Where does the time go? I’m offended that Target has back-to-school things out. In the meantime, we’re enjoying the heck out of our summer, in and out of the pool, playing with the dog, partying in the back yard, getting sunburned in spite of best intentions, still removing wallpaper occasionally but not doing too much crafting. There will be time for cozy indoor creativity later. Dorothy and I have been churning out cookie bouquets in the kitchen, however, since we all need to be in the air conditioning sometimes. I let her color on old CD adhesive labels, which we then stick to the plastic-wrapped cookies. That seems to be a good way to use those labels up as well as artfully decorate our goodies. Empty cans that used to house bottled coffee drinks make perfect small vases, and the link to cookie recipe we use is here. This bouquet went to a four-year-old friend with a birthday this week.
Vintage linens on the kid table, with flowers picked from the garden in a mason jar, all ready for a group of happy friends–does summer get any better than this?
And Miss Belle, who I think may actually have doubled her size since we adopted her, sporting her new Etsy collar with flower. She is growing strong on food from dishes sold by this store, and her sweet engraved tag came from here. These dog goodies were beyond my homemade ken, but I love being able to buy someone else’s creative works instead of the same old stuff from the big box stores.
I also have a happy update on my car woes. It seems that my car is fixable! I may only be in my ugly, gas-guzzling rental for one more week. I’m going to have to do something nice for my car when I get it back. Maybe a homemade trash can? Or new cover-up rugs for the floorboards? I’m so excited. There’s nothing to make you appreciate the status quo like having it temporarily compromised.
I put the home related sewing aside this week to make myself a pair of summer pj’s. Sleeping in old t-shirts and well-worn pajamas pants is comfortable, but sometimes I just want to feel a little cuter at night, even if the only person to notice might be my still-won’t-sleep-through-the-night toddler. I used a free pattern I found online for the tank, but I’m not going to link to it because I really didn’t care for it. I had to make many alterations and it still is a bit big, even though the pattern involved taking my own measurements before starting. It’ll work fine for sleeping though. I made bermuda-length sleep shorts to match by cutting around pants I already own and they fit perfectly. The pajamas are made from super-soft thrift store sheets in 100% cotton. I love the pretty print, and that new fabric could never be so wonderfully soft. (Aside: Wondering about that beautiful turquoise wall behind the pajamas? That’s my bedroom! It used to be covered in “tropical” wallpaper. More on that project is forthcoming!)
This was a Mother’s Day project I’d almost forgotten to blog about. I bought some little silver charms at Joann that are intended to hold tiny photographs. Then I printed out a whole page of empty squares just the right size on cardstock and let Dorothy draw mini pictures in each one with pen and colored pencil. We chose our favorites and I glued them onto the charms, then we covered them with several coats of brush-on gloss glaze. The flower charm was a gift to my mother and the bird is now mine. We strung them on silver chains.
Dorothy had a major milestone this past week–she finished preschool! As much as I’m looking forward to having her home next year it was emotional and a little rough to watch all her treasures come home from school. It was like watching the sweet and nurturing space they’d created for her there being dismantled. She has laid her beloved resting rug on her bed here at home and has been sleeping on it, and we put together a small bag to hold her other treasures such a her photo album and name card. To honor the lovely women who have given her the treasure of such a warm and lovely year of preschool we made homemade shopping bags. Dorothy chose the fabric (from the same sheet as the pajamas) and helped me sew the seams on her little sewing machine.
Her confidence is a wee bit ahead of her ability, but the slightly off-kilter seams don’t show unless you’re looking, and they prove that the love and work of a five-year-old went into the construction. I made small drawstring bags so the teachers can easily stash their shopping totes into their purses or glove compartments.
It is a tradition in Dorothy’s school to buy a book for a child’s classroom on his or her birthday. The book is brought in all wrapped up and the birthday child gets to unwrap it, then the whole class listens while one of the parents of the birthday child reads the book to the class. I thought it would be fun to make a book for Dorothy’s class on the subject of their class pet, a guinea pig. I took photographs of the animal while he was staying with us last fall (each family gets the “privilege” of weekend sitting for the pet a couple times during the year) and used Wikipedia to fill in some bits about the animal that were not obvious to me. I had almost finished the book the week after our guinea-pig-sitting several months ago. Then we sold the house and my efforts at childrens’ literature and most everything else went all to h$%!, so by the time I remembered again that we were expected to gift a book to Dorothy’s class on her birthday it was already last week. I considered ditching the effort and just buying some book but decided I’d gone that far, I may as well finish it. Typing up the last couple pages didn’t take long but unfortunately shipping the thing from Blurb.com (on the West coast) to Kentucky did, and I was too cheap to spring for quicker shipping. I still went in to read to Dorothy’s class on her birthday, but I just read a book she’d selected from her own collection. Now that the gift book is here I’ll take it in tomorrow all wrapped up to read and Dorothy will get to play the birthday girl one last time. I ordered a copy of the book for Dorothy too and she seems to like it.
I really wanted to work on throw pillows for the living room today but it just didn’t happen. The baby is fussy over teeth or a cough or something and he is refusing to sleep unless I’m holding him, which means a) he’s not getting enough sleep, and b) the rest of the time he’s a Grumpus McGurkus, which is our household name for someone who is in a very foul mood (inspired by a favorite book of Dorothy’s). I did catch just a few minutes at the machine, however, and made a padded sleeve for my little camera. I know you’re thinking, “doesn’t she have a big camera? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen her at soccer practice, one of those moms who thinks she’s the press corps?” Yes, I do, but jokes have been deservedly made about how much I like to photograph my children and my big camera isn’t something I can just toss in my purse and always have on hand. Thus I still have and use my little camera and I recently had to replace it, possibly because the inside of my purse is not a very safe place to be even if you are the small unfussy camera. I used scraps from Dorothy’s birthday dress to make a very simple little Velcro pouch. I lined it with polyester quilt batting to make it nice and soft, and hopefully the polyester will repel rather than soak in liquids in the event of a spill. (Liquid spilled inside my purse? Well, have you ever dined out with my children?)
A few weeks ago I was trying to figure out something nice to do with a particularly cute caterpillar drawing of Dorothy’s and this is what I ended up with. It’s a custom t-shirt from Cafe Press that we will give to Dorothy’s cousin for Christmas. I hope it isn’t too redundant with the joint venture Dorothy and I made for the same cousin last winter, but since that gift was appreciated, this gift in the same vein probably will be too. Dorothy really enjoys feeling like she contributed to the making of any gift, and the benefit of a professionally done t-shirt is that it should wash nicely, unlike (unfortunately) the print-at-home transfers, which require fussy care to stay nice. I removed the white space from the caterpillar image using Photoshop, then saved the file as a PNG with a transparent background to make the design.
I took advantage of the warm weather this morning and did some more camper painting. I still have not had the chance to finish what I started with the handkerchief paisleys, but this morning I made solid progress on the opposite side. I purchased new, good quality brushes and they make all the difference in the world. Maybe I should have thought of that before, but the difference was really amazing. It was like I was trying to chop vegetables with a kiddie knife before! This time the paint went on much better and the lines look more smooth. It was faster going, too, so if I get another golden moment while both children are asleep or occupied and the weather is right I will get back out there. Otherwise, the camper may have to stay incompletely decorated until the spring.
As for our housing situation, who knows. We’re working on a response to a set of nit-picky repair requests from our buyer. We made a fair offer on the Good Memories house, but have no particular confidence that the owner is ready for the kind of reality check that would mean taking our reasonable offer. I’m sure something will work out (Renata clutches at optimism), but at this point we’re certainly curious about just how that will look.
When we arrived home after our camping adventures last weekend we noticed the refrigerator was making an odd noise, sort of like a zombie. Being the (apparently) stupid and ineffectual people we are, we just noted the noise and moved on, not stopping to check on details like are all the frozen foods thawing? And unfortunately they were, but we didn’t realize it until it was too late and much of the frozen stuff had to be thrown out or cooked. So we bought a new refrigerator (with some odd combination of an Energy Star rebate, appliance disposal fees and a Columbus Day sale making it more cost-effective than buying used), and we’ve also once again lowered the priced on our house. Perhaps someday so the new buyers, wherever they are now, will use the new ‘frige for something beautiful like leftover wedding cake or champagne to toast something wonderful and we will stop banging our heads against the wall over our housing situation. A girl can dream, right? In the meantime we’re eating meals of baked chicken with a side of fried fish, since both fish and fowl were saved from the freezer, and being glad it’s not worse.
Then on Wednesday, the very busiest and most hectic day of the week, as I was recovering from the new refrigerator blues but beginning to suffer a sore throat, Dorothy informed me at approximately the halfway point on our drive home from preschool that IT WAS THE DAY, the very special and most important day, that she got to take the traveling classroom gingerbread person home, and that she had accidentally left [him? her?] at school. I considered making the gingerbread person wait until we were already back at the very same building for choir practice later that night, but instead I rallied my inner good mother and turned the car back around. “Gingy” was fetched, along with [his? her?] tote bag, and brought on home with us. Gingy listened to our daily chapter from the Little House on the Prairie book, then settled down with Dorothy for a nap. A couple hours later it was time almost time to leave for ballet lessons and I realized I should look in Gingy’s journal to see just what was expected of us with regard to this plush traveling pastry. About a half dozen of Dorothy’s peers had already brought Gingy home (Gingy visitation being determined by drawing names), and those students’ caring and creative mothers had written long and lovely essays about Gingy’s stays with their families. Things like “in honor of Gingy, we made gingerbread cake!” and long tales of Gingy-inspired adventures. Those bitches, I thought. Never mind that enthusiastic parent involvement is actually one of the things I treasure about our preschool. All the mommies who get Gingy after us will love me, though, because I took things in the journal down a notch or two out of necessity. We sent Gingy back today with just a few brief sentences about our busy day and one potentially embarrassing (given Gingy’s uncertain gender) home-printed photograph of Gingy wearing a pink tutu.
Returning to my regular blogging business, these Lego cufflinks were a Christmas gift to Rob last year. They are Legos from his own childhood, and I glued them to cufflink platforms I purchased from a jewelry supply store online. He loves wearing unusual cufflinks, and there aren’t very many opportunities to make gifts for him. I snapped a picture of them when he was on his way out the door this morning.
And who can stay mad about houses and refrigerators with this juicy baby around to squeeze on? He’s wearing a t-shirt I did before he was born, an inkjet-printed lobster applique on a plain white tee. He’s turning into some adorable little butt-scooting backwards-crawling cherub-demon, and I’m afraid I’m having to babyproof this house already, even though I’d hoped to just do that in the next house!
I love fall! The first chilly days are such a rush, I have no idea why. I really dislike cold weather (like January/February) but the preview days in fall are just gorgeous. It was fun to bundle my family up in new crocheted things this morning. Dorothy and Worth are wearing wool pumpkin hats and I’m in a sweater I made last year but was too pregnant to squeeze into. It’s a terrifically soft alpaca that I scored for cheap at, of all places, Tuesday Morning, then ran out of and had to pay out the @ss on the Internet for more. Oops! But I love the sweater. It is based on a pattern (the Cupcake, from the Happy Hooker book) intended as a fitted, cotton spring thing, but I used a larger hook and improvised a bit to make a warmer tunic to layer with. I hate being hot in sweaters, but this one has some breathability.
And a new hat for me, finished just today. I used yarn that Rob bought me for our anniversary and a free pattern from Ravelry, the Bonita Hat. I love the colors he picked out and I’m trying to pretend it doesn’t itch. I may give it a rinse in some Eucalan next time I’m washing woolen kid stuff and see if that helps.
Worth looks totally adorable in the hats I made for him last year while I was pregnant, but I’m afraid I’m having a little trouble squeezing them onto his sweet enormous noggin. I remember looking up in a book the “average” head size of a nine-month-old when planning this winter’s hats (he’ll be 9 months in December), but unfortunately these are tight. But for now I can still squeeze them on, and I love this stocking one in particular, which was worked on no particular pattern and with the goal of using up some scrap yarn. Cutie boy!
I’d been wanting to do beading with Dorothy and had been waiting for the right day. Today seemed good, so I mentally reserved the late afternoon for some mother/daughter crafting. But then my girly, who spent the night with her Nana and Opa last night and apparently slept very little, sacked out all afternoon. After two hours of her nap I went ahead and got the beading things ready–just to have them out. After two and a half I decided to just start without her. I made myself a necklace inspired by the tag-style ones that are popular now. I put little screws in Scrabble tiles with the initials of my two kids and then strung them on a chain I already had with pendants I made from their birthstones.
Dorothy finally woke up from her over three hour nap and was very excited with the new craft. She dug right in (“I don’t need help, Mom.”) and went to work. I’ve had to practically drag her from the table to complete the day’s other activities. And now it’s nearly ten o’clock and as I type this she’s still stringing beads, arguing with her father about the necessity of stopping for the night. I just told her we could make more jewelry tomorrow and she said, “But I just want to do it tonight; I’m not available tomorrow.” Not true (she is, in fact, available
), but oh so funny. And I think she’s making me a new necklace. Fun!
Today is the happy day Dorothy and Worth get their grandparents back in town forever. Hooray! My in-laws, who have been living in Saint Louis for the last nine years or so, are closing on a house nearby today. It makes us feel great that we’ll have our whole cast of important people in town and near us. Dorothy and I made a cookie bouquet to take them tonight as a house warming gift (and dinner, but no help from Dorothy on the soup). I’ve done a couple experiments in the cookie bouquet realm over the last few years and I think I’m establishing best-practices, so in case you ever want to make one, here’s how.
First bake a recipe for soft and chewy cookies of any type. I’ve done double chocolate and chocolate chip. Today I used this recipe that I found online and it worked perfectly. You can’t just use any cookie recipe, because one that only makes small cookies (which might not scale) or crisp cookies (too brittle or crumbly to hold sticks) wouldn’t work. When you take the cookies out of the oven, immediately skewer them gently with wooden barbecue skewers. Push the skewer all the way in, but not so far that it comes out the top. Put skewers in more cookies than you think you will need just in case some fall out or break when you’re assembling the bouquet. (Don’t ask how I learned that!) Then walk away and don’t touch the cookies until they are perfectly cool.
While the cookies are cooling, prepare a container to hold the bouquet and some decorations for their packaging. I’ve used clean peanut butter jars in the past, just decorated with ribbon and fabric. A decorated yogurt container
weighed down with uncooked rice would work nicely too. Today we used a container that actually came with a professional cookie bouquet we received after Worth’s birth. It already has little holes for skewers. Dorothy decorated it with permanent markers. We also decorated little stickers to put on the outside of the cookies. I used round Avery inkjet labels, which I printed with little welcome home slogans, then let Dorothy decorate with the markers. In the past I’ve printed out simple labels with words in a flourishy font in a color to match the ribbons I use on the cookies and jar–simple and pretty.
After the cookies are completely cool, wrap each cookie individually with plastic wrap and tie it up with a ribbon. Cut off the bottoms of the skewers so the cookies are of various heights, then arrange them in your vessel. Stick the labels on the front of the cookies. Finally, stabilize the cookies by arranging tissue paper around them. I wish I could think of a better way to handle this last step than killing trees by using the tissue, but I can’t. Only tissue paper (that I can think of) can be wadded up at the bottom and splayed out at the top to gently support the cookies all the way up.
Gift the bouquet, then enjoy the leftovers with milk!
I saved a couple skewered cookies by wrapping gently in foil and freezing. These individual cookie “pops” will make nice hostess or birthday gifts from Dorothy in the next couple weeks.
I haven’t had much to blog about this week. While recovering from a summer cold, I’ve been spending most of my down time backing up photos and burning our family movies to DVD. I don’t even try to “keep up” with things like that–I just take care of it all in one big effort every six months or year or so and that seems to work well enough. It’s fun when I do, because we have a great time reviewing Dorothy’s progress and re-watching some favorite old family movies.
The picture above is Worth’s feet this morning. I made these shoes (crocheted then wet-felted) during that last painful week of pregnancy, when I just kept churning out booties and hoping to go into labor. I watched the Olympics while I did these one night. I love them, but I don’t know what they are supposed to be. Jester feet? I think they look a little like leaves, as if his chubby little legs just sprouted out of them. I’ve been waiting for him to grow into them, and now he has. Fun!
This project was actually from a couple weeks ago. I was tempted by a set of clear plastic iced tea tumblers at Costco, but felt like I didn’t need any more drinking plastic in my life. So I assembled this instead. It’s a wide-mouth canning jar with a stainless steel drinking straw. I used a metal punch to poke just the right sized hole in a heavy-duty plastic lid, so it’s reasonably spill-proof, easily washable, not plastic (except the lid), and cheap! This week I’ve been guzzling juice out of it as I try to kick this cold. This size jar fits nicely in my car drink holder, but I can use any size wide-mouthed jar.
And last but not least, Father’s Day! Dorothy and I put together a nice little gift bag for Rob with a Dorothy-decorated coffee mug, a picture for his office, a whole stack of Dorothy art, and an impish pair of cufflinks from Etsy
with little treasure maps on them. I think he likes it all (although he unintentionally attempted to dissassemble some Dorothy art that was supposed
to stay folded–oops!), and now we’re off to spend the rest of the afternoon appreciating him however he wishes!