February 2009

Monthly Archive

Feeling good when you’re feeling sick

Posted by on 25 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: about me

We had been healthy ALL winter up until a month ago. Since then, one or another of us (mostly Tony) has been sick. I have this bad cold that I caught from the little ones, though luckily not their accompanying fever, and being a mama and therefore ineligible for sick days, I was feeling a little worn thin. Well, tonight, my sweet (and also sick) husband volunteered to take the kids after dinner and what did I do? I crawled into bed and read a book. It was luxurious!

I have always been a huge reader, devouring book after book, but I have to admit, I’ve read hardly anything in the last several years since Mia was born. I am deeply ashamed of this, and I’m turning it around. Reading tonight was so wonderful. So much better than being on the computer, finally writing those overdue thank you cards or doing dishes. It was just what I needed. Of course, the fact that I am reading Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World isn’t helping my stuffy nose much, what with starting to cry at the dedication and continuing right on through to page 107, where I stopped for the night. But it felt great! I feel recharged and what’s more, reminded of why I should read every chance I get.

And then I did get on the computer, and went to SouleMama, where I not only saw the cutest, twinkle-eyed little man in a beautiful knitted vest, but also discovered this beautiful YouTube video.

I may be making only halting progress on my own project, but my evening was filled with beauty and art all the same. I hope yours was, too.

Mia’s Valentine Fairy Gourd House

Posted by on 24 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: tutorial, Valentine's Day, wooden toys

Whew, so I’ve been gone a while! We’ve been sick at our house (I’m just getting it, so I figured I’d better post before I’m out of commission. I also thought, I’d better paint the front hall and clean the house. Front hall is painted. House is not so clean.). This is really the first time we’ve had more than a cold since Mia started preschool in September, so I guess we should count ourselves lucky, even if we’re not feeling so lucky at the moment.

But you’re not here to listen to me whine. Here’s Mia’s fairy gourd house:

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She really does seem to love it (which is unfortunately rare for many of my creations — not that it stops me)! And the Mitten animals also took up residence in it right away. Lucas obviously made the connection between the book and the mitten full of critters (by pointing from one to the other and grunting — his typical mode of communication), but found them a bit creepy. He’ll look at them, but won’t touch them. Luckily, his sister is getting some enjoyment out of them:

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I got the idea and initial instructions from this great tutorial over at Bitter Betty Blogs. I’d been planning on making one of these since I first saw it in September, but time and other projects sort of slipped up on me. I borrowed a fancy Dremel tool from Lynn (thanks, Lynn!), and spent one night carving gourds by our front door light. It was messy, especially scraping the inside. And I had a hard time getting the curves to look anywhere as clean as Betty’s, but they were okay.

Then, I let them sit around. For months. Until Mia and Lucas discovered them and immediately turned them into playthings. It wasn’t long before one was shattered. I realized I’d have to make the finished one a little more sturdy. So I made up a trusty old flour/water/salt mixture and put one layer of Papier-mâché on the gourd. This had the added bonus of hiding my somewhat jagged edges that sanding had not managed to soften much. I let it dry for about a day and a half (half of it hanging in the wind outside because it was drying so slowly inside) and then painted it inside and out:

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I then found a piece of wood about a foot square in the laundry room. I’m not sure of it’s source, just that it was real wood, not plywood. I sanded the edges a little, and then painted it green:

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Then I used the brush to sort of sponge some darker green on it to give some texture and depth and a more grass-like feel:

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I gathered some little wooden hearts, four small wooden spools and one bigger spool, and a wooden disk for the table top. I painted the hearts pink, saving four for little fairy stools. With a hot glue gun, I added one heart above the doorway and laid a little heart path up to the front door of the gourd. I also added fake rose petal curtains to the windows:

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I then painted the large wooden disk to be the table top, the large wooden spool as the table base, and each of the smaller four spools to be the fairy chairs, matching them in color to the outfits of the fairies:

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I secured them all with hot glue when I realized how easily they tipped with a fairy on them, wanting to avoid the inevitable frustration of falling dinner guests. I had also hot-glued the gourd onto the base, but it has since come off, peeling some of the paint off the bottom of the gourd in the process. So I’m going to have to figure out another (pretty non-toxic/child-safe) way to attach it. I’m not sure I could get a drill in there to screw it to the wood, and I also worry about splitting the gourd, but I may try it if I can’t think of anything else. Any suggestions?

For now, here’s a shot of the sweet little fairies, sitting at their table:

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I’m working on another bigger project, though I have to admit I’ve been delayed a bit, first by sickness, and then by Mia’s proud announcement that she had cut out a bunch of little houses today. A bunch of little houses out of the only-piece-of-that-color-I-have wool felt that I had already cut to size. I think it may all be her father’s fault. He’s the one who suggested at lunch that she needed her own craft blog since she’s been so crafty lately. And I do love to see the creative urge rubbing off on my little one! I’ll hopefully be back in a couple of days with something new! Thanks for reading and happy crafting!

My new Mei Tai!

Posted by on 17 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: babywearing, family, sewing

I’ve wanted a Mei Tai for years, since my oldest was a baby. But I have a beautiful, beautiful Didymos wrap and felt like I couldn’t justify another one. The Didymos is beautiful, but it’s not the most practical — tons of fabric and no stretch. Mei Tais just seemed so perfect. And expensive.

But then I found this tutorial and decided to try it. I’m terrible at machine sewing. Really terrible. But the tutorial was so clear that I managed it! The stitches may be a little wonky, but I’m thrilled with it. I’ll have to practice getting Lucas in and out by myself, especially in a back carry, but it feels great.

Scandi Mei Tai

Scandi Mei Tai

Scandi Mei Tai

I especially love the snuggly front carry.

Scandi Mei Tai

I had originally picked out some really cool fabric, but then the lady at the fabric store mentioned, as she was cutting it, that she had made herself a blouse from it, and after that, all I could see was blouse. So instead I used two non-coordinating fabrics and made it reversible.

I love my fall leafy print, but it did seem a little seasonal, so I went with a cool batik for the other side.

Scandi Mei Tai

Scandi Mei Tai

Somehow, the kids let me work on it all day (I cut out the pattern and the straps last night), though Lucas was pretty clingy by the end of the day. He was happy to discover my project was designed for snuggling.

I have Mia’s finished Valentine’s Day present to post, but I’ll save that for tomorrow. I have a sleeping babe in arms, and Tony just carried a feverish, sleeping Mia upstairs to her bed. Looks like she’ll have her first sick day from preschool tomorrow. Pretty impressive, really, but I feel like I jinxed it by announcing this weekend that she hadn’t missed a single day of preschool due to illness since she started in September. Oh well, a snuggly, rainy sick day for us tomorrow! Poor girl!

Little Bear Valentines for kids by kids (well, mostly)

Posted by on 09 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: animal crafts, kids' crafts, tutorial, Valentine's Day, wool felt

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I could have just gotten the Tinkerbell valentines at the drugstore. It would have been quick and easy, and Mia would have been over the moon about them. But I couldn’t resist making handmade valentines, and figured out a simple way to not only make them, but have Mia do some of the work (an older child could do ALL of the work).

I’ll go ahead and do a little tutorial here (though you hardly need one!), and leave my going on and on about us for the more skippable bottom of the post.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • this easy little pattern for tracing
  • dark brown felt for the bear bodies (I think I got about six to a sheet)
  • tan felt for the bear muzzles
  • red and pink felt for the belly hearts
  • 7 mm black pompoms for bear noses
  • 7 mm googly eyes
  • blank cards (I used a value pack of blank ivory cards that measure 6 1/2 x 5 inches when folded)
  • Scrapbook paper (I love the gingham pink and blue!) — by putting a horizontal, then a vertical and then vice versa, you can get four cards out of one 12×12 sheet
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • school glue

First, trace the bear, heart and muzzle patterns onto the corresponding pieces of felt. Cut out the shapes.

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Next, cut the folding cards along the fold (optional, keep them whole if you want cards that open). You can go ahead and write your greeting on the other side now if you wish. Especially if you have little people doing the writing who you know will long be in bed by the time the cards dry!

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Cut the scrapbook paper to cover the cards and glue on with a glue stick.

Glue bears onto the cards, the muzzles onto the bears, the noses onto the muzzles, the eyes onto the bear faces and the hearts onto the belly.

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look at those dirty digging in the dirt at the park fingernails! I guess tonight should have been bath night!

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Give to someone special!

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I think we both would have enjoyed the process a little more if it hadn’t been such beautiful weather today. So beautiful that we we had no choice but to go to the park with friends instead of staying home to make the 17 Valentines for Mia’s class, which are to be turned in tomorrow.

We probably would have finished them by bedtime, but Mia wrote each child and teacher’s name. She did a beautiful job, and I was really surprised how few letters I had to show her. She has trouble with drawing an “s,” and she likes to add five horizontal lines to her “E,” but wow, she’s got many of the others down pat. I can’t believe she had the patience to get through all 17 of them. Though that may explain why the joy of gluing, which she had been looking forward to all day, had worn off by about card number five.

I’m proud of my girl and her pride in our handmade valentines. I hope her friends at preschool like them!

A sneak peek: little Valentine Fairies

Posted by on 08 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: Valentine's Day, wooden toys, wool felt

Oh, it’s been a long time since I posted! I’ve been busy working on Mia’s Valentine’s Day present, and there’s still an awful lot to do and not much time. This is further complicated by the fact that I have two other non-crafty projects that are requiring a bit of time, and although very worthy expenditures of time, they are not quite as enjoyable as sitting on the couch with my sweetie, watching a movie and stitching away.

And then there’s of course the additional complication of completely winging this little present, having to rethink and redo and restitch and replan as I go, knowing all the while that it needs to be something she will like at least as much as she likes The Mitten I made for Lucas.

Here’s what I have so far. These little Valentine’s Day fairies have been painted (which is stressful, but I’m mostly pleased with them), and clothed (after much restitching, removing extra embellishments, worrying about colors):

Felt Valentine's Fairies

I painted the little hairclips without thinking about the colors much. But then when I got to making their little dresses and wings, and picturing them all together, I realized the pink and the red would clash pretty horribly. But then Tony reminded me, our girl, she’s all about the clashing:

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So, I went with it, even sewing a little pink heart onto the red fairy. It is for Valentine’s Day after all. Though I confess I sent Tony off to photograph them with instructions not to put the red and pink fairies next to each other.

The rest of the project doesn’t just involve sewing, I’m afraid. There will be paper mache, there will be paint, there will be a great deal of hoping I pull this off in time!

Thanks for visiting and happy crafting!

Felt Valentine Cookies

Posted by on 01 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: Valentine's Day, wool felt

Wow! I am completely blown away by the overwhelming response to my Mitten critters! Thank you all for taking the time to visit and leave comments!

I need to get started on my daughter’s Valentine’s Day present, but needed to recharge my creative energy a bit, so I borrowed some from this great post on a wonderful blog I discovered through Crafty Crow.

Here’s my version, made in chocolate, since I didn’t have any tan felt, and with extra sprinkles because once I get started, I apparently can’t stop:

Felt Valentine's Cookies

These were super easy to make and really rewarding. I’m sure I would have gotten them done even faster if I had followed the tutorial and done a running stitch instead of a blanket stitch, but I still finished them in one (long) crafting evening.

They were very well-received, and when I peeked in at Mia tonight, still looking at books in bed, to ask her where they were so we could take a picture of them, she informed me, ” They are in my fort, right by where I saw the little red dustpan, under my farm.” And there they were!

We had a wonderful day today — it was beautiful, sunny and unseasonably warm. We spent all afternoon at the park with friends, the kids playing in the woods, on the playground and on top of a gigantic mountain of dirt while we parents mostly lay on our backs in the sun. As we drove home, watching the brilliant red sunset, we knew it had been a day well-spent. I hope yours was just as enjoyable.