…somewhere between the stitches…

knit.crochet.sew.craft.cook.


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Why I Lie to my Kids

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With just one short week until Christmas, my Facebook Newsfeed is full of posts about decorating trees, baking cookies, visiting Santa, the oh-so-naughty Elf on a Shelf, videos of kids singing songs about Rudolph, and in contrast, I’m bombarded with numerous articles and blog posts about why some parents choose to not buy into the world of Christmas Make-Believe. Several friends have also posted about the fact that telling their young children about the mythical world of the North Pole and its crazy cast of characters is akin to lying. And they don’t want to lie to their children.

This got me thinking… I lie to my kids Every. Single. Day. Multiple times a day, in fact. I lie to them all kinds of things. When they ask me how I know they were doing something when I wasn’t even looking at them, I tell them that mommies have secret, hidden eyes on the back of their heads. When they ask me how I cleaned the whole house while they were napping, I tell them that I used my Mommy Magic or that some fairies flew into the house while they were asleep to help me. I tell them that restaurants and stores are closed—when they’re not. That the grocery store was all out of ice cream. That they had enough money in their piggy bank to buy their baby sister the stuffed animal she wanted. I lie to them on purpose. And I lie to them WITH purpose.

I do it because I want my children to believe in magic. I want their young lives—untainted by the nastiness and cruelty of the Real World—to BE MAGICAL. I want them to look upon this world we live in in absolute wonder. I want their imaginations to run wild. I want them to believe that the people, places and things they encounter are filled with amazing possibilities. I want them to grow up believing in miracles. I lie to my children not because I want to frighten them into submission or bribe them into behaving like model citizens, lest they end up on Santa’s Naughty List and receive coals for Christmas. I lie to them to make them laugh, to bring joy into their wonderful little worlds.

I lie to my kids because they are tiny little humans who believe. They believe that Mommy can make the hurt go away with her magical kisses. They believe that Daddy is the strongest person in the world who can fix anything and everything. They believe that our family is the happiest and the funnest family in the whole world. They believe that Mommy and Daddy’s bed is The Safest (and Snuggliest and Best) Place on Earth. They believe in amazing and fantastical things as only children can.

I lie to my children because their childhood is brief. Before long, their sweet voices will be tinged with sarcasm and disinterest as they grow older, experience the world, and become more independent. They’ll become jaded, and things like pushing their own kid-sized shopping cart at the grocery store will bore them. Squeezing our family of five onto one couch for movie night will no longer appeal to them. They’ll soon start to roll their eyes at me when I tell them I have eyes on the back of my head…

The magic and fantasy of childhood is limited, and their experiences in this world—the Real World—are unavoidable, inevitable. Soon, the magic of Christmas will fade. They won’t believe in the Tooth Fairy. They will realize that Mommy’s kisses are just plain kisses and don’t actually heal wounds. My children will stop looking up at me, hanging on every word, their eyes round in wonderment, as I weave tall tales for them. But their memories will be there—memories of being enchanted, of sharing their beautiful imaginations with Mommy and Daddy, and of the magic of childhood.

I know that Santa Claus and reindeers and a giant, magical toy factory in the North Pole aren’t what Christmas is all about, but this moment of childhood wonder and belief is brief. They have the rest of their lives to appreciate the meaning and the spirit of Christmas sans jolly, old man in a red suit. But for now, Santa is magical. And magical is good.


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Free Printable: Love Coupon Book

My husband has always been impossible to shop for. Several years ago, I forced him to put together an Amazon Wish List, so whenever a birthday or holiday rolls around, I go to his wish list and buy him a few things from the list. Not terribly fun or romantic. This year, his wish list is sparse. Only 2 items! One of which is a really expensive computer/network/high-tech item (I don’t even know what it does) that he specifically told me not to buy because he’s not ready to set it all up yet. :-/ Gee… Thanks! So in a sad attempt to make sure that he has SOMETHING under the tree to unwrap Christmas morning, I bought him some socks and underwear.

After some thought though… I decided to make him something fun. Something that I know he’ll get a kick out of. Something unexpected! And since so many of my friends have been talking about how hard it is to shop for their husbands, I’m sharing! :-)

Presenting The Naughty and Nice Coupon Book! It’s pretty self-explanatory. ;-)

Naught and Nice

 

The free printable is a 2-page PDF that includes the two pages pictured above. Just print it out, write in things you’re willing to do for the special person in your life, cut them out, punch holes, tie with a ribbon and VOILA! You’ve got a fun-for-the-both-of-you gift!

Click here to download the FREE Naughty and Nice Coupon Book!

A For Purchase version is available in the delightful. Etsy shop. For $4, download a version that’s got 29 naughty and nice things already written out, plus a full sheet of fill-in-the-blank coupons.

Naught and Nice Coupon Book

Naught and Nice Coupon Book 2


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Making Kimjang Kimchi: A Family Tradition

The beginning of December is a VERY busy time for families in Korea–not because of the upcoming holidays or the rush to buy gifts for family and friends (because strangely enough, Christmas is more of an unmarried couple’s holiday)–but because it’s the time of year to MAKE KIMCHI. Lots and lots of kimchi. Koreans prepare and make enough 김장김치 (kimjang kimchi) to last an entire year. Kimjang kimchi is different from the kimchi you’re probably used to: the stuff you find in restaurants or what’s sold at the grocery story. This is old school kimchi. The kind that was buried underground in kimchi pots. The kind that kimchi refrigerators were created for.

Kimjang kimchi is not for the faint of heart. Imagine the fermented taste of regular kimchi. Then multiply it by 100. You’ve got kimjang kimchi. But it’s the kind of kimchi that’s perfect to eat with grilled pork. It’s fabulous in kimchi jigae (kimchi stew). And if you’ve got fresh tofu, wrap it up in some kimjang kimchi and enjoy!

If you’re lucky enough to enjoy have a taste of homemade kimjang kimchi, then here’s what you should know about how it’s made. Chances are, anywhere from 5-20 women (and men too!) came together to worked on it for days. Often, it’s relatives (sisters in my mom’s case), but since families are now more spread out, friends often set up a schedule and go from home to home to help with the process.

There’s a rather strict schedule to follow. The cabbage has to be harvested before the first hard frost. It has to be cut, washed, salted and rinsed. The seasoning has to be mixed and combined with the prepared cabbage. The kimchi has to be divided and bagged and properly packaged to be placed into kimchi refrigerators. And since younger generations of Koreans don’t have the free days and days off from work, the older generations make enough to package and ship to their children’s families.

Here are my mom, her sisters, and their husbands preparing and transforming 300 heads of cabbage in kimjang kimchi!

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Each halved head of cabbage has to be seasoned. The kimchi mixture is inserted into the layers of the cabbage leaves.

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Oh, and look! My mommy is wearing a hat I crocheted for her! ;-)

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Here’s my uncle stirring a VAT of kimchi seasoning.

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That’s a lot of kimchi seasoning…

And lucky me–I will be receiving my part of this wonderful kimjang kimchi in the mail tomorrow! :-) Will have to take the beer and soda out of my kimchi fridge to make room!

 


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Free Thanksgiving Printable

Here’s a quick printable poster before I roll myself to bed after a Thanksgiving feast of gluttony! ;-)

Wishing you a wonderful day filled with love, gratitude, family, friends and LOTS OF PIE.

Give Thanks and Eat Pie

Click on the image for a high resolution jpeg. Download and print using the letter borderless setting.


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For the Love of Crafting

It no secret that I love to craft. From knitting and crocheting to sewing and kid’s crafts, I enjoy everything about it: scouring Pinterest for ideas, shopping for materials, thinking of ways to make things with upcycled materials, designing and making something pretty and useful out of scraps… But most of all, I enjoy making things for other people. So several years ago, when friends asked me to make things for their kids or for other friends’ babies, the business side of jkwdesigns began. And it’s been lots of fun! I love that my clients love the things I make enough to refer me to their friends and trust my skills enough to request something vague and let me run with it.

When it comes to crafting, my favorite part–hands down–is the design process, so figuring out how to turn something like a cartoon character into a hat is what I love the most. From My Little Pony’s Princess Celestia to Optimus Prime and Bumblebee and of course, this season’s favorite Queen Elsa and Princess Anna…

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Over the past couple years, I have truly been blessed with more business than I can handle. Usually, during the winter months, I am completely buried under piles of yarn, and my hands can’t knit and crochet fast enough to meet demand. And, sadly, I have come to a point where I feel a bit overwhelmed with my never-ending To-Do list, and although I still love to make things for people, as I forced myself to pick up the crochet hook after getting my kids settled into bed, I realized recently that something HUGE was missing in my crafting life. I no longer have time to just make things and give gifts to loved ones–which, for me, is the most rewarding part of crafting.

I craft for the love of the craft, but I also do it because I love to give gifts. Earlier this year, I started a Craft It Forward challenge to spread handmade love. And it’s the end of November. I’ve only managed to send out one gift. That’s not enough handmade love from me! I’ve also not had time to write and post the tutorials for the Transformers hats–I know MANY people are waiting for it! There are countless other patterns that I want to write–both for this blog and for my Etsy shop. I’ve been wanting to work on some new Star Wars themed decor for my boys’ bedroom. And now that my boys are in school, there are so many things I would like to do for their class and for their school. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for everything. So it’s time for me to make a change.

For the love of the craft, I have decided to stop making handmade items for purchase. I want to focus my work on design and pattern writing. I want to make gifts for friends and family. I want to dedicate some more time in the kitchen working on healthy and delicious meals for my family (we were doing so well during the first half the year, but with the boys starting school and hat orders coming in, it’s been a real challenge lately!). I want to sew some curtains for my daughter’s room. I also want to continue loving the craft and not feel overwhelmed by the list of items I have to finish for paying clients. I plan to complete the orders that I’ve already taken, then spend time making gifts for some very special people in my family’s lives and focus my time and energy on the craft and not the business. When it comes to the business side, my graphic design and event planning work with delightful. has been flourishing, and unlike knitting and crocheting, it doesn’t take hours and hours of work to produce a single item. Also, because my delightful. work is ALL about the design process, it’s been much more creatively fulfilling for me.

So, readers, stay tuned! New patterns and printables (both free and for purchase), lots of giveaways, recipes and more are on their way! :-)


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A Month’s Worth of Fun School Lunches!

The month of September was a difficult one for my kids and me. Don’t get me wrong–my boys have been having a WONDERFUL time at kindergarten, and they’re thriving, but it was definitely a month of transitions and of mommy being stretched reeeeeeeally thin, at times. My husband was traveling for work for half the month, so I had to do everything alone. This wasn’t the first time he’s traveled for work, but it was the first time I was home with SCHOOL-AGED children. Getting kids ready for school, dropping them off, picking them up–all on a strict schedule–is exhausting. Really, really exhausting. And to top it all off, all 3 of my kids have been sick at some point during my husband’s 2 weeks out of town. Figures… :-p

Anyway, one way I’ve been able to squeeze in some creative crafting time during the past month while barely managing to keep my head above water is with my boys’ school lunches. Something productive (that has to be done) and something pretty in one!

So here’s my month’s worth of fun (and easy) school lunches with brief descriptions of how I made them:

Some helpful tips about making school lunches:

  • Make a weekly schedule. It takes a bit of time to put a weekly meal schedule together, but it ends up saving time in the long run. Plus, it alleviates the stress of “WHAT AM I GOING TO PACK FOR LUNCH!!!” the night before. Here’s a free printable for planning a week’s worth of meals.
  • There are many, many tools to make your life easier such as cookie cutters, cute bento-box animal picks, rice molds, and nori cutters. Living in Korea, I have easy and inexpensive access to many of these items, but they’re also available on Amazon. For “specialty” bento box tools such as the animal picks and nori cutters, just do a quick search.
  • Prep as much as you can the night before. I usually prep fruits and vegetables the night before and stick the containers in the fridge. That just leaves rice balls and/or sandwiches for the morning. Keep in mind that some foods don’t reheat very well (such as the rice balls) so those must be prepped the morning off. Nori must also be used immediately after cutting. The humidity in the room will cause it to curl (or dry out too much) if you wait too long after cutting it to use it. This is why nori-cutters are so useful!
  • Leftovers are your friend! During the week, I specifically make a couple of dinners with leftovers for lunch in mind. Also, serve breakfast for lunch. Kids won’t mind! One of the biggest challenges for me is thinking about lunch-appropriate meals, but who says they have to eat “lunch” at lunch time? Egg mari is a popular side dish in Korean cuisine, so I make it fairly regularly for my kids. It’s basically just a sliced up omelet. I also make bacon, egg, cheese and toast muffins, which are technically a breakfast food, but the kids love it. They’ll eat it for breakfast before they go to school, then eat it again for lunch the same day. ;-)

For me, packing my kids’ lunches is something I enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it and don’t stress about not doing enough for your children! When I started posting photos of my kids’ lunches on Instagram, my friends began responding with things like “You’re making me feel like a crappy mom.” :-( First of all, my kids would be just as happy with a plain ham and cheese sandwich, a bag of chips and an apple EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. They don’t need or ask for variety. Secondly, by the time they open their lunch boxes at school, my cute little bento creations are a COMPLETE MESS. Their lunch box goes into their backpacks every morning. And every morning, they run down the stairs of our apartment building. They run from the car to their classroom. They may even fall down, roll down a hill, jump over puddles, do a few jumping jacks, or run an obstacle course on their way. I’ve joined them for lunch from time to time, and their bento boxes are utterly unrecognizable. So basically, their lunches are for photographic purposes only. ;-) I do, however, show the boys their lunches before I put their lunch boxes into their backpacks so it’s not a complete waste. Haha!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed!

Happy Lunch-Making!


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Free Printable: Star Wars Lunchbox Notes

I’m a little bit obsessed with packing lunch for my new little kindergarteners. I think it gives me a way to channel my nervousness and anxiety about them being away from me every day. It’s hard sending my babies off to school… I used to be the single most influential person in their lives. They spent just about every waking moment (and some sleeping moments too!) with me. Now, they’re off at school for nearly 7 hours/day. I pick them up from school and drop them off at their martial arts class, and they don’t get home until almost 4pm, and with a bedtime of 7pm… I only see my sweet baby boys for 3 hours! So after they snuggle into their beds for the night, I get to work in the kitchen and spend a few moments putting together a lunch that reminds them of home, and maybe (in a gentle way) lets them know that Mommy is thinking about them as they scarf down their lunches! ;-) 

So here my little lunch creations for my Star Wars loving boys from our first week of kindergarten: 

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Star cut-out ham and cheese sandwiches with steamed carrots, apple and peach slices, pretzels, cheese stick and a couple of cookies (of course!)

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Beef bulgogi with mushrooms and carrots, heart and bear shaped rice balls, seaweed, kimchi, cherry tomatoes, grapes and Spiderman gummies!

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Lightning bolt cut-out sandwiches, fruit medley (bananas, peach, kiwi and cherry tomatoes), pretzels, cheese sticks, and a piece of chocolate chip bread

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Kimbab and a hard boiled egg with wink smiley face cut out from seaweed and flower shaped carrots and cucumbers!

 

Now that the fun, the highs and lows, the excitement and the meltdowns, and the new schedules of the first week of school have come to an end… Here are some free Star Wars lunchbox notes for your favorite little Star Wars fan’s meal away from home! 

Star Wars Lunchbox Notes

 

Click here to download the pdf: Star Wars Lunchbox Notes

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