocks in two local shops - Minty Keen in Grand Rapids and DreamSpun in Ada.  Both places have such a lovely selection of items to round out some Christmas shopping!

Tuesday's Treasury: Gold

I had intentions of putting together a color combination treasury again this week but found so many beautiful soft gold items that this treasury resulted!


Dear Reader,

I'm noticing all of these advertisements for the 12 days before Christmas and realizing just how soon this holiday will arrive.  I am trying to savor and anticipate.  I could mention many moments this last week that are so worth treasuring.  To be honest, I am also trying to check things off my ongoing "to do" list.  One of my favorite "to do" list items is gift wrapping.  I am not necessarily very creative or innovative in my approach, but I do enjoy the activity of wrapping.

This year many of our gifts have been packaged using the same formula (stamped kraft bag + red tissue + stamped tag + ribbon).  I actually love the simplicity of the result and think I may find a similar way to repeat next year. 

Tuesday's Treasury: Light Blue + Cream

I am continuing in the fun of color combinations this week with a wintry treasury of light blues and creams.  Happy Tuesday!

Gingerbread Kit

Dear Reader,

I like the idea of savoring the month of December and trying to find ways each day of acknowledging that Christmas is coming.  With having a four year old, I so want to establish fun experiences, traditions, and memories for him of this season while still attempting to keep the focus on what the celebration is about.  Interestingly, my son now remembers some of the activities from last Christmastime, and together we have made a list of some things we hope to do before December 25.

Topping the list this year, my son hoped to make a gingerbread house.  My husband, son, and I have worked on one each year for the past two years, and we just used supplies that I had on hand (graham crackers, powdered sugar icing, sprinkles, etc.)  This year I thought a gingerbread kit would be a nice way to make a house.  Honesty, I also thought it would be easier.

My son and I together selected a kit from the store.  Of the available kits, he chose a gingerbread village.  I think he had it pictured as a Lego set where we would together construct the pieces and make an exact replica of the photo on the box.  While we put good effort into the kit one afternoon this past week, our end result wasn't quite the same.  I must not have a way with frosting because the buildings kept collapsing and I ran out before icing all of the roofs adequately to hold the candy embellishments.  It didn't keep my sweet boy from working very diligently on matching the candy patterns from the box's picture.

No disappointment on my son's part though.  He sampled his fair share of icing and candies in the building process, and he still has hopes of adding on more decorations.  And I have the memory of an afternoon spent with just the two of us together developing this village to enjoy in the weeks ahead.

I'm linking up with Life Made Lovely, and I hope that this is a lovely week for each of you!

Charcoal + Red = Etsy's Front Page

I have had an exciting morning!  As you know, I love putting together a weekly treasury of Etsy finds, and this morning the charcoal and red treasury reached Etsy's front page.  Very fun!

I so enjoy curating treasuries to become aware of just a few of the amazing items that you will come across on Etsy, to stay creative in considering how items inform one another in a list, and to appreciate the connectedness of meeting other Etsy sellers.

I hope you have a lovely afternoon!

Tuesday's Treasury: Charcoal + Red

I'm definitely starting to think holiday, and so here comes a new treasury with yet another color combination!  Enjoy!

Monday Update

Dear Reader,

I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving and a lovely long weekend!   The pace of Thanksgiving (and the weekend following) was ideal for us this year - very relaxed and fun. And, certainly, we enjoyed more than enough yummy food!

Today feels like the beginning of the next season for me.  I spent little time thinking toward Christmas this weekend, and now the "to do" list definitely reflects the start of this time of year.  By the way, today (November 28) is the final day for you to enjoy 15% off in the shop using the coupon code: THANKS15.  Please consider taking me up on this offer!

The next weeks promise to be busy but full of festive moments, and yet I hope to be mindful of Advent - a time of anticipation, a time of waiting, and a time of reflection on the arrival of the babe in the manger.

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today."

- Now Thank We All Our God
words written by Martin Rinkart (translated by Catherine Winkworth)

I hope that this day is a wonderful opportunity to be with family and friends and to express gratitude for the gifts in our lives.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday's Treasury: Teal

I love teal these days, and so here is a treasury with beautiful finds centering around this color!

Shop Restocked + Coupon Code

Dear Reader,

I hope you are having a lovely start to your week!  I think the next days will go by quite quickly in anticipation of Thanksgiving.  We have the pleasure of being hosted by my husband's parents at noon and my parents in the evening - definitely shaping up to be a lovely holiday!  I'm looking forward to time spent together with family and time to relax with my husband and son. 

You may have noticed that the shop is filling up a bit more than in the past months.  And along with a restocked shop, I have added a coupon code good for 15% off effective now through November 28: THANKS15

I am looking forward to this week and a time to pause and give thanks for the many gifts in my life.  Indeed this has been a year to remember.

On the Menu: Baked Oatmeal

These days I am constantly on the lookout for new ideas for a substantial breakfast. I'm not usually a big breakfast eater (granola bar or toast would be just fine), but I've made an effort to make better breakfasts with my preschooler to make certain he is well-fed before the morning at school. This is my second recipe for baked oatmeal that I have posted. Always nice to have options!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday's Treasury: Treasuring Thanksgiving

I'm getting very excited about Thanksgiving, and so this treasury seemed to be a perfect theme to think on this week. 

Tuesday's Treasury: Pale Gray

I love pale grays in general and especially during the colder months of the year, and so this treasury was especially fun to arrange. 

Craft Show Recap

Dear Reader,

I hope that your Monday has started well!  After a number of posts and references to the craft show, I thought a quick recap would be in order.  Here are a few highlights from the day:
  • Meeting some very kind people who expressed interest in the blocks
  • Seeing some wonderful family and friends who stopped by or sent a "thinking of you" text (including a visit from Jill who stopped by with her less than week old precious newborn - impressive, right?!)
  • Spending time with my mom, mother-in-law, and dear friend Kara who all helped with the booth - many thanks to each of them!
  • Talking with the two fabulous women with booths close to mine, both very talented women who seem to juggle their businesses and family life very well
The word that comes to mind in all of this is gratitude.  I am thankful for the family and friends that support me in this endeavor.  Thankful to have found a good creative outlet for myself.  Thankful for people who would enjoy giving the blocks as gifts to their family and friends.  Did everything go just as planned this weekend?  Not really.  And yet, all of the highlights point to a positive experience well worth the effort.

Thanks for reading! 

Jenison Christian Fall Arts and Crafts Fest

Dear Reader,

Happy November!  Hard to believe that autumn is moving at this pace!  We had a very full and fun day yesterday as my four year old enjoyed the festivities that come with Halloween.  His preschool class held a fall festival party, and then we geared up for trick or treating and receiving many costumed kids at our house last evening! 

Turning the calendar makes me realize that in a few short days, I will be participating in the Jenison Christian Fall Arts and Crafts Fest.  If you are a Grand Rapids/Holland local, please consider attending.  Here are the details:

Date: Saturday, November 5
Times: 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Location: Jenison Christian School (my booth is located in the gym)
Number of Booths: 120(!)

I hope to see you then! 

Sneak Peek

Dear Reader,

Block production is certainly still underway these days in preparation for the fall arts and crafts fest on November 5 at Jenison Christian School.  I will post full details on the show early next week.  In the meantime, here is a sneak peek of a few of my newer sets which will be available at the show:

pink bird patterned blocks

outdoor adventures patterned blocks

butterfly patterned blocks
My husband occasionally asks me if I'm still having fun working on this hobby.  The answer is a definite yes!  I love planning out and producing new patterned sets, and I always hope that those who end up with a set find them a lovely gift or addition to their own homes! 

Happy Friday!

Tuesday's Treasury: Autumn Harvest

This past weekend and into this week we experienced some lovely fall days full of an amazing golden gleam, which prompted me to put together this autumn harvest treasury.

Tuesday's Treasury: Cedar + Cream

I promise that my color combination phase of treasuries will end soon, but the cedar green with creamy neutrals made for another lovely collection!

Happy Tuesday!

Fall Features

Dear Reader,

I hope you had a lovely weekend!  My husband, son and I spent plenty of moments together as a family this weekend, which is the ultimate highlight for me, especially during my favorite season - autumn!   Here are a few fall favorites of mine these days...

Leaves.  I love taking drives and being surprised by the new colors that emerge with each turn.  (I will admit though that we have a limited number of leaves in our yard, and so the raking aspect of things isn't present for me!)

Wreath.  I prepared a new wreath for the front door this weekend.  Strips of burlap and berries and linen ribbon.  Couldn't be easier but a nice hint of the season to hopefully welcome people.

Pumpkin.  We will head on a pumpkin patch field trip with my son's preschool class next week, and I can't wait for the real deal on our front steps.  In the meantime this dollar bin special has been used for carrying many of my son's "treasures" around the house in the last week.

Cider.  I love it hot or cold.  For my husband, cider may be the best part of the season.  He whips up a special version of hot cider (sometimes with mulling spices) + caramel + whipped cream + sprinkle of cinnamon + cinnamon stick = perfection.

Do you have a favorite aspect of autumn?  I'd love to hear about it!  I hope you have a lovely fall day!   I'm linking up with Life Made Lovely Monday to enjoy some of the ways others are embracing life right now!

On the Menu: Easy Baked Apples

 I have cookbooks from the churches that my husband and I grew up attending, and these recipes often have provided wonderful options for our family's weekly dinner menus.  This recipe comes from my husband's home church and is as easy as the title suggests!  I can't get enough of apple this time of year (which works well since my son and I picked another 16 pounds of them this week!)  Enjoy!

Tuesday's Treasury: Gray + Mustard

I love both of these colors, and so this treasury has been very enjoyable to arrange!

Happy Tuesday!  I hope it's a great day!

October Shop Update

Dear Reader,

I hope you are having a good week, and how is October going for you?  The start of autumn seems to be scooting by so very quickly.  My son started preschool a few weeks ago, and much of my attention has been focused on this transition.  He's enjoying school, and I am so grateful to report that news!

My spare moments lately have mostly been invested in making blocks...

I am pleased let you know that you may find block sets at Dreamspun in Ada.  Please check out this lovely shop with adorable items for children!

Preparations are coming together for me to participate in a fall arts and crafts fest in early November.  More details to follow!

My basement counter top looks like this:

And I am having so much fun!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday's Treasury: Berry + Pumpkin

I love the rich warm colors of fall, and so I decided to use the colors berry and pumpkin to put together this treasury.

Happy Tuesday!

On the Menu: Cheese & Bacon Frittata

There are two breakfast/brunch options that I can count on my dad to prepare effortlessly - waffles (a childhood standby for me!) and this frittata.  My dad prepares this recipe often when my parents are hosting family and friends, and it is always a hit.  Enjoy!

Tuesday's Treasury: Teal + Linen

I generally wear very neutral colors during fall and winter months (and I always have a favorite grey sweater for the season!)  I do occasionally select a bit of color and usually am drawn to berry or teal hues.  I love how this treasury came together with the pairing of teal and linen. I am always amazed by the number of lovely items to be found on Etsy. 

On the Menu: Apple Pancakes

This week my son and I went apple picking with his grandma, aunt, and cousins.  We had a great time, and with my four year old apple picking pro we ended up with a nice batch of apples to make plenty of apple recipes.  This one comes from my dear aunt.  The pancakes are very light and fluffy.  Enjoy!

Thirty + One

{Source: oh my! handmade goodness - and it's a printable!}

Dear Reader,

Today promises to be a wonderful day - hopefully a day for two lovely people in my world to shine as they celebrate significant birthdays.

My dear friend Jill turns thirty today!  She will be in my thoughts often (as we will celebrate this milestone over breakfast in a few days), and I am filled with gratitude for the gift of our friendship.  As friends who began as college roommates more than a decade ago, I have had the pleasure watching her life unfold in wonderful ways in our twenties, and I admire the path that she has chosen for this past decade.  Jill, this year ahead (and beyond) promises to be a very sweet time with your family life (how exciting!), and I look forward to the continued evolution of Cora Anne Designs and the many creative endeavors you pursue along the way.  Happy Birthday, and know that you are treasured!

This day also marks my niece's first birthday!  I can hardly believe she is already a year old.  This little girl has such a precious way about her.  It is easy to witness the joy that she brings to her mom and dad (and the rest of the family also), and she does an amazing job of enjoying all the boy stuff that comes with having an older brother.  Happy Birthday to my now one year old niece!

Happy Tuesday to all of you!

On the Menu: Egg-Lemon Soup

This recipe comes from my mom and is a favorite of mine - so fresh and simple.  I think it pairs very nicely with a roasted chicken dinner.  Enjoy!

Tuesday's Treasury: Apple Harvest

I'm starting to see signs for apples at the roadside stands close to our home.  Now I look forward to the annual trip to the apple orchard with my son and his grandma (and sometimes aunt and cousins too!)  Picking apples definitely is a favorite feature of fall.

On the Menu: Wild Rice Soup

With a turn in the weather over Labor Day weekend to some cooler temps, I have started to think fall with my cooking.  And for me soups just seem to be in order!  This recipe comes from one of my dear aunts.  Enjoy!

Tuesday's Treasury: Goldenrod

I am spotting so much goldenrod in fields close to our neighborhoods these days.  I love the color of these flowering plants, and so I decided to gather this collection of lovely fall finds from Etsy.

Tuesday's Treasury (on Wednesday!)

After seeing some beautiful dahlias at farmers' market this morning, I decided to create a treasury with the theme of dahlias.

On the Menu: Tomato Zucchini Scallop

My parents have prepared this dish for as long as I can remember.  It's a perfect way to use some zucchini and a great fresh summer side that can be baking while dinner guests arrive!  Enjoy!

Tuesday's Treasury

I put together a collection of fabulous finds centering around the theme of scooters (can you tell I'm not totally ready to let go of summer?!!)  And MonkeyDogStudio was kind enough to feature the duck patterned blocks in a treasury.  Hence two treasuries this Tuesday!

Back to School Care Package

Dear Reader,

I love buying school supplies.  I had fun with the experience as a child (shopping with my mom and the list provided by my school) and now enjoy thinking toward that experience with my son.  There is a wonderfully fresh feeling about starting the year off with new notebooks, ink pens that have a lot of writing-life in them, and pencils with completely unused erasers.

Over the last few years, I have tried to put together care packages for some family and friends who are starting a new year of school.  I find it a great opportunity to let them know that you're thinking of them, especially with extended family and friends to whom I don't send a birthday card or Christmas gift during the year.

I'm working on the finishing touches for a package headed out this week to a friend of ours, a young woman who is starting at a new school this year.  Here are a few of the standards that are making their way into the package:

{composition notebooks, highlighters, pens, dictionary, sticky notes, and a felt flower clothespin}
 And I also worked on a craft to send along - a pencil case.  I painted and then added decorative paper to the lid.  I sealed the box, hot glued a felt bottom to the box, and then added a mini chalkboard embellishment to the top.  The pencils are inside and ready to be sharpened!

I remember my back to school experiences always feeling somewhat bittersweet - excitement about a new academic year and what experiences to consider ahead, and yet also sad to let go of the carefree conditions of summer.  I imagine that words of encouragement, a thinking of you note, or small package may be a nice boost with school days and homework ahead.

I'm linking up with Heather today for Life Made Lovely Monday!

On the Menu: Fresh Fruit Cobbler

 This recipe comes from dear neighbors and friends of ours.  I have made this dessert for friends and family (most recently with my mom's family in Chicago last weekend.)  This is a great August dessert given a (hopefully) plentiful supply of fresh blueberries and peaches.  Enjoy!

Tuesday's Treasury: Welcome Back!

I seem to find so many references to the school year these days - in conversation (and any trip to a store!), and so this week's treasury centers around the return to school with some lovely finds available on Etsy. 


Dear Reader,

I hope your week is starting well!  Today has been a day of catch up around our house (laundry, bills, groceries, cleaning, etc.) after spending the last week in Chicago with my family.  We enjoyed the company of many of our relatives this weekend (and my mom is an amazing hostess!)  On Saturday evening there were 17 around the table with plenty of conversation to go around.

One of my favorite places to visit in Chicagoland is the Morton Arboretum.   The maze garden there is phenomenal (a favorite for my four year old), and the children's garden is exceptional!  I spotted a lovely patch of zinnias in the children's garden and snapped a few shots.

Zinnias remind me of my grandmother.  Zinnias and snapdragons seemed to be such a staple in her garden.  I realized in thinking about these flowers how many nice memories of my grandma extend from summer months.  She tended her gardens so nicely.  She grew raspberries in backyard, and my cousins and I would pick them (and then she would serve them on ice cream for us all.)  And she absolutely loved trips to the farmer's market during the summer months.  I often wish I could have shared that experience with her as an adult who appreciates farmer's market far more now than as a young child.

And so the trip to the arboretum was full of nice memories of the past and also of enjoying the present with my dear husband and son. 

I'm linking up this post with Heather (and all of the great posts of lovely moments in life.)

On the Menu: Asian Pork Tenderloin

My dad does a great job with grilling, and this recipe for pork tenderloin is one of my favorites that he prepares.  Next week I'll post a yummy Asian slaw that serves as a wonderful side for the pork.  Enjoy!

Five for Friday: Shop Update

Dear Reader,

First of all, I hope you are having a good week. Hard to believe that July is coming to a close and back to school displays are out in full force.  I plan to savor every minute of summertime that remains!

I haven't posted an update on my shop in a while, so I wanted to share five small updates with you.

One. Both the blog and my Etsy shop received a facelift in the last week, and I couldn't be happier with the results!  Danielle Moss assembled a lovely end product in short order, and I am so thankful to her for the updates!  If you follow the blog via a feed reader, please take a moment to look around. 

Two. I haven't put a new set of blocks on Etsy for a bit, but know that I am always up for a custom request or an order of a product that I previously sold on Etsy.

Three.  If you're a Grand Rapids local, you may find some block sets exclusive to Minty Keen (and many wonderful items while browsing - I speak from experience!)

Four. Block production is under way in preparation for a fall craft show where I have signed up for a booth.  Should be fun.  More details to follow.

Five.  A set of duck patterned blocks will be included in an auction taking place August 1 - 7.  Tara and her husband are adopting a little girl from Taiwan.  So excited for them and so hopeful that this auction is helpful!


And that's five.  Happy Friday!


On the Menu: Shrimp-Stuffed Celery

More than any other time of year, I so enjoy appetizers during summer, especially if enjoyed on the patio!  Here is a recipe from my mom that I think is a fresh and delicious choice for a starter.

On the Menu: Cucumbers in Sour Cream

We have experienced one very warm weather week in Michigan!  A summer salad seemed to be the perfect thing to post, and this recipe (from my mom) is a great choice to include at a summer picnic or BBQ.  Enjoy!

Tuesday's Treasury: Woodland Scenery

I so enjoy exploring new themes on Etsy, and this treasury, centering around all things woodland, is no exception.  (And a walk in the woods sounds delightful!)


Dear Reader,

These seem to be the golden days of summer.  Days often full of sunshine and warm temperatures.  Days where daylight seems to stretch just a little beyond expectations.  Days where the tasks at hand are mingled with moments of great relaxation.  My husband, son, and I enjoyed a weekend getaway which offered some lovely family time and time to just relax.

We spent time with my husband's parents at the lake cottage where they vacation each summer.  (This year marks 25 years of vacationing in this town, and I am so pleased for my in-laws to have this vacation experience.)  Fun full-circle moments occur as my husband remembers his childhood vacations up there and now shares these experiences with our four year old son.  And the water there is exceptional, a beautiful shade of greenish blue and clear to the sandy bottom.

We also took our son to a water park for an overnight (part of his fourth birthday celebration.)  He soaked up each moment of fun, and we delighted in his total enjoyment.

This week promises to move by quickly with many scheduled times, but hopefully we hold on to a bit of the calm and contentment of the weekend.

What moments are standing out in your summer?  I'd love to hear. (And perhaps there are more than could be mentioned, and that's all together wonderful as well.)

Linking up with Heather:

On the Menu: Picnic Chicken

Dear Reader,

I love recipes that have quick prep times and are easily modifiable to one's taste.  This is a great example of those two goals while producing a flavorful and tender main dish.  Enjoy!

Tuesday's Treasury

Door County is a place full of fond childhood vacation memories for me, and so this treasury focuses on finds themed around this peninsula in northern Wisconsin.

Currently @ Minty Keen

Dear Reader,

I recently added some additional blocks to the supply at Minty Keen (located in downtown Grand Rapids.)  I am always surprised by the clever displays and the new (or often vintage!) products available at this shop!   Here are some of the sets of blocks you will find at Minty Keen now:

Please consider stopping in.  I think you'll enjoy what you find!

Party with Pinwheels

Dear Reader,

I loved the amount of relaxation that came with this weekend.  My husband, son, and I had a nice balance of time spent with both sides of our family as well as some memorable moments with just the three of us.  Along with celebrating the 4th over the weekend, we had my husband's family over for dinner to celebrate my son's 4th birthday AND my mother-in-law's birthday (which she didn't expect to celebrate this weekend - surprise!)  How delightful to have so many reasons to be merry!

I rather enjoy hosting parties, and I often aim to try a new craft for one of the decorations.  For this occasion I made pinwheels using Emily's tutorial from jones design company (her tutorials inspire me enough to attempt them!)   I made a few tweaks by using ribbon to wrap the pencils and two-sided scrapbook papers (which matched nicely with the party napkins.)  I am so pleased with how they turned out.  I filled some parfait glasses with sand, and these pinwheels acted as a fun and festive centerpiece for the party.

Although the details of a party are sometimes worth a mention, I truly hope that my mother-in-law and my son both felt fully celebrated by our family this weekend.  My mother-in-law is such a giving, kind woman, and our family is so blessed to have her in our lives.  My son is truly my husband's and my delight, and we are overwhelmed by the gift that he is to us!

I hope that today is a lovely day for you.  Thanks for reading.

Five for Friday: Weekend Plans

Dear Reader,

Happy 1st of July!  I have the weekend on my mind, so here are five plans for our weekend:

One. Celebrating my son's fourth birthday with my husband's side of our family.  His birthday is in a few weeks, and he is quite excited about turning four.

Two. Spending time with my aunt and uncle along with my parents.  Always fun.

Three. Enjoying a full day with my husband and son on Monday, which will hopefully include a leisurely breakfast and then hike and beach time.

Four. Taking in some fireworks.  We'll see how my son reacts to the idea this year.  Last year he was not a fan.  (Maybe attending a parade would be a better?!)

Five. Getting an ice cream cone.  Perfect time of year for such a treat.

And that's five.  Happy Friday!  Happy 4th of July weekend!  Any plans to share?  I hope you have a great time!

On the Menu: Strawberry Pie

Dear Reader,

If I had to name my husband's favorite dessert,  I would easily respond with strawberry pie.  My son has now followed suit entirely.  This past week I made a strawberry pie for my aunt and uncle during their visit to our fair state.  (I've never met a more committed pie-lover than my uncle!)  My aunt wanted the recipe, and so here it is.  Enjoy! 


Tuesday's Treasury: Savoring Summer

These days just seem to go by so quickly!  I am attempting to savor the moments of summer, and with this treasury I came across some lovely finds that celebrate this time of year.


Five for Friday: Common Questions

Dear Reader,

The weekend is just about to arrive - woo hoo!  I hope you are having a nice start to your Friday.  I'm writing today about the most common questions I have received about my Etsy shop from family, friends, and buyers alike.  Here goes...

One. What made you decide on making blocks?  In the past ten years or so, I have tried many crafts both as a creative outlet and a way to make handmade gifts, but I never settled on one craft that I wanted to repeat regularly.  After my son was born, I thought it would be interesting to develop a gift for the many new babies born to our friends and family.  Enter: baby blocks. The style of my block sets has certainly evolved over time, but I have a fairly firm process by this point.  Now the fun comes from selecting patterns and continuing to find ways to make the blocks even more environmentally friendly. 

Two. Tell me more about milk paint.  I first learned about milk paint from my cousin who painted her baby's crib using milk paint.  I appreciate milk paint because it is non-toxic, water based, and made with milk and lime.  Because I often mix colors and proportions, I enjoy that each set of blocks is a bit unique in its coloring.

Three. Who makes your blocks?  My dear husband.  We usually select the wood together, and then he cuts and sands the blocks by hand.  (Side note: my husband is incredibly talented at woodworking!)

Four. Do you take custom orders? Absolutely.  I have made blocks for new babies and for home decor, and if you are thinking about a set as a gift, I am glad to mail them directly to the recipient with a gift tag enclosure with a personal message.  

Five.  Do you give blocks as gifts?  I certainly do.  I often like to pair a set of blocks with a nice sleeper or sleep sack.  I must admit that the first sets that I gave as gifts (about four years ago) were not as polished of a product.  I've definitely learned better methods along the way.

And that's five.  Any other questions?  Please let me know!

Happy Friday!


On the Menu: Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Chips

Dear Reader,

I was introduced to fruit salsa and cinnamon chips by my former supervisor's spouse.  I think the freshness of the fruit paired with crispy and sweet chips is a winning combination (though I could just eat the salsa and be entirely happy too!)  This recipe comes from a publication of a community hospital in our area and is certainly a favorite in our house.  Enjoy!


Five for Friday (on Sunday): Father's Day

Dear Reader,

Today promises to be a fun day.  I have the opportunity to spend time with both my dad and my father-in-law to celebrate them and their roles in my life, my husband's life, and our son's life too!  I also celebrate the amazing father my husband is to our son.  Here are five of my favorite qualities about him as a dad:

One. Curiosity and explanations. My husband is exceptional at encouraging our son's curiosity and interest in how things work (a quality that both my husband and son so naturally possess), and my husband excels at teaching and explaining.

Two. Patience.  When I seem to be running low on patience, my husband offers such solid words and expectations of our son.  Grateful that we share in parenting well.

Three.  Fun.  He provides endless moments of laughter and enjoyment for our son, and I count on his playful spirit as a dad to our boy!

Four. Kindness.  I am not overstating this by saying that my husband is one of the nicest people I have ever met.  He demonstrates kindness and consideration as a father so often.

Five. Love.  My husband expresses his love to our son through carefully listening to him, through making certain that he kisses him goodnight before bed each night and each morning before he goes to work, through affirming the great things our boy does and through his thoughtful words of discipline and forgiveness when our son makes mistakes.

And that's five!  I consider myself blessed to be able to parent with my husband!

If it weren't enough to celebrate Father's Day today, I have another GREAT reason to celebrate.  My friend Kara turns thirty today!  Happy Birthday, dear friend.  Your friendship is such a constant gift in my life!  Can't wait to celebrate together soon!


On the Menu: Strawberry Shortcake

Dear Reader,

My family and wonderful family friends of ours had a long-standing tradition of a day in June called Strawberry Day.  Our friends would come over, and we would share a very nice meal together.  Then the kids (myself and my two friends) would play games outside (badminton, volleyball, croquet) or make up skits while a strawberry shortcake was prepared for dessert.  The famous recipe from this event is listed below, and the memories that come with Strawberry Day are such a good example of special traditions that can be made over time.  Enjoy!


Tuesday's Treasury: Celebrating Fathers

I am looking forward to this weekend and the celebration of my father, my father-in-law, and my husband who is an amazing father to our son!  I decided to theme this week's treasury around dads.


Five for Friday: Children's Books

Dear Reader,

We experienced some rather high temperature days this week and are only grateful for our wonderful neighbors who invited my son to join the other kids in their blow-up pool to cool off!  And today is a rather rainy day around here.  Hot, humid days and rainy days both lead to lots of book reading at our house.  My son and I make a weekly trip to the library, and here are some of his (and my) favorites right now:

One. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Two. What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Three. Mole Hill: A Woodland Tale by Lois Ehlert

Four. Library Mouse: A Friend's Tale by Daniel Kirk

Five. Little Whistle by Cynthia Rylant

And that's five.  Any recommendations?  Please send them along!  Happy Friday!


On the Menu: Schaumtorte

Dear Reader,

This is one of my favorite desserts (meringue shells topped with ice cream, strawberries, and whipped cream), especially during strawberry season.  My aunt did a wonderful job of collecting recipes from my Grandma B. and passing them along.  This is my Grandma's recipe for these wonderful meringue shells.  (I will tell you that they are a little risky to make on a very humid day in the Midwest, but so very worth it if they turn out!)  Enjoy!



Dear Reader,

Today is the start of a new decade in my life. The celebration started last week with a getaway with my husband, son, and parents.  Last night I had a lovely birthday party with my husband's side of the family.  And so today - my actual birthday - feels like the icing on the cake!

Many thanks to all the friends who have sent an e-mail or a Facebook post my way with well wishes.  A special thanks to my friend Jill for the wonderful post that I woke up to read this morning!   And, Mom, thanks for sending the flashing, musical greeting card; my little boy is in love with it.  I will have heard a rendition of "You Ain't Seen Nothin Yet" many, many times by the end of today!

Off to have a fun day!


Five for Friday: Birthdays Remembered

Dear Reader,

In just a few days, I turn thirty.  I'm looking forward to this birthday and the year ahead.  Here are a few memorable birthday celebrations from past years:

One. Twenty-one.  On my 21st birthday my boyfriend took me for a picnic dinner at our favorite beach and asked me to marry him.  One of my favorite nights ever.

Two. Twenty-two.  The night of our wedding rehearsal and dinner.  The rehearsal went really smoothly.  The dinner was very enjoyable (my in-laws did a lovely job hosting.)  The night was topped off with late night bowling with our wedding party.  Fun.

Three. Five. Clown party at our house.  Every child had a fabulous clown costume, and we did a big wheel parade with streamers and balloons around our neighborhood.  We also ate clown cones for dessert.  (Every year between the ages of one and ten could be listed as a favorite though; my parents always made them quite special!)

Four.  Eighteen.  Starting a very nice getaway with my parents after celebrating my graduation from high school and open house in the previous two days.

Five. One.  Do I actually remember this birthday? No.  But this first birthday started a long-standing tradition of angel food cake, whipped cream, and strawberries for my birthday cake.  Early June birthday = perfect time for strawberry birthday dessert!

And that's five.  Happy Friday!


On the Menu: Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Dear Reader,

We don't make chocolate recipes often in our house (as our nearing four year old is surprisingly not a fan of chocolate.)  Even so, I have some wonderful recipes which include chocolate, and I will try to remember to send them along to you from time to time!  This recipe comes from a family friend and is a delicious treat while using some zucchini.  Enjoy!


Tuesday's Treasury

I decided on a beach themed treasury for today.  I hope you either had the chance to go to the beach during the long weekend or that maybe you'll get there sometime soon!


Five for Friday: Memorial Day Weekend

Dear Reader,

Memorial Day weekend is just about here!  My husband and I starting discussing plans for the weekend which included mowing the lawn, a few small house repair things, etc. but also some fun and relaxing ideas:

One. Eat waffles (using the recipe from yesterday's post.) 

Two. Plant a container garden on our front porch.

Three.  Take a walk at our favorite county park.

Four. Blend up some strawberry smoothies this weekend and sip them on the deck.

Five. Play in the sandbox with our son for as long as he'd like.

And that's five.  Happy Friday!  Happy Memorial Day Weekend!  Plans for this weekend?  I'd love to hear about them!


On the Menu: Waffles

Dear Reader,

I'm gearing up for Memorial Day weekend!  One of my goals for any long weekend is to have one leisurely morning where my husband, son, and I actually eat breakfast together around a table.  Growing up, my dad made waffles most Saturday mornings, and I loved that he did that.  This recipe comes from one of my cousins and makes 4-5 crisp waffles.  Enjoy!