Friday, January 30, 2009

Happy Birthday 2 Year Old!

Today, my newborn baby is two. That just blows my mind. Little Annelie Cecelia is no longer a teeny tiny baby.... I shouldn't feel so surprised, but somehow I am.

After having the quietest pregnancy, she came into the world even quieter. Nothing made her happier than a cuddle, and she pretty much slept for the first four months straight.

But she isn't quiet anymore. She woke up one day, and woke up with a vengeance, and has been keeping us on our toes ever since. Last months black eye - from nosediving off the back of the couch - and last weekends lip stitches - from using a tricycle as a stepping stool - shows me that Annelie is fearless, always ready for adventure, and that I'll probably expect... a few more adventures that will leave us all in the emergency room.

And though I've been saying that she's had the 'terrible twos' for months now, as biting and scratching and shouting the word "NO!" after every question she is asked and every cuddle or term of endearment she is given, has been the story of her life, it doesn't make it any less shocking when I go to the store to pick out her presents and realize that I'm not shopping for generic baby toys any longer. I'm actually picking out toys because I know she'll like them.

She has a strong personality, full of passionate loves and powerful dislikes. She LOVES Barney, farms, Barney on the Farm, bubble baths, and baby dolls. She dislikes green beans, wearing socks, cuddling unless it is on her terms only, and not being allowed to color on the walls.

And though I spend the majority of our time together saying "No, Annelie!" and "Stop, Annelie!" and "Say you're sorry, Annelie!" and "Pulling hair is NOT NICE, Annelie!".... it still makes me happy that she is growing up into an adorable little girl with a fiery personality.

As she turns two, and enters a new stage of life with plenty of discovery and more than enough 'no's,' 'dont's' and 'stop's' being called to her - I can't help thinking of the Shel Silverstein poem,

"Listen to the mustn'ts, child
Listen to the don'ts.
Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me...
Anything can happen, child.
Anything can be."

Life is an adventure with Annelie, and I can't wait to see where her journeys take her and what kind of girl she will grow up to be.

Happy birthday, baby! And many, many more!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Strawberries and Cream Cupcake... Mmmmm....

Cupcake #2 from my contest for a cupcake is now finished and sitting in my shop, alongside the Orange Dreamsicle Cupcake. As wonderful as all my entries were - and it was so hard for me to choose the winners - I'm glad I ended up choosing 3 fruity winners, as I am so in love with the fruity cupcakes I've done so far.

Thanks you, Lorissa (aka LJDesignPhoto) for your wonderful entry of the Strawberries and Cream Cupcake. I absolutely love the girly pinkness of it, and that strawberry looks pretty cute tucked in amongst the flowers, don't you think? Hopefully Lorissa loves it too, as she gets an 8 x 8 print as well as a set of 8 gift tags.

As much as I love drawing all these cupcakes... I wish I was baking them as well. They make me hungry. Mmmmmmm.....

I think the cupcakes look pretty sweet together, don't you?



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CPSIA Blog-In: Save Handmade! Save Children's Books! Save Antique Toys!

hmmm... something looks very wrong with this picture...

As parents and/or concerned citizens, I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys?

The answer: They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA?

No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.
Article from the American Library Association

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:
Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:
Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.”

To the American Economy:
Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

Have you sent your comments regarding component testing to the CPSC yet? The American Apparel and Footwear Association has made it easy for you to submit this important information with pre-written text that can be sent directly to the CPSC with the click of a button. You can of course edit the text if you have the time. Visit this page today, before it's too late. Your comments could make a huge difference, saving the livelihood of many thousands of Americans. Pass it on!

Here are a few handmade items from fantastic sellers of quality children's items. Please help get awareness out about the CPSIA, so that quality businesses and handmade items like these can continue to be made for generations to come! Help save handmade!

1.) Fancy Gal Custom Boutique Tutu:

2.) Handpainted Zen Buddha Tank Top:

3.) Coming Up Roses Boutique Hair Bow Holder:

4.) Plushie Beach Ball:

*** A special thank you to Holly of Winklepots and Gretchen of Chichibouli, for organizing this blog in and putting together the above information for all to read and share with the world!

Please EVERYONE! Help get the word out! We all can make a difference in getting this law amended!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pixie'd and Punk'd

I finally got that pixie cut I wanted to get back in November. I hadn't planned on keeping my self-cut hair-do for longer than a weekend, but it ended up being pretty cute (of course I never looked at the back to see how jagged it really was...) so I just waited for it to grow out a little before chopping it all off.

But yesterday was the day, and here is my new pixie. It was actually supposed to be about two inches longer all over, but the girl was as scissor happy as I am, and she kept cutting and cutting and cutting some more. When she pulled out the razor and began buzzing it across the back of my neck, I finally told her to stop, as it was never supposed to be short enough for a close shave. Luckily its just hair, and though my hair grows soooo slowly, it does grow.

In the meantime, Will and I decided to have a little fun. He passed his hair cutting razors over to Gracie (they are cut proof, I promise) and let her shave his head into a Mohican, then she helped me slather my eyes in Glittersniffer's Darla eyeshadow and wax my hair into tall spikes.

And then we played around with the camera.... just a little fun on a Sunday afternoon.



Saturday, January 24, 2009

Orangle Dreamsicle Cupcake.... Mmmmmm.....

Its been ages since I had my contest for cupcakes, and I feel horrible that I haven't illustrated or posted my finished cupcakes until now!

But here is cupcake #1, and hopefully it is worth the wait.

Thanks again, Anne (aka Casserole) for your wonderful entry of the Orange Dreamsicle Cupcake. I think this one is so cute and fruity and tropical! Hopefully Anne loves it to, as she gets an 8 x 8 print as well as a set of 8 gift tags.

(And I just also wanted to say... I got to meet Anne last month, for coffee and cheesecake at a fabulous little bakery in Little Rock, Arkansas, when Will and I were driving back from our anniversary road trip and she is just about the nicest, sweetest person on the planet)

So hurray Anne, I really hope you like this cupcake.



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One World One Heart Giveaway

And the winner is... drum roll please.... Jenn from Just Jenn Designs! Hurray!

Thank you EVERYONE who took the time to pop by to see me and enter my giveaway!


Its that time again! Wow, this year went by fast, didn't it? It seems like just yesterday I was posting my give away for the 2008 One World One Heart event, and now here we are, one year later.

This years prize is something I hope everyone will find lovely and sweet! I'll be giving away a set of two 8 x 10 prints from my shop, Elegant Snobbery.

And here they are - both featuring lots of love and One Heart!

Sweethearts 8 x 10 Print

Love Bunnies 8 x 10 Print

My giveaway, is open to EVERYONE who leaves a comment, and one name will be drawn to receive this giveaway, announced on February 12th. Be sure I have a way to reach you!

Thank you for stopping by, and, as always, ENJOY! And thank you Lisa "Oceandreamer" for organizing this wonderful event once again!

Interested in hopping on the gypsy caravan to participate and enter hundreds of fabulous giveaways, as well as meet other amazing people and their blogs from all across the world? Be sure to visit the OWOH blog by {{CLICKING HERE}}


Monday, January 19, 2009

The Phone Is For You!

What is the deal with kids and their love for talking on the phone? And even more, what is the deal with kids and their sudden need for Mom's undivided attention when someone calls and the call isn't for them? And one step further, why do kids seem to think that the second Mom answers the phone, it is time to attack their sister/stick their hand in the toilet/scale the kitchen counters trying to reach the cookie box/remove the pictures from the wall/rip the covers off all the children's books/sneak Mommy's colored pencils and chew all the lead out?

Or is that just my kids? Somehow, I don't think so.

My friend Holly is determined to believe that I sugar-coat my blog posts about my life with kids. The reason: While I definitely have lots of posts about temper tantrums, black eyes and terrible manners, more often than not, I feature my girls in all their adorableness... yet whenever Holly calls, she gets nothing but a blast of screaming kids with bad behavior as I run all over the house trying to find one place where she wont have to listen to screaming, crying children in the background.

Truthfully, I feel sorry for anyone who calls us at the Hopkins household. Will and I aren't particularly nice to our friends and family. As soon as someone asks to talk to the girls, they are subjected to listening to Gracie and Annelie babble on about anything from Barbie to Barney (and only about 35% of it even makes sense) for about a half hour each, despite the fact that Will and I can hear whoever it is saying, "Give Mommy the phone, please. Please, please, please give Mommy the phone," -- to which Gracie completely ignores as she replies, "Yeah, uh huh, okay, that's right," while balancing the phone between her ear and her shoulder, as she pretends to be me; and to which Annelie only just shouts 'No!' and then keeps right on babbling.

As I said, Will and I aren't particularly nice, but we both find it funny, so we let the girls carry on. We find it especially funny when Gracie decides to show the person on the phone her pictures, or workbooks, by holding the phone over them saying, "See? Do you like my picture?" That can last a good ten minutes. Its a good thing we have a cheap long distance plan, as it is usually Will's family in England, or my mom in Austin, who are stuck on the other end of the phone.

Last month, when Gracie was visiting my mom for a few days after Christmas, I let Annelie call Gracie every day. The girls have never been happier. For 20 minutes at a time, they sat there giggling across the phone to each other. Annelie finally had someone on the phone who laughed when she shouted, "BLAH!" and Gracie finally had someone on the phone who laughed when she shouted, "UNDERPANTS!" It was great.

Anyway, the moral of this post is this: My kids are monsters when the phone rings. And as for you, Holly, please don't tell me I've sugar-coated this post. Because if you do, I might just hand the phone off to Gracie and Annelie next time you call!

For those of you who love the phone as much as my kids do, here are some Etsy favorites of mine to share:

It is no secret that I have a bit of hero-worship for Kelly of Macaroni and Glue... her shop is just fantastic and her retro-modern papergoods are even lovlier in person. I adore this Call Me set of 8 blank note cards. You can find her shop at

And her blog never fails to make me smile, especially the letters she writes to her adorable and imaginative daughter on 'Dear Kid Saturday.' Check it out:

I love everything found in the shop filled with illustrations, prints and cards by Lynsey Hunter (especially her illustrations of London and Bath!) This Telephone print, made of watercolor, ink and collage, is just adorable! You can find her shop at

This iphone 3G case, made by Hine, at, is just about the cutest phone case ever. I don't even have an iphone, but this case makes me want to get one... just so I can wrap it up in the mustardy plushness of this phone carrier! I love it.


Friday, January 16, 2009

The Misses (Bad) Manners

I had been so proud of my girls and the way they acted like the perfect little ladies, always saying 'please' and 'thank you' and 'pardon me' whenever it was appropriate. I often congratulated myself and my fantastic child raising abilities, resulting in my two adorable daughters with impeccable manners.

Obviously I was congratulating myself too soon, because lately, "Ew, that's disgusting," is the most frequently heard phrase around our home. And the most frequently heard sound.... Annelie tooting at Gracie's command, and the girls both exploding with giggles while Gracie shrieks, "Annelie did a FART!"

Gracie is the bad example when it comes to the things she has taught her very impressionable little sister, but where she gets her bad example from... I can only point my finger at her dad, who thinks "Pull my finger" is a perfectly appropriate question with a very hilarious punchline.

But lately, Gracie has started spouting out some rude things that, though I remember saying them when I was a little girl, how she learned them, I have no idea.

The other night, I set her dinner (chicken nuggets, french fries and veggies - nothing unusual) in front of her, and she instantly scrunched up her face, held her nose and declared, "I'm not gonna eat this. Something stinks!"

Annelie, watching Gracie very carefully, plugged her own nose and said, "Ew yuck, zas zis-zus-sting!" - (translation: "Ew yuck, that's disgusting" - for those who don't speak 2-year-old)

What??? Where did THAT come from? What happened to my adorable little angels who smiled and said, "Yum! Chicken nuggets! Thanks, Mom! You make the most delicious dinner ever" - Okay, they never said it quite like that, but they certainly didn't plug their noses and declare that their dinner stinks.

What I'm going to do with these little girls, I have no idea. We are getting dangerously close to the stage in their childhood where I can't take them anywhere lest they humiliate me. I had figured that, with perfect manner drilling beginning at babyhood, I'd be able to bypass all the embarrassing kid bad habits and rude behavior... but I was wrong. No matter how lady-like I instruct them to be, laughing at potty humor, tooting at the dinner table, and announcing that I have bad breath first thing in the morning, seems to just come with the territory of them being kids.

Moms out there, once again, I am open to suggestions and stories. Spill them please, and let me know that I'm not the only mom out there with adorable little girls... with terrible manners despite the constant reminding to say 'please,' 'thank you,' and 'pardon me.'


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Its a Jungle Out There

I wanted to give you all a peek into my studio (aka the dining room table) as I created my new illustration 'Its a Jungle Out There.'

I've been sketching a new series for sometime now, called 'In the Jungle' with pieces featuring - you probably guessed it - jungle animals. Gracie's nursery was jungle themed when she was a newborn, and I've always loved the little animals that my original sock monkey illustrations are holding... so I came up with these new sketches based on the jungle animals I love the best.

Here is a peek at some sketches.

Hmmm... if you squint very hard, you can see the "Its a Jungle..." sketch on drawing paper. I have to make it very light since it is the final illustration and I don't want graphite marks. The lion and the giraffes are just ripped-out pages of my sketchbook, so you can see them more clearly.

Here is my illustration in its gawky and awkward teen-age phase. It has potential, but is a bit homely as far as illustrations go! Usually I work one area at a time, but I colored everything in the foreground at once so I could show you what my picture looks like before the blending begins.

A lot of people see my prints and assume my work is done with watercolor pencils, because of how blended it all is... but I just used Prismacolors. I have many blending and burnishing techniques under my belt, that I've picked up and practiced since I first began using colored pencils 18 years ago, and I have to say honestly, that the blending is my favorite part of of my process. That is when the colors begin to POP!

After layering and blending several times, I outlined everything in black. These jungle pictures have a more cartoon-y look than some of my other illustrations and I liked the heavy black outlines.

I also decided to play around with a lot of white pencil in this illustration. I love the funky texture the white pencil adds to the piece.

Here is a before-and-after of one of the monkeys. The first picture shows layers one and two blended together. The second shows the blended black outline, as well as several more layers of color and outlines in white and orange.

And there you have it. The background is a mix of blue, green and chartreuse, with white circles and swirls. I think it is pretty cute!

Its a Jungle Out There 8 x 10 and 11 x 14

And here is another finished one, using the lion from the sketch I showed above:

The Jungle Kings 8 x 8 and 11 x 14

I'm actually really disappointed... these prints are so much better in person, but for some reason they scanned horribly! Its the background blue - my scanner just can't figure it out. So, if you think these are cute, I only wish you could see them in person. *sigh*

Anyway, I hope you like them.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Illustration Friday: Contained

Sweethearts - 8 x 10

"Their hearts contained an enormous amount of love for each other."

I haven't participated in Illustration Friday since October but have been meaning to join in the challenges more regularly as a New Year goal. This weeks topic is 'contained' and I knew just what to do.

I've been wanting to do another love-inspired sock monkey illustration, with Valentine's Day just around the corner - so here it is. My colored pencil illustration over acrylic-painted vintage sheet music.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Marisa and the Magical Socks

The other night, my feet were cold, so I went to my closet in search of warm socks. As I was rummaging for a matching pair, I pulled out and admired my most favorite pair of socks in the whole world: my fabulous Potluck socks which I had bought from the MacKenzie-Childs store in New York City.

For some reason, I've been saving these socks for a special occasion. What kind of special occasion requires fancy little harlequin socks, is still unknown to me, but I held onto the socks, still packaged together and unworn, just the same.

And as I did every time I went sock searching, I finished admiring my fancy socks and put them away, pulling out a boring white pair of sweat socks instead.

But then I thought, "What the heck am I waiting for? I bought these socks TEN years ago and they have been in my sock drawer just waiting to be worn ever since."

That was when I did the unthinkable - pulled apart the wrapping and put on my socks - my fabulous, fantastical, magical MacKenzie-Childs socks - for no special reason at all.

My feet have never been so cute.

I don't know why I saved them for so long. Was the wait even worth it? Probably not.

But I climbed onto my bed and just sat there for about 3 minutes, smiling at my adorable feet and my fancy socks, and I can tell you this: on a regular old weekday night, with the kids tucked up in bed and Will watching TV in the living room, it did feel pretty special to wear fabulous socks for no reason at all.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...