Some work in watercolors

The Fillmore Senior Center offers a really great drop-in watercolor class. As long as I’m not displacing a senior who wants to take the class, I’m able to attend even though I’m not a senior citizen. And it’s only $3 a class! I’ve been going to the class for a few months now and I love it. I have two hours of child-free studio time to mess around with watercolors and have fun.

I’m not much for still life or landscapes, though we have a lot of really talented painters in our class who do great work with those types of subjects. I like playful abstract art and doing collaborative art with the kids.

So here’s some stuff I’ve been working on lately.



This dude is a collaboration between Lelly, Evan, and me. Evan’s first birthday was a monster-themed party, so together the kids and I designed two monsters to hang on the wall. I drew different body shapes and parts, hair, ears, etc. and had both Evan and Lelly point to the ones they liked. I drew a monster based on each of their choices in Sharpie on some inexpensive paper. Lelly did a lot of drawing on hers, which isn’t pictured here, but this one is Evan’s and Lelly just drew the face, which I think has lots of character. We then painted both monsters with Lelly’s watercolors.



Abstract with Birdish Things

I did this as an exercise in class. I’m not sure if I’m finished yet, but I like it as it is right now.




An exercise in negative space.



From a Felt Insect Bird

I did this one a while ago, before Evan was born, actually, but it fits nicely here. Lelly flipped through my watercolor sketchbook as I was photographing the other pieces, and I had forgotten all about this guy. It’s actually a sketch of a needle-felted creature I made, and is one of my first attempts at blending watercolor and pen and ink (a technique I like that I want to explore further.)

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Holly Jolly Secrets of Gingerbread Penguins

First, a holiday lesson from Lelly: “If you put red hots in your nose, it will really hurt! I won’t put a red hot in my nose ever again! I will just put the red hots in my mouth.”

Lelly decorated gingerbread with her friend Sam a few weeks ago. His mom built a train for him, which was really cute. At first we thought we should take on the Adventure Time Dungeon Train as our own gingerbread project for this year, but seeing how many little pieces went into making Sam’s train, I thought something simpler was in order. Lelly suggested penguins, so we settled on that as a fun compromise, picturing a little cluster of Gunters.

Jeff and I built five little foil-covered cardboard forms to drape the gingerbread dough over, which I guess is the actual secret of the penguins. Gluing pieces with royal icing is for chumps. It’s so much easier to just bake the gingerbread into the shape you want. You have to oil it up pretty good, and even then the gingerbread sticks to the foil, but we just decorate with the cardboard still on the inside, and then it’s disposable if people want to take their creation home. (Though that’s another secret of gingerbread. Just eat it right away.)

(Additional note: Royal icing is for chumps. Regular frosting, the kind you’d use on a cake, tastes way better. Since we didn’t have to glue pieces, but rather just cover them for aesthetic purposes, there’s no point in using frosting that dries to a hard, glue-like crust.)

Jeff did all the rolling and forming of the gingerbread while I wrangled kids. When the penguins came out of the oven, we found one of the pieces of gingerbread had split and fallen open while baking. Daniel thought it looked like a mouth and declared, “I’m going to take that and make it into the LOL WUT pear.” I thought he said “bear” and not “pear” so I was a little surprised when Daniel started coloring the frosting green. I had no idea what it was until he showed us a picture. I’m not sure what Jeff made, and I don’t think he really knows either. He just went with something. So we wound up with two penguins, which is pretty okay.

Lelly made what she said was a gingerbread birthday cake with the scraps. She rolled it and re-rolled it many times, until I just decided it was time to bake it and gently encouraged her to put it in the oven. Then when it came time to decorate the penguins, she didn’t want a penguin at all, even though it was her idea, and so she decorated her cake instead. When she was done, she made sure to put a candle on it, light it, and sing “Happy Birthday.” She was pretty insistent that we should be singing to her, even with her birthday a month away, and no, she did not want to sing to baby Jesus, either.

If I’d had any wherewithal, I’d have tried to make the last penguin that Lelly didn’t want into the Ice King, but it was getting pretty late. One day, when the kids are bigger, we’ll attempt something pretty huge again, but until then, modular collections where everyone gets their own thing to decorate is pretty much the way to go, and that’s my final gingerbread secret.


And here are those responsible for all of this, minus Evan, who fell asleep before the decorating got underway.

Those Assembled For This Thing

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Napkin & Sock Ghostie

Lelly has been very excited this year for Halloween. At almost three years of age, she totally gets the idea of dressing up and has been looking forward to trick-or-treating as Woody, the family dog of my childhood. And thanks to a Tex and Indi story in the October High Five magazine, she now LOVES ghosts, too. Actually, from various stories and songs, she’s really into all the spooky Halloween creatures: witches*, vampires, bats, vampire bats, goblins, and so on.

This week is fall break, so Lelly’s home from preschool and needs fun activities to keep her busy. This afternoon, we made ghosts together to decorate the house.

For little kids, the creative process is way more important than keeping the craft afterward. We thought up this little ghost with that in mind: by snipping the hanging thread and untying the string, the components can easily be disassembled and go back to their former lives as cloth napkins and socks after Halloween is over. No waste, no storage. Boom!

Napkin & Sock Ghostie!

You need:

  • a white (or white-ish) cloth napkin
  • a sock
  • a rubber band or piece of string
  • hole reinforcers or other small round stickers
  • scissors
  • needle and white or clear thread

Roll the sock into a ball. Drape the center of the napkin over the sock ball. Tie the string or wrap the rubber band under the sock to make the head. Affix two hole reinforcers or round stickers (or even cut-out circles of tape that you’ve colored with a permanent marker) to make eyes. Cut about 24″ of thread, fold in half to double it, and thread it through the needle. Use the needle to attach the thread to the top of the ghost’s head, making sure to catch both the napkin and the sock. Pull through, and tie in an overhand knot.

Now hang your ghostie somewhere in your house. Lelly said, quite happy and excited, “I’ll wake up in the night and see something spooky!”

* Lelly told this story about a witch: “There was a witch outside, and then it came in my little room. It was over my bed, but I didn’t wake up. It was in my bed, but I didn’t wake up. Then I probably woke up a little, because witches do that. Then we chose a toy and we just…we were really friends. Then she blasted off! and disappeared.”

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A Cuff with a Twist (of wire)

Here’s a cuff bracelet I made!

Cuff, worn

I’ve been playing with a few iterations of this bracelet for the last several weeks. After a few false starts (a too-fast increase rate and Stockinette edges that rolled) I came up with this seed stitch almost-triangle, and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

The cuff incorporates a hammered copper wire spiral, which serves as the closure as well as being decorative. I’m really intrigued by mixing metal with fiber, so this is my first go at it. I really want the metal to be a more integral part of the fabric in my next project.

If you want this free pattern, go grab it on Craftsy! Or, just check out the rest of the pictures below. :)

Cuff, laid flat

Spiral Detail

Top side, showing closure

Bottom side, showing overlap

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This morning I looked out my window to see frost all over the ground, or as I like to call it, The Most Wintry Winter Weather I’ve Ever Experienced at My Very Own Home.

We got dressed up warmly and went out to look at it!

Frosty rows of trees

On orange leaves

On a cool plant

On oak leaves

Dan & Lel

Lelly looks so cute in her hat and boots. I can’t believe this hat fits her: I originally made it for Daniel. She chose it this morning as her hat, even though I didn’t lay it out as one of her choices.


I'm not sure about this

She has some breakfast cookie in her mouth, which contributes partly to the odd expression on her face. It was also just very cold.

On some other little plants

A prettyish sort of little wilderness

This is in part of the orchard that hasn’t been in production for a while. All these pod vines grew up and over the trees, and with the long grasses it just looks so wild and strange, especially with the frost.

The slowest fall

More wilderness

Surprisingly pretty poop

We get a bunch of manure from a stable in Los Angeles, and it’s delivered in these piles, which Dwight then spreads with the backhoe. The frost looks so cool spread over it, almost like tiny little snow-capped mountains. It is, as my neighbor Laura described it, the prettiest poop I’ve ever seen.


And steam came out of it too!

It almost looks like snow

It almost looks like snow shoveled up on the side of the road.

I spent so long running around in the orchard that I was a little bit late to bake Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles (yum) and go to an awesome crafting get-together. These are good problems to have. :)

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Customize this little guy to make a cool holiday gift

I love this little guy! I finished it a couple days ago and it’s awesome.


Here’s the guy with its bigger sibling, the Stripey Monster.


I started out just making a tiny Stripey Monster with self-striping sock yarn, but after I attached the arms and legs, Lelly loved it so much, I decided it was done as-is. She likes “guy dancing” – she wiggles it and the little appendages flop around in a really cute way. She carries it around and hugs it and plays pretend games with it.

I got really, really inspired by that. This guy can be anything she wants it to be – it’s amazing for creative play. As a knitting pattern, this blank-canvas little guy can turn into anything the knitter wants it to be, too, which is perfect for endlessly-customizable knitted toys.

The yarn you use determines how big the guy will be. I made the little guy with sock yarn and US size 1 needles, and he’s about 6″ tall when seated. The Stripey Monster is made with worsted weight yarn and US size 6 needles, and it’s about 12″ when seated. Put them together on a shelf and you’ll be thinking of Alice in Wonderland every time you walk by. :)

This pattern is great for using up yarn you have in your stash. If you’re in doubt you’ll have enough yarn of one kind, choose another yarn or two with the same weight and give your guy stripes.

The stripes, ears, horns, and face shown on the Stripey Monster are just one possibility for the guy. Use yarn, felt, beads, sculpted clay, or whatever else strikes your inspiration to add facial features to your guy. Make more or fewer arms and legs. Add hair or a mane. Knit up a snout, ears, horns, a tail, wings, spikes, or any other body parts your guy needs to come to life. While you’re at it, knit it a hat or a scarf or a bow. Give your guy a name and give it to someone you love.

And then make another!

You can get the pattern for both the guy and the Stripey Monster in my Craftsy pattern store right here!

Visit Lana Moore’s Craftsy Pattern Store »


I really, really want to see what people will do with this. If you make one, create a project on Craftsy and post pictures!

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Lelly’s Second Halloween

I’ve never seen a shirt that says “Baby’s Second Halloween” (or “Baby’s Second” anything, for that matter), but at 21 months, Lelly’s second Halloween was way more fun than her first.

We carved the pumpkins we got at the pumpkin patch. Lelly’s was an owl; mine was a weird face inspired by the big ol’ knobby things growing out of it.

I love my pumpkin

It's alive!

Transferring the owl

Daddy carving

Watching thoughtfully

My pumpkin in progress


I wanted Poppy to have a costume, so Lelly did some belly art. She said it depicted an “eggy bagel” but she says that about a lot of things, so I’m going to go with “abstract art” instead.

Belly art


We went over to Donna’s for dinner and then trick-or-treating. We put our pumpkins out on the porch with hers. They looked great!

Pumpkins at Mamaw's

My pumpkin is creepy

Owl Pumpkin is cute


After dinner, we put on our costumes for trick-or-treating. Lelly had the best time trick-or-treating and talked about it for days afterward, even though she seemed a bit shy when she was actually doing it. She wore her costume the entire time we were out, which was at least half an hour, and got a ton of compliments from the neighborhood kids, who recognized her costume instantly.


Adventure Time Family



I’m really happy with how the costumes turned out, and especially happy that with the exception of my wig, everything in our costumes was made with stuff I already had at home. Boom!

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Garden and Orchard Happenings

Yesterday was a gorgeous day, one of those cool, partly cloudy days right after a rain where everything is fresh. After I put Lelly down for her nap I went out to check on my garden.

This is a rosebush that I pruned a few weeks ago, with Donna’s help. When we were pruning, there were no roses, just a few places where the petals already fell off and hips would develop. I had no idea the roses would be such a bright pink color.


I don’t know much about roses yet, but I will. We have four or five other bushes besides this one! One has white blooms; the others don’t have any blooms yet. The ones without blooms are in pots, which I’ll plant later on once I see what color they are and where they’ll fit into my garden plan (such as it is). I let all the roses stay on the bushes rather than cutting them and bringing them inside; I want to gather the rose hips for tea.

More Roses


These are some French lavender bushes (I think) which we pruned WAY back. At first I was going to be gentle, but there were a lot of dead branches and I just kept cutting them off, back to these little stumps. I was concerned they wouldn’t make a comeback, but look at this!

Lavender Making a Comeback

There are three bushes. This one will clearly make it, another will most likely make it, and the third I’m not sure about but I’m rooting for all the same. I need to figure out where to plant these, along with four rosemary bushes that need to be pruned after Christmas (since I’ll want the fresh rosemary for holiday cooking!)

* * * 

There are a lot of non-orange trees in the orchard that compete with the orange trees: mostly palm trees and oaks, but there are a few other odd trees here and there. Some have gotten pretty big and Daniel has been working hard to take them out. He has a machete and has been enthusiastically attacking the palm trees, which he describes as giant weeds – they are everywhere, spread out, and grow quickly!

We went on a walk after he’d been cutting down some palms, and I asked him to show me how to use the machete. Together, we took down this tree! I did the big branch first, and then Daniel took down the tree itself.

My Tree

Okay, so it’s not the ideal tool for the job, but swinging a machete sure is fun. It took me probably 15 minutes to get through the branch, but once I got the hang of it, the work went much faster. Of course, the fastest thing to do is to use a chainsaw, which is what Dwight came by and did the day after, to cut the tree up into logs. We’re planning to get a chainsaw ourselves in the near future. :)

My Branch

* * * 

Finally, here’s Lelly wearing the brown paper pattern I made for Daniel’s Finn the Human hat. I gave her a piece of masking tape to play with while I worked on the pattern and cut and sewed the hat, and she decided the funniest thing to do would be to put it on her mouth.

Beb the Human

Don’t worry, she easily pulled it off moments after I took the picture. And then she put it on my mouth. :)

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Pumpkin Patch!

On Saturday my mom, dad, and sister came up to visit, and we joined Daniel’s mom at the local pumpkin patch.

It had a hay pyramid. I climbed it, too, but Daniel and Lelly really had a ball.

Hay Pyramid


There was also a hay maze. At first, all Lelly wanted to do was sit in the hay and play with it.

Handfuls of Straw

But then Daniel started swinging her around and they went through the maze the easy way – over the top. Now we know why there was so much loose hay around.

Navigating the Hay Maze


Then Lelly got to ride a pony. Oh, man, was this the highlight of her day!

Riding a Pony

She was very excited that she got to “ride white pony” and really seemed to have the hang of riding.

More Ponies!


Lelly loved that we were all given stickers as proof we paid admission, but I think she got a little carried away with hers.

Nom Nom


The pumpkins and sunflowers made a very enticing backdrop for a rare photo of the three of us together (thanks, Erin!)

Family Portrait


We all went on a hay ride, which gave us a tour of the farm. Lelly was not particularly excited at this point: moments before, she’d been crying “more ponies!” and was really bummed we had to do this thing in the back of a truck instead. (Eventually we did get her another pony ride, and she was thrilled.)

Hay Ride


We told Lelly she could have any pumpkin she could pick up by herself.

Picking a Pumpkin

She was so proud of it!

So Proud!


I’ve spent the last two days working on our Adventure Time Halloween costumes. Yesterday I finished Lelly’s BMO costume and today I made Daniel’s Finn the Human hat. I can’t wait until Thursday to see us all together!

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This week on the ranch

This week has been fun! Here are some of the picture-worthy things we did.

We worked on Lelly’s Halloween costume. She’s going to be BMO from Adventure Time. This week she said, “Check, please!” and she already likes to say “BMO chop!” She is very excited both to be BMO and to go trick-or-treating. She has been practicing how to say “trick-or-treat” and keeps talking about candy. I said she could have just one candy, she started negotiating with me and said, “five candies!”

BMO Costume


I found this little guy hanging out on our living room floor, just sunning himself. When he got scared, he took refuge under the piano. I encouraged him to skitter into a cardboard box, and then took him outside. It was surprisingly hard to get him out of the box once he was in it. I realize they can cling to walls, but really, the guy just clung to the inside of the box for dear life as I gently shook it. I expected him to neatly fall out like spiders, but I suppose lizards are harder to overpower. I just left the box and later he was gone. It was pretty neat having a house lizard for a while, though.

House Lizard


Lelly learned how to use fruit slices to make terrifying grimaces.

Apple Grin

I think she’s up to something.

Sneaky Apple Face


I mixed one tablespoon of water with four drops of food coloring to make paints for Lelly, because she’s come back to the point where she wants to eat things she’s not supposed to. She painted with a stiff round scrubber brush, which was a perfect shape, and the construction paper we used absorbed the water rapidly. Mixing the red and green paint together was fun, as was dumping it out on the paper to see what would happen. It was a great success.

Food Color Painting


We also got our playroom studio almost organized. Lelly likes climbing on the chairs to look out the window. I need to make a curtain to keep the stuff stored in the closet out of sight. Trying to pick up the things Lelly spreads over the floor is a losing battle, though.

Playroom Studio 1

I am particularly proud of this area. It looks really nice. Lelly helped me build the bookshelf by climbing into it. The two fabric covered totes fit perfectly into the bottom shelf and store her toys.

Playroom Studio 2


Not pictured: Lelly in her “footie-jamas” (very cute); Daniel trying to hack down a palm tree with a machete; pruning roses and lavender with Donna; doing laundry in our awesome front-loading washing machine and super fast dryer; Lelly doing a limbo-style army crawl under a baby gate; story time at the library; and enjoying hearing Poppy’s heartbeat with Lelly (she’s so excited).

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