Category Archives: Uncategorized

A knights and dragons birthday

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Worth turned six in February. He requested a “knights and dragons” birthday.worthInspired by Pinterest, I cut flames from a sheet of red poster board. Stuck to the door with painter’s tape, it became an opportunity for Worth’s guests to “breathe fire” and get their photos taken.

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Worth wanted a dragon hat, so I used a basic hat pattern to sew a black hat from fleece, then added fleece ears and spikes and some greenish-yellow felt eyes. Worth has worn his Toothless-inspired hat in both cold and warm places (like to bed) quite frequently since I made it, so I felt good about his its reception. dragon-cake

My mother totally outdid herself with an enormous, amazing dragon cake!cannonballs

And what’s a knights and dragons party without some castle-storming food? Or something. I also cut shields out of cardboard and spray-painted them silver, then let Worth’s friends decorate them with paint as a party activity. I thought these turned out cute but I somehow never managed to get a photograph of them.

Notice my oldest daughter (above) is wearing a tiara. Apparently she felt that her role at a knights-and-dragons party should be royal princess, subtly outranking Sir Worth at his own event. We did manage to talk her down to lady-in-waiting, however, with the help of paid duties involving the herding of six-year-old boys and shield paint cleanup. Shew!

Photo books

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2015-05-18 18.57.02I’m not sure how I managed to post twice on Monday. The front porch chairs were not supposed to post until today. But here is a bonus post instead! I get so excited every time I get a book from Blurb.com in the mail. I’ve been making these books since Dorothy was a toddler and I love them so much. I don’t print any of our family photos as regular prints except for those I give as gifts. Instead, three or so times per year I sit down and comb through the best of my digital pictures and put them into a Blurb photo book. Blurb software is really much better than that book-making nonsense at Snapfish or similar, because you use it offline on your computer and then upload the final product. There are lots of layout options, or if you prefer you can design your book in your own software and upload it to Blurb as a .PDF. The print quality is better from Blurb too. Over the years I’ve come up with a process for making my photo books quickly, and I’ll share it with you.

1) Comb through digital photos and make a folder (or folders, if you really want to be organized) of the best ones. Import the best ones into your book and have the Blurb software sort them into chronological order. Plop them into the Blurb photo layouts so that photos of the same event land on the same page or set of pages (like my pumpkin patch pictures above).

2) Copy and paste Facebook or social media updates into a Word document if they contain cute things you want to remember, like things your kids said or funny family stories. Change the document to plain text so all the web formatting doesn’t make your book text look odd, then make a text section in the book to hold your social media updates so you can remember them instead of just sharing them with Uncle Harry and everyone from high school and then forgetting them forever.

3) Take some snapshots of your kids’ best recent artwork and make a section for them. Caption them so you know who make the art and any explanation of subject matter necessary.

3) Go back through the main photo section and do as much or as little captioning as you wish. I used to do lots of journal-type entries, but now that time is shorter I mostly let the photos speak for themselves. I will identify friend-children who appear in the book or note where we were on outings, etc.

4) Next, make a section to preserve your phone pictures. My iPhone is set to upload my photos automatically to Dropbox, and then it’s easy to import them into my Blurb book from Dropbox on my computer. I like to make a section in the back of my Blurb book with 9 photos to a page so I’m not paying a huge amount of money for lots of pages of lower-quality phone photos, and they end up printing at about the size they show up on my phone screen. I don’t spend time captioning them and I only omit the real duds because part of the fun of this section is looking back and seeing that we took four goofy selfies before we got one good one, etc.

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5) Finally, put your favorite picture from your book on the cover and a funny one on the back cover and give your book a title that indicates the time period it covers. Order it, and enjoy!

No cute crafty blogging today

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I have no cute, completed crafty projects to show. I have two small people with big colds, one baby with a double ear infection, a ponytail, and a ginormous mug of coffee. And I’m trying to finish the project, now in its second week, of transforming my 8-year-old’s bedroom from one of the circles of hell to a livable, organized space. I’ve carted out four huge bags full of trash. Seriously. May the craftiness be with you, and maybe later this week I’ll have time to look at your blogs and know that crafty life goes on! And melodrama. It always goes on. And homeschool math. It always goes on too, or at least it should if I get off the computer and go make it go on. Cheers!

Our vacation handmades

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We took a family vacation to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, this summer. I put together matching outfits for the kids. Matching outfits on vacation serve the dual purpose of looking cute (in real time and in photographs) and helping me keep track of everyone more easily! I used fabrics from the Michael Miller Shore Thing collection. Dorothy’s dress was a little halter pattern from Girl’s World, and Worth’s was the cute pattern from Sewing for Boys I had also used on his fox shirt last winter. I think Dorothy’s pattern would have been more flattering on a less willowy girl–I had to add some ruching under the best to give it a little shape.

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Daphne’s dress is just a simple little halter with ties over the shoulders, and she got matching bloomers from the plaid. The outfits were breezy and comfortable for the kids, and were so fun for me to see in action!

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I took this babywearing selfie, since I’m often not in the pictures. This carrier came off my sewing machine just over a year ago, and it has gotten almost constant use! I love the mei tai style carrier.

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I made myself several new bags for our trip. I often find that we take evening beach walks to find shells or get ice cream, and while I need to carry my wallet, room key, and sunglasses, I do not want to tote my beach bag or even my purse. I sewed this small pouch with a long strap to throw over my shoulder and carry just the essentials. It was handy for the beach and has gotten quite a bit of use back at home too.

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I had quite a bit of laminated cotton left over from a project of recovering my kitchen chair seats. I decided it would be good fabric for a new beach bag. I needed a new one anyway, now that we had grown to a family of five beach-towel users! I lined the bag and made pockets out of a brightly-colored striped sheet, then made a little zippered pouch to match. I downloaded the embroidery file for the monogram from the JoyfulStitchesEtsy shop and have loved it so much I’ve been stitching it onto everything! I thought laminated cotton worked well for the bag in that sand and water could be easily brushed off, but not as well in that it wrinkles badly in a hot car.

mermaid-shorts

I wish I had a better photo of this project, but this one will do. I found this adorable mermaid-printed cotton last winter when I was looking for something else, and I bought it not knowing what on earth I’d use it for. I made the girls matching bermuda-style shorts and they’ve worn them together all summer. Love it when my girls dress alike! I found their matching green tops at Children’s Place. I used their other shorts as a pattern, sewed on decorative  lavender drawstrings, and made a leg-band facing out of the lavender. There was just enough of the mermaid fabric left from the project that I got a little mermaid coin purse to carry my quarters in to the beach laundry-mat!

When in Kentucky

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derby derby2Daphne has really been on the baby social circuit this spring. While I may not be any sort of homeschool mom socialite, I do at least leave the house dressed as a grown-up sometimes, to go to the Kentucky Oaks or out with girlfriends, or my 20th (eek!) high school reunion. Daphne doesn’t really like it when I leave the room she’s in, and I don’t really like to hook my breasts up to machinery, so my third child/path-of-least-resistance parenting strategy is to just bring her with me everywhere. It’s kind of fun–I’ve become like the Crazy Cat Lady of Babies. And Daphne has been lots of interesting places. These pictures were taken at the Oaks, which is the day of racing that happens on the day before the Kentucky Derby. Daphne and I both wore hats, in keeping with tradition, and I made a little overdress for her with her name and “Little Winner” embroidered on the front. It might be the ultimate one-use outfit, but I justified that it was made with hand-me-down fabric.

easter-skirtThis picture was taken on Easter. I might have made dresses for the girls, but when Costco put out cute dresses in both their sizes for $15.99 each I knew that sewing their outfits would not give me as much of a thrill as jumping on that deal. It’s so hard to find store-bought matching clothes for girls so far apart! I did make my own skirt, from the “Flirty Skirt” pattern in the book Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders, which is a companion book to the other One-Yard Wonders book I’ve blogged about before. The skirt was the first project I’ve tried from the book and I was pleased with it. It was a little hard to find 3-inch elastic, and I think if I make the skirt again I’ll just use stretchy knit for the waistband, but I was impressed that I got a whole skirt that covered my butt decently and used only one yard of fabric.

My 8-year-old needed her party to be out of this world

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Dorothy was on an “I want to be an astronaut” kick this winter that lasted only slightly past her realization that astronauts need to study lots of math. But before it ended we read lots of cool books about planets and space, stalked the International Space Station, read a biography of Sally Ride, and had a fun solar system birthday party.

IMG_1200I made her a planet-printed skirt from fabric we found on Fabric.com. We bought a set of inflatable planets online that served as teaching tool and party decoration in one. It also occupied a couple hours of my big kids’ time as they experimented with the pedal air pump. I took birthday portraits of Dorothy in her party clothes, mostly at her artistic direction. (Her enthusiasm for choreographing photos exceeds her zest for math, at least at this point.)

cake

Nana supplied the fabulous cake, as usual.

planetsI hung the planets from the ceiling in our dining room. Sticking easy-peel hooks to the ceiling to hang the planets seemed like a great idea until I realized about halfway through that I’d not be able to raise my arms above my head again for days, because each surface has to be prepped with alcohol and then the hook has to be pressed firmly to the surface for a minute before it is set. Oh well, it’s like cheap CrossFit, right?

mini-moonsWe handed out mini Moon Pies to our guests.

cheeseAnd we used cookie cutters to make star and moon cheese shapes for our snacks. I had the cheese sliced extra thick to make better shapes, but seriously over-estimated the number of cheese shapes our (mostly adult) guests would eat. The week after the party involved cheesy chicken and broccoli, cheese enchiladas, cheese-stuffed chicken breasts, and lots of cheese sandwiches in my kitchen.

gameDorothy’s friends played a bean-toss planet game on our stairs. This game probably would have worked better outside on the driveway, but it was raining. All our little guests were winners; Dorothy made the prizes herself on her new sewing machine.