Friday, July 27, 2007

Crosstitch Onesie



This is the onesie I was talking about before, that I made about 11 years ago when I was pregnant with kid #2. To do this you need special crosstitch canvas that you attach to the clothing, or fabric or whatever you're using. Then you stitch through both layers, and when you're done, you soak it and the canvas stuff dissolves. Then you have the little crosstitch design left on the fabric. I'm happy I still have this little hand me down to pass on to baby sister. I was planning to maybe make a few more, but that didn't quite happen yet. I've done a lot of things on my list, but not all of them. Like, I started a new quilt wall hanging- a pretty small one- last weekend, but I don't think that's going to get finished before the baby comes. Not that I'll never be able to make anything after the baby is born, but I just know from prior experience that it will be a while! I did get my most dreaded job done yesterday- cleaning out my disgusting refrigerator. Seriously, it was bad, and I had to take apart the entire thing and scrub it forever. It took me almost three hours, and I was seriously sore afterwards and had to lay down for a few hours. Ugh. Now that that's done I feel ok about going into labor anytime now. And today I got all the bills paid and stocked up on food, and cleaned the whole house. Do you hear that baby, we're all ready for you! Hopefully there will be some good news soon!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Upside-Down Berry Cornmeal Cake



This cake was on the cover of my Better Homes and Garden magazine I just got the other day. Late last night I decided to try it out and it was really good! I love fruit desserts, and cakes that aren't as sweet. You can use any berries but I used blueberries and strawberries-yum. It came out of the oven and I iced it, cut a slice and took a bite and realized that I had forgotten to take the wax paper off the the cake! I took my husband's piece back into the kitchen, removed the paper and re-iced it and it was fine. I was trying to hide that mistake from my husband because he still likes to tease me about the Christmas Eve- like 12 years ago- that I forgot to take the plastic wrap off of the rolls before I baked them. It took us a minute to figure out why they were so shiny when they came out of the oven! Luckily we didn't eat any of the rolls with melted plastic, and I doubt the little piece of wax paper I ate last night could really hurt me. Other than that, it was a quick, easy and yummy cake that makes a good breakfast too!

2 1/2 C berries
1 & 1/3 C flour
1/2 C yellow cornmeal
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 C sugar
2/3 C milk
1/3 C oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8-in round cake pan, line bottom with parchment paper (I use wax), grease. Arrange 2 C berries in bottom of pan, set aside. In a bowl stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt. In another bowl whisk eggs, sugar, milk, oil. Add egg mix all at once to flour mixture, and stir until combined. Pour evenly over berries. Bake 40-45 min or until pick in center comes out clean. Cook in pan 5 min, run knife around edge of pan to loosen sides. Invert onto plate. REMOVE PARCHMENT! Top with glaze of 1/3 C powdered sugar, 2 t milk, and 1 t lemon juice, and some extra berries if you want. Tases especially good warm.

Our Little Visitor



The other day my friend Ellen blogged that she had seen a racoon in her parking lot. I wrote her back that we have had some living in our big oak tree in the backyard, a mother and a baby. The other day my husband got these pictures of the baby with our telephoto lens. My kids get all excited when they see him because they think he's cute. He is kind of cute, although when he's older and tearing apart our trash cans I know he won't seem so cute! Last night around midnight we heard something screeching and wondered if it was a couple of the adults. Anyway, for now at least it is fun to have a little nature show going on in our backyard.

Webkinz



My kids have joined the Webkinz craze. Why couldn't I have been the one to think up that idea, I'd be a millionaire! The basic premise is that you get a stuffed animal and then register it online, and then you play with it in it's own little virtual world. My kids' Webkinz have nicer houses than we do, watch cooking shows on tv, earn money and buy things for their houses. There's all sorts of other things they can do, and they can even interactively visit eachother at their houses if they are both online on different computers. So far the two middle boys have them, and of course the little guy wants one for his birthday coming up.
I should have known they would get big around here because they have always been stuffed animal lovers, one of them has collected beanie babies since he was two, and they still play with beanie babies a lot. Overall, I don't think it's a bad thing except now they want to be on the computer even longer everyday. Here is a picture they took of their Webkinz. My kids have always had a weird thing about photographing their toys!

The Book

They went to get it Friday night after midnight. My oldest son was up until 4:30 AM reading, read all day and finished early Sunday morning! My husband finished early Monday morning, and my eleven-year-old and I are sharing it! I can have it in the morning while he is off at art camp and he gets it when he gets home. So far I've read just over 100 pp. Unlike the other two, I don't really want to rush through it. Since it's the last one I'd rather take my time and savor it a little. I don't know what we'll do without new books around here. It has always been such convenient timing for us because both the books and movies tend to come out around my oldest son's birthday so it has been fun to incorporate it into our bday celebrations. A great summer tradition!

Friday, July 20, 2007

My Family



I thought I'd share one of my favorite family pictures, since it's about to become out of date. Actually, it already is out of date since I don't exactly look like this picture at the moment! I love the way that I am totally surrounded by a bunch of handsome guys in this picture. I won't be the only girl for much longer!
I am sitting here feeling hot and sweaty despite the A/C reading 74 degrees, while the rest of my family huddles on the couch with blankets and sweatpants on. My kids are like, "Mama, why is it so cold in here?!" 18 days and counting.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Big-Footed Bunny





Here is the other Wee Wonderfuls project, the big-footed bunny. I just love Hillary Lang's whimsical and fun style. You can check out her blog on typepad to see more of the cuteness. This bunny was a little easier and went together faster than the doll did, or maybe it was that we were more experienced after figuring out the doll. I didn't really plan to have her match the baby quilt, but I realized the green I picked was the same so I used a piece of fabric from the baby quilt for the bunny's dress. Here's the bunny hanging out in baby sister's bassinet anxiously waiting for her arrival- just like all the rest of us!
Oh, and here is a picture of the adorable quilt my friend Kristin made for the baby. I just love it!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

What a Doll




I got together with my friend and sewing buddy Kristin this week to make some Wee Wonderfuls patterns by Hillary Lang that I've been wanting to try for a while. This is the "Olive" pattern from the make-a-long story series. You can download the pattern from the Wee Wonderfuls website. She was a little tricky but fun to do and I think she turned out so darling! Here she is posing on my vintage 1970's Holly Hobbie high chair that I had when I was little. I wish we still had the matching doll crib but I think it broke. It was cool because the sides actually came up and down just like a real crib.
I think I was over at Kristin's for about 6 hours, about twice as long as I was thinking it would take. Then I came home and spent another few hours finishing up the details like the face, bow, collar and stuffing. The tricky parts were the arms and getting the legs on the bottom, since you made and stuffed the limbs first and then had to fit them in the seams.
Her face and hair and hands and legs are wool felt and the rest is just regular cotton. I'm totally in love with her dress fabric and need to get some more of it before it's gone. I think it would make a cute baby or little girl dress too. We did another project a couple of days later that I will finish up and post a picture of soon. These are the kind of things you can get done when your kids are at camp all day for a week!

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Stuffed Menagerie






One day last week I woke up super early and decided to try a few projects I've had in my "to do" folder for quite a while, and here is the result. These are all free patterns from different craft blogs, and were all fairly easy to make, esp the bunnies. I had one baby hand me down outfit that had a really bad blue stain down the front, so I cut it up and used it to make the bunnies, with just a little bit of pink and white cotton embellishment. The pattern can be found on Betz White's blog under "cashmere bunnies tutorial." These bunnies are sooo soft. My only suggestion is to put the ears next to eachother, not side by side as in the directions. I think my first bunny looks a little weird from the front with lopsided ears. Oh, and also, use the nicer supersoft batting. It's a little more expensive but better than the stiffer polyester stuff. I like it much more for stuffed toys. I may take the eyes off one of the bunnies when baby is a little older so she can hold it and chew on it!
The scottie dog can be found on the "Allsorts" craft blog, sometime last fall. You just have to scroll down, I think in her Oct. archives and find the post with the pattern on it. She doesn't really give instructions, but if you have the lamb instructions just use those, minus the part about the ears. I just love this girlie little scottie dog!
The lamb is from Vicki at "Turkeyfeathers," one of my all-time favorite blogs to read. I love her style and projects. If you go to the site, click on "Patternbee," which is the link to her vintage pattern business, then go into free patterns and it is in there, called "little lambkin". It is a vintage reproduction pattern and I love how it is so old-fashioned looking. This lambie is made from white wool felt and a little cotton for the accents. You could make the whole thing with cotton too if you wanted to. All these projects were fun and quick to make, and are great nursery decorations! Not that I have a nursery at the moment, but I'm trying to give one corner of our room a bit of a baby look. We've got a bassinet set up, now we just need a baby to put in it. I had my ultrasound Wed and got to see for myself that this baby is definitely a girl, and most likely a big one at that! Of course they can only estimate, but I'd say we're looking at a 9-lb baby- at least. She looked pretty cute in there, sucking on her hand while she got her picture taken. Just a few weeks to go!

p.s. If you can't find any of the links, just let me know and I will post the exact website link in comments. I think if you search for any of these blogs they will come up though.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Stars and Stripes






Happy Independence Day! In a couple of hours we are headed off to friends' for a bbq and then down to the Cambridge side of the Charles River to watch the fireworks tonight. The bigger boys went out fishing in kayaks early this morning with Dad and Grandpa, and didn't have any luck with fish but dug up a whole bunch of clams. My oldest son earned $5 from Grandpa for eating a sea worm. Aren't boys fun?!!

I got a bee in my bonnet to make a 4th of July quilt about a week and a half ago, mainly because I don't have many patriotic decorations, and I love Americana style. I've been collecting this fabric for the last year at least, I always buy a little when I see cute new patriotic fabric, especially with star motifs. Most of this fabric is from Joann's. It's just simple 3" strips sewn together, the width is about 44" and it is probably 60-something" long. Not very big because who needs a big heavy quilt in July? Then I quilted it on either side of the seam so a little more of the contrasting thread would show on the front of the quilt, and it would have double stripes on the dark backing fabric. It's kind of my standard baby quilt style. I guess I should branch out and try some new and more complicated patterns, but this one is really easy and quick, and I thought it was kind of suggestive of a flag with the horizontal stripes.
I finished hand sewing the binding on last night, just in time for the fourth, but I'll probably leave it out all summer, and then maybe even in one of the boys' room to go with the big red, white and blue denim patchwork quilt I made for one of their beds last year.
I also made these pillows out of some of our former t-shirts from years past that weren't really being worn anymore, and they are nice and cozy and soft. I love to recycle things and thought this would be a good way reuse these t-shirts instead of just donating them- because really who actually wants someone else's old mangy t-shirt anyway? I also saw a really cute idea on someone's blog for little rag rugs crocheted out of old t-shirts that I'd like to try sometime. She was using them for bathmats which is a great idea. What I need to do is learn how to put in a zipper so I can just make a bunch of different covers for different seasons and not have to buy so many pillow forms which take up a lot of storage space when they aren't being used.
And finally, looking ahead to next year, I just couldn't resist this adorable dress that I found at the Carter's outlet the other day! At 70% off it was quite a bargain and I love the classic style. It will be fun when I can start posting pictures of baby clothes with an actual baby in them!

Hope you have a great day!

Awesome Art



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My 8-year-old son is really into art, here are some of his great creations from school and his after school art class he took this spring. They studied famous artists and their styles and did projects based on what they learned. It was really cool to have him come home and tell about how they studied "Picasso and cubism" and see his version of each style. He really retained an amazing amount of knowledge about art and the artist's biographies. This is a kid who is constantly making stuff-raiding the recycle bin to make all kinds of creations with glue, tape, glitter, pipe cleaners, and whatever else he can find. He also likes to sew stuffed animals and things out of fabric and felt.
It's really fun to watch your kids grow up and see how unique their interests and talents are. Before I had kids I thought of the job of parent as more of a molding process, where you took a blank slate and kind of turned it into what you wanted it to be. In my vast experience these last 14 years (ha ha!) I've realized instead that they pretty much come as they are with personality and interests firmly intact from birth. You pretty much just watch them unfold and guide them along the way to become the best version of who they already are. That's not to say that parenting and love and all of that isn't important or influential, especially with behavior. However, in my opinion you're not really going to change the basic person much. You can read all the parenting and psychology books you want, but you're not really going to know how to parent your own child until you actually do it, and you definitely can't treat them all exactly the same.
To me, it is kind of the proof of the before-life. My kids had definitely been around for a long time before they came to me! I could tell that the minute they each looked up at me in the delivery room with those big, wise newborn eyes. Kind of like they were thinking, "So you're the one who got the job, too bad you don't know as much as I know right now!" Then I guess they forget a lot of what they come with. Too bad they can't talk right away, they'd have some pretty amazing things to tell us I'm sure. They do inherit certain things from us, but they are all so different from eachother (the first two of mine pretty much total opposites in personality), and some of our kids are really nothing like my husband and I that it's definitely not all just genetics. It will be fun to see what this new little one is like, it's sure to be a very different experience with a girl.
Well, there's my deep thought of the day. Just call me your friendly neighborhood Mom guru (not!).

8th Grade Graduation





A couple of weeks ago we attended our third and final graduation for this year. We now have an almost 14-year-old who is off to High School this fall, which means that we are officially old!! Here he is in his JRR Tolkien costume that he wore for his big 8th grade biography project, and with his 8th grade diploma. He's a great kid who has been on honor roll every semester this year. He's also a great help to me, I honestly don't know what I would do without him!