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Showing posts from November, 2008

No Lye

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Christmas is coming. And that means it's time to make my annual chocolate-mint soap. On Thursday and Friday nights (after the children were in bed), I made soap. It's really a quick process and took about an hour from start to finish, including clean up. And it looks so yummy (like chocolate pudding) and smells so yummy (think Peppermint Patties and Junior Mints ) that the effort seems minimal. However, on Thursday night, I skipped a step in mixing the cocoa powder to some oil to blend it before adding it to the lye mixture and rest of the oils. I tried to blend out the lumps, but I noticed a few as I poured it into the mold. Drats ! I knew I'd need another batch anyway, so I made soap on Friday night as well. When that turned out nicely, I figured I would make some more on Saturday night (Joe was out of town for part of the week and all of the weekend, so I had plenty of time on my hands), but I needed more lye. I usually buy my lye at Lowe's. It's the only

Games

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So yesterday I spent the morning and afternoon at parent-teacher conferences. I met with ten teachers, I think. I kind of lost track. It was the first time I had met some of them, so it was good to go. (We were on vacation when they had their back-to-school, meet-the-teacher days.) Anyway, the boys have off of school this week and we've been playing a lot of games together, like: Who stabbed this apple with a pencil? (No one confessed.) Who peed on the toilet seat? Who peed on the bathroom floor? And, Who peed on the toilet seat, again?!? (No one confessed.) And Who had a bloody nose and dripped on the bathroom floor and didn't clean it up? (No one confessed.) But, seriously, Who stabbed the apple with a pencil? That's all I want to know ... Besides why? Have you played these games before or do you have your own you'd like to share?

Three Down

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30+ to go... Now, please tell me: Do you like the snowman with the white thread? Or ... The black thread which resembles coal buttons? (Do you think they will "get" it? I know you do because you are crafters. Do you think they will?)

In Christmas Denial

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I think I'm in Christmas denial . Is it really coming up? Just two weeks ago it was 70 degrees outside. Now it's cold, windy, and blustery. We saw our first snowflakes on Tuesday. It was bitter cold. I'm still in Autumn mode. Apples and applesauce, pilgrim hat cookies , falling leaves. I'm not ready for this thing called Christmas. Or winter for that matter. In a bit of reality, I ordered some Christmas presents. Like this cute wooden scale . And this cute wooden food for Spenser. She spends most of her days playing with her wooden food. It's the best investment I've made. They came out with a few new ones this year and so I'm happy to add to her collection. I'm also looking at some wooden cash registers. I like these three . (Anyone have any experience with them?) And look at this cute wooden mailbox ! So maybe I'm not really in denial yet. Maybe I'm getting a teensy bit excited. It really is a wonderful time of the year. Are you

Doctoring It Up

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(Sawyer's cupcake) A few years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to Cherry Chip cake mix . I had never heard of it. I was living in Ohio at the time and was able to find it, of all places, at the Super Wal-Mart. Since coming back to Maryland (almost six years ago), I have not been able to find it. Until a few weeks ago ... I was in our local grocery store that has over-priced, out-dated food. I only go there when I don't feel like running into "town" (which is about 15-20 minutes away) and I'm desperate for something. Well, a few weeks ago, I must have been desperate for something because I spied Cherry Chip cake mix. While it was completely over-priced, I picked up a box and was delighted. (I know, I sound like I have a really pathetic life.) I thought, "if I show an interest in this over-priced cake mix, maybe they will keep it in stock. Imagine my surprise when it went on sale one week later for $1 a box. I scooped up five, I think. And then, just la

Camera Strap Cozy

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I had seen some cute camera strap cozies around blogworld, and loved them, but didn't want to take the time to figure it out. It just wasn't a priority. When I saw this tutorial link over on Whip-Up recently, I realized it was already figured out for me. This took minutes to do. From start to finish. Quick, quick, quick . I'm not sure if I actually used the exact tutorial or gist of it. When I asked Joe if this was "manly" enough, he said, "No." Oh well. I could have made it pink! (The fabric is Alexander Henry's Rodeo Star.)

The Skirt

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to go with the boots . I've been wanting a new winter skirt to go with my new birthday boots. I bought some charcoal gray checked corduroy a while back, but didn't have time to sew the skirt. My first priority was Halloween. And then Spenser's birthday party. And a few other things in there. Including not wanting to sew any thing after Matt and Caitlin 's accident. Saturday (our first soccer-free Saturday in months) was the day. It was rainy, which gave me the perfect excuse to sew while Joe and the boys watched movies. The "pattern" is from Sew What! Skirts . It's the fitted A-line with a side zipper. (I added three vintage buttons in front of the side zipper.) While I really, really, really love this skirt and it turned out almost exactly as I imagined it, it's too big. Even with a few alterations to the skirt, I still didn't take enough in. It's not the book's fault. It's mine. I've made the wrap skirt from the book s

More Than Applesauce

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On Tuesday I bought a bushel of apples. (1/2 bushel of Staymans on the left, 1/2 bushel of Macintosh with a mix of others on the right.) And on Wednesday morning we made applesauce. My friend, Kim, brought over her big Squeezo Strainer and helped me. (She's the master canner. I always learn a lot from her in the process.) It was more than make applesauce, though. It was a time for fellowshipping and learning. We talked. We laughed. We made messes. We laughed some more. And we were busy. I was washing, cutting, cooking the apples, and filling and processing the jars. She was straining them. And she let Spenser and Sawyer have a few turns turning the handle. (It's hard, messy work to press those apples. I'm so happy she offered to help me. I had planned to use my little food mill . It would have taken forever .) In the end, one bushel of apples yielded 17 quarts and three pints of applesauce. Today I'm helping her strain two bushels of apples, and next week I think

Repurposing: Cardies

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A while ago, Martha had a great idea for repurposing old wool sweaters. And after seeing Chris' cute rendition , I knew it was high time. I found two wool sweaters at the thrift store for $4 each. (The above was already felted before I remembered to take its photo.) A few snips and a little sewing later, it's a child-sized cardi for Sawyer. I decided to take the eclectic, handmade approach and used mismatched vintage buttons. I then made a blanket-stitch along the raw edges of the front and neck. This one is Spenser's. She has worn it every day since I finished it. (And it's not even pink!) She prefers it over her winter coat. And so far she's still warm. The only issue I had with these cardigans was the buttonholes. My machine is not cooperative with making buttonholes on felted wool. After a dozen or more attempts, I gave up. I cut the wool in Spenser's blue sweater, but I'm afraid it will stretch. Should I do some hand-stitching? I made a

A Worthy Distraction

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The past two weeks have not been normal around here. Two weeks ago, we were preparing to attend Matt's funeral . Tonight is Caitlin's . She did not make it. From what I understand, her brain continued to swell and she began to have strokes. Through an MRI, earlier in the week, the doctors determined that she was not going to wake up. In their last bit of bravery and compassion, the family decided to donate her organs, before taking her off of life support. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around this. It's surreal. My heart weeps for the family. It is my worst nightmare times two. As I made cookies for Matt's viewing, I cried. As I made cupcakes for Caitlin's, I was in shock. It feels like a bad, made-for-tv movie. We went to the viewing last night. I had no idea what to say to the family. No words could come to my lips. I just shook her father's hand, and patted his back, with tears in my eyes. We communicated through our tears instead. In a bi

Happiness Is ...

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Yummy, yummy apple cider from our local apple store. (I love that apple-headed man! He's been the same forever.) Homemade applesauce with apples from my favorite apple-headed-man store. A little girl, whose fever may have finally broken, wearing a pink hat with some new pink birthday sunglasses (that I forgot to give to her until yesterday afternoon). Excellent test grades from Jackson (97% and 100%) and Mason (96%). I guess they get their smarts from Joe. Happiness is ... soccer season is ending tomorrow. Taylor has his soccer tournament and it looks like we might have mild weather (if it doesn't rain). Last year I nearly froze to death at his tournament. What is making you happy this week?

Prolonging Skirt Weather

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I know I'm not alone when I say this, but I hate, hate pants. Long pants. I can wear capris, but long pants? Well, they just annoy me on so many levels. #1: I can't find ones to fit properly. I have long legs. That's just one of my issues. And I really don't think many pants are comfortable enough to lounge around in. I don't like them bunchy around my knees. Anyway, the weather has been nutso lately. Cold and windy one day. Mild and nice the next. And sometimes dreary and gloomy thrown in the middle. And, so while I can, I plan to prolong skirt-wearing weather with leggings. A warm compromise. (Oh, and don't worry, the boots have been out to play, too.)

An Election Day Trip

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Yesterday we met up with my mother, sister, brother, and several nieces and nephews at Boyds Bear Country (in Gettysburg, PA). It's like a giant ... museum . Well, that's at least what I told my children it was. It was really about four floors of toys. And knick knacks. Things to buy. (I think the older ones caught on that it was really a store and not a museum.) We had a little snack while we were there. Nachos and ice cream. Tried on some bear ears. Visited the nursery! (How cute is this?) Held newborn babies. Posed with giant bears. (Some as tall as seven feet!) And found some cool candy corn decorations. It was our first trip there. And it's surprisingly close. Like 30 minutes away. On our way home, Spenser asked if we could go back today. We stopped to vote on the way home. I had all six with me. The children have been learning about the election and I thought it was important for them to not only see how we vote, but to see me vote. They stood at

The Tea Party

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Yesterday was Spenser's birthday tea party. Because of Halloween, I couldn't start working on decorations or favors until Saturday, after Carter's soccer tournament. I whipped up a bunting, using vintage sheet scraps. And picked up a bunch of fall flowers at our local grocery store yesterday morning and placed one stem in each mini milk glass vase. We served mini turkey sandwiches, Annie's Shells and White Cheddar , pretzels, grapes, carrots and dip. And apple juice. We can't forget the apple juice (instead of tea). Then we ate blueberry muffins and brownies. The place settings came from the thrift store. This summer I found a set of seven matching teacups, saucers, and salad plates. These also became part of the party favors. Along with a cloth napkin (from a thrifted sheet), and a small drawstring bag (made from the same thrifted sheet), colored pencils and a couple of mini notebooks (scrapbook paper courtesy of Cindy ). We had a fun time at the part

Halloween Costumes

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Sawyer, The Skunk. I took the easy route for Sawyer and bought him a skunk costume from Old Navy. I thought about making it, but knew I would not have time. It was on sale for $15, so I probably couldn't have made it much cheaper. Store-bought or handmade. He's stinkin' cute. Spenser, The Ballerina. I made the tutu and leg warmers. I bought the long-sleeved leotard and opaque tights. She wore her hair in a bun. Too sweet. Mason, The Gorilla. I wanted to die when Mason announced he wanted to be a gorilla for Halloween. I honestly tried to change his mind. When he wouldn't have it, I agreed. I used Simplicity 2855 . If I ever made it again, I'd buy a longer zipper and place it in the back. And then I'd leave the padded, pleather stomach as one piece. Joe made a mask for Mason out of the leftover pleather. It didn't stay on so well, so halfway through trick or treating, it went into his bag. Jackson, Fancy Pants. What can I say? I made the orange bel

Four

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A sweet little girl turned four today. I have a feeling she is the most loved girl in the world. She is completely adored by all of her brothers. And her father. But especially her mother. When I was the mother of four boys, my mother tried to tell me that I needed a girl. "I know," I'd say. And then she'd repeat it. " I know ," I'd say again. I didn't really know how much I needed a girl until Spenser came along. Oh. My. Goodness. There are no words to describe it. I needed a girl. I needed a girl. She is the balance to these five boys. She is the most girly-girl in all of the world, but she can wrestle and karate chop and jump on the trampoline like no other. Before she was born, I expected to bring home a blond-haired, blue-eyed baby girl (resembling her older brothers). In the days leading up to her birth, I would stare down at the pink crib sheet, in her pink room, and envision a blondie girl. I couldn't have been more surprise