"Lo, Children Are An Heritage of the LORD: and the Fruit of the Womb is His Reward" - Psalm 127:3

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Breakfast Smiled At Me

My breakfast smiled at me this morning. Must have known it's my birthday. I had to laugh. I peeled the fruit, put it on the plate, went to the other room, and when I came back, I noticed the smile :) It was a good way to wake up.

Actually it's been a rather fun day. In honor of my 39th birthday, I thought it only appropriate that for devotions I read Psalm 39. I really had to laugh when I got to verses 4 and 5, which say, "LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity." And then the final verse of the chapter says, "O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more." It was pretty funny.

I wanted to get a lot of sewing in today, but instead, I just enjoyed doing not much of anything. I did get a little sewing in though. First, this camera strap cover is actually something I made yesterday but didn't get a chance to blog about it until now. I actually did quite a bit of sewing yesterday but it was all alterations and repairs - nothing picture worthy. I fixed one skirt and my son's shirt, altered another skirt, and moved the velcro handle straps on my carseat cover (it was driving me nuts that it was about an inch off center, so I had to fix it. Obsessive, I know.) My "to-be-repaired" pile is now empty, so now I can focus on the fun stuff.

Today, all I managed to accomplish was to make these little tabs for our shower towels. My husband and I like to use beach towels because they're much larger and more plush and absorbent. The problem is that in our bathroom, the hooks are rounded. (Whoever thought of that idea should be forced to actually try to get towels to stay on those hooks). Anyway, I read on another blog about someone making tabs for their towels, and felt pretty stupid for not having come up with that idea myself. Anyway, I remedied that problem today. I used little strips of fabric, folded over and ironed like bias tape, with the open edge stitched closed. I folded the towel in half to find the midway point, and pinned the tab in place.

I folded the ends under and stitched them in down.

And that was it - nice tabs to hang the towels up with.

See what I mean about those rounded hooks? This works much better. Problem solved in just a few minutes, and with just a couple scraps of fabric. Sure wish I would have thought of that a couple of YEARS ago :-/

I had to add this picture of my three peas in a pod. They are all just alike - their father's sons... wonder if the next one will be so much like them? Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shop Hop, Stop One - Jackson Hole, WY

I had a doctor's appointment in Jackson today, so I took the time to stop at Stitchin' Time with my shop hop passport. They are always fun during shop hop. They have little games where you can win a prize. This year, I won the little notepad in the center of the photo. I'm also entered into their basket drawing. (Each store gives away an individual gift basket to some lucky shop hopper).

They put together little packets for the shop hoppers with lots of fun stuff - a flier for their fall quilt retreat, candy, and themed items to go with their pattern. Each store creates a pattern for the shop hop.

This store's pattern is called Wyoming Wind, so we got a little pinwheel. Each store also gives a charm for a bracelet. So, appropriately, we got a windmill :)

I try to make a point of purchasing something - even if it's just a fat quarter - from each shop. The stores usually have something on sale especially for the shop hop.

I found these fun green and blue prints for $5/yard. I bought a yard of the green and half a yard of the blue, along with the brown and blue fat quarter. I don't really have a plan for the fat quarter, but I've had my eye on that fabric for awhile, so I had to get at least a fat quarter of it. The green will most likely be used somewhere in my daughter's room, and the blue will probably go into my hexagon quilt. Grand total $10.97.

I went to this one without my daughter, thinking she could miss one shop and still be qualified for the second prize - a basket of sewing goodies and $25 gift certificates from each of the 11 shops. The idea was that if we had the two Wyoming shops done before the big Saturday trip, we could be at the first Idaho shop by 9 am opening time. But then I found out that one of the stores is 70 miles away from any of the others. It would be an added 3 hours to the trip to go there and back, not counting shopping time. I don't think we'd be able to do that in a day even if we wanted to, so I'm going to have to get my daughter to the Jackson shop so we can qualify for the second place drawing - which is the prize I really want. First place is a 3 day, 2 night quilt retreat with 8 friends. I don't know that many people locally who sew or would be interested in attending - plus with the baby coming, I'm not going to be able to leave for a retreat anytime soon. They also have gift basket drawings for people who make it to seven shops. And, each shop you go to usually has a drawing you sign up for there, and fun games where you can win prizes. It's kind of like a carnival - but you have to drive to the different booths :)


It's great to have a daughter who is willing to help me clean up. It's not so great though, when she doesn't put things where they belong ... like my fabric cutting ruler ... and then can't remember what she did with it. This all happened yesterday, while she was three hours away at piano lessons.

So, I figured I would improvise. I used rulers - little, normal rulers. I had to fold my fabric in half so I could see the lines on the cutting mat, then measure one half inch over with one ruler, put the other ruler in place, then cut with the rotary cutter.

It worked fairly well, but after doing half a yard of fabric like that, I knew I had to look a little harder for the good ruler. This way was too labor intensive, and it would have taken all day to get all my fabric cut. I finally did find the ruler - on the floor of my sewing room (aka garage) between some boxes, out of the line of sight. So I was able to finish cutting all 3 1/2 yards of fabric yesterday afternoon.

These are going in my hexagon quilt. I believe I cut another 789 squares. I'm going to have to count my squares. Ugh. I thought I had done that, but I think I only counted the ones I had finished stitching. If I did count them, I don't have the total now, so I guess that will be on my to-do list. Or maybe I'll just wing it until I get close... Either way, I better get back to stitching! I still know I need to get a few more fabrics, which I plan to do on the shop hop. By the way, I did the first stop of the shop hop today, but I'm going to put that in a separate post.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I LOVE Books and Fabric :)

Don't you love that title? You never would have guessed, right? Let me explain...

Saturday was a fun day. We started the day with a "Bookfest and Feast" - which was a fundraiser for a group called "Raising Readers." They are a nonprofit group that provides free books to kids at regular doctor checkups. We have received several books from them in the past, so thought it was a very worthy charity to support.

Plus, they had fun things like a great breakfast, free books, bookmarks, and information, and door prizes and can you guess? Face painting.

We won a door prize - the "Puppies, Puppies, Everywhere" book. That was written by a lady who lives in our county and is full of pictures of puppies, which our two year old absolutely adores. (He thinks he is a puppy - and does a very good interpretation of one.) The other three books were freebies. One for each kid - including the one we're expecting. They were very generous :)

They also had a raffle. Our 18 year old daughter volunteered to help with the fund raiser, and was in charge of selling raffle tickets. They had probably close to 30 different gifts you could enter to win - things that had been donated by local businesses. There were three things I really wanted to win, so most of our tickets went into those bags. Two of them were big baskets full of books, and the third was a fly fishing raft trip. Now that would have been fun. Too bad. Didn't win that one.

But I did win one of the baskets of books!!! I am still excited about that. We got them home and I took our daughter shopping in another town, so I was gone all afternoon. My husband stayed with the boys, and when I returned, the 7 year old had read every single book. All 15 of them.

Here's a better look at what was in the basket. The book at the top is pretty cool. The fold out part to the right is a flannel board, and the pieces are in the plastic compartment below the pages of the book (on the left side) so you can put out the pieces for the nursery rhymes.

I tried to lay them all out so you could see them - and the nice basket they came in. It was a really nice assortment of books - some board books for little guys and some longer ones - hardbacks with dust covers.

Then we also won an alignment for our vehicle at one of the local mechanic shops. Either of the prizes alone is worth more than we paid for breakfast and the raffle tickets. Just the other day I was feeling sorry for myself about never winning any of the giveaways on blogs, but I guess locally I do fairly well - especially considering we won a $50 gift certificate to a nice steakhouse on a lake during the fishing derby a couple months ago :)

Now on to my other favorite topic ... fabric. I think the UPS guy probably knows me by name now - or at least our house. He's been here an awful lot lately :) My latest order from Fabric.com just arrived. This first piece is from a line called Dilly Dally, and is for my sister's baby. I need to get some coordinating fabric and didn't really love anything in the line, so I wanted to get it here in time to take it with me to the shop hop, so I could choose something to go with it.

So while I was ordering, I wanted to get enough fabric to get the free shipping ;) so I ordered a few more reds and turquoises. Most of these (I think all except for the red with white stars) are from the Sugar and Spice line, which I have been shamefully coveting since I first saw them. So now I can get back to my hexagons. I haven't had time to iron it and cut it yet though. So that will be on the list for this week.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Homeschool Organization 101

I've had several people ask me how we do homeschool, so I thought I would take a break from the crafting posts to explain it here. If you're not interested, feel free to skip it.

We've been homeschooling for 14 years, have graduated one, with the next oldest graduating in another month or so, as soon as she finishes her math ;) Now we're starting over with a seven year old finishing up first grade, and a two year old and soon-to-be newborn coming along too. So by the time we finish, we will have been homeschooling consecutively for at least 31 years :) unless the Lord should permit us to have more children, in which case it will be longer! I love homeschooling, and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world - not even a billion dollars.

As for the organizing of supplies, we used to have a ton of room for our homeschool room. When we lived in the house we are attempting to have moved across the country, we had a large family room that we converted into a school room. I don't have a good picture of it after we got it all set up ... just this one. (The exercise equipment didn't stay in there long).

We had bookshelves all around the room (you can only see a small fraction of them here). This was taken right after we moved in. Eventually we put up educational posters and on the wall to the right that you can't see, we had a huge bulletin board with a piece of fabric that had the map of the US on it. We used 3x5 card - one for each state - connected them with yarn to the capitol of each state, and listed all the state details on each card - capital, population, flag, flower, etc. It was a cool room.

Now we live in literally half the space, in a two bedroom duplex with three kids at home, and one on the way in a couple months (five total kids, but one out on his own). So now, this is the only space we have inside the house for school stuff.

This cabinet is 2 feet wide, and crammed into a corner of our dining room, with the dining room table pushed up against it. It holds all our daily homeschool stuff, along with my daycare preschool supplies. We have a ton of other books and supplies (literally) which are stored in the garage on bookshelves and in boxes. But for the most part, this is what we use daily.

So here's a look from the top down. The top holds our globe and all my preschool supplies for the daycare - crafts, awards, daily lessons, etc. We have another globe with a dry erase surface, which lives on the table.

The first real shelf holds most of our resources and curricula. We also keep our dictionaries and reference books here and below (you'll see them in a minute), along with daily packets for preschool - Monday through Friday, so I don't have to get that big crate off the top of the cabinet every day.

The clear box on this next shelf is full of all kinds of goodies - scissors, glue, magnifying glasses, tape, and other office supplies. The shelf also holds a bag of markers, twistable crayons, a note cube, and our Handbook Of Nature Study.

Under that we have the books that are too tall for the top shelf - atlases and reference material mostly. The blue organizer holds drawers of pencils, colored pencils, fat markers, skinny markers and pens. The pencil sharpener lives on top of that, along with our heavy-duty 3 hold punch, another pencil box, and a huge set of crayons. The white drawers are my secret weapon, and I'll explain them to you in just a moment.

The keyboard tray is where I keep my daily record-keeping supplies for the daycare (calendar, receipt book, etc.)

This bottom section is all our overflow stuff, stored behind closed cabinet doors. There are reams of computer paper, extra spiral notebooks, card stock paper, colored folders for making into Lapbooks, sheet protectors, extra markers, tape, and manipulatives. We buy everything in bulk. (The markers were given to us by a preschool at the end of the school year.)

So now, I will explain my secret weapon, the white drawers. We had been starting to see a bad attitude out of the 7 year old when it came time to work on school. There was a lot of arguing and misery involved. I figured out the best way to take the arguing out of it was to de-personalize it (if that makes sense) and give him more choices. So now, instead of mom telling him what to do constantly, he has this set of drawers to do it. Each day's work is divided up and labeled, so that all he has to do is go through each drawer for that day's assignments. I'll start at the top and show you what I did...

On top, we have our big box of math blocks from Math-U-See. This is a double set. I can't say enough positive stuff about this math curriculum. My just-turned-seven-year-old-first-grader has just started the fourth grade book. (I should say too that we pay no attention whatsoever to grade level. We just do what comes next, as you can probably tell.) It's an awesome program. He understand the reason why you use a particular math function rather than just how to do it. This program was also a life saver for our 18 year old daughter who really struggled with math until we switched to this curriculum. Now she understands it and even enjoys it (most of the time - ha). Okay, moving on...

This first drawer alternates what is in it. We are very eclectic homeschoolers. We use whatever I like for each subject, and many times just make it up on our own. I've found over years of homeschooling that there is no single homeschool curriculum that meets the needs of each student completely. So, I just take what I like from the wide variety of choices, and go merrily on my way! Yesterday it was full of "nature." We try to keep up a nature journal similar to what is done in the Charlotte Mason method. We don't always have time to take nature hikes, but when we do, we collect nature to draw later. We're greatly looking forward to the summer, when we can get out and explore more. We have identification guides for trees, wildflowers, insects, etc. and are looking forward to getting outside with them. It's been a long winter. Today, instead of nature, there is a geography project in that drawer.

This is the math assignments for the week. The first page is a multiplication review page. The third grade book was all about multiplication, clear up to the point of multiplying thousands times hundreds (ie 497,382 x 978), so he knows how to multiply. I just wanted him to be faster. In order to encourage my son to learn his multiplication facts lightening fast without having a fight over flashcards, I started having him take these speed tests. Each day, he races against his own time. He has to beat his fastest time. If he does, he gets to pick a treat out of the candy dish (which has old Christmas candy and suckers from the bank). He has greatly improved. The daily work also contains 2-3 pages from the current book. That's how we're so far ahead. Each day, students are only supposed to do one page, but we've always done 2-3 because he can do it without too much trouble. We also homeschool year-round (no set schedule in the summer, but still some work each week). So it's not that he's a math genius or anything. It's just that this is what works for us.

The next drawer is full of handwriting pages. We're using A Beka for handwriting. I love their cursive font. We've been doing cursive since the beginning of first grade, and his cursive is much neater than his printing. I just ordered the second grade cursive book, so we'll be starting that within a week or two - again, we usually do two pages/day.

I didn't take specific pictures of the other drawers. But generally he has five "subjects" to work on each day - with math and cursive writing every day. Right now we're in the middle of a book study for Language Arts skills from Progeny Press (and we use the Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading, which we also love), and we are studying explorers using Homeschool in the Woods materials. We do a lot of extras for things like geography and science. Both of those are very literature based, using good books as our base. I hate textbooks, and think they just kill any enthusiasm kids might have for a subject. We also don't use worksheets other than for math and cursive writing. I prefer hands-on activities that kids are more active in doing.

So that's an overview of our system of homeschooling. Hope you enjoyed the tour :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Baby Bibs and Burp Cloths

A week or so ago, back when we were in the midst of April challenge sewing, my daughter and I whipped out some bibs and burp cloths for the new babies coming to our family this summer. My sister is expecting a girl and we are expecting a boy, so the sewing has been a lot of fun because we get to sew both blue and pink. Gotta love that! Her little girl is their first child, and our boy is number five. We just sent a package of goodies to her and were waiting to hear that she had received them before posting the projects here. Sounds like they were excited and loved the goodies ;)

We were able to make 8 bibs and 8 burp cloths for her and 8 burp cloths for us. I only had a yard of the boy fabric, and we didn't really need bibs anyway. (I hadn't put the snaps on the bibs yet when I took the pictures. Snaps are MUCH better for bibs than velcro because they last forever and don't fray.)

For her burp cloths, I sandwiched two pieces of flannel around a piece of white felt (it was what I had on hand) for some padding. My 18 year old daughter did all the cutting for me, so I got the easy part of just stitching them up.

After they were stitched, I cut the excess felt out of the center.

Then my daughter fringed the edges.

We thought the fringe suited the girl fabric more than the boy, so instead of fringing, we sewed the boy burp cloths inside out, then turned and top stitched them for a more finished edge. I didn't use any felt in these because it would have been too bulky, and after having made the girl ones, I didn't feel that it was necessary. It really didn't matter either way.

Here they are side by side. I think they're both pretty cute. I did stitch all the way around, and then across the middle so the fabric won't shift. It also helps it to bend at the halfway point when you put it over your shoulder. So, that's one more baby project out of the way! I'm not sure what else I'm going to make. I'm kind of winging it now. The only thing I still have planned is a diaper bag, and I'm hoping to get a chance to work on that sometime this week.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I can hardly believe how many hexagons I've finished over the past couple of weeks! 207 of them, to be exact. I wanted to try this to see if it was something I would want to do, and then planned to set it aside while I worked on baby stuff. But it's such an easy, portable hand sewing project, that I've picked it up almost every evening while visiting with the family. And just look how far I've gotten without really trying to work on it ... and in the midst of all the other projects I've had going.

Don't you love that hexagon with the heart flower centered on it? That was completely unplanned. I cut all my fabric in the most economical way, without looking patterns or doing any fussy cutting, and this is just how it turned out - and, it was the first one of that fabric I stitched - FUN. For now, I'm storing them in a quart-sized zip-lock bag. Lazy pictures. I didn't want to have to re-stack them and squeeze them all into the bag again. I'm going to have to find a box. They are stuffed in there pretty tight.

I didn't really have a plan for how big this would become. Originally, I figured that if I wasn't thrilled with doing the project, I would just make a wall-hanging for my sewing room. I plan to paint the sewing room turquoise and use red and white accents for the room (when the house eventually gets here). But since I'm finding that I LOVE doing these, I've talked myself into making a king-sized quilt for our room - which we already have paint for - in a deep, royal blue (with a plan for white wainscoting around the bottom). My 18 year old was concerned that the room would be too "red-white-and-blue" but I think the turquoise shade and the lack of any stars and stripes will keep it from doing that.

I know this will be a long-range project. If I were doing the wall hanging, I would be about 30% done, but for a king, I'm only just over 5% of the way. It's the difference between needing 711 hexagons for the wall quilt or 3,899 for the king ;) (Believe it or not, this is good news. I was thinking I was needing close to 5,000 until I looked this up again, so it's a great relief that I was wrong - tee hee.) I figure if I get stalled out along the way, I can always just make whatever size I have enough hexagons for.

For now, I have decided to set it aside ... at least until after the quilt shop hop at the end of April/beginning of May. I only have 600 papers, so I need to start hooking some of these together so I can remove and reuse the papers. Before I do that, I want to get a few more fabrics so it won't be like there is one section with one kind of fabrics and another section with completely different fabrics. My plan is to try to buy at least one fat quarter from each store I visit on the shop hop. I like to support the stores while going around to collect the stamps for my "passport," and fat quarters are very affordable.

I'm really looking forward to this year's shop hop. I didn't get to go last year because we went to Fort Collins, Colorado to visit family instead, so last time I did this was two years ago. I took my two year old with me (he was about 6 months old at the time and I was still nursing.) This time, I get to take my 18 year old daughter along, and she's actually looking forward to it. She wants to get fabrics (!) to make more of her flower headbands. We should have a really fun time - especially without the little ones to worry about loading and unloading at all 12 shops. It's hard enough to make the circuit in one day without trying to get little ones to cooperate. We have to do it in one day because we're clear at the end of the line for the stores. We have one shop in town, (which we will probably visit sometime before we do the rest), but the next nearest is a 77 mile drive, then the rest are over Teton Pass and into Idaho. We'll try to be at the next nearest store right at opening time so we'll have the whole day. It's challenging, but SO fun. It would also be a little hard to justify the expense of it if it didn't always fall on my birthday. But it has become a part of my birthday gift, so it makes a little more sense. We will be taking the economical car though - more money to spend on fabric that way *wink*.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Brown and Blue Afghan D-O-N-E!!!

It's finished! WooHoo! Must be the week for completing projects! And to think of all the pessimists I live with who thought I had started too many projects at once. HA. Proved you wrong (this time). :)

Last night I figured I could finish this one today. I thought I had as many rows as I wanted. I had to do my border, but figured I could accomplish that in about an hour. And I could have, had I not second-guessed myself.

I wanted to finish off with the yarn I still had, making this a 4 skein afghan (two of each color). But then when I laid it out next to an existing baby blanket, I thought it might be better to add a couple more rows, and then do the border. As it was, I would have either had brown on the ends and blue on the sides for the border, or else I would have had half shells of a different color (brown finishing off a blue shell) on the sides. Neither of those options sounded good, so I added another row of blue to each end, and a half row of brown to the beginning end to make it all whole shells of one color. That allowed me to finish the sides in blue too, so the whole border is one consistent color. Make sense? Probably not. But if you look at the picture, it doesn't look odd, which it would have if I hadn't added the extra rows.

Anyway, I didn't have much yarn before finishing off and I was pretty sure I was going to have to open a new skein of blue. And I did. About 15 inches from the end. ARGH. Oh well, guess I'll be keeping that one now. I had hoped to exchange the extra 4 skeins and for something of a different color. But now I can only exchange 3. Boo hoo. I guess that means I need to find a cute little sweater pattern to go with the blanket. Hmm. Maybe I ought to keep one of the brown skeins too ;) Teehee. Sounds like I just found another project to add to the list! Um, on second thought, maybe I'll just finish what I've already started so I can really brag that I haven't taken on too much (before adding more to the list)! Yep. Sounds like a plan.

Sunshine and Craft Therapy

Today it was finally warm enough to take all the kids outside to play in the sunshine! YEAH!

They were thrilled. It's been a long winter. We've been able to go out front on the sidewalk and play with sidewalk chalk, but today it was finally dry enough in (most of) the yard to let the rascals run free without worrying about mud.

I had to do a little shoveling to get to be able to sit on my porch swing, but then I settled in for a little hand stitching while watching the kids enjoy themselves. (Can you tell I've finally gotten smart and figured out this is a good project to use up those almost-gone spools of thread that aren't worth threading a sewing machine for?)

The other day when I posted about all the problems I was having with my back and the cold and such, a sweet friend from New Zealand suggested perhaps a little craft therapy was in order. And boy was she right. I've been on a crafting blitz the last week or so, and fee wonderful. There's nothing like knowing you've actually accomplished something you've wanted to for a long time! Feels good.

See those few hexagons in the top section of the box? That's all I got done while outside. I was too busy throwing and kicking balls, picking one particular child up out of a snowbank... repeatedly... and helping another *ahem - mine* who was too scared to go down the playhouse slide by himself and kept freaking out because he was "stuck." Ahh, the joys of motherhood. But I'd say all the kid stuff was just as fun as the stitching. And I got to sit in the sunshine all morning to boot. It was a great morning!