Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn Jumpers with Tutorial

Over the weekend I finished some fall jumpers for the girls. I found some cute corduroy at Joann's and had to make jumpers. I only had 1 1/4 yards, so I added a few other hues of corduroy.I am very happy with them overall, and may add some ric-rac to the bottom to seperate the two corduroys. It was very easy and while I began with using a pattern, I changed my mind and did my own thing.Here is a mini-tutorial in case you want to make your own. You will need about 3/4 yard of corduroy for a size 4T, 2 inches of thin elastic (I used child's hair ties), and buttons. And sorry about the irregular spacing in this post. I can't seem to fix it.1. First cut 8 Rectangles (sized 4t with a little room to spare):

2 Bodice + 2 bodice lining 13 1/2 inches for 5T Give/take 1/2 inch per size difference.

2 straps 10" long by 3 1/2 inches wide (adjust as needed)

2 skirt pieces totalling 20" (or desired length) x width of fabric (42") The bulk of my skirt was 14inches and the bottom was 6 inches. You could do the entire thing in one fabric and make one cut. Its totally up to you.

1. Add applique or trim to front bodice if you want.

2. Make straps. (I usually press the stap piece in half, and press the raw edges under and sew. Make sure one end is finished.)

3. Sew back and front bodice pieces together at one side seam. Do the same for linings.

4. Pin straps to back side of dress along the top edge (if you didn't add detail to the front, than either side can be the back). I pinned mine about 3 inches from the open side and the other 3inches from the seam side. Are you still with me? Make sure the raw edge is sticking out and sew lining to bodice along the top seam with right sides together.

5. Choose a side to be the button side and the other to be the elastic side:

6. I used hair ties cut into small pieces as elastic loops to hook around the buttons. Sew two in place along the side a half inch from top and 1 inch from the bottom. Sew other end of bodice right sides together.

7. Sew skirt top and bottom together (skip if you only have one skirt piece)

8. Sew skirt together at side seam leaving 3 inches open. finish the open edges by folding raw edge under 1/4 inch and sew it.

9. Gather skirt.

10. Pin evenly along the bodice.

11. Sew skirt to bodice.

12. Hem skirt.

13. Add button holes to front and add buttons to straps and side.

14. Put cute jumper on cute child and take 100 pictures of your handiwork!!! :) You are done.

Hope that helps someone, and makes sense! I should have taken more pictures! Sorry. Let me know if you have any questions and best of luck!

Fairy Rings and Other Whimsical things

This week has been busy, whimsical and quite rainy too. The rain seems to make mushrooms grow everywhere. A walk in the woods over the weekend treated our eyes to a rainbow of colorful mushrooms. I forgot to bring my camera. And sometimes things are more beautiful when you aren't trying to get that perfect shot. Anyhow, I had never seen a fairy ring before. I don't even thing I knew they existed. And since Saturday I have seen 3! They are so magical, a perfect circle of mushrooms. I wonder if I might step into one, if it would take me to fairyland before I get caught trespassing on someone's property. I wonder. I have been lacking in crafts, school, projects and other picture and blog worthy things. Instead, we have been baking and cleaning and folding mountains of clothes. But I am so inspired by other bloggers' brilliant ideas and creative endevors. Like this adorable woodland party from Love the Day: I am contimplating a woodland party for Kieran this year, but trying to keep it very simple AND still adorably cute and autumny. Can you believe the cookies? I wouldn't be able to eat them, they are SO CUTE. Party or not, I also love these owl pumpkins from Better Homes and Gardens: It looks like you could even maybe, just maybe do something similar with little children and a box of nuts and seeds and sticks and the tiny pumpkins. I would love a little flock of these on an old branch this Halloween.

And I can't get over this georgeous wool coat from Craftykin. Really, I just want to make one for each of my girls, my boy, and myself!!! I think it is probably what Little Red Riding hood wore every day of her life.

And this embroidery hoom mushroom decoration by Pillipilli Handmade on Etsy is SO CUTE. I have been meaning to hang more emboidered items on my wall in all the little spaces where we are lacking in the whimsy department. And have you seen the Greenwhich layette from BabyGap? I love every piece of it. I don't own it and may never buy it as Kieran has a nice handful of items for fall, but he would be sweet and adorable in any of these items. And it is always nice to see foresty sweet items for little boys. Seeing as he is already in 18-24months, next year we will be into the less sweet toddler sizes.

Fall is upon us, and I love the cozy woodland projects and inspiration that are blowing around the blogosphere. Now onto pizza crust and popcorn and maybe I can sneak into my sewing room during Kieran's second nap today...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just to make you smile...

No explanation needed here. Only, take note of her self-inflicted mullet. Maybe I should
offer her hair-cutting services to some of our neighbors.

And Pasqual, our resident mouser seems to have killed a mouse. Or so you would think as he laid next to this fake one, looking all tired and proud from the chase.

And our little ballerina who loves to dance.

What a silly and beautiful life we live.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Apples and Cinnamon Play dough

I haven't made play dough in a while. My kids weren't THAT into it last time, but to go along with fall, and apples, and cinnamon and pies, I made apple play dough and cinnamon play dough. I added rollers, pie pan, toothpicks, little butter knives and leaves to make apples: And everything stores nicely in a basket on the table ready for open-ended play. It was a HUGE hit. Almost as huge of a hit as washing dishes in the sink. But not quite.

I used the basic recipe from and divided the dry ingredients in half. For half I added about 2 tsps of cinnamon and then water to cook. For the other half I used steeped Celestial Seasonings Cranberry-apple tea in place of the water. I am unsure how well it will last, but I am storing them in jam jars with lids. I will let you know if it goes bad. I like the recipe overall because it is less greasy than others. My little mad scientist Isabel thought it would be fun to see what adding water would do to playdough while I was on the phone. It made slime. BUT I added a handful of flour and kneaded it in and it saved the day! Good as new aside from the colors being mixed together now. ha.

We had fun using toothpicks as Hedgehog quills, and they also make great candles for birthday cakes and pies. Sometimes its amazing what will work as playdough toys when you don't have a box of store-bought ones! Let the fall smelling molding and making begin!

Monday, September 12, 2011

H is for...

So I decided now that we are back from our vacation, to get to work on "schooling" the kids, or unschooling, or homeschooling, or whatever you call it when you sing songs, play games, make cookies and have fun in some kind of organized fashion. It feels very official with new backpacks, notebooks and crayons for sure. And their rain boots just kill me. We are still plugging away with letter themes. Maybe by the time they are 18 we will be on the letter Z. I am not using any curriculum whole heatedly, or any particular philosophy as my singular guide. I like aspects of Montessori and Waldorf pedagogy and yet I like the organization of a more traditional education. I want to teach my children to read as early as they show interest so that is our area of focus with Anastasia at least, and we are working through "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" which is working beautifully for Anastasia. It is short, I skip through a good bunch of the exercises that bore Anastasia, and hopefully by Christmas she will be reading. But if she isn't I am not going to freak out about it. I think that is why I am homeschooling. So my children don't have to fit into any mold, especially a government-run mold. That being said, homeschooling isn't for everyone, and that is fine too. I secretly wish my inner convictions granted me the freedom to send my kids away for 8 hours a day aboard that big yellow bus. That bus always seems to drive by my house when my kids are fussing and fighting, taunting me in that obnoxious yellow sort-of way. Imagine sending my kids off and knitting all day. But instead I make little boxes of sensory exploration:
This is our Apple Orchard Sensory Tray. We are learning the letter "H" this week, which is why there are Horses in it. Also included are apples (plastic and wooden), pails, baskets, Spanish moss from the $store, various wooden trees, scoops, pie tin, pom poms galore, blocks for fences and hidden in the bottom is a bag of cranberry apple tea for that yummy "apple" smell! And then I made a fall box, or as we call it, our Hedgehog box. Beans, silk leaves, wooden branch slices, wooden apples, wooden acorns, mushrooms, pine cones, pom poms (I am on a pompom kick!!) moss, scoops, cups for making fall beverages, wooden hedgies and hidden in the bottom is a bag of Chai tea for a nice smell. Opening this box smells divine!

I also made some Montessori inspired trays of activities. My real hope and desire was to come up with things to keep Isabel busy while I work on reading with Anastasia.

Marble spooning (the leaf dishes were in the dollar section at Michael's).

Pompom sorting with little tongs.

Counting leaves (this is a bit advanced for them right now).

Sticking with the "H" theme we read Hedgie's Surprise by Jann Brett and made Hedgehog cookies as our baking activity. I love the Waldorf concept of daily and weekly rhythm so Monday is our baking day. We sang Happy songs and did the Hokey Pokey and played Hide and Seek.

Oh, and can you believe how big and handsome this little man is? I can't stand how cute he is. He is such a perfect, happy, cuddly baby. He is the kind of baby that makes people want lots of babies. Only I know what other genes are in our pool... and that scares me. hahaha.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

to Asheville and back again

Ooooooh we had a lovely time on our vacation. Asheville, NC and the surrounding area is just as beautiful and imaginative as anyplace I have ever been. We stayed in this awesome timber-framed cabin called Byrd's Nest nestled on a mountain in the quaint town of Black Mountain. I loved the house. I loved Black Mountain. I loved seeing my brother and meeting his girlfriend. I loved being with my whole family. And I loved this Coffee Shop too: The Dripolator serves some of the best coffee I have ever tasted, ever. And they had a cute little location in downtown Black Mountain right next to A YARN STORE. Oh, and that is not all. The streets are lined with pottery shops and antique stores, a fabric shop and a specialty tea and spice store. We spent a little money. And we drooled a lot! I felt so at home our cozy cabin in that little town I was ready to pack up and move there. And if everything fell into place I would do it too. But our life is here. Our home is here. Our friends and family and everything is here. But I did love it there. At least I have a bag of Dripolator coffee to brew here, in my home.

Ok, so as if the awesome, crafty, deliciously caffeinated town of Black Mountain wasn't awesome enough, it is surrounded by WATERFALLS. As in, tons of waterfalls. Most of them are about an hour away, but they are there and everywhere. We decided to do a waterfall tour with the whole family. Our first stop was the above Sliding Rock. We were hesitant to stop because in all the pictures we had seen online beforehand, there were crowds of people lined up to take their turn sliding down the waterfall. But we stopped and it just so happened to be the off season and we were the only ones there!!! And it was FREEZING but possibly the most exhilarating and exciting and SCARY thing I have done in a very, very long time. It was so. much. fun. If you are in the area, and school is in session, you must do this. The water falling over the smooth rock creates a natural water slide, and it is pretty long and gets quite fast at the end before it shoots you into a freezing 8ft pool at the bottom. The kids were too young to enjoy this natural playground, but all of us grown-ups felt like little kids flying down the waterfall. It was definitely the highlight of our trip for me.

Then we went about a mile down the road to looking glass falls. This is supposedly a "perfect waterfall". And it is. It was very pretty, though we did not go over this one. I did jump into the pool at the bottom and tried to swim up to it, but the fall was so powerful it pushed me away. It was pretty for sure. After lunch and a couple hours in the van on very windy roads, we came to our third waterfall of the day which we were able to drive under:

Do you see the waterfall behind us? That thing that looks like rain is called "Bridal Veil Falls" and we drove FOREVER to get to the darn thing. And that was it. Water dripping over a rock that you could drive under. We all had a very long and good laugh. But I guess that is all part of the adventure. The adventure ended on a very pleasant note though.

The final fall we visited was "dry falls" and despite its name, this fall was wet and stunning and you could even walk underneath the falling cascades. It was definitely the most beautiful fall we saw on our trip and we ended the tour at a Brewery in Asheville for pizza and beer. :) YUm. Another highlight of our trip was Robert Lake Park in Montreat, NC. It was a nice little park built along a creekbed with creekside picnic tables and playgrounds built around trees. Our girls enjoyed splashing in the creek and we couldn't have asked for a nicer spot for a picnic!

We spent a day in Asheville looking through some artsy craftsy stores, and spent nights in the hot tub. We were creamed in a game of Cranium with my family and cooked out and enjoyed the views from the cabin and swang on a swing to nowhere. There were so many things we didn't get to do as well. On our way home we took the Blue Ridge Parkway and hiked along the Linville Gorge and Waterfalls. The vastness of the gorge was pretty spell binding and somewhat frightening. It was a nice hike to break up our time in the car. It was so pretty in the forest, and quite magical. And I do love our home in Virginia, but North Carolina has its own bounty of natural treasures that I hope to explore more of in this lifetime. But like water over a waterfall, our life seems to be flowing by so fast. I blink and my baby is pulling himself up. My 4-year-old is taking ballet. My 2-year-old can count to ten. And they can cut their own hair all by themselves. And I could have cried while scooping up their curls from the floor. Yet it is just a part of having little ones. They are so much trouble, so much work, and such great big bundles of love and joy. Life goes by so fast, yet never gets old for the young at heart.