Monthly Archives: January 2016

quilt for the little man

 

serge

panels

quilt

binding

quilt

 

hythequilt

with Frasier

None of the women in my family quilted. My grandmother was an amazing sewer/seamstress, but she did not quilt.  Apparently my great-great-grandmother quilted (I have a hexagon quilt she made when my father was born on our bed right now), but I did not know she quilted until earlier this year.  But, my childhood neighbor (nearly like an aunt to me) did quilt.  I did not realize she did until I was an adult, and she made beautiful quilts for each of our daughters when they were born.  Those quilts are still on their beds.  Nita inspired me with her beautiful, artistic quilts.  She also encouraged me to try an quilt, lending me books to read about it.  But, I have been very slow to get into quilting, feeling it was a bit too overwhelming of a project to launch into – it seemed to take lots of planning, fabric, steps, and precision.

Then, just after Christmas, I was at a slight loss about what to sew next.  There were a few projects I wanted to do, but I was without one of the machines I needed/wanted for the project (it is being repaired) and I didn’t really have the desire to fish out fabrics to experiment with for other projects.  I really wanted to reduce the fabric stash I have, seemingly stuffed in every nook and cranny in my sewing rooms/mud room.  I spied the fabric I bought last year to make a quilt for Hythe and decided to get to it.  Last winter I decided to try to make quilts for the children.  I made two very small knotted ones for Anne and Evva and thought I might try a real quilted quilt in a real bed-size for Hythe.  Hythe sat with me last winter as I browsed fabric collections and helped pick out this one of blues and whites with little accents of red and orange.  I ordered the fabric, washed and ironed it, but then set it aside to work on other projects.

So, it felt great to get it out, and I had an idea for a simple quilt of panels of these fabrics.  I cut them into strips and cut them again, somewhat haphazardly, into rectangles.  Then, I sewed them back into strips and sewed the strips together.  And, instead of sewing I used my serger (new from just before Christmas).  It was surprisingly quick and easy.  I also used an old toddler demin shirt that had some Latin embroidery on it.  I loved the embroidery and it worked well with the quilt.  On one corner of the quilt, there is the front pocket from the shirt.  I love working old clothes into quilts, and I especially love working little pockets in.  It seems like a little secret.

I decided to back the quilt with a simple gray fabric and edge it with some brighter color.  The orange of the binding coordinated and brought out the bits of orange in the quilted fabrics.  This is the first quilt I have really quilted, and I was very happy with how it turned out.  Hythe was too.

I finished hand sewing the binding down one night after the children had gone to bed, so I slipped the quilt over Hythe in his sleep.  He woke up under it, was delighted, and has not let any other blankets on his bed since.  I can tell he feels love through that quilt, and that is special.  I overestimated the time and precision needed for quilting (at least for this type of quilt), and I really enjoyed making it.  And, I really loved how wonderful it made Hythe feel to have this made for him.

our life in snow

snowsnow

sled

dreamcatcher

wrap

goggles

angel

snow1 snowman

sledding

truck

sled

We got our first big snow of the year – about 8 inches I think, though most folks around us say it was 12 inches.  It snowed for nearly 48 hours, though during that time, we also had about 4 hours of sleet.  It was cold, windy, and snowy/sleet-y all day on Friday and Saturday.  Luckily, we had gotten out all the winter gear a few days before and were prepared to get everyone dressed for outdoor adventures.  The best new snow gear came from my mother, who purchased ski goggles for all the kids for Christmas.  They were perfect for this weather.  The kids wore them all day on Friday and Saturday, and even on Sunday because though the wind was not blowing snow in their face, the sun was creating quite a blinding glare.  I was sorry I didn’t have a pair (though I would use anybody’s who had gone inside to warm up).

We did so much outside on Friday (in the driving snow and sleet) – lots of sledding, hiking, and more sledding – that I was completely worn out by Friday evening, and so were the kids.  Walking uphill through heavy snow (and pulling a child in a sled uphill) for hours and hours is quite exhausting.

We spent a bit more time inside on Saturday.  Hythe made a dream catcher for his bedroom after I showed him a video on how to do in from Creative Bug.  The video was for adults and supplies included a brass ring, waxed twine, and nice beads.  But, I gave Hythe an emboidery hoop, some kitchen twine, and Evva gave him some feathers from a dress up mask of hers that was falling apart and he made his own dreamcatcher.  He was very proud, and so was I.  He is hoping to catch some of the bad dreams he has been having lately.  There was also a little dress up in mama’s shawls as William and I went through some of the extra clothes we have.

Then, more sledding, and more sledding.  And, Evva, Anne and I went on a snowy horseback ride while Hythe and William built two snowmen.

We are still enjoying the snow today as it slowly melts away.  Still sledding down our hill, still making snowmen, still throwing the odd snowball.  William and I were talking, and both agreed that while we love the snow, we both feel a little “FOMO” or Fear of Missing Out, when it snows.  There is so much that could be done during the brief snows we get – sledding (on many different hills), skiing, snowboarding, snow hiking, ice finding, snowman building, finding friends doing any of the former – that it can feel like you need to rush around to have fun.  But, during this snow, I felt all I wanted to do was stay at home.  I wanted for nothing and felt so much happier when I was home than tramping around trying to do anything else.  I also started and finished a great book (The Forgotten Seamstress).  And, as much as I have loved these snow days, I am ready to get back to regular life.

it’s cold, cleaning . . . and nutella

steve

lenten roses

Winter weather has descended upon us.  It is cold.  Wind chill below 0, bone-chilling, a bit refreshing (for the first minute outside) – cold.  I don’t completely understand how weather works and why some days that are 20 degrees (F) out feel just fine, and other 20 degree days feel like the North Pole and the cold goes right into your bones no matter how well dressed you are.  I could say the same about 60 degree days – some feel like summer, some feel like winter.  Is it humidity, wind, sun that makes the difference?  Whatever the reason, we are in the cold temps that feel COLD.  We had a dusting of snow the other day, and it looked pretty on the lenten roses (which bloomed about a month early because of the crazy warm December), but now the cold has really depressed (the only word I can think of) these flowers.  They are all laying in a lump on the ground, frozen.

Which means that there are shorter periods of being outside, long periods of getting dressed to go outside (finding hats, mittens, socks and shoes), and longer periods of playing inside.  Yesterday, a holiday, we all spent at home.  A few friends came over to play, and all 6 children played together (for the most part) inside, with multiple ventures outside.  Retreating, when too cold back to the house to have hot chocolate and snacks, to read, and to play.   William and I spent nearly the whole day cleaning and organizing our house.  A task that is overdue, but seems impossible to get done since we are often busy and don’t build in time to do it.  I think I also tend to avoid it, having things I would much rather do.  It is also frustrating to try and tackle a large task like this to be interrupted by the need to make snacks, or drive the carpool, or get to a meeting.  But, yesterday was the perfect day for it – a holiday, children entertained and taking care of each other, a partner to support the effort, no work or carpool.

boys

vacuuminggames

games

First, I tried to organize my sewing patterns.  I had bought large 3 ring binders and sheet protectors to store and organize the patterns, but just over half way through the process, realized I did not have enough binders or sheet protectors (which means I have over 100 patterns).  But, I found a temporary solution.

William cleaned and organized our bedroom which has been a bit of a disaster since Christmas.

I organized the game cabinet as well as the toy cabinet, both of which are getting quite a bit of use in the cold weather, and it is satisfying to see everything made neat and useful (for now at least).  Surely by the end of the season, they will be a bit of a mess again.

Tidying up like this also makes me wonder if should get the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.  It seems like it might be written for me.  Perhaps the library has a copy, because I don’t have a lot of faith that I will follow through will changes that take a lot of time or effort, so I don’t want to spend the money on it until I read a bit of it.  We’ll see.

Finally, I made a batch of homemade nutella – or cholocate hazelnut spread – for the week.  This is a treat I make occasionally, and it is so good, better (in my opinion) and healthier than the store bought kind.  This recipe is based off of Susan Herrmann Loomis‘s recipe in her cookbook Nuts in the Kitchen.  Susan’s a distant cousin, too.  The kids love it and it is simple to make.

2 cups hazelnuts

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (you can use a fancy, expensive kind, or Hershey’s – I can’t tell much difference)

pinch of salt

Toast hazelnuts in the oven at 350F for about 10 minutes.  They smell slightly toasted and are turning a little browner.  Take them out and put the nuts on a kitchen towel (not a terry towel) and rub them with the towel to rub off the skins.  After the nuts cool, I usually rub them with my hands to remove most of the remaining skins.  Some nuts will  hang on to their skin and that is ok.  Try to separate the nuts from the flaked off skins and throw the skins away (or compost them).  When the nuts are cool, process them in a food processor until they are a smooth paste.  This will take several minutes.  It will go from a paste to a smooth paste after a while, but it will never be as smooth as store bought. Again, that’s ok.  Add the salt, sugar, and cocoa powder and process till mixed well.  Now you are done.  Scrape it out and put in in a jar.  I use a mason jar (fits perfect in a pint-size).  It probably should be stored in the refrigerator, but ours goes fast enough that I keep it on the counter.

nutella

toastev

a little creativity

anne

banner

helper

One of my goals this year is to increase creativity in our children’s lives.  They have constant access to art supplies – crayons, pencils, pens, glue, scissors, paper of all kinds, art notebooks, paint and brushes – but the motivation to do something with them seems to be lacking lately.  There are lots of other activities and toys to distract from the quieter, at-home practice of art.  Up until this past spring, they had art classes at their grandmother’s house at least once a week.  Those classes ended for good and I have not intentionally worked art and creativity into our schedule since then.  I would like to change that.  I probably need to do a little art supply organizing to have access a little easier (it is easy now, but there is a bit more “gathering” than is probably needed).  I also want to let them have more access to my sewing machine and fabric.  They have such great ideas about making things.  Perhaps a box with fabric they can use, and permission to use the machine (with a little easier access) – will inspire them (at least the older two) to do some creative sewing.  I have a hard time getting Hythe to be interested in drawing, painting, or sewing.  I would like to try and explore with him what he is interested in creating.  Or, maybe he needs more of a purpose for art and creating than just doing it – a practical project maybe?  Anyway . . . .

I reflected on all this because last week, Anne came home from school very inspired to make a banner for her teacher who’s about to have a new baby (his wife is due any day).  She gathered all her supplies and made a beautiful, sweet banner.  It took her over an hour and I let her stay up past her bed time to finish it.  She was so proud and happy while making it.  She even let her littlest brother in on the fun, helping and encouraging him to make some of the banner and providing paper and materials to draw while she worked.  It was a sweet little scene and made me wish that it was happening more often in our house.  I will work on it!

Tips on working in art and creativity into life welcome!

 

winter walks

 

S

culvert

silo

tuck

Since school has started up again, we are all happily back on something of a schedule.  The three older little ones go to school, Steven goes to preschool, and I work in the morning.  After lunch, I pick up Steven, and we have an hour or so before the big kids come home.  We often do a little work in the kitchen, then go out for a walk (or “hike” as Steven says).  We have only made it as far as a little circle of the dirt road we live on, and sometimes to the farm – and that short bit has provided a lot of interest for a little boy.  He stomps on ice puddles, throws rocks in the creek (which Tucker dives for every time), and explores places at the farm.  I love these little walks because I get to slow down a little – not trying to get anywhere fast, being in the moment.  I am treasuring these walks like taking a deep breath in the middle of the day and spending a bit of precious one-on-one time with the littlest one.

These winter walk also remind me of walks I took with my great-grandmother when I was preschool age.  I often stayed with her and we would take slow walks down the dirt road we lived on (she lived less than a 1/4 mile from my house), taking our time, enjoying the sunshine, investigating interesting things along the road, and exploring the goat barn.  Just like now, it is a bit of getting outside, slowing down from the day, being together, and learning life on a country road.

holiday makes

I sewed up a few things for holiday gifts this year. Not as many as I had in mind at first, but about a week before Christmas I told myself it was ok if I did not make all the things on my list, and I believed myself!

First, I made Seamwork Mag‘s Denali vest for my brother-in-law.  Each year the siblings and in-laws in William’s family draw names, and I drew my hard-working farmer brother-in-law.  I knew I wanted to make something for him and saw the vest.  Perfect.  I ordered the fabric and got the pattern printed.  I am not a huge fan of pdf patterns (patterns only available to download and print yourself), but most independent patterns that I love come as pdfs.  They either have to be printed on your home printer as 8×11 pieces of paper that you have to line up and tape or glue together, or you have a print shop print off the pattern on large paper.  I usually, now, choose the later because I can get our local print shop to do it for me for a few dollars (and that is totally worth the time and tedium of taping all those sheet together).  I picked up the printed pattern and the fabric arrived and I set to it.  This fully lined vest came together quickly and I was very happy with it, so I put it aside for other projects until Christmas Eve night, when I went to put in the (expensive) snaps.  And of course, everything went wrong from there.  Every other snap seemed to bend, but I got one side done.  Then, when I went to put in the male snaps, nearly all of them just punctured holes in the vest and pulled right out.  I was very frustrated and was left looking at a ruined garment and gift.  Kindly, my brother (Will) who had come by, getting out of the house he was staying in while Santa was visiting, was very positive and helpful with suggestions of what to do to fix the problem.  He and William found some tools to help get the remaining snaps removed from the vest.  I gave up the idea of gifting the vest for Christmas, but planned to fix it and deliver it sometime later.  William and Will suggested I cover the strips of holes with fabric and put in a zipper.  That is what I did.  And, it turned out great.  I gifted it on the 30th, and I think he liked it!

vest1

vest

denali

Pajamas are my other annual gift to our children.  This year, I made pjs for all but Steven.  Steven has so many pjs (some gifted, many hand-me-downs) that his drawer over flows.  Even though I did not make him any, I pulled out a pair he got last year for Christmas that were too big at the time, and he was happy.  I made sets for the other three over a few nights, using organic cotton jersey and waffle fabric from a warehouse sale at Spiritex.  I like making pjs because I can experiment with my sewing.  I self-draft the tops and use an Oliver+S pattern for the bottoms (sews up quickly and is comfy).  I can try new stitches, use my serger, do some color blocking, experiment with hem finishes, etc.  These were quick projects, and I hurried through them as well.  I gifted these on the 23rd, just before we went to the Polar Express (where they were supposed to wear pajamas).  And, just like years past, but still surprising to me, the children were absolutely delighted by them.

pjs