Archive of ‘holiday’ category

flower quilt progress

flower quilt progressIt worked!  I followed Michele’s plan of quilting bit by bit and I finished the quilt top! These photos were taken quickly and ad hoc but they suffice as a display of my enthusiasm at accomplishing as much as I have.  The pattern is available for free on Sew Mama Sew and was designed by one of my favorite designers Ellen Luckett Baker from the long thread.   Most of the fabric I used is from things in my scrap basket and includes everything from heavier linens to lightweight voile.  It’s a real mix but I did closely follow how Ellen made her quilt. The grey fabric is a beautiful, soft linen-cotton blend that I bought at my favorite fabric boutique Rock Paper Scissors.

completed quilt top flower quilt a happy stitchNow, I just need to find some time to quilt and hand-bind this sucker before Christmas! Yikes!  And, oh yes, it’s a Christmas gift for someone (ahem), someone who might just read this blog.  Wish me luck.  Are you working on any covert handmade holiday gifts?  Are you dying to tell someone about it?  Share with me in the comments! No one will find out and we can get all giggly together!

 

 

calendar keeping for little people

In the past two months I have taught six different sewing classes and am preparing for two upcoming craft fairs in the beginning of December.  Can you say busy?  My husband is starting to give me puppy eyes every time I swing out the door before dinner even begins.

One thing that has kept us all sane when things get busy is careful calendar keeping.  It’s so boring but keeping everything written down and organized is the only way to keep from forgetting everything.  It helps me feel things are under control and manageable.  Nearly every grown-up keeps a calendar of some kind.  It’s basic.

But, what about kids?  As our schedule gets crazy and schools start with half-days and events and performance and days off…I keep coming back to calendars I made with the boys this summer.  In the middle of one week of summer camp, J asked me every morning, “Do I have summer camp today?”.   He woke up with no idea of what his day was going to include.  Not a clue.  It finally hit me what an upsetting feeling that must be!!  So, I decided the boys needed their own calendars.  I found these amazing  blank calendar kits from Bare Books for around $3 including stickers. calendar for kids - a happy stitch

While we have a family calendar that is visible to everyone the act of filling in their own calendar became an unexpected learning opportunity.

j makes a calendar

For J, he was 4 then, it was handy for him to practice his numbers and reiterate the order of different numbers.  His attention span for project was shorter, of course, but he filled in what he needed to in order to “X” off a few dates and gain a better sense of what was coming with each day.  Job done!

For C, though, it was a richer learning experience.  Once he figured out that different months have different number of days and the next month starts the day after the previous month ended he was on fire!  It was like a little math puzzle.

c makes his calendar

(Notice that Ironman picture next to him.  Everyone works better with Ironman by their side!)

Several months later we will use these calendars regularly.  When things get wacky, we sit down and cross off days and discuss what is coming…when family is arriving for Thanksgiving; how much time will pass before Christmas; when school has a half day; etc.  It’s immensely helpful and gives both boys a sense of control and knowledge about what is to come.  It’s been a good reminder for me, as well, to involve them in planning things and give them advance notice of what is coming up.  It’s sparked great and hilarious conversations as well.  I especially love the ones about how different months are longer than others and how the shorter months must ‘feel’ about that.  Ha!

Of course, the calendars are getting sloppier, as evidenced below:

calendar at the holidaysThat only illustrates how well-love they are, right?  Yup.  Mama is gonna let go of messy.  Function over form for this one.

 

for our goosebomb : a recycled father’s day garland

I really like marking special days with things that are heartfelt and handmade but I was worried that father’s day 2013 would pass by without much of anything in the handmade department.  I’m covered in the itchiest ever poison ivy rash and it is making me cranky and tired.  but, I rallied my friends.  I seriously rallied.  we made a special father’s day garland out of toilet paper rolls and finished it just in time.toilet roll garland

each tp roll was painted by the boys and it spelled out a message to greet him this morning, “we heart mr. goose bomb”…the kids chose the message, obviously.  they are in a phase of calling their beloved papa mr. goose bomb and they were so giggly after deciding to put that nickname on the garland.

making the toilet paper garlandwe brought the whole project outside, which saved me some clean up time and made it  more like a secret making mission than just regular old painting project.  we started by painting the rolls and then we cut out letters and glued them on over the paint.  to make it into a garland I just punched holes on either side of the roll and them strung them together (once they had dried) on twine with a few beads in between the rolls to separate them.  super easy.

making the toilet roll garlandonce it was decorated and strung up the boys decided they wanted to write messages to put into each roll.  so, this morning, we let Papa sleep in and we wrote little love notes to him, rolled them up and taped them inside each roll.  he got to read them after he woke up.  it’s not a bad makeover for cast-aside toilet paper rolls, huh?  I’ve started saving tp rolls and paper towel rolls and other such items and I’m very amazing at how often we use them for our art projects.  toilet paper garland

it made for a great start to father’s day.  the boys really love their papa and they (and I) are lucky to have him.  other aspects of parenting these days are challenging us…the boys are really into wrestling and being rough with each other; they are testing boundaries; and pushing out of their reserved public personalities by trying on aggressive ones at home.  it’s exhausting and straining us all but especially the mama and papa trying to keep people physically and emotionally safe.  we’ve been caught off-gaurd by this bend in the road.  suffice it to say that today papa deserved love notes and a little extra gratitude for his amazing job as papa.  happy father’s day is right!

 

the easter egg garland

happy easter all!

our household is straining under  the not-yet-arrived warm weather; the smell of dirt and other unfrozen things; and thoughts of seed plantings and outdoor projects that feel just around the bend.  easter always seems to mark the promise held in springtime.
easter garland

it’s a promise we are ready to cash in on.  we are starting lists with titles like “things we will do when it is warm out” and the boys are so ready to play outside they eagerly shoveled dirt in pouring rain this afternoon.

little J, who is days away from turning 4, is clearly navigating through some heavy kid transitions.  he is ready to do so many things by himself, out from under his brother’s shadow, but not quite capable enough.  after 40 minutes of red-faced frustration he got himself dressed this morning while managing to put on a shirt upside down (and rip it), underwear and pants on backwards and socks inside-out.  only to walk out of his bedroom and have his brother point out his shirt was backwards, which sent him into a flailing tantrum.  sigh.

truth be told, I’m the one most desperate for the cleansing, shifting tide of spring.  my parenting fuse is short and my longing to organize, sort, and clean without interruption isn’t helping my patience.  the result has been that each day ends with a bucket full of self-doubt and a much-needed beer.  I think, we can all feel spring starting to emerge but not yet be fully realized.  we need some serious sun on our faces…and right quick.

there have been some great inspired moments in the midst of all this strain.  this past week is our spring break and during a quieter moment we made a paper egg bunting inspired by two straight lines (I posted about it in one a happy happenings posts recently).

watercoloring for eggs

using watercolors on thick paper we made various designs…just C and I.  some of the designs were straight watercoloring, some involved wax resist using crayons and others involved cutting shapes from masking tape that were then painted over and later removed for a stencil effect. easter egg making

next, we used an egg template (hand-drawn and free-formed) to cut out an egg shape. cut little slits in the top and strung it through a length of yarn. egg garland template

he thought it was amazing.  it was exactly what I needed…to be amazing for a moment.  easter garland

they get used to me, these two lovely brothers.  I am around to get them home after school and to open their yogurt and to watch them learn to put on a shirt and to turn the car into an irresistible rocket ship when they are reluctant to leave the house.  it is a blessing to be that person and also a job that sometimes feels bigger than me.  garland overhead
 
so, here is to the arrival of spring and all of the painful but beautiful growing sure to come along with it.
 

easter fabric buckets

before just about every holiday, with just a few days to go, I manage to come up with a gazillion crafty things I want to do for the boys.   and, then I remember that I only have a few days and end up calling it quits on most of my ideas.  well, this easter is really no different but I am proud to say that I squeezed in a wee bit of making and these fabric easter buckets will be taking the place of our regular baskets.
easter fabric bucket with chick

I plan to fill them with some quirky toys and just a few sweet chocolates.  the boys are both crazy about chocolate and we happen to live literally half a block from a chocolate factory/shop, which is weird but true…there have been phases when we basically survived on chocolate.  the only problem is we had a pretty bad visit to the dentist recently and have to lay off the sweets.  because nothing whips a mama into shape quite like a shaming from the dental hygienist!  ahem.fabric easter bucketsthe buckets are made based off this lovely tutorial.  I added strips of ribbon to the base of the fabric and one ribbon handle to the side. simple and sweet and ready for easter goodness.

easter fabric bucket with handle

maybe I will even find a little time to make easter bunnies out of old sweaters and felted easter eggs with openings for hiding the chocolate and pom-poms garlands out of green yarn for grass and…well, maybe…maybe not.

happy valentines day

happy valentines everyone!  it has already been a pretty dreamy day over in my world.  we woke up and exchanged our handmade valentines including a few that were made on the fly by C.  he is my son after all.  he knows a little last minute ‘still in the pajamas’ card making is totally acceptable and a much higher priority than getting dressed.

heart strands

we’ve got chocolate fondue and pesto on the docket for dinner (hopefully not in that order but I’m not making any promises).  I got the sweetest email from my aunt who told me this little blog inspired her to handmake her cards and I was even able to sneak in a lunch with dear friends.  all of that before the evening review of cards from friends and the un-corking of some red wine has even begun!  there abounds much, much love of the best kind.  I am so lucky and really feeling it today.  (there is, of course, a little bit of kid-related heartache but it wouldn’t be real life without a piece of that now would it?  it’s nothing big, just a little niggle.)

there is also one final v-day craft project that was revealed today.  one which I haven’t yet shared here, just in case doing so ruined the secret.  the boys and I made a felt heart mobile for the much-loved Papa.  it used up the some final bits of felted sweaters.  I cut out hearts and sewed them together into strands.  then I got the boys input and they very adamantly voted to turn the heart strands into a mobile.

simple heart mobile

so, I did my very best.  using an embroidery hoop covered in bits of felt, I attached the heart strands as well as some ribbon to hang it from the top.  I am not wild about how this came out (thankfully, the boys are!).  the top is sloppy, it was harder than I expected to sew and clumsily deal with the wooden embroidery hoop at the same time.  along with that, the hearts droop a bit because they are too heavy.

felt heart mobile

and, you know what? I just could not care less.  something a very thoughtful friend wrote about reminded me that today isn’t easy for everyone.  it helped me realize that every sweet little surprise that came my way today was made by hand and heartfelt.  the extra hugs and ‘i love yous’ I got are beautiful reminders of everything I have to be grateful for.  and, I am indeed grateful.  so what if my hearts are drooping and the mobile is a little wonky?…nobody around here cares.   it’s not the hallmark shine that makes the day special; it is, as always, the beauty we find in our droopy, wonky, imperfect bits.

tonight I’m focusing on celebrating and loving all of that.  xoxo.

 

wear your sleeve on your heart :: guest posting at petit cadeau

I am so excited to be the DIY guest blogger over at the lovely and inspiring  Petit Cadeau blog today.   it is especially an honor because Alison  celebrates and encourages thoughtful gift giving and that philosophy is so near and dear to my heart!

felted-heart-pillow-1so, go check it out! I hope you are inspired to make your own lovely felt heart pillow, too.  while you are over at her blog be sure to poke around for other breathtaking ideas for gift giving, you are sure to be inspired.

if you are here from Alison’s blog…welcome, it’s wonderful to have you!

 

the valentines tic tac toe sack

the tic tac toe sackthe boys valentine gifts are done!  I made them both a felt tic tac toe game in it’s own little heart sack.  I was inspired by this one from 1st lady of the house, which is so super pretty.  I went with a bit of a more masculine look and managed to use all scraps to do it (woot!)  including a bunch of felted wool that I’ve been hanging on to ever since this project.
sack for tick tack toe

I made a little sack because we our family really enjoys eating breakfast out at a diner.  I mean, we do live in Jersey, we are practically required to take advantage of the culinary fascination that is ‘the diner’.  but, restaurant eating of any kind can get a little hairy with my wild boys, so we often play games (this is our all-time favorite).  this travel sack will allow us to bring our tic tac toe along for the wait between coffee and pancakes!  the bag itself is a simple drawstring sack made of some scrap pieces of wool and ribbon.  DSCN6020

I made the tic tac toe board very simply; just cut squares out of the wool felt, marked and stitched lines to make a grid that created nine spaces.  to make the x’s and o’s I drew with chalk onto the pretty scraps of felted wool, then I stitched along the lines I had drawn through two pieces of felted wool (just to give the game piecesa a bit of heft) and cut them out around my stitches.  since the wool doesn’t fray, I didn’t have to worry about having raw edges.  it was a relatively quick project and as you can see I didn’t get very perfectionist about the shape of my x’s and o’s. I just had fun with it.  DSCN6021here is hoping that the 3.5 and 5.5 is the right age for tic tac toe and if so, that we don’t end up with x’s and o’s in the syrup!

 

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