Thursday, September 23, 2010

Celebrating Autumn

Last week we had autumnal weather. This is unusual for Maryland. Usually we go straight from hot and humid 90-degree summer days right to brisk 40-degree wintry days with very few "true" autumn days. This year has been different.

Maybe this is the reward for having over six feet of snow this past winter. Or the very early summer heat-waves and subsequent droughts. Whatever the reason, it's been wonderful. (Even if yesterday, today and tomorrow are in the 90's, it's supposed to break by Saturday.) There have been tons of annoying, pesky stink bugs. I could live without them.

Anyway, last week on a cooler day I was springing forward into autumn. I hung leaf garland around my front door, but I didn't put the mice up yet. (It was still summer a few days ago.)

Then I had my first attempt at subway art. I bought myself a Cricut on Black Friday last year for half price. I just started to use it. I'm not in love with vinyl itself, so I've been using the vinyl letters more or less as stencils.

I had some blank canvases here from a past, not completed project. And I used clear contact paper for the lettering. After all the letters were down, I sprayed a few coats of black spray paint, peeled up the lettering and voila!

Now, this was not my original idea. I first saw something somewhere recently. I can't remember where. (If I come across it again, I will give full credit for it.)

I wanted to add a few more words like goblin and ghoulie, but I ran out of room.

And a few years ago these little Boo decorations were everywhere. I think I bought the thrifted frames last year and never made them. Last week I painted them black, and printed the letters on white cardstock.

And then last week I made two non-Halloween-but-still-autumnal decorations. (The owls were previously thrifted. The two smaller ones are salt and pepper shakers.)
I googled images of leaves and quilted them. Well, the way that Lera "quilts." I use that term lightly. I quilted them onto pieces of felt and attached them to a piece of scrap linen.

And then a little patchwork and quilted pumpkin and attached it to a piece of burlap. (I ran out of linen.)

All I can say now is bring on the fall weather!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

School Frock

I've been crafty lately. Once again I have been bitten by the crafty bug and I'm really liking it. I wasn't able to do much this summer with all the kids home, and it's a welcome break to do a little here and there.

A couple of weeks ago I sewed Spenser a little school frock. It is mostly a sleeveless little dress, but I wanted her to wear it over leggings or jeans. And since it's not quite "jeans" season (unless you ask Carter), she's wearing them with capri-length leggings and a short-sleeved tee underneath.

The fabric is something I picked up more than four years ago when I was pregnant with Sawyer. (He will be four on Saturday! Aaaaaah! I seriously do not know how that happened. ::sigh::)

The frock is fully lined with red gingham. The perfect combination, in my opinion.
I used a red vintage button and a red and white striped piece of ribbon for the loop.

There are more planned.

Monday, September 20, 2010

In the Kitchen

On Saturday one of the hens left me a bumpy egg. The shell seems rock hard. I haven't cracked it open yet. I kind of like admiring it and feeling it.

On Friday (?) I made these wonderful pumpkin chocolate-chip muffins. Holy cow they are dangerous! And don't say I didn't warn you!

No, Lera did not lose her mind and make those darn crayon shapes again. (I told you I was never, ever going to make them again. And I totally meant it.) I had another basil harvest, so I made more pesto. I froze most of it in small jars, but I was running out of jars (and space in the freezer), so I tried using an ice cube tray. This was the only ice cube tray I could find (we have an automatic ice maker in our freezer). Unfortunately, the smell of garlic has penetrated the silicone ice cube tray and is now rendered useless for future ice making. I froze small hunks, wrapped them in foil, popped them in a freezer bag and then popped them in the freezer.

Are you sitting down for this? I scored a Squeezo with all three strainers at a flea market last week for $3. Three. Dollars. I almost cried. (And I actually thought I'd have to wrestle a Mennonite lady for it. Just teasing. She was just looking for a customer service number on the box as I waited patiently for her to step away from the box. I snagged it before she made it to the end of the table.) Two years ago my friend and I made applesauce using her Squeezo and I fell in love. It is so much easier than using the little foodmill I have used for more than a decade (making baby food and other things). The Squeezo is an older model, but two of the strainers are in their original packaging. And did I mention: three dollars?!?

I've also dehydrated tomatoes. My friend is a huge dehydrator user and she told me she was going to dehydrate tomatoes to use as sun-dried tomatoes. With Roma tomatoes coming out my ears recently, I made some, too.

After snacking on a few bunch, I put the rest in freezer bags, smooshed all the air out, sealed the bag and popped them in the freezer.

And pickled peppers. I still have a bunch that need to be picked and pickled, but I just haven't wanted the mess to clean up. This week .... This week.

Has anything fun been in your kitchen lately?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Back-to-School Sewing Projects

Before school started, I had a few, short back-to-school sewing projects to take care of.

Spenser has a neoprene lunchbox that looks like a purse. There was no easy way to label it with her name and phone number, so I sewed a little cloth tag on it and labeled it with a extra-fine tip marker.

A few snack baggies were made following this idea.

I sewed a few girly cloth napkins (using scrap fabric) for my favorite girl.

AND some place mats (using scraps) for the girl child.

I made little covers for the ice pouches. I was hoping to cut back on the condensation that accumulates in their lunchboxes.

The kids love picking out which one they want to use. Strawberry Shortcake is off limits to the boys.

For lunchboxes and book bags this year, Mason and Jackson have identical ones. They are not twins even. The book bags were free from when they attended an Operation Purple camp this summer. The lunchboxes were cheapy, $3 ones from Wal-Mart. Since we needed to be able to tell them apart easily, I sewed a little ribbon to the handles of the book bags and lunchboxes. It has helped immensely.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The end of summer break flew by. I'm just going to recap (very briefly) for the sake of journaling.

Spenser got a new haircut. My neighbor and fellow council member owns the hair salon in town. It was Spenser's first trip to a salon. (My friend, who cuts my hair, gave Spenser her very first haircut, when she was about four, but the other two or three times I've cut it myself.)

Joe took the boys camping. All of the boys (plus his father). Our church had its annual Father-Son Camp-Out at the end of summer, leaving the two girls alone for the night. (Incidentally the same day she got her hair cut.)

We had a great time together. And she dressed up for the occasion. We did a few three-legged races (she didn't get to play at Mason's birthday party.) We didn't play against anyone, so we won each game. We then took a walk and walked to dinner. We came home and played Toss Up and Bunco. Then we watched a movie and ate popcorn and homemade salsa and chips. She fell asleep on the sofa because she was afraid to sleep in her room alone (without Sawyer). Then I carried her to my bed for the night. It was one of my most favorite nights of the summer.

School started the week before Labor Day, so we had a back-to-school weenie roast in the backyard. Complete with sparkling lemonade and s'mores.

Taylor started 8th grade and Carter started 6th. Both attend the same middle school now.

Jackson started 4th, Mason started 3rd, and Spenser (gulp!) started Kindergarten. Full-day kindergarten.

Any apprehension I had on the first day was blown clear out of the water when I saw this:

she ran to the bus stop! (She had Kindergarten orientation the day before and we were separated during the two hours. She told me later that her eyes watered because they "burned." It nearly broke my heart. I was very grateful that she was over her "burning" eyes by the next morning.)

Mason was baptized on September 4th. He was so very happy all day long.

And my littlest man, Sawyer, started preschool two mornings a week. It's hard to believe there are two mornings a week that I have three full hours without children. (Although, with holidays and election day he's only averaged one day a week since he started.) The mornings without Sawyer are spent running errands and shopping. Not exactly fun stuff.

And because school and soccer season have once again started, I need to officially clear the Trips to the School Nurse 2009-2010 and Soccer Goals Fall 2009. Here is the breakdown:

Trips to the School Nurse 2009-2010
Taylor: 2
Carter: 12
Jackson: 5
Mason: 16

Soccer Goals Fall 2009
Taylor: 1 (Taylor usually plays defense)
Carter: 4
Jackson: 11
Mason: 2

Friday, September 03, 2010

The Party

Mason's party was a huge success. It was hot outside, but I don't think the children minded it a bit. The top two pictures are out of place, but Blogger makes it so difficult in rearranging photos (and I forgot to add these two in order), so we'll just have to look at them first. And explain later.

Here is the candy stand in all its glory. This was our old lemonade stand that was yellow. I had the idea to have an old-fashioned birthday party for Mason and had visions of the lemonade stand becoming a candy shoppe. The children eagerly helped me scrub it clean and put the first coat of white paint on it.

I filled up a few jars with treats. We had circus peanuts, candy buttons (on paper), Dum-Dum lollipops, Peanut Chews, pink wintergreen mints, Andes mints, Atomic Fireballs, and rock candy. (The rock candy was actually "lump sugar" that I picked up at the Asian grocery store. I bought it for my herb tea, but decided we liked to eat it instead.)

The lollipops were the first to go. And the rock candy. The pink mints were not such a hit, but the kids did enjoy trying them.

We had all kinds of outdoor games available. We had (hard-boiled) eggs on a spoon race, a bean-bag toss, three-legged race,

sack races (I made bags out of burlap),

and a very mini-golf course. Joe found some frozen juice containers in our freezer and made "holes" with them. This game was the one that the kids loved and played over and over.

By the end of the party, we had seen great progress in the boys' skills.

The children earned "money" (wooden coins, see above) for playing and participating in the game stations. A coin for each game. If several kids played golf, we gave an extra coin for the winner of that game. With their money, they could visit the candy shoppe and buy candy. Each child had a little white paper gift bag to carry around to hold their coins and candy. They loved to shop. Carter was my good sport and tended the candy shoppe while the others played games.
Since it was so hot, we had rootbeer floats to cool us down. Followed by brownie sundaes.

The party favors we gave each child was a bag of school supplies, pocket tissues and a yo-yo. With school starting just a few short days later, and with the extremely affordable cost of school supplies, we thought it would be fun. The yo-yo's were cheapy $1 ones that I bought back at Easter time. I had a hard time finding yo-yo's for the boys and found them in the dollar bins at Target. (I eventually found real yo-yo's at Five Below.) The cheapy yo-yo's were to be returned to Target, but that never happened. As my luck would have it, I had just enough for the party.

That evening we sang to Mason and gave him a few more (small) gifts. At first he was not amused, but confused. Why on earth were we giving a boy with braces a can of mixed nuts?

Following my urging, he opened them anyway ...

and a snake popped out!

He said it was the best part of the day.