After I took the cute picture of my last post with my three kids in their costumes I realized I needed a way to display favorite Halloween snapshots every year. I made this banner to hang in the pass-through window between my kitchen and dining room. I slipped cardboard into each flag so my photos won’t curl up and sewed a little clear vinyl pocket onto the front of each to slip a photo into. Now I can easily change the photos as our collection of favorites evolves.
I got out our Halloween “spider webs,” which are really my great-grandmother’s crocheted doilies that I have dyed black. starched flat, and populated with plastic spiders. The kids love these and so do I.
The big kids made paper jack-o-lanterns for us to string up over our hearth.
They made a spooky/cozy scene for us on chilly school mornings when we were happy to be staying in and cuddling our new baby and having school at home instead of waiting in carpool lines across town.
I also got out my wee poseable rubber skeletons to haunt my china cabinet. They bend kind of like Gumby and I enjoy arranging them in yoga poses or popping out of tea cups, clinging to candles, etc.
Hope your Halloween was happy!
Dorothy could hardly wait to finally put on her Halloween costume with her cat accessory present. I broke down and gave in to her pleading when Daphne (the accessory) was a week old. Here are the spooky sisters, together in costume at last!
And the whole crew, with our Spider-Man brother no doubt looking tender beneath the mask. Or something. Daphne’s little costume, a project from earlier in the fall, fit her well, but we skipped the mitten-paws because they made her mad. Dorothy and Worth’s costumes were store-bought, which is really my preference with Halloween costumes because I hate to put the effort into something that will only be worn once.
This is a hat I crocheted for my cousin’s little boy. He’s having a puppy-themed first birthday party! He’s going to rock this hat if he keeps it on, because he’s even cuter than it. I’m making one for Worth too because he saw the work in progress and decided he needed some of that in his life too. I used this pattern by Sarah Zimmerman and the washable merino wool from Knitpicks.
This is a project I’ll definitely want to blog about again, once I can get a picture of it on the newborn kitty herself. Dorothy decided months ago that she wanted to be a witch for Halloween and that she wanted her new baby sister to be her black cat, which seems like a totally fitting Halloween costume for a baby who is just going to be dressed up and paraded around to suit her mother and big sister for at least the first six months of her life. Dorothy was set on a really expensive witch costume from Chasing Fireflies, but fortunately we encountered a much cheaper but equally awesome version at a TJ Maxx. I looked all over the internet for a newborn kitty costume, since as I said before I’m not that into sewing costumes that are only going to get worn once or twice. (I did break my own rule last Halloween and sewed Dorothy’s Little Red Riding Hood costume and Worth’s wolf suit. Dorothy’s dress was just as disappointing to me as I’d thought–she wore it on Halloween and never again, even though I thought I’d made it in such a way that she might consider wearing it as a regular old dress without the cape, but no. Worth, however, has worn the wolf costume enough that I don’t regret the time. He even wore it to music class at least once last spring! And he looks so awesomely Where the Wild Things Are when he wears it around the house.) Anyway, I could not find a ready-made newborn kitty costume. I found many infant costumes, but my baby due October 12 would surely be overwhelmed by a costume intended to fit a child up to 3 months. Plus comfort is a big issue for a newborn, and many store-bought costumes are itchy. So I ordered a newborn-size black onesie and thick black tights (not pictured). I crocheted a kitty hat, mittens, and booties and fabric glued felt on them for the paw pads and inner ears, then I stitched a kitty tail and little pink belly onto the onesie. There’s no reason I can’t put the booties, mitts and hat on her sometime again, except that I’ve made so many at this point they may never make it into rotation!
I admit to feeling pretty miserable here in these last weeks. I’m totally feeling the “advanced maternal age” stamped across the top of my chart at my obstetrician’s office. As the weather finally turns cooler and fall decorations and winter squashes start cropping up everywhere I’m feeling very ready to reap this little harvest of my own. I’m trying to remind myself that another two weeks aren’t a big deal in the big picture, but I have to say that 16 (or so) more mornings of dragging my huge, sore, cumbersome self in and out of bed and around to all the places life requires seems a little daunting at this point. I think all the baby projects are done, she just needs to show up and try them on!
Dorothy and I made lacy heart t-shirts for ourselves to wear today. I’m pretty sure I read this idea in Family Fun magazine, but when I went to their website to search all it would show me was an ovulation calculator (let me talk about the Top Ten things I am not interested in right now…an ovulation calculator is waaaay up there!) link over and over and a bunch of stuff I was not interested in. Were they always owned by horrid Parents magazine? Maybe that is the problem. But now I’m rambling and showing no love…on Valentine’s Day even.
Since I can’t find a link to the article I got this idea from, I’ll just explain. We took paper heart-shaped doilies and adhered them to our shirts with low-tac adhesive. We dabbed fabric paint in the doily cut-out areas, let them dry, then peeled off the doilies themselves, revealing the pretty designs. Dorothy had trouble picturing what we were doing, which is why she began dabbing paint all around her heart on the first one, but then she caught onto the vision. We’re doing to enjoy wearing these today.
It’s been almost a month since I’ve blogged. I’m sort of getting out of the habit of remembering to photograph projects when I finish them. I don’t think I’m ready to quit this blog thing yet because I enjoy keeping this little record for myself, but I do need to put a note or something on my crafty table so I don’t completely get out of the habit. In any case, here’s a little bit of what”s been going on at my house this past month. Dorothy and I made hair bows. I made a few for her (including this one I glued to a headband) and she made some for her cousins. We used a Bowdabra, which is simple and gives good results. It makes puffy bows–not the tidy little twisted kind you can make with templates.
I’ve used the season as an excuse to try a bunch of gluten-free cookie recipes I’d been wondering about. I’m not gluten-free but my mother is, so I’ve been enjoying experimenting with gluten-free baking on her behalf. These sugar cookies were from Carol Fenster’s 100 Best Gluten-Free Recipes and they were terrific. I don’t think anyone would have noticed they were gluten-free if I hadn’t said something. I rolled them out between sheets of plastic wrap as suggested, but I found the dough just as easy to work with as regular cookie dough.
These gluten-free jam cookies were from The Wheat-Free Cook by Jacqueline Mallorca. I don’t care for this book overall as well as the one above, but these cookies were tasty. They were really great just-baked and were nice but crumbly once they had been sandwiched with the jam. The drawback to them came the next day, when they’d apparently soaked up all the moisture from the jam and almost fell apart when I touched them, so they really want to be eaten only on the day they are made. Still, they are tasty and light with a nice flavor and don’t scream “gluten free alternative!” when you taste them.
I finished knitting (knooking) myself this sweater a few weeks ago. Unfortunately the freakishly warm weather has prevented me from wearing it much. I ran into the difficulty once again of trying to get a decent photo of a project made for myself but this one will have to do. I’d like to show the neckline, which I particularly like, but I didn’t think to take off my scarf for the photo when I came in today from shopping. I used this Oatmeal Pullover pattern and the Lion Brand Wool-Ease yarn the pattern suggests, but in the color Eggplant. I like the sweater and it didn’t take that long to knook since the yarn is so chunky, but if this warm-weather trend continues I may never get to wear it since it is such a bulky, warm garment. I made the pattern in size medium, but since the knitter controls the length and the sleeve length I think I could have gone down a size and cut down on some of the bulk.
Finally, this is what my kids made their instructors/nursery care providers/extracurricular teachers as holiday gifts this year. Last year we did jars of homemade granola and I was going to do that again, but when my kids got snotty and sick it felt like homemade gifts from my kitchen stirred by their germy little hands might not be the most appropriate displays of our affection. Instead I cut strips of cardstock and cut the recipients’ names out with paper punches, then let the kids paint their own designs on the strips. Each kid needed to make about five. After they were dry we wrote the children’s names on the back and laminated them to make sturdy personalized bookmarks.
Hope you have a very merry, crafty Christmas!
Gobble gobble! Dorothy and I made felt turkeys today as a homeschool art project. I cut ovals from brown felt and sewed them together, Dorothy stuffed them, and we did the rest with glue and scissors. My my little turkeys have their own turkeys, and they seem thankful indeed. Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy (homemade) Halloween!
So I think my seasonal allergies are officially killing me, and perhaps my blog as well. I’m so groggy but can’t sleep well, and I can’t stay up late for my solo creative time either since I’m so tired–all of which means that I’m just not getting quite as much done as I used to, and I feel all red-nosed and nasty. I’ll quit complaining now, but I’d like it noted that it is not cute or vintage or handmade or (since this comes up so often on my blog) sexy to have a stuffy nose for three weeks straight. Not one bit. Bleah.
Moving on, I’ve actually managed to get a lot done in the past few weeks anyway even if some of it may never make it into my little record here. This is my sweet family at Easter brunch, one of us popping decongestant pills as needed.
Dorothy’s dress was a joint venture by me and my mother. Mom sewed a simple tank dress out of white eyelet and I crocheted colorful little flowers to decorate it. I used cotton embroidery thread so the scale of the flowers would match the eyelet fabric, then made a very large one in worsted weight yarn for her hat. She looked sweet and pretty and it was fun to do a project with my mom for my daughter. Now the white dress has chocolate stains all over it, so I’m trying to devise a creative laundry solution!
I sewed my own dress from McCall’s M6027. I fell in love with this fabric at Joann’s a couple months back and finally got around to stitching it up a couple days before Easter. I think it is a Lisette poplin. The pattern worked up very easily on the serger–no messing with clipping around the bust or fussing with how all the skirt godets line up. The serger magically makes it all smooth. The problem with this pattern didn’t arise until I tried the thing on and realized the shoulder straps are set too far apart for my frame. I re-serged here and there, clipped, stitched and tucked and finally got the bodice so tight and the straps so ridiculously high that I couldn’t put my arms down when the back was zipped up. Right at the point I was read to throw it in the trash I took the scissors and cut big chunks out of the fabric under the armpits and that was when things finally started to improve. I sewed it back together and it fit acceptably well. The straps are still not in quite the right place for my shoulders and something around the arms looks a bit uneven, but if I keep the cardigan on no one will notice! The fabric is so pretty it is worth it. I altered the pattern a bit and re-sewed the dress out of a thrift store sheet to see if I could get the straps right on a second go-round. I love the theory of the pattern with the swishy skirt and the quick serger seams. I want to sew it out of this fabric and have it be a “cocktail” dress, in a breezy casual summer cotton. It went better the second time but then bagged a bit in the front. If I get my courage up I’ll order the fabric and do it one more time, with hope for a perfect fit.
My last Easter project was a gift to my church. Our pastoral staff organized an Easter vigil this year, a unique and special service that involved traveling around all the grounds of the church and involving various lay and clergy readers. They needed two three-ring binders in which to stash the materials for the readers and someone thought of me because I sometimes do book-binding. It’s much more satisfying to make books with more attractive bindings–traditional stitching or screw posts–but the three-ring kind was serviceable here so that’s what I did. It was fun to get back into a craft I haven’t spent much time on lately. I hadn’t even purchased book board in Dorothy’s life, but I was encouraged to find that I could buy it locally. I decorated the binders with illustrations drawn for the service by another church member, which I then embossed with powder and heat. I think this project will inspire me to do some more books in the upcoming months. I made a baby book for Dorothy but haven’t done the same for Worth so that seems like a good place to start.
The first year that Rob and I were married I collected holiday decorations a little obsessively. It was some combination of nesting in our first home, having two incomes and no kids, and a love affair with eBay that made me do it. Now some years I have not had the time or energy to put out useless tchotchkes for minor holidays. This year, with two kids big enough to avoid catastrophe while I bring a box up from downstairs and a house that is no longer such a project on its own, I have really enjoyed putting out all manner of holiday decorations. The kids take total delight in “decorating” and making a celebration out of days big and small. These green and gold fishing floats were my newlywed eBay purchases–a pot of gold for St. Patrick’s Day. My mother bought the Leprechaun when Dorothy was a baby and this year the girl loved seeing him keep watch over his treasure on our entryway table.
Green candles in my candelabra, more fishing floats, vintage glass goblets that belonged to Rob’s grandfather, and some felt clover from the dollar store made us feel lucky and maybe even a bit Irish in the dining room.
And my very favorite, a set of vintage-inspired plates from that newlywed eBay spree. I didn’t know then how much our children would enjoy them in 2012! We ate off of them for a couple weeks prior to March 17. We rounded out our celebration of the Irish within us (Dad assures me it’s there, and my current red hair situation would lead you to believe it if you weren’t aware that all hints of the hue came from a bottle) by eating this delicious apple and cabbage soup and fried patties of mashed potato, garlic and cheese–probably not authentic, but reminiscent of a favorite Irish pub food in my college town.
On another topic, I’ve been prettying up the insides of closets and things that don’t always show. I spent the first year at this house taking care of big-impact things, but in this second year I get to move on to some crafty projects that might not be noticed when you walk in the front door but definitely improve my quality of life. I was so pleased with the new rag bag of a few weeks ago that I made a similar bag with an inserted hanger to hold plastic bags. While I do use cloth bags frequently at the grocery, I also like to hang on to those good, sturdy Target bags and the bags the newspaper comes in to reuse. I’ve seen patterns for small bag-holders, but we also save paper shopping bags so I felt like I needed something larger. This one is working out very nicely and looks pretty good too. The tote bag in the stairwell holds old batteries until I can drop them off at the recycling center.
This little bag turns an unused bar on the inside of my kitchen under-sink cabinet into a sweet little spot for reusable mop heads and dusters. I don’t think the buttons show very well in the picture but they are very pert make the bag look a little sassy–just what I need to make me feel better about some chores that are not my favorites.
Did you know I’m Cupid’s mother? If any of my readers need some help with the love this February 14 you just let me know and I’ll let my son get in some target practice. (Wink.) A friend gifted me some cast-off fabric last year, including some very sturdy red cotton with black designs and hearts all over it. I decided to use it to make Dorothy a dress for Valentine’s Day. I used Simplicity 5704, a new pattern for me, and it turned out great. Her usual size fit her perfectly and the sturdiness of the fabric gives good fullness to the skirt and the sleeves. If I make this pattern for her again I might lengthen it a bit, as she likes longer skirts and this one hits just below the knee, but that’s the only change I’d make. It’s a good pattern and made a sweet dress that I suspect will get worn all summer.
I’ve also been dressing my home up a bit for Valentine’s Day. I used scraps from past February projects and some pink and white shirting from my stash to make cute place mats and a short table runner. Each mat is different. I sewed pockets to the front of each one for the flatware because I thought Dorothy (who sets the table) would think that was cute. I found the melamine conversation heart plates unexpectedly at Kroger for just $.99 each. The woman at the checkout who rang them up got so excited about them she decided to go purchase a set for herself when her shift ended! They are pretty cute, and were available with six different phrases. Now we’ll enjoy ten more days of very pink and loving dinners!