Monday, March 31, 2008

Chunky Pendant

I ran into the fabric store a few days before Easter to find some more polka dot fabric. Somehow I ended up in their jewelry-making aisle. That's where I spied this big ... whatever it is. I knew it would make a fab pendant. After getting the package home, it says that it is a semi-precious turquenite and "turquenite = healing." Hmmmm. Maybe I need to wear it to see if it heals my achy back and knees. I'll let you know how that goes.

I might even slip it onto Sawyer's neck. He's sick again. He's coughing, has runny nose, and a fever and I realized he was wheezing early yesterday evening. Poor guy. We have a nebulizer, so I hooked him up immediately and he was able to get two treatments by the time he went to bed. He's miserable. And he just finished his antibiotic last night!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ribbon Headbands

Spenser wears headbands. And they usually stay in. She always thinks she wants a hair clip or barrette or ponytail, but she usually yanks them right out and we lose them. But, headbands? We have a much higher success rate with those.

I decided to play around the other night and make a ribbon headband for her. When I presented it to her the next morning, she loved it. And it fit perfectly. Somehow, somewhere she decided to pull it off and that was the last we saw it. It can't be found anywhere in our house.

So I had a rare moment yesterday while Sawyer was napping and Spenser fell asleep on the sofa. It was short-lived, but I took advantage and made a few more.

Yes, that would be hot-pink velvet ribbon ... Would you believe that I accidentally found velvet ribbon at Walmart, of all places? It was purely accidental. They have several colors available, too, pre-packaged.
A reversible light pink/hot pink satiny ribbon...

And a double-ribbon headband. I used leftover purple grosgrain ribbon from Spenser's Easter bonnet. This might be a favorite.

Details on the headbands:

The ribbon is 15 1/2" long and the elastic is 4". I turned over the raw edge of the ribbon (twice) and sewed the elastic along the "hem." Repeat for the other edge.

For the double-ribbon headband I cut two lengths of ribbon, sewed them together at the bottom on a slight angle, and then continued to attach the elastic.

Spenser is three and has a tiny head. Sawyer is 18 months and they are a little big for him. You may need to adjust the length of the ribbon to fit the size of the head.

These are quick and easy. The only problem I had was keeping it moving through my feed dogs. Good luck with that.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dress Up and Happy Mail

On Monday night I sewed a little bit. I've had this pattern hanging around forever and decided it would be fun to make Spenser some more dress up clothes. This goes perfectly with her mob cap dress up stuff.

It was a quick sew except for the elastic. I assumed it was supposed to have a casing, either a rolled one or one of bias tape. It had neither. I had to stretch (or attempt to stretch) the elastic and sew it on. One side is okay. The other is not. I didn't pull it taut enough and ran short. I was afraid I would destroy the fabric if I ripped it out, so I added a small piece of elastic to the elastic and continued on.

Spenser loves it. When I gave it to her, she looked at the pattern package and asked, "Where's the shirt?" There is a camisole to go with it. She wants one. She will get a modified version of it. The one with this pattern has buttons up the back. Not very easy for dress up play. So, yes, she will be getting her matching shirt.

And yesterday I had the great pleasure to get this lovely parcel in the mail. It is from Karyn, one of the most generous people I know. She's been on a soapmaking quest lately and sent me a bar of each. Apple Blossom. Freesia. Pina Colada. And two bars of Chocolate Raspberry. Why two bars? Because chocolate-raspberry anything is my favorite. Hot chocolate. Candy. Mmmmm. She also sent along some large covered buttons so I can make more pendants and some black raspberry vanilla fragrance oil so I can make my own chocolate raspberry soap. Thank you, Karyn. I'm not worthy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It Was a Great Day

Yesterday started off as usual. The big before-school rush. Laundry. Dishes. Etc. But it just kept getting better...

Spenser spied her Easy-Bake Oven on a high shelf in our mudroom (which I had nearly forgotten about) and asked to bake something. During Sawyer's nap we made a yellow cake and chocolate frosting. She did most of the work herself. As the cake was "baking" under the light bulb, she stirred the chocolate frosting, while I tended to the the pot of black beans and kettle of split-pea soup on the stove.

When I turned around, the frosting was gone. It didn't even last long enough for the cake to bake. She loved every second of it. She wasn't too interested in the cake...

(Carter doing Jujitsu with our mayor.)

My day improved as we headed off to karate. It was exam night and only two of my four were testing (Carter, red belt, and Mason, white belt). I had been so nervous for them all day, just as any mother would be. They breezed through their exams.

Mason (5 and the littlest in the class) was performing with the rest of the small group of four testers. When it was time to do a harder form, the instructor told the children that if they didn't know this form to go sit down. No one sat down. She repeated herself. No one sat down. Then she looked at Mason and said it again. Very slowly. Mason (very loudly) said, "I can do it!" Then she told him that if he started and couldn't finish to just take a seat against the wall.

And then they started. My stomach was in complete knots. My eyes stayed on Mason the entire time. I don't think I was even breathing. It was so intense. He did his form. Perfectly. While I was watching him, tears were welling up in my eyes. His movements were so precise and strong. He knew it. He could do it. My heart was full. (Would it be mean to say that he did it better than a fifth-grader?)

And at the end of the exam Mason was promoted to yellow belt (bypassing orange belt) and Carter was promoted to green belt. Way to go, guys! You make a mama proud!

(And Joe missed the entire performance. He is traveling this week ...)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Eve Happenings

On Saturday morning, Carter's cub scout pack held their annual Pinewood Derby. Carter's car was Da Bunny. (When you say it, you have to sing The Bunny like from Veggie Tales ... "The bunny, the bunny, oh I ate the bunny ...") His car didn't win very many races, but he won Most Artistic. And it was cute.

We came home and started to dye our eggs. So many cracked before and after boiling them and during the egg dying process when little hands dropped some and they rolled right off the table and across the kitchen floor. It was slightly disappointing.

And then I got right to work on candy making. Buckeyes and

Coconut Indulgences. Nothing says Easter to me like the combinations of peanut butter and milk chocolate and coconut and dark chocolate ... and blue Robin's Egg candies rubbed on my lips like lipstick ... Ahhh. The childhood memories.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Polka-Dotty Easter Duds

I finished sewing Easter clothes late Friday night. Here they are:

Sawyer's tie onesie with matching pants. The pants are cropped for spring and made from baby blue linen. They are adorned with a blue polka-dotted button and matching cuffs. By the end of the day, he had chocolate and cranberry sauce all over the back of him.

Spenser's Easter dress was the same pattern as last year. She had a purple polka-dotted dress with matching "panties" for underneath. I also made her a matching Easter bonnet (per Joe's request). It is a mailorder bonnet and is lined with the reverse fabric: deep purple with white polka dots.

The weather forecast was cold for Easter, so I thought Spenser might need a poncho to cover her arms. I made one from eyelet and trimmed it in pompom fringe. I cut a 27" square and (with Joe's help), figured out the size to cut the neck hole. Instead of turning under the neck's edges, I made eyelet bias tape and trimmed it.

Unfortunately, Spenser did not wear it. I accidentally put it in the back of our car and thought I left it at home until we were at my aunt's house and she was dressed in "egg-hunting" attire.

And matching blue polka dot ties for Joe, Taylor, Carter, Jackson, and Mason. They are made from cotton, not Joe's first choice for ties (he claims they are harder to tie). But where else can you find such cute, springy ties in five sizes? They had to be cotton. Again.

Spenser had quite a few pictures taken and was requesting "no more, please," which prompted a few more.

And this may be one of the few Easter photos with me. Or part of me. I made a skirt to match Spenser's dress. It is Simplicity 5505. Very simple. In fact, if you are new to sewing clothes and want to try a skirt, this is the pattern for you.

I think the skirt might be a little too long. I may need to fix that. I had thought of trimming the skirt with a deep-purple-with-white-polka-dot bias tape, but I realized it wouldn't match Spenser's dress (which was already finished before the deep purple fabric was purchased). We'll see. That still may happen when I shorten the skirt. I wore my new white shirt, too. Oh, and that purple button pendant.

This is one of the only "group" photos of the day. Well, I take that back. It was one of many we snapped before leaving for church. Sawyer wasn't very cooperative. This was one of the only photos that everyone was facing forward.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter WIPs

I have been working on the children's Easter outfits a little here and a little there. It's going to be a polka-dotty Easter this year. Blue for boys. Purple for girls. Everyone has something new to wear as of right now. Except for me. I also have a few accessories in mind I'd like to sew for Spenser if I have time.

Here's a peek at the back of Spenser's Easter dress.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cold-Weather Fun

Last week while Sawyer napped, Spenser dressed in her bathing suit and went "swimming" in the bathtub. We tinted the bathwater blue, added bubbles, and her mermaid Barbie.

* * * * * * *

I have a problem. Sawyer is almost 18 months. He has had a cold since Friday-ish. He went for a well-checkup on Monday and was fine (besides a heart murmur, which is how Carter's problem was detected, but that's another story). Anyway, he still nurses. Or. Used to. I think his ear is bothering him. He wants to nurse. He says, "noirse," or tries to pull up my shirt. He opens his mouth and then turns his head (and sticks his finger in his ear). This has been going on for almost two days. He has had no fever and his cold is essentially gone, except the runny nose. He has another appointment today, so I'm hoping we'll get some answers.

In the meantime, I'm about to explode. I pumped a little last night. I don't remember pumping being so painful.

None of my children weaned themselves. Especially so abruptly. I don't know if he is on a nursing strike or if this is the end of an era. If he doesn't make up his mind soon, my body might naturally make the decision for him.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Last Easter I decided I needed to have a bowl of wooden eggs. I bought them and did nothing with them. Until December. I know, it's an odd time to think of eggs.

One night, during Advent, the children were painting. I remembered my eggs and decided I would finally paint them. After painting them, I speckled them with a toothbrush (except the golden egg). And the next day I sealed them with clear spray paint. I remember the day I sprayed them. It was the day of Taylor's birthday sleepover and each boy that came to our house asked me why I had "Easter eggs" on the front porch. I'm sure the parents thought I was nuts.

And guess what! Last week I bought some smaller "robins eggs" that I plan to paint blue. They might be painted this spring. Maybe. I'm not making any promises. (I still have Easter outfits to figure out and make! That's my priority.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I love shoes. I mean ... who doesn't? I would love to have more. Lots more. The thing is, I rarely buy myself new shoes. I think I bought a pair of shoes a year ago. And before that I bought a few pairs with some birthday money. But I think I have gone a year without buying a new pair of shoes. Crazy, I tell ya.

Last night that changed. Jackson needed a new pair of school shoes so we ran into Kohls. These shoes just happened to go up to the register with us and then came home with me. I don't know how it happened. And for the price I paid, I don't even have buyers' remorse.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I have a little obsession going on right now. It seems that I cannot stop making bread.

On Friday afternoon I tried making WHOoooo bread. The boys were so anxious to try it, that we ate about half the loaf hot and fresh from the oven, which made me have to make more on Saturday morning.

These are the loaves from Saturday. The photo of Friday's trial loaf is stuck on my camera. But Saturday's turned out so much better ... more photogenic. And I'll tell you why: I did not punch down the dough for the second rise on Saturday. It seems that the dough from Friday's punch-down didn't fully recover and it had knuckle indentations on the top. If you make it, keep that in mind. Let the dough rest for 1 1/2 hours and do not punch it down.

And to continue with my bread obsession, I did a little bread towel embroidery Sunday afternoon. I have been using these Ikea dish towels to cover my bread while it's rising and I decided it needed a little "dressing up." A little loaf of bread in redwork (DMC 304, I think) and it's ready to go. (I don't love my freehand loaf of bread, but I couldn't find any clip art that was "just right.")

Friday, March 14, 2008

They Have Their Own Style

Spenser has been dressing herself for months now. She has her own little style, that I've shared again and again. I love to see the concoctions she comes up with. The above outfit was from earlier in the week. I love that she is wearing a handmade shirt and a handmade skirt (and a Strawberry Shortcake Band-Aid on her knee to match her skirt). And no outfit is complete without a frilly wand. I forget where we went that day, but the wand came with us.

Yesterday Sawyer decided he needed to wear two pairs of pajamas. During Sawyer's lunch (he fell asleep early yesterday and missed lunch), Spenser was painting. She was covered head to toe in paint. She needed a bath. After Sawyer's lunch, he needed a bath, too. And two pairs of pajamas. He cried and thrashed about until I realized what he wanted.

And this is Spenser's library outfit from yesterday. She wore this dress from two years ago, polka-dotted tights, cardi and hot pink cowboy boots.

One day this week I walked past her room to see her wearing this dress, on top of this dress, on top of this dress. I wish I had taken a photo. It was quite a look!

[Spenser was "bribed" with a rain-gwop (gumdrop) so that I could photograph her in the library get-up. She's getting a little camera shy lately.]

Thursday, March 13, 2008

For St. Patrick's Day

Every St. Patrick's Day, we go through the early-morning-before-school rush trying to find something green for everyone to wear. The younger ones are the most determined to wear green in celebration of this day.

This year, I'm ahead of the game (somewhat). I bought two packages of boys' undershirts last week and I'm appliquing shamrocks on them. There's enough for each one of them, including a girly shirt for Spenser and a onesie for Sawyer. I just need to sew around the edges and they'll be finished. (The children don't know about these shirts. I plan to surprise them on Monday morning.)

I bought undershirts for the boys because a three-pack cost less than $5. Very reasonable. They run a little small (they are undershirts after all), so be careful buying them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

White Shirt: 3835

I needed a new shirt. No, really, I needed a new shirt. A white one. For church.

Tonight we are having an activity with the young women and I need to wear a white shirt. I have a plethora of white tees, but nothing nicer. I needed a new shirt. All in the name of church. How could I refuse?

The shirt is another Simplicity 3835. It is made with an airy cotton gauze. It was a pain to sew, but it feels so good on! Seriously, it's very comfy. I lengthened the shirt a tad and cut the back piece on the fold instead of two separate pieces, which I always do.

And, it's not more bread, it's salt dough for Carter's class. They are making a map and needed salt dough donations. Luckily we got yellow this year. One year we were assigned brown and it was harder than heck to make brown that was dark enough and brown enough with food coloring.

Salt dough:

4 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 1/2 cups water, food coloring.

Mix flour and salt together. Slowly add water. It is easier to mix in the food coloring if it is added to the water. Knead until it is soft and mixed together. It should have the consistency of Play-Doh. (Hopefully you won't have dry cracks in your hands, like me, and the salt won't burn you.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Simple Bread

I've been seeing all these yummy loaves of bread in blogland recently which reminded me that I needed to do it again.

It was kind of spur of the moment yesterday. The washing machine was running. And the drier. And the dishwasher. It was a very homemaky day. The smell of dough rising in my kitchen just completed the picture.

And gave me the energy to vacuum. And bake cookies. And bake a giant ham for dinner. Which was about the time the boys needed to be picked up from after-school clubs. Followed by a quick run to the post office. All in a day's work.

The recipe came from a church cookbook. I updated it with my stand mixer instead of kneading by hand.

Simple Bread:

2 1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. instant milk
1 TBS salt
7 - 7 1/2 c. (bread) flour
2 pkgs. yeast
2 TBS sugar
1/3 c. oil

Stir sugar into water. Add yeast and stir. To mixing bowl add: 3 cups flour, instant milk, and salt. Mix together with dough-hook attachment. With mixer running, add yeast/water mixture and oil. Slowly add remaining flour. Continue mixing until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and clings to the dough hook. Turn out on floured board. Knead a few times. Cut dough in half. Knead and shape. Place in greased bread pan. Cover and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes. (I set the timer for 20 minutes to turn it and it looked great. I can't remember if I put it back in the oven or removed it at that point, so keep your eye on it.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Easter Embroidery

There is a strange phenomenon going on in my house right now. It's kind of eerie. Eerily quiet. The four big boys are at school. Spenser is still sleeping. And Sawyer fell asleep on the sofa while I was in the shower. Except for the sound of my computer (and the sound of walking? on my roof or in my attic?? more spooky noises), all is quiet. I think I like it.

Without further ado, I want to announce the winner of Friday's Chocolate Peanut Butter soap giveaway:

Miss Chris! Please send me your address, and I'll send you the soap. Congratulations!

And here is the only bit of crafting I managed to do over the weekend. (I got pinkeye on Saturday and still have it. Yuck!) A little Easter embroidery. These eggs were inspired by some ceramic (?) eggs my aunt gave me and my sister when we were younger. In the 70's. If I remember correctly, my sister's was polka dotted and I always liked hers more (kinda funny if you know how much I adore polka dots now). Mine was a crazy-70's colored egg with zigzag lines all over it. In my mind's eye, 30 years later, I think I like my egg better. I don't know whatever happened to them.

Anyway, as I embroidered it I heard:

"Who's that for?"
"Can I have it?"
"Mom, can I have it?"
"What are you going to do with that?"
"Is it for me?"

Who would have "thunk" that a few embroidered Easter eggs would have been such a big hit and in high demand?
* * * *
I think I hear the pitter-patter of Spenser's little feet upstairs. It was nice while it lasted.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Happiness is ...

... new button pendants (jewelry bails courtesy of Karyn) ...

... a spunky daughter who knows how to dress herself for dinner ...

... singing along to Dance of the Cucumber at the top of our lungs...

... children fighting over who gets to sit next to me and on me ...

... a freshly-picked snowdrop from Mason ...

... properly cured Chocolate Peanut Butter soap that doesn't smell like meat ...

... and a soap giveaway ...

Just leave a comment before Monday morning and you will be entered to win a bar of my Chocolate Peanut Butter soap. I feel I must add a disclaimer. This soap contains peanut oil and peanut butter. If you have any food allergies, especially nut allergies, it might not be a good idea to enter this drawing. (Sorry.)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Finding Happiness

This has been an especially hard week. Joe is out of town. I thought I was getting sick again. Taylor didn't feel well one day. Jackson another day. The boys have been bickering and extremely messy. Everyone has a bad attitude and I can't wait for this week to end.

There are several things that make me smile even when I feel like crying. One of them includes these snowdrop flowers. Every February they peep out their pretty little heads and remind me that spring is nearing. I love these flowers. They are all over our yard. In the front flower beds. In the back, randomly throughout our yard. Every year they return in abundance, sharing their goodness with me.

So when I spotted a "Snowdrop Fairy" craft in my book, I knew these babies had to be made. My little gentle indoor reminders that all is well.

Another thing that makes me smile is a good mail day. Yesterday I received a parcel from Karyn. She sent me some of her handmade soap, including her Manly soap, Oatmeal, Lemon Poppyseed, and Chocolate Mint. But wait! There's more ....

My very own Sewer Sludge soap (aka Mocha soap). Made especially for moi!

Thank you, Karyn. You sure know how to brighten my day!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Mob Cap & Pinafore

Recently I purchased an older copy of The Children's Year. It is filled with ideas of things to make for children, with children, or to be made by children. I couldn't resist making the "mob cap" for Spenser for her dress-up drawer.

And every mob cap deserves its own eyelet pinafore. Don't ya think?

**pinafore information: I sewed a similar one last year which I adapted from a simple dress pattern.**

Monday, March 03, 2008

I Want It Shorter

Remember when Spenser decided she wanted a haircut? Well, I am happy to report that she has had her hair cut.

This was her first ever. She was excited. And happy.

I took her into the bathroom to look at it in the mirror and she replied, "I want it shorter." I was afraid of that.

I think it looks great. Even with Oobleck in it.

In honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday.