Category Archives: children

making, weaving

Last week, I did a bunch of sewing.  I made leggings and a t-shirt for Anne, a baby blanket, two pair of shorts for Evva, and a dress for a one year old.  Some of these makings were prototypes I was experimenting with, and I had children and friends to give them to, but the dress (and bloomers) for the one year old, I made because I loved the look and wanted to see how difficult it would be to make (not nearly as hard as I thought).  But, I have no one to give it too!   I loved this little dress.  I’ll hold on to it (maybe sell it?), and see what happens.

dress

Then, Hythe came up to me this weekend and said, I want to make something.  What do you want to make?  I want to weave, he said, and brought me a craft book with a picure of a loom set up inside a shoe box.  So, I found a shoe box, put in some warp yarns and gave him a large darning needle and yarn.  He loved it.  He made his own pattern of yarn colors, and started out with the ambitious plan to weave a blanket.  I told him the loom would only allow each piece to be a few inches wide, so he said he would weave lots of them and I could sew them together.  I think he soon realized that a weaving the size of a coaster was good enough, and satisfying enough.  I don’t know anything about how to take handwoven things off of a loom, or how to finish them, but I did my best and tied everything together.  Hythe trimmed up all the ends and he was so proud of his little woven coaster (or hot pad, as he calls it).  I have been using it to set my tea on for the last two mornings, and he likes to see it being used.

weaving1

done

002

withmugweaving

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!

 

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

bits and pieces

lettucepeppers kimchi

dye

witches halloween boy

soccer

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog lately, but fall seems to be my busiest time – with children, activities, work, business, etc.  I got a pulled into what felt like chaos and hectic-ness.  But, I am feeling a bit better now.  A bit more grounded.  I think I am ready to head into the next set of holidays (which I love) with more peace.

But, first, some of what we’ve been up to . . . .  This fall was lovely and quite warm and wet.  I’ve had lots of lettuce in the garden (it may have been killed back by the freeze yesterday), as well as green, carrots, and beets.  I bought some of the last peppers at the farmers market the other week. I roasted them (and the last of my jalapenos) and froze them.  I also made my version of kimchi – I love it’s spicy, sour, hot flavor on just about anything, but especially on grilled cheese sandwiches.

I’ve also been making rope bowls (I’ll post a picture soon) and dying some of the rope.  I dyed a batch with turmeric, but my favorite has been with black walnuts.  I just love the brown that black walnuts make (though I hate black walnuts for eating) – I find the color really beautiful.

We had a great Halloween.  Normally, I refuse to make or buy costumes for Halloween.  I feel like we have enough dress up clothes that they can find something or make something themselves.  But, this year the three oldest wanted to be characters from Harry Potter (Hermione, Fred, and Luna), so I sewed the robes and bought patches to put on them.  I even made wand pockets inside the robes.  I figure they will probably get lots of use other than this holiday.  And, they had such a good time playing in them, I felt good about spending the time and effort to make the robes happen.  Steven did not want to be a Harry Potter character so he dressed up from the “dress up box” (as a race car driver).  Trick-or-treating in our rural neighborhood took 3 hours and we only made it to 13 houses.  As we are usually the only trick-or-treaters, the kids get nearly all the candy at each house, so they do get lots.  The long time is because we drive to each house, visit for a short bit (occasionally have an adult beverage), and then load back into the van with cousins (7 children, 4 adults).  This Halloween, most of us somehow ended up bushwhacking, as darkness fell, over a nose ridge to get to another house instead of getting in the van.  That definitely affected our timeline since we got a little lost, left a trail of candy (all the children fell down multiple times, spilling the candy buckets), and lost one shoe (one of Steven’s best pair – it got snagged by a branch and we could not find it).   It was an adventurous and fun time.

Soccer season is over for now, and they all enjoyed playing, but especially Anne.  I did not get to watch many games, but I did make it to Anne’s last one where she wore a mama-knit hat while playing.

hula

fall

clock

Finally, these warm fall days have kept us outside as much as possible.  We are playing, going on walks or hikes, and even making it on some horseback rides.  This is my favorite kind of weather – just warm enough to be outside and active in shorts.  And, the afternoon light (and morning light) is so beautiful.

Also, for a little humor.  Hythe came home with this note he wrote to me in his Kindergarten class the other day.  I love seeing these early writing attempts.  They are precious, even if this one is slightly chastising!

note

Dear Mom, Please do not send any more pears.  from Hythe

*I’d packed sliced pears in his lunch for the second day in a row.

at the beach (the other week)

beach

bluecrabs

 

trucks

steve

hermits

girls

fishing

shark

fish2

fish

sunrise

We decided to go camping at Hunting Island State Park for the kid’s fall break because I wanted (needed?) to get to the beach again before summer and the warm weather ended.  Also, I wanted to try camping as a family since I keep seeing our friends with children go camping and they seem to be having a great time.  We have not camped together since being a family of 6 – though going to Tuckaseegee is almost like camping.

Hunting Island State Park is a barrier island in South Carolina – the whole island is a state park and only campers stay there.

We packed up and drove 5 hours to the campground.  It rained for the first 4 hours of the drive (and at home it had been raining for 3 days straight), but it cleared up in the last hour of the drive and was sunny and warm when we arrived!  We unpacked, set up the tent, and went to the beach, where we hung out for the next few days.   We so enjoyed the sun, sand, and warmth – and mostly enjoyed the camping together part, too!

Highlights

  1.  Biking – We brought all our bikes and that enabled the kids to ride their bikes around the campground while we were cooking, unpacking/packing, or just sitting and relaxing.  We all took a long bike ride through a beautiful maritime forest to the island lighthouse.  And, we rode our bikes across the beach at low tide to the same lighthouse.  Everyone loved the lighthouse.  It was a fascinating to the kids especially.  We biked to it first thing, then found out you had to pay $2 each to climb up the lighthouse (and no toddlers allowed).  So, we came back at low tide later in the afternoon via the beach.  Since we didn’t bring the baby seat for my bike, Steven rode with William, riding on his back, holding onto his neck.  He fell asleep on the ride over the beach to the lighthouse, but did not fall off.  It was a funny site.
  2. Our camping neighbors (not the ones who brought a dog that barked loudly every 10 minutes until they left with him at 1 a.m.  . . . the other ones) – They were kind and generous and met us with smiles and jokes when we pulled in.  The first night we were there after Hythe finished supper he asked if he could go “hang out with them”.  We said yes and he picked up his camp stool, walked over to the neighbors camp fire and sat down with them, joining their conversation.  It was precious.  We saw May on the beach the next day at low tide with a pair of kitchen tongs catching blue crabs from around a rock groin.  Hythe and I watched her and Hythe started finding crabs for her to catch.  When we got back to the camp site, May had cooked the crabs and brought a bunch over to us to eat.  Hythe and I enjoyed  them thoroughly (no one else did much, though Evva and William did eat a little).  May caught crabs the next day as well and Hythe was right there beside her, helping – and we (May, Hythe, and me) feasted on crabs again that night.
  3. The beach – sun, sand, ocean.  It was wonderful.  We went to sleep listening to the waves crash just over the small dune from our tent.  We could wake early enough to watch the sun rise over that vast ocean.  We played, we swam, I read, kids found hermit crabs (lots of tiny ones).  There was plenty of splashing and running.  The children and I could have stayed all day on the beach.  It was bliss.
  4. Fishing pier – Hunting Island has a small Nature Center (which our children loved) attached to a fishing pier.  After looking at all the turtles, terrapins, snakes, and lizards, we borrowed the free fishing tackle from the Center, bought some bait, and went out on the pier.  As we set up, an older man next to us said he loved coming there to camp and fish, but also said he had not had a single bite that day.  I settled down in a tiny bit of shade to read while the kids and William fished. I was sure that we would stay out in the hot sun for 30 minutes or so until everyone was bored, then go back to the campsite.  But, within a few minutes, Anne caught a baby shark.  Ten minutes later, Hythe caught a small croaker (I think that’s what it was).  Then, Steven had a bite that bent his pole over and scared him (but the fish got off),  Then, Hythe caught two more croaker.  We released everything, but it was fun and exciting.  After an hour or so, the tide turned (literally), we had no more bites and soon everyone was hungry and bored, and we went back to camp.

All in all (and despite the sweltering nights and loud dog which meant I did not sleep well – how everyone else slept through it all, I don’t know), we had a great time.  I hope we’ll do it again.

late summer icons

peaches mullet and watermelon watermelon apple eating apple goldenrod summer sun

Nothing says late summer in the mountains of NC like baskets of peaches, watermelon, the first apples, and goldenrod.

I have canned some peaches, and will likely can one more batch.  Then, I’ll freeze the rest, peeled and sliced, for smoothies all winter.

The watermelon came from our garden.  The first watermelons I’ve ever grown – and they were delicious!  I think I liked them the best though.  The children are used to seedless watermelons and William says he is not a big fan of watermelon, but I enjoyed them.  I cooked mullet one night, rubbed in salt and rinsed.  Coastal NC tradition says to eat fresh salted mullet with watermelon.  It really was a good combination.  I like the flavor of mullet, but . . . my, they are bony.

The meadow is full of goldenrod, cardinal flower, ironweed, and Joe Pye Weed.  It is beautiful, and so iconic of fall here.

The first apples are ready and I have a bushel sitting in my kitchen.  I really do need to make sauce because the apples have a lot of bitter rot and won’t last long.

Nights have been cooler recently and it is less humid than normal Augusts.  One thing I notice about nights in August, though, is that they are loud.  Cicadas, katydids, crickets are all making the most of the last warm-ish nights and sing all night long.  It is a chorus, or a racket – depending on your opinion – but I am always surprised at the noise level in the middle of the night from outside.

 

 

Hythe, books, and war

Our library has a program each summer to promote library visits and to get books in the hands of children.  If a child visit the library four times over the summer, they get to pick out a free book to take home.  The librarians keep track of visist with a book mark that gets stamped each time a child comes in.

We love this program.  The kids get really excited about picking out their book when it is time.  Inevitably, each child never wants whatever book I think they should get.  The non-readers pick books that are so simplistic they bore me to death to read (and are probably supposed to be for infants), and the older ones tend to pick books with either a franchise behind them or books we already have.  I always try to gently talk them out of their selection, but I let them get what they want in the end (except this year, when I did veto Anne’s choice of Twilight).

This year, everything was about the same.  Steven picked a book with five pages, each page with only a number and a corresponding number of objects.  So boring!  But, he was proud to have his “own book”.  Evva picked a book of fairy tales (of which we only have about 5 others at home), and she has yet to open it.  Anne picked a pre-teen novel I’d never heard of, but seemed decently boring.

Hythe, however, picked (in my opinion), the best book – The Civil War for Kids.  He liked it for the pictures of soldiers and guns.  I liked it because I thought it would be interesting for many in the family, and there were activities.  And, to be honest, because now if I want to learn about a period of history, I read children’s books on the subject.  Quick and easy to understand, they provide a good overview.

So, last night William was reading to Hythe as part of the bedtime routine, and Hythe wanted him to read from his new book.  William started reading the Introduction.  When he got nearly through, he looked over at Hythe . . . who was crying.  “This is too sad.  Don’t read any more, Daddy.”

The next day, he asked a few questions about battles and if their might ever be one in Fairview.  My boy.  Sweet, fun, brave, physical, and compassionate.  Learning lessons early, maybe – but it breaks my heart at the same time.