Category Archives: pillows

Autumn goodies

Standard

fall-pillow3

Now that my family room has a new color scheme I needed to change up some of my seasonal accents too. My old fall pillows weren’t going to look right in the new space with all the bright green. Actually, I wasn’t sure what kind of autumn fabric was going to look right so I decided to improvise. I bought bright orange home dec fabric of a similar intensity to the green in my curtains and I cut a tree and leaves out of freezer paper. I free-handed the cutting with my X-acto knife, but was using several images I’d printed from the internet as inspiration. I just searched for “fall tree graphic” to get ideas.

fall-pillow2

If you’ve not used freezer paper stencils, it’s very easy. You cut out the image you want, press one sheet of uncut freezer paper (always shiny side down) to the BACK of your fabric with a hot iron to stabilize it, then press your stencil to the front. Then just dab Martha Stewart Craft Paint (or some other fabric paint) into the cut areas of your design and let it dry.

fall-pillow4

This is the mess you will have after all the cutting.

fall-pillow1

Then after the paint has dried, carefully peel off the freezer paper. Usually the stencil can be reused a couple times.

fall-pillow5

This is what my new pillows look like on the sofa. The stencil turned out well and the colors are perfect, bringing in fall without trying to overthrow my punchy bright green.

garland

I also cut leaves out of scrapbook paper and made a leaf bunting for windows on each side of the room and one to go over the fireplace.

garland2

To cut the leaves I just printed some leaf templates off the internet and used them as cutting guides. It didn’t take long.

After I got my pillows and my leaf swags done I lit a pumpkin pie candle and then felt sort of pissed off that the weather was still very summery! I’m not one to rush the seasons, but my shorts just weren’t working for me after I cut out all those leaves. Fortunately, Mother Nature seems to be cooperating with my seasonal decorating scheme now and has cooled things off a bit. Then I dug out my pie spice from the back of the cabinet and made spiced applesauce muffins and everything felt just fine.

Advertisements

Ooh Baby, Baby

Standard

momandbabyThanks for the well wishes! We’re doing great. This is me with Daphne the morning after she was born. When did hospital portraits get so fancy? Her birth went fine and we got to go home 24 hours after she was born. I am so uncomfortable during pregnancy, but each time I have felt great once it’s over. What a relief!

attic-roomHere is the room Worth and Daphne will share. Daphne obviously is not sleeping in this bed yet (though it is a nice space for sister cuddling while Mom brushes her teeth!), but I outfitted the attic room kind of like a kid dorm, with two dressers, night stands, and beds. The beds and dressers are the IKEA items I bought unfinished this summer and assembled and stained green. Daphne’s dresser is stocked with her little clothes and the wire basket rolled under the bed holds her diapering supplies. The beautiful quilt on the foot of her bed has birds on it and was made jointly by my mother and her mother, who is the Novema of Daphne’s middle name.

monogrammed-pillowThis is a better view of the pillows I made for the kids’ beds. Daphne’s has a D painted on in fabric paint, and Worth’s has his W and is made in a coordinating print.

crochet-dressAnd here is Daphne wearing her Pretty in Pink Sundress from the book Simple Crochet for Cherished Babies by Jane Davis. It was a simple pattern and looks sweet in this soft wool blend yarn.

Boo-boo ice packs and some pillows

Standard

ice-pack-in-actionLast year I made boo-boo ice packs for my kids. This is an old photo of Worth using his. They are just little 7-inch square pillowcases made out of flannel. When one of my kids needs first aid for some physical pain they believe they have suffered, supplying then with an ice pack stops the crying. I put some ice cubes in a quart-size zipper-lock bag then slip the baggie inside the pillowcase. When the pack has worked its magic I dump out the ice and dry out the zipper lock bag over my knife rack so I can reuse it next time. Worth’s pack is made out of monkey fabric and Dorothy’s is made from Hello Kitty, thus we call the packs “boo-boo monkey” and “boo-boo kitty.” They work miracles. Whether or not they are medically indicated is not really the point.

ice-pack-frontFor Mother’s Day this year my family bought me a starter embroidery machine. I’m still playing with it and learning to use it right now. It’s an inexpensive and simple setup as far as embroidery machines go, but I think I will really enjoy it. One of my first projects to try out the new machine was to make a boo-boo ice pack for a little friend of ours. I got the caterpillar embroidery file free from Brother’s website. My kids, of course, call this project the “boo-boo caterpillar.” I don’t always think embroidered kids’ things are cute, partly because they are often done in a style I don’t care for, and also because personalizing something really cuts down on its ability to be reused, but I have no qualms about turning a 7-inch square of flannel into something that will be destined to serve an important purpose for only one small little person.  If Kenny gets as many ice-worthy injuries as my kids (or at least believes he does), he will wear this little item out.

new-pillowsAnd I made more new pillows, again. I feel like I blog about pillows a lot! But I love to change out the slips on my sofa pillows seasonally. I’d made these green and white ikat slips last spring, but added the smaller ones this year. We just replaced our sofa (don’t laugh, I know it looks very similar to the old one, but I loved the old one and it was getting holes all over it!) and I thought with this new configuration we’d need more throw pillows to really get comfy. I love these fluffy, soft down pillow forms from fabric.com. They aren’t the firm, perky kind you’d buy to always look perfect–they are squishy and soft and wonderful for molding just the right way when you’re reading on the sofa. Now that I’ve added the new ones I get to indulge in a whole year’s worth of new pillow-slip-making to keep them covered and seasonal! This is the fabric on the green pillows, and this is what’s on the new ones.

A cupcake birthday

Standard

My first baby turned six today! We’ve been celebrating for a week. We’d never before hosted a “friend” birthday party but we did this year. Such fun! I cut a cupcake shape from a cardboard box and Dorothy painted it. We staged this photo, then I used Photoshop to add words to the cupcake for her invitation. They looked sweet printed on metallic paper from Mpix and I made postcards from the same print with only the words “thank you” on the cupcake.

Dorothy chose a Michael Miller print with cupcakes for her birthday dress fabric and insisted that I use the same pattern (Simplicity 5704) I’d used for cousin Lila’s pony dress. I really was into the idea of making her birthday dress but I had computer problems two  weeks ago that prevented me from doing anything crafty since I basically spent all my free time for a week trying to buy a new hard drive, back up files, and act like I knew what I was doing. When the week of her birthday party arrived I hadn’t yet made her dress or the cupcake pajamas she also insisted she needed, given that the friend celebration was to occur in pajamas. I stayed up very late one night sewing the dress, was pleased with the result, then stayed up the next night making her pajamas based on a pair of pajama pants I took out of her drawer as I was tucking her in. The next morning she woke up and said, “oh mom, I forgot to tell you last night, but those pajama pants you took downstairs last night are way too big.” Oy. And the homemade pants were too, but I altered them a bit and they were still cute, if a bit bunchy.

The dress was darling on her but Dorothy may have been the most pleased with the new shoes her grandparents bought her. She fell in love with them on their birthday shopping trip and insisted that six was old enough to wear “high heels.” I’ll never tell her that I don’t really consider these girly little sandals to be high heels. She’s been clomping around the house in them like six-year-old royalty.

I purchased cupcake-themed goodies from Oriental Trading Company and the kids had a great time dividing the little rubber stamps, temporary tattoos and other cupcake ephemera into pink cellophane bags for the party. We invited nineteen children and all of them showed up. Dorothy declared herself a “party animal.” Indeed.

After surviving the adorable mob of small cupcake-eating girls in pastel pajamas on Friday night we hosted a more staid fete for our close family the next afternoon. Nana, at Dorothy’s request, made a sheet cake with a cupcake on it.

Many of our small party guests brought handmade cards. I hung some string on our mantel so we could display all her special birthday cards for a few days to fully appreciate them.

With all the parties over we’re getting back to our routine. Soon it will be time to make decisions about schooling for next year. Our homeschool routine is so cozy and laid back I think it might be hard to make a choice for “away” school (Dorothy’s term), no matter how fond we are of the options we’ve applied to. She’s begging to stay home, probably because she hates setting the alarm. (She gets that from me.) We’ll see. In the meantime my kindergartener is getting in plenty of relaxed time with our little cast of characters at home in the mornings and many great experiences in our afternoon activities out and about. She does Girl Scouts, soccer, gymnastics, Sunday School, ballet, and church choir. I always giggle a little inside when people express concern about homeschoolers getting enough socialization.

On a different subject, I made more new accent pillows for the sofa. I just can’t stop. I’m keeping all the old ones, of course, but changing them seasonally really seems to give great impact for little effort. This green and white Ikat print makes the whole room feel springy. Like cupcakes, you know, but without all that sugar.

A winter wreath and some other projects for the home

Standard

I never know what to hang on the front door after Christmas. Holly berries no longer seem right, but it’s definitely not time for spring flowers either. I decided to buy a cheap thrift store wreath and winterize it. The photo above is the wreath I started with, purchased for about $2.

I lightly spray-painted the whole thing white. The original colors still show through, but it looks kind of frosty. Then I added silver snowflakes (white ones from a craft store, spray-painted silver), a colorful bow, and a vintage bird I found at a yard sale last summer. I like that the blue gives a little color to my winter front porch but I still feel seasonably appropriate.This might not be the best photo of my new pillowcases but at least it shows them in action. The striped print, Robert Allen Kukula Pinata, coordinates with my new curtains (finally all finished!) in Kiki Pinata. I like that the boldness of the stripe and color anchors my sort of washed-out old sofa, but that it isn’t so matchy-matchy with the curtains that anyone is going to get seasick from all the flowers. The kids and dog obviously like them as well. It has been part of our daily homeschool routine for Dorothy to read a book or two to her brother, so that is what is going on here. I don’t actually want to talk about why my 22-month-old is sucking on a pacifier, and since this is my blog, well, I won’t.

Belle’s doggie bed was originally intended to occupy space on the second floor of our home, but it ended up being more useful in our main living space. The downside to finally finishing the curtains in this room was that the bed, covered in fabric to match my bedroom, now looked kind of clashy in the family room. I found a nice, washable fabric to make a new dog bed cover at Joann. It’s the Lisette brand but I didn’t see this print on the website. It looks like an Ikat print and is a color that should both match the room and the dog–so her hair won’t show so badly! Both the person who cut my fabric and the person who checked me out asked what I was going to do with the pretty fabric. It was kind of funny to tell them it was for my dog, but she should have pretty things too. Why not?

 

Curtains and Christmas crafting

Standard

Our family room has been late to get the love that some of our other rooms got months ago. I’ve had the fabric (Kiki Pinata) picked out to make the curtains for months but could never find the time to start them. I finally got fed up with not having curtains one night recently and stayed up until 2:00 a.m. sewing, but my sleepy brain screwed them up and I spent most of that time trying to fix my own dumb mistakes. Curtains are pretty easy–mostly straight seams–but for some reason that night I couldn’t hack it. I did finally did finish the set for this one window and I really love the print, even though it is not the most appropriate backdrop for the Christmas tree we just set up in front of it. Now one down, one regular and two double windows to go. Yikes. But this room is really shaping up. Here we were right after move-in last year, with the unlit last-minute Christmas tree thrown in the corner next to a pile of boxes. I’m thankful every day that we are not moving this year! This year we set the tree up on a table to keep precious ornaments out of reach of kids and puppies, and my crafty Grandma’s memory is honored by the use of her handmade felt tree skirt and complete felt nativity. A much more peaceful scene than moving boxes.

After enjoying the seasonal pillow cases I made for my sofa a few weeks ago I decided I needed new ones for Christmas. I used wide strips of Christmas fabric (which accidentally found it’s way into my Fabric.com shopping cart when I was buying the curtain fabric) of varying widths to make intentionally non-matching pillows for each side of the sofa. The kids keep taking all the cushions off to make a mouse house with them and some blankets so I was unable to photograph them on the sofa, but here is one on the floor in its more natural habitat. I did some decorative machine stitches where the strips are joined and it looks cute. The final product looks cheerful and seasonal and kid-friendly both on the sofa and off.

My other recent holiday project was to make Rob a new stocking. His previous stocking was small, and Dorothy noticed this year that it seemed a bit plain next to the others. (This year we’ve also added an Etsy-purchased personalized stocking for Belle the dog.) I was under the impression that Rob’s old stocking was one of those emotion-infused items that came with my husband and Must Not Be Changed, but it turns out he didn’t even remember who made it for him so I was able to stick it in his Thou Shalt Not Throw Away box downstairs (we have issues with him being a keeper and me being a tosser–but that’s another story) and upgrade his stocking by the fireplace. I wanted to make it myself since I love him better than the dog. I used a rather manly green and gold stripe print I had left over from a project a couple years ago and lined it with some green corduroy, also from my stash. I stitched his name in gold thread and then sewed on some red jingle bells for color. My favorite part of this project was the way Dorothy fussed over unveiling it for him when he came home from work–she’s so glad Santa can now treat him with adequate generosity!

Fall snacks and more pillows

Standard

When I did the bat pillows last month I also cut out pillowcases for my family room sofa. I wanted something that could stay out all fall, not just for Halloween. I vaguely remembered seeing something in a magazine that used a similar style for a felt leaf applique and I liked that idea, so I went with it. I didn’t want these pillows to match so I put an acorn on the other. These pillows have been nice projects because they are quick but make a nice impact. I used really inexpensive clearance fabric for the pillow cases, attached the felt cutouts with fabric glue, then stitched around them with embroidery floss. I printed out some internet clip art to look at while I cut out the shapes. The only problem with these was that in a couple places the fabric glue soaked through the felt and left dark splotches. If I did this again I’d use less glue and not handle the pillowcase at all until the glue was dry. After these were done I thought that if I was going to blog about it I should try to look up that magazine reference and I found it. I love the shiny fabric they used but that wouldn’t be so practical in a home full of peanut-buttery fingers.

This autumn has been so erratic with the temperatures. Right when I get settled into fires in the fireplace, homemade wool socks and hot spiced apple cider (with brandy after 6 pm!) it turns warm again and I need something refreshingly cool. One day I experimented by stirring some maple syrup into sparkling water and pouring it over ice and I was so happy. Yum. Since that day I have experimented with the syrup, cream and milk and determined that the perfect maple cream cooler is this: 1 TB real maple syrup + 1 TB whole milk + glass full of iced sparkling water. This is what warm autumn days are for.  🙂

And while I’m on fall snacks, it annoys me that the popular consciousness considers peeled apple slices dipped in sugar syrup (caramel, whatever) to be a “snack.” I hate to break it to anyone, but peeled fruit with a side of sugar is dessert. But the dipping of apple slices is kind of awesome, and I’m pleased to have landed on a new apple dip for the days when we’re tired of our usual almond or peanut butters. I stirred a dollop of honey and a pinch of pumpkin pie spice into plain yogurt and it’s very good. Fallish and creamy and reminiscent of pie. And much more virtuous than caramel! If you don’t have pumpkin (or apple) pie spice you can easily make your own. Here’s a recipe that turned up in a quick google search, or you can create your own based on your favorite fall spices. I use it in everything this time of year from pancakes to yogurt to sprinkling it on top of my coffee grounds before brewing. The local schools are on fall break today so my little homeschooler took the morning off as well. Our neighbor friend came over to play with Dorothy and I helped them have a crafty morning together. The girls decorated treasure boxes out of old yogurt containers that seem very much like some flower pots we made once before, and they sewed dolls inspired by the ones I saw in Martha Stewart Living this past month. They made theirs out of old white napkins because they didn’t like the idea of a doll made from printed fabric. They have big plans for sewing doll dresses next but have now taken an extended break to dig in the dirt out in this lovely fall sunshine.