Jen Spilly Designs
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Handmade for Woman and Home
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Instagram Best Nine 2016

Instagram Best Nine 2016

It's been a while. Checking in to share my Instagram Best Nine of 2016, the posts that received the most likes over the past year. It turns out that these images are some of my favorites too. It seems the moments and achievements that touch us most deeply are the things that speak to others about ourselves the most deeply too. Over the past year I started doing some block printing and hand dying, I had a couple of awesome vacations with beautiful vistas and tasty cocktails, I took a stab or two at building daily creative habits, my kids grew (and I have the pics to prove it!). And two things will forever be so: 1) I am a sucker for pics of my kids from our annual Christmas Tree Trek (especially with silly faces and Santa hats) and 2) my husband sure knows how to light a tree... he's always the most popular guy on the block this time of year.

For anyone reading, I wish you a Happy New Year and leave you with a list of thoughts on where I am in my life right now, Taking Stock inspired by Pip of Meet Me At Mike's. Make your own list, it's fun and harder than you'd think...

Making : lists
Cooking : Enchiladas
Drinking : coffee and wine, what else is there?
Reading: In The Company of Women by Grace Bonney
Trawling: Hot for Food Blog and Lauren Toyota... I'm not vegan, but she's inspirational.
Wanting: a new couch
Looking: forward
Deciding: on my "one little word" 
Wishing: people find peace
Enjoying: twinkly lights
Waiting: to speak
Liking: fresh flowers
Wondering: how to get it all done
Loving: my old dog
Pondering: a cleanse and a better fitness plan
Listening: to old vinyl with N
Considering: classes and workshops... for me!
Buying: groceries... really, it never seems to end
Watching: family movies with the kids
Hoping: it all works out
Marvelling: at the freedom of birds
Cringing: when I think ahead to January 20
Needing: nothing
Questioning: my direction
Smelling: geranium
Wearing: my Blundstones almost every day!
Noticing: friends who seem to have it together
Knowing: that they probably really don't
Thinking: about classes and workshops
Admiring: creative people
Getting: rid of extra stuff, making room for the Holiday haul
Bookmarking: One Little Word
Disliking: the tween years
Opening: Holiday cards
Closing: the year
Feeling: a little stuck
Hearing: my own voice
Celebrating: new beginnings
Pretending: that I am not a procrastinator
Embracing: my babies who aren't babies anymore

Tis' the Season ...

Hello folks! Well, December is upon us. I must say I am ill prepared for this Holiday Season. Many plans are made and moving forward, but no matter what I do to stay ahead, it seems I cannot get to that point where I can sit back and take a full breath of air. I have simply resigned myself to the idea that I will not be able to relax until January 4 when the kids return to school after the break. Until then it’s all making, selling, cleaning, decorating, feeding, eating and shopping. The purpose of this post then is to make my list and check it twice (lucky you, you get to help!). The list of what’s happened, what’s happening and a few items that are likely to not happen at all (but it’s nice to dream).

What Has Happened?

  • Marin Handmade had its inaugural event way back in October. What a fun event that was! Heather and I are so proud of how it turned out and we are already talking about what and when the next event might be along with our co-organizers Robin Stelling and Creek Van Houten.
  • Halloween went off without a hitch. One Kitty Cat and one Werewolf semi-homemade as requested.

Halloween 2011

  • New items are posted in my shop for the first time in a long time. Seriously, I hit a wall sometime back and have had the hardest time getting to the other side, but I am finally making some progress in sewing, photographing and posting. Whew!
  • Gianna turned 5!!
  • Thanksgiving was lovely if a bit less festive as we were missing part of our usual family party. The food all turned out perfect and we spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Stacey.

with Grandpa & Aunt Stacey

  •  For quite some time now I have been hiking with Bear 3 or 4 mornings a week. I am loving it!
  • Gerald, our elf, has returned for the season. He is carefully watching over the kids and is already being used as a threat (lovely!)… “You should stop fighting. Gerald is watching.” Such great parenting skills we have.
  • The Advent Calendar is up and ready for action.
  • The boxes of decorations are down from the attic and awaiting the arrival of the tree this Sunday. Always a fun time meeting our friends in Freestone, picking a fresh tree at Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm and refueling with lunch at the Union Hotel. The rest of the day is spent untangling lights, rearranging the mantle and making sure the kids put the ornaments where I want them.
  • The Mr., usually wonderful man that he is, has adorned our massive maple tree on the front lawn with lights, lots of lights. Funny, he was a total scrooge before we had kids and now I have to beg him to stop decorating. It looks beautiful though - in a haphazard, Dr. Seuss-y sort of way. Gotta love a guy who can make you and the kids smile from time to time!

What is Going to Happen (or should have happened already...)?

  • This Saturday I will be at the Petaluma Craft Mafia’s Holiday Ho Ho Ho Down selling my bags. I’ve never done this show before, but I am imagining the crowd will be pretty fun.
  • Next Saturday I will be at the Fairfax Holiday Craft Fair. I did this fair last year and had a great time. So happy to be asked back again!
  • I’ve decided to make some quilted camera straps. I know there are lots of people on Etsy and other places doing this, but I love them and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while so I decided to just go for it.
  • I am adding a few other bits and bobs to my line up as well. Stay tuned…
  • Still thinking about starting up a program to teach sewing to kids and adults. I think there is a lot of interest in my area. It’s just a matter of me getting off my butt and doing it.
  • I still owe my mother a Christmas list for my kids. Sorry Ma!
  • I still don’t have a real Christmas list for myself of what to give the kids or anyone else.
  • I would love to get my house really, really clean AND get a new living room rug ASAP…

And the online housekeeping… It seems that I spoke too soon in my last post. I was so excited that I got my banners to work and all, that I just went ahead and deleted my old blog. Well, in my excitement I forgot I had one more step to take. The second I hit “delete” all the links to my old photos were gone because apparently they were still living in my old blog. So, if you go back into an old post here you might find there is no picture where there once was one. I am working on that, but I have to manually go back and find each photo in my files and upload it new into each post. Fun! Anyway, bear with me please. I am clearly not technologically inclined but I am doing my best. Happy Holidays! More to come...

Someone Call The Tooth Fairy!

You see, all through the second half of Kindergarten this boy asked each day, sometimes more than once, "When am I gonna lose a tooth?"  That question was usually followed by, "What will the Tooth Fairy give me when it happens?" or "How does the Tooth Fairy know when it's my turn?"  I kept telling him it would all happen in good time and not to worry about the girls in his class, some of whom had already lost at least 4 teeth (darn precocious girls!).

So, you can imagine his excitement when a tooth finally got the slightest bit loose.  He pushed and prodded it constantly, hoping it would fall out before the end of the school year.  But, nope!  That sucker must have been rooted in there good because it has stayed in for a good two months just teasing us ever so gently.  That's all over now!

Look at that tiny little thing!  Hard to believe teeth that tiny can chew steak or efficiently scrape the kernals off of a corn cob.  By the end, the thing was dangling by a slight thread of skin and I had to reach in and quickly yank it out because I was afraid he would end up swallowing it.  He was so excited, he jumped in the air.  He ran outside to show Daddy, still jumping and then I was afraid he would drop it into the lawn.  He held on though and proceeded to tuck it into this puppy that I finished whipping up just in time...

This cutey is based on the pattern over here at "mmmcrafts".  He came out so cute (if I do say so myself)!  Rather than making the mouth into a pocket like the original pattern, I decided to just add a pocket to the front of one "leg".  That same space fabric used for the pocket (picked up at JoAnn's ages ago) makes up the whole back of the tooth.  He hangs perfectly on the bed post so the Tooth Fairy can quickly get the tooth out and money in without waking up the sleeping boy.  Perfect!

at home, family, sewingJennifer
all wrapped up


Even after two babies, I never really mastered the swaddling thing...  Well, G. seems to have found the solution!  This is the scene I found on the couch this afternoon.  Of course, we're now out of tape, but that blanket isn't going anywhere.

at homeJennifer
spring? is that you?

So, after far too much rain, it seems that Spring, like the sunny part of Spring, might actaully be coming after all.  Really by this time of year we've usually had a heat wave or two and have spent more than a handful of days in sleeveless shirts, hanging outside until long after dinner time and taking dips in the kiddie pool.  But not this year.  Rain and grey days have been hanging around and I am disappointed to hear that the rain may not be over.  We won't let that get us down though.  We will enjoy it while we can.

Yesterday for instance was the perfect Saturday.  A t-ball game mid-morning joined by the grandparents and followed by a picnic lunch on the beach in China Camp.  People were at the beach in bathing suits playing in the water!  This is a beach where I have rarely seem more than a few people and always fully clothed, but apparently pent up from lack of sun, everyone came out of the woodwork, and wardrobe.  The kids skipped rocks with Gramps and gobbled up chocolate chip cookies for dessert. 

Then there was today.  An all around perfect Sunday of doing a whole lot of nothing.  We loafed around for a while in the morning, then Mr. Spilly got up late and made his usual Sunday breakfast for the kids of eggs, pancakes and bacon while I cleaned up a bit.  After that the kids put on summer clothes and we headed out to the backyard for more loafing around.  They spritzed flowers with spray bottles, played in the sandbox and eventually put on bathing suits and splashed in the kiddie pool and finally the slip-n-slide.  For hours, Mr. Spilly and I were able to get some work done.  I sat outside with my computer and added captions and tags to many Flickr photos.  Mr. Spilly was able to do some work and whip together a little table to use next to his assortment of favorite outdoor chairs.

Later in the day we took all of our bikes (yes, mine too) over to the schoolyard and left behind one thing... G.'s training wheels!  That's right, she finally did it - helped along by seeing Mommy ride her own bike.  That was the deal... she said she would let Daddy take off the training wheels if Mommy rode her bike too.  Yeah!  Congratulations little girl.  Glad to help move this milestone along.  Here's hoping for lots more perfect Spring weekends.

at home, familyJennifer


I spent part of the evening eating cuties with my cuties.  Yes, I think we polished off half a bag, but boy those cuties are good when they are in season.  I think though that the best part is peeling them.  When they are perfectly ripe you can almost pop the skins off in one piece.


at home, familyJennifer
my funny valentine

We spent yesterday afternoon making Valentine's Day cards for all of Nathan's classmates at preschool.  I wanted to get away from the store bought kind and throw a little something handmade into the holiday.  Nathan probably would have preferred a box of super hero cards with cool graphics, but I insisted that we at least try to be original.

I cut some red card stock into 3x3 cards.  On some heavy white drawing paper I traced hearts from a cookie cutter onto one side.  Nathan glued bits and pieces of colored paper and sequins to the other side.  The colored paper was made up of different tissues left over from Christmas and cut up painted paper from my "turn into wrapping paper" stash of Nathan's school artwork (I just can't keep everything he makes).  When everything was dry, I cut out the hearts and used double stick tape to stick them to the red cards and wrote "Happy Velentine's Day" on the back.  Nathan personalized them by adding two Spiderman stickers to the front and one to the back of each card and signing his name.


the boy at work

Nathan worked very precisely and carefully decided which stickers to use from his book of 200 Spiderman stickers.



signed & sealed

ready for delivery

We bagged them up and prepared them for delivery.  Overall, Nathan loved the cards and was proud to hand them out on the big day.

at home, familyJennifer