Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sneak Peek

Halloween!  Here's tiny sneak peak of costume fixings.  We have three to make, this year.   Here's a hint.  That's wool roving, and it's going to be  three dimensional beasties that crawl on a certain cranium.    Spooooky.

plus  this--->

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Quilt Top, finally

Okay, so this is quilt top that I started over 3 years ago.  This was my first real attempt at a quilt.  I rediscovered the blocks last month while cleaning up my craft room.  I squared them up and added the sashing.  And "poof" a quilt top that I didn't even expect.   It's amazing what gets lost in the shuffle.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Making the universe

Birthday party time.  I prefer to make gifts when we go to Birthday Parties.  I also tend to pick projects when the girls can be actively engaged.  So, since the birthday love space, rockets and robots, we decided to make the galaxy.
 This idea came to me several months ago when we first made crayon cakes from old, broken crayons that were, honestly, driving me crazy with their uselessness.  Those broken things sat in a large box, neglected, in our craft cabinet.  One day, while caught up in the tangential pull of the internerd, I found a tutorial using old crayons.  Totally rad.  They turned out beautifully and the girls and I agreed that one of them looked like the earth...ergo several months later deciding to make all the planets!
 We looked at images of each heavenly body.  Frankie and Violet put in the colors that most looked like each planet.  We made two different sizes for the larger bodies, like the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn.

 We also had to be creative with Saturns 'rings', so we made stripes, kind of.

 It was super fun.  We also include a printed out picture of the galaxy and I sewed it onto a blue moleskine notebook.  Add to that some robot stickers, and a present was born.
I've got the whole world in my hand.  The whole wide world.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some vines of note.

I love flowering vines.  I've always had a soft spot in my heart for these delicate beauties.  I'm amazed at how they can transform most objects into a impressionist painting.  Here's a quick tour of the vines I have growing this year.  This one is a morning glory.  Forgive me, I don't seem to have the variety name.  Carnival something-or-other.  What I really love about this are how each flower is different.  Some have the inky stripes all over, while others are completely white.  They are beautiful, and grow rather fast, normally.  Since our weather has been so weird this year (no real summer, and as I am typing this I am in a hoodie and jeans), they aren't covering as much as they normally do.  I have faith though, since they bloom until frost, and that's a good three months away.

These are Creeping Canary vines.  This one grows super fast.  10 feet +.  It also blooms continuously, and I haven't had to deadhead, or really, do anything to it, other than watch it grow.  The tiny flower look like little birds.  Cute!  It's related to nasturiums and the plant is edible.  Speaking of nasturtiums. Look at these guys!  I've never seen Nasturtiums vine before.  They always behave themselves and stay in cute little mounds.  Not these though.  They have thrown caution to the wind and have decided to wind their way through a couple of dogwood shrubs.  The humingbirds like this act of rebellion, and so do I.
And lastly, the Sweet Pea.  If you get the chance to smell these, do it!  They smell like the sweetest roses.  Amazing.  Look at that color too.  Very swoon worthy.  I think they look like little bonnets. 
I hope you enjoy your garden today!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Party Dress and Bean Planting.

I've been sewing a lot, lately.  I had these grand notions that I would completely sew all my summer clothes this year, both in an effort to be thrifty and also to keep pace with my changing, after baby physique.  I've realized  a couple of things.  1: sewing your own clothes is about the same as buying clothes, if not more expensive, once you buy the pattern, fabric, and account for your time. 2:  I don't have much in the way of down time.  Imagine that!  3 kids (one being an infant), kind of make it impossible to get a ton of extra curricular activities finished.  I still have a quilt that needs to be completed.  Scratch that, 2 quilts.  Argh.  However, I did manage to finish this lovely.
I love this fabric.  Nani Iro.  Cotton double gauze.  I had never seen, touched, or worked with this stuff before.  It's dreamy.  It drapes so well, without being clingy, and it's light and soft.  Most assuredly not thrifty, so while I would like to have an entire wardrobe of this stuff, I can not.  I got this at a local fabric store Bolt.  They have some crazy beautiful things.  Once I saw it, and fell in love, I wondered what I could do with it.  I had already made a sundress using this  pattern.  Originally, I used some quilting weight cotton that I had gotten on super sale.
That fabric worked, but it was a little stiff.  This cotton gauze, though, is perfect.  The good thing about this pattern (other than it being mostly free), is that it works up fast. Blazingly fast, if you are experienced with shirring (which is not hard).  If you were determined, and had no distractions (say, like a baby and two toddlers), you could probably finish this in 3 hours.  For me, it took 3 days.  Additionally, it doesn't take that much fabric.  Two yards or so, depending on what length you want. The pattern calls for it to be way longer than I typically like my dresses to be.  On me, it would have been mid-calf.  So I made it shorter, to knee length.  I omitted the pockets and made ruffles.  I love it!  It works with my ever-changing-after-baby-body since the shirring makes it very forgiving in the size department.  Did I mention how comfortable it is?  The fabric dressed the pattern up so, to me, it looks like a sweet garden party dress.
It was a busy week in the garden, as well.  Out came the old sugar snaps and garlic, and in went the bush   and pole beans.  We planted rattlesnake beans, which are beautifully speckled, and some type of bush bean that are purple.  I dream of many jars of dilly beans come September.  Hopefully, our new pressure canner is up to the task.  I guess, just add that to the list of summer projects.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Originally uploaded by SweetBee43

Really? It's summer time already? Sheesh. Although, here in the Pacific NorthWest, it has done nothing but rain since April. A wet, cold, gray spring for us. Which means my garden is ridiculously lush and overgrown. The sugar snap peas love it. I could pick them everyday and still have to give some away. The tomatoes, cucumbers and squash do not like it, however. They are petulantly sitting in the spaces that I popped them mid-April, refusing to grow. Jerks. Due to the weather, I have not had time to garden. Oh, I've done a few things, like plant a wildflower garden out by the girls playhouse, weed, prune the Camillas, pull out a ton of oregano. It was choking out my actual flowers. That stuff is pretty set on world domination, followed closely by Lemon Balm. Things that have done well are my geraniums. Theses aren't the potted type people buy ever year for their patios. These are the 'wild' type. Very beautiful.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fairy Dresses and the Staghorn Fern

Yesterday was the first 'official' day of spring break, so we had a lot of extra kid energy in the house.  It also happened to be a fairly nice day.  So, the girls and I went outside to dink around in the garden.  I had the glamorous duties of laying out soaker hoses and transplanting some      Rose Campion that I had grown from seed.  Frankie got the idea to make fairy dresses from spent Camellia blossoms and dandelions.  I love little kid brains!  She was very deliberate gathering up the petals, and then tying the dandelion stems to make a type of 'package'.  Placement of the dresses was very important and she solemnly asked my opinion on the matter.  She told me that we had to watch out for Hawks, because, apparently,  fairies don't like them.  I suggested underneath some flowers, and she agreed eagerly.   We are going to have some of the best dressed fairy folk.
I have also been obsessed with this.
It's a Staghorn Fern.  This picture doesn't do it justice, but I think they are so weird and cool.  Pants and I saw one when we went to for dinner.  Most people mount them on wood, and the way they grow makes them look like antlers.  Strange, thick, ferny, green antlers.  It reminds me of something from Star Trek.  I love them!  So, I internerd searched and found them on Ebay.  Pants got excited and made a mounting plaque for it already out of some really old Fir that he had laying around. Once it arrives I'll post about mounting it.  I know it needs sphagnum moss, which I think I still have from making terrariums.  (Note to self, make another terrarium!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Community Gardening Day

Saturday was a beautiful day.  The weather was perfect and the sun was shinning.  It was also Community Gardening Day at the NE Children's Community Garden.  I gathered the girls up (all three!) and headed over.  The girls were motivated with promises of their very own strawberry plants.
Here is littlest, enjoy the sun.
The girls spent the time watering the plants, and digging.  The Master Gardener wisely set aside a hole expressly for digging.  I mean, why fight it?  At one point, there were five children digging very intently, and switching tools (shovel to rake to hand trowel).  They were very busy.  Franks is signed up for a free gardening class through this garden and really seems to enjoy it.   The Teacher/Master Gardener has a patience that makes her well suited to work with kids of various ages, and keep them interested.  The whole purpose of this program is to grow food for those in the community in need, and also to introduce children to vegetables at an early age.  Ideally, this will make them more likely to eat said vegetables.   And I saw this at work, as my girls and other kids picked (and ate) spinach and chives, happily.  Violet had green stained corners of her mouth at the end of it all.  Mission accomplished!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in the latter part of May 2005. The tumor was inoperable and the doctors started radiation therapy in June and then chemotherapy in July. They ravaged her body and left her immune system in tatters.   She had a hard time breathing, due to the cancer, and was on oxygen, which made even the simplest things difficult.   I spent three weeks with her in July, to help with her basic daily tasks.  It also was a chance for her to get to meet her first grandchild.   We live in Oregon and she lived in Florida and due to work schedules, lack of money, and timing, we just hadn't made the trip.  She did get to meet a nine month old Frankie.  I am so thankful for that, but she couldn't hold her very much because of her health and because of possible exposure to the chemo.  I have one picture of the two of them together.  Honestly, her illness caught us all by surprise.  It's progression was so fast, and the doctors were very vague about her prognosis.  I returned to Oregon the very end of July/ beginning of August, with the intention of returning in two weeks, to stay for another three weeks.  In the meantime, my sister was going to be coming, from Pennsylvania, in a week to help out.  We had it all planned.  Both of us (my sister and I) were going to switch up while my mom was going through the various treatment courses.  I think we had it mapped out all the way through September.  We never got that far.  A week after I left my mother died from complications resulting from the therapies.  One of the last things she said was wishing me a happy 1st wedding anniversary (the main reason I returned to Oregon) on August 7th.  She was gone the morning of the 9th.  I miss her.  I wish she had gotten to meet her two other granddaughters.
It's difficult to explain to my little ones who their grandmother was, and how much she would have loved them.  How do you break down into words, a person and their life so that it is understandable and coherent?  My mother was a very complicated woman, as was our relationship, but I do want to focus on the positive things that I remember.  Hopefully that will, in some small way, help my girls feel connected to their Grandmother.
My mother was an avid gardener.  I have very fond memories of our backyard garden, where I grew up.  The main thing I wanted, in my own 'grown up' garden, was to incorporate flowers that my mother loved.  So we have Bleeding Hearts and Sweet Williams, Echinea, and hopefully soon, some Black Eyed Susans (or, like my mom used to say 'Black eyed Susies').  We also have a wild Butterfly Bush and it's many offspring,  rambling Roses and most other cottage garden flowers.  My main goal is to instill in my children values like the love of growing, and taking care of things, appreciating beauty and understanding that with life, comes death.  Hopefully, I will create positive memories for them that they can have their whole lives and that my mother will be a part of that.
I love you, Mom.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Garden Spring 2010

Spring gardening is my favorite.  To me, it's really exciting to see plants start to emerge.  It's satisfying, and reminds me that life, well, goes on.  There are many lessons that my garden teaches me.  Pre-planning is essential, patience is necessary,  and you have to be willing to let some things be.   It's cool to realize how much control you really don't have.  You can nudge things, but really things are going to grow or not, despite your best efforts.  I also like feeling connected with the ground.  Mostly, though,  it enables me to be bold.  Particularly, with vegetable gardening.  I like experimenting with different plants.  I have had failures, but, more often, successes.

Like this rhubarb plant.  Here it is starting to come back up.  We planted this last spring.  To me, rhubarb is an exotic vegetable/fruit.  I wonder what it's 'official' classification is.  Either way, I love it and can not wait to make strawberry rhubarb galettes!  The peas are also starting to come up, but I've had some bird issues.  Those jerks think that my handiwork is delicious.  So, I've had to employ bird netting, and pin it down really well, because they kept getting in and munching on my seedlings.   Lack of control, right?

I have started some things inside, after a disastrous attempt last year.  I have some promising tomatoes and tomatillos.  I'm excited about the tomatillos.  I've never tried to grow them before, so I don't really know what to expect.  An added bonus is that they will be delicious.  Here's to gardening with no fear!



Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring seems to have come early to the Pacific Northwest, this year.  Not one to protest, I immediately jumped out into the garden and started working the soil.  It's so satisfying when plants start popping up, almost when you've forgotten about them.  It is still, technically, winter, so I have to wait to start popping plants in the dirt in earnest, but to satisfy my desire to DO SOMETHING, I decided to make stepping stones.

The added bonus to this project is that it is super duper kid friendly (minus the mixing of cement), but their favorite part is mostly in preparation...namely, getting the 'jewels' together.  There is something very satisfying about pressing the marbles into half wet cement.  I could see where one could get very precise and exact about this project, but I went the way of 'let's see what happens'.
                               The girls went the way of 'More is Better' regarding decorations.

A word of caution.  It can get really messy, so I would leave the mixing (wear a dust mask!), and the placing of cement into the molds, to a grown up.  Oh yeah, and use a tarp/newspaper to cover your work area, because it is cement, and it will stick.

We wound up making two different sizes : 6 and 12 inches in diameter.  A nice bonus is how cheap this project is, because pavers/stepping stones can get crazy expensive.  Especially those kits you can buy at craft stores.  I saw those listed for 20-30 dollars, for one.  Nuts to that.  One bag of concrete costs 6 bucks.  We made 6 stones, and still have half a bag left.  The 'molds' are one to two dollars a piece, based on size.  Really, your biggest investment are the marble jewels (especially if you have two little girls who get crazy excited and basically want to get everything shiny they see), but you could definitely use anything you have around the house.  Get as complex as you want!

                                                                 Stepping Stone Tutorial
Materials : Plastic plant saucers (any size).
                  Quikcrete concrete mix (We used the professional type, because it has fibers in it, which will                                                            
                                                          help keep them from cracking.)
                  Window Screening, Hardware Cloth, or Chicken Wire
                  Marbles, rocks, old toys...etc,
                  Old bucket
                  Dust mask, bandana
                  Stirring implement (I used an old, thick stick)
                  Tarp, Drop cloth, or Newspaper
                  Small hand shovel, or old cup

First, use the Vaseline to grease up the plant saucers.  You could forego this step and hope that your stones pop out once they're dry, but why chance it?
Next cut out your window screening to be one inch smaller in diameter than your particular mold.  this acts as a 'matrix' to keep your stones strong and give the concrete something to bond to.
Follow the instructions on the bag for mixing the concrete.  I basically dumped shovelfuls of mix in the bucket and slowly added some water (a little at a time) to get the consistency of brownie batter.  Only mix as much as you will use immediately, this stuff hardens fast.  Put some in your molds, about half way.  I scooped with my glove covered hands.  Place the window screening on the cement, then pat it down.  Put more cement on top, until the mold is filled.  Tap the molds to get rid of air bubbles.   Let sit for 30 - 60 mins to set up.  If you put the embellishments on now, they will sink to the bottom, so be patient and let it get a little stiff.   After the cement has set up, go crazy with decorating!  If you make a mistake, take out the offending material, smooth the cement and redo.  Let them sit, undisturbed, for three days to a week.  After the first day of drying, sprinkle them with water every day (it makes the cement harder).  Once dry, pop out and enjoy!  Take that, fancy garden store.  I don't need your stinking designer stones.

Tips:  I did this outside.  It really helped with clean up factor.  I also put the molds on a piece of wood, so I could transport them to where their final drying place would be.  Since I live in the Pacific Northwest, and it rains a lot here, I didn't need to wet them down.  I mean, it's concrete, it's meant for being outside and getting rained on.    The concrete comes in 80 lb bags and since I'm carrying an infant most times, I got someone to help me get it in the car (and cart).  Also, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!  Even with gloves on, my hands got really dry (due to the concrete).  I used nitrile gloves, next time, I will use thicker dishwashing gloves.  Make sure to wash little hands after decorating, because, if left on too long, it can burn.  We spent about 20 mins decorating before we washed up and had no problems.  Also, they mostly pushed the marbles in, so they really didn't touch the cement much.

Have fun!