Friday, January 28, 2011

Lack of Margaret making you twitchy?

I know my Mom's been having withdrawals.  Here's a few of the little puddin' today:

Margaret loves her new slippers.  She proudly stomps around in them all day.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Craft Room Update

I mentioned in my craft room tour that I'd soon be needing some new shelving units to house my ever-expanding stash of fabrics and works in progress. Add in my newly-acquired knitting and needle felting supplies, and I was being overrun by supplies with no place to put them. Well, I finally got the storage I needed. Having more space to organize these things has made crafting so much easier.



The new fabric-housing bookcase left the old one empty, so I moved my works in progress onto it.



It's amazing what the proper storage pieces can do for a room.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Waldorf-Inspired Toys

This week I've been working on some Waldorf style toys for Margaret. I made two ribbon streamer rings, just sort of experimenting with different ways to attach the ribbons. I'll give her the rainbow one for Valentine's day and the pastel one for Easter, I think. I also made her a fabric scrap bag. She loves to play with my fabrics in the craft room, so I thought I'd give her some of her own. I think this will be an Easter gift.

Rainbow Streamer

I made this one by cutting 1 yard of each color ribbon (and a few strands of white) and stitching them onto the ring.  The stitching allows the ribbons to be loose enough to slide freely around the ring.  I used a reed purse handle from Joann's for the ring. If I were to make one of these to sell or for a gift, I'd match my thread to the ribbons. As this one was more just a bit of an experiment, I didn't bother.

Pastel Streamer

I made this one by looping the ribbon over the ring and through itself (someone help me out on what this type of knot is called - I'm drawing a blank), then I secured the knots with a dot of fabric glue.  They are attached more tightly than the stitched ribbons, so they stay in place on the ring.  This technique made the ribbons shorter than the previous one, which would make the toy more suitable for a younger child.  Again, I used a reed handle for the ring.

Fabric Scrap Bag

This project was fun and ridiculously easy. I just cut different sizes of a number of fabrics from my stash. I tried to find as many different textures and colors as possible. The felt, flannel, and fleece, I left with raw edges. I bound the edges of the cottons with bias tape. I made a few fabrics double-sided by stitching two with right sides together, turning and top-stitching. I made a running stitch around the edge of the burlap to prevent it from fraying. I also threw in some scraps of trim and lace I had laying around.

I can't wait to see what these fabric become over time. Doll blankets, scarves and capes, playscapes...

I made the bag to hold all the scraps out of fabric I had left over from a table cloth. The ties are straps from an old dress.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Self-Sufficiency: Week Two Update

I'm a little late posting my update this week because of this:

Margaret bashed her face on the concrete on Monday, and she's needed plenty of attention and cuddles since then.

So, week two is complete. This week I made:

A dress from an old childen's XL t-shirt. (Yes, I agree the huge neon words are slightly tacky, but it's what I had on hand, and it'll make a fine play dress.  Besides, we must compensate for all the "Daddy's Girl" items she's so frequently sent. ;) )

This was a simple and fun project. I laid a sleeveless dress of Margaret's on the middle of the XL shirt, matching the collars together, and traced around it. I took the shirt in on the sides and cut out the sleeve holes (I didn't even have to finish them off, because the stretchy fabric rolls rather than fraying). Then I opened up the shoulder seams and tied the new straps together to shorten them. This shirt had a faux tank strap beside one of the sleeves, so I took it up slightly to make it the same length as the new straps.

On the baking front, I made whole wheat bread, pizza crust, and English muffins.

While the wheat bread was very tasty and we always love that pizza crust recipe (we make it with a mix of white and wheat flour and add some rosemary to the dough), the English muffins were the real stars this week.

Good thing, too, because they were a pain to make. January's baking challenges are doing nothing to endear me to the art, and the English muffins were much more work than this kitchen grump cares for. They taste great, though.

I don't own a biscuit cutter, so I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Kind of cute, no?

Whew, halfway there.


Wordless Wednesday: Margaret's New "Baby"

A large, friendly dog spends most of her days playing with the horses in the pasture behind our house. Whenever Margaret sees her, she says "Awww!" and signs "baby."


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Margaret's Valentine's Outfit

I found some sweet little rose-covered tights for Margaret at, of all places, Wal-Mart last week. They were inexpensive, and I thought they'd be cute for Valentine's Day. I picked up a hot pink shirt to go with them, and I figured she could wear it all with magenta corduroy skirt she already has.

I wanted the Valentine's shirt to be deliciously gaudy (as everything Valentine's Day should be) so I cut out a loud rose from some fabric I had on hand, tossed it on some magenta net to tie it in to the skirt, and sprinkled on some buttons and a crocheted flower. I stitched around all the elements in black thread to mimic the outline of the rose.

I also made her a simple korker bow to go along with it.

Korkers are so easy to make. I just wrapped some grosgrain ribbon around a pencil, tied the ends with thread to keep the ribbon in place, spritzed it with water then spray starch, and popped it in the oven at 225 F for about 20 minutes.

Once the ribbon was curled, I cut lengths of it and hot glued it to a hair clip. I also added some white tulle loops for... I don't know, kitsch. You can use more ribbon lengths than I did for a fuller bow. (I used about 2 pencils worth here. I like it a little daintier than the typical korker style seems to be.) When I had it assembled how I wanted, I sprayed it with starch again and hung it upside-down to dry.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Edible Garden Planning

It's time for me to start mentally planning this year's edible garden.

I took a moment yesterday to map out a garden plan for our backyard.

It's not properly scaled and doesn't include the right half of our yard which is just a lot of grass, but it's helped me visualize where all the food is going to go.

The tan area is all mulched.  We'd like to leave it as open as possible as a space for the kids to run, so we're just tucking some blackberry bushes along the side.  I'm hoping the shade tree and fruit trees will help lend the area a bit of shade, as it receives full sun almost all day long.

The dark brown on the bottom left is our side yard, where the vegetables will go.  The area is surrounded on three sides by cinderblock walls and our house.  The entrance will be fenced off with a picket fence (if we ever get around to putting the darned thing up.)  Hopefully, that will help deter the quail and rabbits from snacking too earnestly.  We'll probably have to tie some ribbons and foil onto it as well, and maybe even back it with net.

The two white squares are our raised beds. They have screened covers, which I can close during the hottest parts of the day (it's not easy getting things to grow in our scorching desert sun) and overnight to keep the neighbor's blasted cat out of them (meanest cat you'll ever meet).

The herb garden will be in the little bed running the length of our patio.  This'll make it easier to pop out for a cutting whenever I need one.  We're going with just our 5 favorite herbs this year, focusing on quantity over variety.  I hope to have enough lavender to dry for tea to get me through the winter.

Our back fence is chain link and looks out onto a small horse pasture.  I don't want to cover it entirely, as we love to interact with the horses (they come right up to the fence to eat apples from our hands), but I want to provide a bit more privacy from the road to the left, so we're adding sunflowers to the honeysuckle and jasmine already planted along that portion of the fence.  It's a trick finding plants that will grow nice and tall without enticing the horses to nibble too much.  Fortunately, sunflowers are cheap and hardy (just like me - ba-dum-bump!), so we can afford to lose them if the horses need a snack.

Have you begun planning your spring garden yet?  Anything you're particularly excited about?  I'm most eager for the blackberry bushes.  I hope they thrive.  Mmm, I love blackberries.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Needle Felted Dolls - Greek Muses

Meet Clio, Muse of History (holding her signature scroll):

Terpsichore, Muse of Dance (holding her lyre):

And Urania, Muse of Astronomy (holding her celestial globe):