Wednesday, December 31, 2014

And a happy Christmas!

Christmas 2014

This year I set aside one day, the 23rd, for our family Christmas at home, and it was really one of the most fun Christmas celebrations that I can remember. Douglas and I have alternated spending Christmases with his family or mine every year since we were married, which has been wonderful. But as more children have been added unto us, I've craved a bit of time for our own family traditions, and togetherness with our own little family of five. Last year, after Christmas was over, I decided that this year I would just set aside a day to be our family Christmas, and I think it worked out nicely. We still had plenty of time to enjoy with my family and Douglas', but it was special to have time just to ourselves, too.

Christmas 2014

We woke up to a gentle snowfall, which was a simply lovely blessing on the day. We had a leisurely morning of opening stockings and gifts, and then a brunch of scrambled eggs and sausage patties. The kids enjoyed their toys and we cleaned up all the wrappings after eating, then put the youngest two children down for a nap while Edmund was permitted to continue playing with his new things. This was the first year he really wanted a specific toy. He had seen someone played with a radio-controlled helicopter while on a walk this summer, and he remembered that and kept talking about "an airplane that can go on its own." Well, thanks to my parents, his wish came true -- Mom found an inexpensive helicopter on Amazon. We were pretty sure it wouldn't last long in the hands of a five-year-old (it's recommended for ages 14+), and we were right -- but he had such fun playing with it while it lasted!

Christmas 2014

After naps, we went for a cold walk in the wild (or as close to it as we can get around here), then came home to a dinner of cheese fondue. I have not made that in such a long time, and I wasn't sure if the kids would like the more "grown-up" tasting cheese, but they did! I had planned on serving eggnog for the kids and mulled wine for me and Douglas, but I was so tired I ended up falling asleep at 7:30pm. Thankfully, Douglas put the little ones to bed, so we were all able to get some much-needed rest after a happy day of celebration.

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. - I John 1:5

Friday, December 12, 2014

Evening light on fruit

Christmas fruit
[not a dirty mirror with those specks, just a 100-year-old one!]

I have found that a cheap and easy way to decorate for Christmas is to use mostly natural objects... extra greenery cut from our tree, pinecones, dehydrated citrus slices, and a bowl of seasonal fruit. I set this basket, lined with a green plaid scarf, out on the sideboard of our built-in china cabinet, and filled it with apples, pears, pomegranates, grapefruit, oranges, and clementines. The amount and type of fruit varies as we eat our way through it, but it makes a festive focal point out of something we have on hand, anyway!

Friday, December 5, 2014

December whirling in

There's a prevailing thought that you shouldn't even THINK about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but I have come to realize that when you are a homemaker in charge of decorating and festivities, that attitude is Bunk. Hopefully each year I will do better, but I often end up scrambling around, trying to get things pulled together post-Thanksgiving (or whenever we return from our travels -- this year, it was Nov. 30).

Christmas stockings

At least in one area, I am way ahead of the game -- stockings. I've been wanting to pull together some coordinated family stockings, but as is typical, I couldn't find anything store-bought that I really liked. So last August, I finally made some! Yes, August. I did NOT want to be doing Christmas sewing in December.

Christmas stockings

I used quilting cottons from Moda's "Lumiere de Noel" line by French General, which is a few years old and very hard to find. I finally found some yardage from a few small online quilting shops. I don't know how many more stockings we may need in future for more children, so I ordered some extra prints just in case! I have stripes and plaids for boys and florals for girls.

Christmas stockings

I made up my own pattern, which is just a simple and classic stocking shape, with a cuff for names. The stockings are lined with an off-white twill and the cuffs are made from a linen-like cotton, both from Walmart, of all places. I hand-embroidered the names onto the cuffs, using an alphabet lifted from one of my English embroidery books (it is copied from an alphabet on a sampler made by one of the Brontë sisters). The "linen" wasn't quite fine enough to do counted cross-stitch, so I traced each name onto freezer paper, centered and ironed it onto each cuff, and then embroidered over my guide. After 1/2 of the cross stitch was done (all the stitches on one diagonal), I carefully tore away the freezer paper with my fingers and tweezers, then finished the cross-stitches.

Christmas stockings

I really love the way they turned out, and I am THRILLED to have them done before the Christmas season started! They definitely pass my home decor test: "Is this something that would be found in an English country home?" ;-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Birthday boy

birthday cake!

Before November becomes a distant memory, let me make mention of Edmund's 5th birthday! This year, his birthday fell on the day before Thanksgiving. We traveled cross-country to be with my brother and his family for the holiday, so it was special for Edmund to be in a new place and with a special playmate (his cousin) for the day. I had thought we might go out to a bounce house or gym in the Big City for a special treat, but the kids were having so much fun just playing at home, we scrapped that plan. Why add to the stress of bundling everyone out the door on the day before a big holiday when the birthday boy just wants to play at home?

Edmund requested the same cake from last year -- Hershey's "Especially Dark" Chocolate Cake topped with "Especially Dark" frosting and raspberries. I accidentally made the frosting a bit thin, so it's not sticking as well as it should in this picture. This year he wanted a "helicopter cake" so my mom found a little toy helicopter to put inside a landing pad of raspberries and candles. This cake is rich! But oh so yummy when served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to give a little extra sweetness to the dark chocolate.

birthday cake!
[Edmund in his new special PJs from great-grandma]

Friday, November 14, 2014

Notes from a novice quilter

Last month, I finished up my first twin-sized quilt! Here it is in all its wonky glory:

Scrap quilt

This is a scrap quilt in the truest sense of the word. Honest-to-goodness scraps, recycled -- some old shirts of Douglas' and my dad's, an old pillowcase, sewing project scraps, etc. It was backed with an old sheet. The only thing I paid for was the batting, which I think was about six bucks at Walmart.

This was a "learn by experience" project for me, so I didn't want to spend a lot of money on it. I'm quite comfortable in the realm of garment sewing, but quilting is a whole different world. I had to Google a lot of things as I went along. :) I'm writing down some things I learned, for any other complete novices out there reading this. (And if you are more experienced and see a correction or addition that needs to be made to my list, please let me know in the comments!)
  • Use a rotary cutter as much as possible. Don't cut out your squares or shapes by hand if you can use a rotary cutter instead!
  • When you are piecing your quilt top, set your stitch length a little smaller. I set mine at 2.
  • Utilize chain piecing.
  • No need to press seams open. Press them to one side or the other.
  • I hand-basted this quilt together using a plain ol' needle and thread, because I was using what I had, but it was fairly time-consuming and cumbersome. Next time I would probably spring for some basting spray -- I haven't used any before, but I'm guessing it would be easier and faster.
  • When quilting with my walking foot, I set my stitch length a bit longer, at 3.
  • I decided to "stitch in the ditch" because I thought that it would be easy. Nope. It's actually pretty tricky!
  • I used this method to machine bind my quilt. It was adequate, but there were some spots on the back that didn't get "caught" by the stitching. Perhaps I should have pinned more. I wonder if using basting tape would help? I just couldn't face all that hand-stitching!
  • Last but not least... quilting takes a long time. It is a big project. Only embark on a quilt if you love the fabrics and design (even though I usually love scrap quilts, I am pretty "meh" about this one).
Right now, the quilt is on Edmund's bed, as he really needed a warm quilt! It's serving its purpose. I told the kids they can drag it around, make tents with it, etc. I don't mind if it gets dirty and well-used. Now that I've got a little experience under my belt, I have some more ideas and plan to make two more twin-sized quilts for the big kids. Looking forward to learning more as I go along!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A flatcap for Edmund

I recently ordered Sew Liberated's "Huck Finn" Cap pattern and had a chance to make it up for Edmund with some wool left over from an early sewing project. I've long had a penchant for flatcaps, but I've never made one myself or even examined a store-bought one closely, so I had no idea how they were put together. It was interesting to learn!


Have I mentioned how much I love sewing with wool? It is by far my favorite fabric. It does exactly what I want when I'm pressing and pinning! I love the look and feel, too. The fabric that I used is very, very soft; not scratchy at all. The weave is a mixture of brown and gray, so the look of the fabric is nicely neutral. I used coordinating left over polyester lining fabric for the lining.


The pattern went together fairly well, although I had a few head-scratching moments. I'm still a little puzzled about the sweatband -- the pattern calls for it to be cut on the bias, presumably so that it can be eased around the circular hat, but then the interfacing applied to the sweatband effectively prevents any "easing" from happening. I looked at the interior of a vintage 1920s flatcap that belonged to my great-great uncle and the sweatband does look more tidy. The vintage cap also had a stabilizer under the sweatband, but it looked almost more like a stretchy buckram. I'm sure there's something better than modern fusible interfacing that I could use next time, but I don't know what that would be. :) Ah well, as the problem is mostly just aesthetic, and is hidden whenever the cap is worn, I won't worry about it too much.


I wasn't sure if Edmund would like the cap or want to wear it very much, but so far he's been wearing it pretty much nonstop! It helps that he likes to pretend to be "Luther" (flatcap-wearing mouse from the "Theo" series). He's been very careful not to lose the hat and at bedtime, he put it on his bed so that he will know right where it is tomorrow morning. I love that he loves it!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mason & Hamlin

Mason & Hamlin

Our piano-less home now has a piano again... Douglas has a beautiful black Kawai grand piano that he bought in his single days, but it resides at his studio. I've missed hearing him play when he's at home. We found this FREE 1922 Mason & Hamlin upright piano on Craigslist in a town nearby, just the brand and year that Douglas wanted (he was looking for pre-1929, when the company merged with Aeolian and subsequently went down in quality). Isn't God good? We're getting it tuned later this week. I can't wait to start up the home concerts again!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

And we're off!

[first day of school]

Just like that, we started our "official" homeschooling at the beginning of the month. I'm doing three subjects with Edmund right now -- Bible, reading/phonics, and math/numbers. For Bible, we read a chapter each day, work on memorizing one verse each week, and learn a new hymn or psalm each month (Lavinia does this with us and enjoys it, too). For reading, I am using "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" and reading various books aloud, as time permits (right now we are on "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder, having already finished the first two books in the series earlier in the year). I haven't quite gotten my act together for math yet (planning to order a workbook at some point), but I've had him do some counting and sorting activities and practice writing numbers.

He thinks it is all simply wonderful.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Purple bunting

Purple bunting

I made this bunting out of purple fabric scraps as a decoration for Lavinia's birthday last May. I just now got around to hanging it up in her bedroom (we switched rooms with her and Rosie this summer), along with a few other wall decorations. Her toddler reaction when she saw her room: "This is amazing!!" A good reminder to me, don't waste time feeling bad that my kids' bedrooms aren't Pinterest-perfect... just decorate them with a mother's love and they will be so happy.

To make the bunting, I cut out fourteen triangles (two of each fabric that I had) and backed them with a similar color. Sewed right sides together, clipped and turned right side out, then edge-stitched. I centered the triangles, tucked the raw edges up inside the (pre-made) bias tape and sewed it shut -- easy peasy!

That lavender eyelet in the foreground of the picture is left over from the birthday dress my mom made for me when I turned six.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Day at the Museum

A Day at the Museum

There's something for everyone at the museum.

A Day at the Museum

A cozy, old-fashioned quilt on an iron bed...

A Day at the Museum

I always notice a pretty teapot....

A Day at the Museum

Lavinia loves the little playhouse. Here she is enjoying some "grapes" at table...

A Day at the Museum

...and tucking the dolly into bed after reading her a story.

A Day at the Museum

A Day at the Museum

An apple tree for Edmund to climb, and outdoor swings and games to "give him energy," as he says.

A Day at the Museum

Even Rosie enjoyed the outing.

A Day at the Museum

Next time, we'll come back with a picnic.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Around the house


Is summer the universal time to work on house projects? We've been more productive since the weather has turned warmer. Douglas recently finished up building two handsome wooden bookcases for our living room. When we were first married, we bought some cheap shelves from Target, but they basically fell apart after five years of use and three moves. I'm so happy to have space for all our books now! With these bookcases, plus the built-in bookcases in our mantel, there's room for everything, and it helps give the living room a library-ish atmosphere.

When I visit other people's houses, I like to (not-so-surreptitiously) check out their books, if they're in a public area, that is. :) It's fun to see if we've read any of the same books or share the same loves. Anyone else do that?

Douglas and I spent the afternoon of my birthday prepping our bedroom to move into later that night. We've been working on fixing up that room -- priming, painting, pulling up carpet, new cellular blinds, installing quarter round. It's looking SO much better, although it still needs some decorative touches before it really becomes our sanctuary.

Now the girls will eventually end up in the bedroom that Douglas and I just evacuated. It has a built-in wooden vanity with lots of drawers and two cupboards, which works well for their small wardrobes. The first thing I did to beautify their room was to line their drawers with Crabtree & Evelyn drawer liners left over from my unmarried days... a rose print for Rosamund's drawers and a lavender print for Lavinia's drawers. Perfectly serendipitous! I'm still working on sorting through clothes, organizing and purging, and the girls' room has been my base of operations for all this. It's been a huge job, but oh, how I'm looking forward to having that off my mind!

drawer liners

drawer liners

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th!

Fourth of July 2014

Last night, the big boys had tank wars.

Fourth of July 2014

This morning, the kids rode in a parade at the park.

Fourth of July 2014

Then back to Grandma's for a picnic lunch.

Fourth of July 2014

I think Lavinia's meal consisted solely of a corn dog and strawberries.

Fourth of July 2014

Grandma has made this flag cake just about every Fourth of July since she was given the recipe, sometime in the '80s.

Fourth of July 2014

Happy Fourth of July from all of us (including Douglas, not pictured)!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Blue summer sundress

blue sundress

Well, I knew as soon as I publicly stated that I wasn't doing any sewing at this time, I'd get a chance to drag out my machine. :) I have done a few simple projects in the past few weeks. This little dress for Lavinia started as a new-with-tags maternity top at the thrift store. It was one of those things that I looked at and thought, "I could easily repurpose this by taking in the side seam and shortening the straps!" Of course, when I got home and examined it, it turned out a little more complex than that. I had to straighten the hem (not realizing that, as a maternity top, the front was longer than the back), take in the sides, cut off some of the elastic shirring at the top, and shorten the straps. The straps were already attached with buttons on one side, to allow for lengthening or shortening as needed, so I decided to keep that feature in the back. I'm not sure if we'll ever need to lengthen the straps, but if Lavinia mostly grows in height rather than width, she could probably wear it as a summer top for a few years yet.

blue sundress

This disheveled little lady spent a day enjoying the pleasures of summer -- playing with her brother, napping, and popsicle treats all took a toll on her pigtails, clean face, and ironed dress. But it's proof positive that she's enjoying summer to the max, and that's OK in my book! :)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cleaning the bathroom with little helpers

Here comes a confession. A few Fridays ago, before he left for work, my husband kindly asked me if I would make it a priority to clean the bathrooms that day. Now if Douglas was asking, you'll correctly surmise they weren't in a pretty state. I had neglected them for a long time, due to a lot of factors (hello, new baby). But it really was getting gross. So, I determined that I needed to stop procrastinating and get a system going that would make it easy for me to get the bathrooms clean on a regular basis.

Here's my problem: I want to train my kids to help around the house, to work hard and to appreciate cleanliness. However, it is slow, frustrating, patience-shattering work to train them, so I tend to put it off. Edmund is four and he can be genuinely helpful with certain tasks. Lavinia, who just turned two, not so much -- but I don't want to let her play elsewhere while Edmund works. We're all in this together. I gave it some thought and here's what I came up with to help me in my task.

Cleaning with little helpers

Before you start, ask God to give you His patience and cheerfulness. If at any time during the process you feel yourself losing it, stop and take a break for a minute. Pray, regain your good attitude, apologize to your kids if needed, and start again. Another good idea is to start the cleaning right after breakfast or after a mid-morning snack, so everyone's tummies are satisfied and there's no hunger-induced crankiness to add tension to the atmosphere. If you like, put on some calming music.

Write down, in minute detail, all the jobs needed to clean your bathroom(s). On my own, I am perfectly capable of cleaning a bathroom in logical order, knowing what to do next and keeping on pace. When I am overseeing two little helpers, my brain flies out the window. It is very helpful to me to have a list to consult so that I don't have to think about what task to do next. You could either put it in a homemaking binder, or laminate it and keep it with your bathroom-cleaning supplies. Mine looks like this:
  • put away toys, dirty clothes, throw towels/rugs down chute
  • dust surfaces (shelf, cupboard, window)
  • wipe down medicine cabinet shelves
  • organize drawers/shelves (if needed)
  • clean mirror
  • spray and wipe down sink, toilet, tub
  • clean inside of toilet
  • clean soap dish, replace soap if needed
  • empty trash
  • replace handtowels with clean ones
  • restock toilet paper, if needed
  • sweep and mop floor
  • wash floor rug, towels, and replace when clean
(That is my intensive cleaning list for our main floor bathroom. I also wrote an abridged one for maintenance.)

Gather all your cleaning supplies in one place. I put all the bathroom supplies in one bucket so that I can easily grab it and not have to spend time hunting up various cleaners or utensils from the far reaches of the house. Whatever your stance is on using "green" cleaning supplies, with little kids it is good to use some mild cleaners because I guarantee you will be hearing things like, "I just sprayed my eye!" I have a spray bottle of 50/50 vinegar water that I let the kids go to town with. I also have a shaker full of 50/50 salt/baking soda which is a good abrasive for scrubbing soap scum from sinks and tubs. Cleaning wipes are very handy and if you don't want your kids handling store-bought ones, make your own.

Demonstrate and delegate. As far as the actual cleaning, there are two approaches you can use and they both have their places. The first is to do the work very slowly, alongside your kids, explaining and demonstrating what you are doing with each task as you go. This is good for the first couple of times you are training or for a deep clean. However, if it takes me 3+ hours every Friday morning to get the bathrooms clean, that is a serious bite into our time and I am more likely to not do it. So the other way is to delegate small tasks to your kids, and while they are occupied with that, do as much thorough cleaning as you can, as quickly as you can. In the time it takes Edmund and Lavinia to spray and wipe the bathtub, I could have the mirror, sink, and toilet clean, etc. This is good for maintenance.

Maintain. Fridays are our bathroom-cleaning days. However, the most heavily-trafficked bathroom (our main floor bathroom, which is also the kids' bathroom) can get messy and dirty in a hurry and start looking dreadful before another Friday rolls around (or you may have to skip a Friday from time to time, when other things come up). One good idea I gleaned from the book Large Family Logistics is to superficially clean and straighten up the bathroom while your little ones are playing in the bathtub during bath time. I will often take a used washcloth or a handtowel that's headed for the laundry basket, wet it with water, and just wipe down surfaces that have accumulated dirt or dust. Put away toothbrushes, toys, dirty clothes; pick up trash off the floor; straighten towels; even grab the broom if needed (our kids tend to track in sand from the sandbox).

Since implementing this system, I am a lot more dedicated to keeping the bathrooms clean and it is an easier job. If you have any more suggestions or great ideas, please leave them in the comments!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Spring in the Blue House

Life is flying by. I can't believe it's May already. My sweet Rosamund is now 3 months old, and we'll be celebrating Lavinia's second birthday next week!

People often ask me how I'm adjusting to life with three children. It's hard to know how to answer -- it's not like things were easy, and now they're hard. Having a baby has certainly added a different element to life, but it's no more or less demanding than it was before. I'm still caring for all the needs of my children and household, with some different needs thrown in now.

Baby Rosie - 3 months

Rosamund is actually a pretty "easy" baby in most ways, so she is fitting right in to the rhythm of our lives. She started sleeping all night long much sooner than my other two children, which is a great boon to me because if I ever needed good sleep, it's now! I didn't do anything special to try to encourage her to sleep through the night, she just started on her own. She just recently "discovered" her fingers and loves to suck on her middle two fingers, in a sort of inverse Vulcan hand salute. I like to think it's genetic because my dad says that's how he sucked on his fingers, too. At any rate, it's made her even more contented and happy.

Baby Rosie - 3 months

I have been working a very part-time editing job from home since a few weeks prior to Rosie's birth. I do my work in the early mornings, before the rest of the household is up, so I get Rosie up for a morning feeding, then she keeps me company while I work (falling back asleep somewhere in there). She is so happy and smiley in the mornings -- it's sweet to have that special time with my baby. The older kids wake up right around the time I finish and then we hit the ground running.

Baby Rosie - 3 months

If I'm completely honest, I feel pretty overwhelmed by it all. It is so easy for me to feel like a failure each day because I never accomplish everything I'd like to do. There are so many balls in the air -- cleaning the house, cooking meals, doing laundry, errands, bills, household projects, spending time with my children, spending time with my husband, nursing the baby, getting myself (and three other little people) dressed and presentable, exercising, reading, working, church activities, investing in friendships -- and I haven't even thrown homeschooling into the mix yet (eeeek!). It seems like I can do one or two of those things well, on any given day, but never ALL of them! I know that I'm deep in the trenches of motherhood right now and that things will change and perhaps not get easier, but they will be different, so I persevere as well as I can. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by encouraging voices from family and church family. And I'm always looking for ways to "double up" on those tasks, to get more done, which I may share about on the blog from time to time.

I have not felt like doing any sewing at all. Someday my enjoyment of it will return, I'm sure, but right now it just feels like one more thing on the "to do" list. So I'm giving myself permission to take a break for a while. Instead of sewing, I ordered matching dresses from Boden for my two girls to wear on Easter, and funnily enough, I got asked so many times, "Did you make them?" So why sew when you can fake it?! ;-)

Well, here I sit when there's breakfast to be made, children to be dressed, and a day to start -- until next time, friends!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

My grandmothers

I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful, godly mothers in my life -- not just my own mom, but my two grandmas and my mother-in-law as well! My grandmas both raised their families of four children in the 1950s -- Grandma Ackerman (mom's mom) started her family while serving as a missionary in Honduras, and Grandma Marilyn (dad's mom) while living with her Navy husband on the island of Guam. My parents are both the second-born children (just like me).

Grandma Ackerman is probably the most cheerful, most joyful lady I know. Her life is not without trials -- especially losing her beloved husband six years ago -- but I have seen her choosing joy in difficult circumstances. She is full of energy in showing kindness to others. A reputation that's developed over the years is one for good food and hospitality. Serving in the kitchen is one of her ways of showing love and I have many delicious recipes shared by her. Grandma Ackerman is friendly, kind-hearted, and generous.

[Glamorous Grandma A. in 1942]

[Grandma A. with her first two children]

Grandma Marilyn passed on to me her love of books and libraries. She has a taste for beautiful touches -- when she first met my mom, it was on a fancy family picnic complete with glass goblets! She is an artful decorator and flower arranger. She is adventurous, always mastering new technologies as they come (she had an iPhone before I did!). Grandma Marilyn was raised by a single mother who struggled with depression, but has not given in to complaining or bitterness about life's difficulties. She has a beautiful voice and I love to hear her singing.

[Grandma Marilyn with her firstborn son]

[Grandma Marilyn with my dad as a toddler]

I'm so thankful for these beautiful ladies who love God and faithfully proclaimed the Gospel to their children, so that I too could someday know my savior, Jesus Christ! Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations... Deuteronomy 7:9

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Saturday tea party

Tea party

Last Saturday, Edmund was "inspired" by a Tasha Tudor book I read aloud to the children and requested tea and cookies. I told him he could help me make some cookies while Lavinia was napping, and they could have a tea party after she woke up. I have been slowly converting my pantry to be Trim Healthy Mama-friendly (this is my post-partum weight loss strategy -- so far, so good!), which means no sugar in the house! I had coconut sugar and honey but I wanted to make some cookies that I could eat too. :) I did a quick Google search and we tweaked a recipe I found in the THM forums. Not all of the THM recipes I've tried have been "keepers" but these were so rich and yummy I would definitely make them again! I believe these would be considered an "S" dessert, despite the oatmeal, because the amount is so small (unless you eat them all in one sitting, tee hee).
  • 1/4 c. Truvia + sprinkles of NuNaturals Pure Stevia Extract to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup unsweetened, dried coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
In a heavy saucepan, bring to boil the sweetener, cocoa, butter and almond milk. Let boil for 1 minute then remove from heat and add peanut butter, vanilla, coconut flakes, and oatmeal. On a plate lined with waxed paper, drop mixture by teaspoonfuls, then stick in the fridge until cooled and hardened. Makes 1-1/2 dozen.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Irish Blessing

(Thanks to my mom for this delightful estate sale find!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Shannon's Banbury Cross Cardigan

I'm a little late in posting this thanks to a certain new addition at our house -- almost all of my free time goes toward napping or cleaning the house these days! But I wanted to draw your attention to Shannon's adorable version of the Banbury Cross Cardigan for her toddler son. I love the tweedy look of the sweater she used! Shannon was kind enough to give her thoughts on the pattern, along with the photos of her finished sweater, so head over to Thoughts and Thimbles and check out her post on A Little Something for a Little Man!

Friday, February 28, 2014

"Winter Skies" dress: Burda Kids 9503

Burda Kids 9503

I made this dress for Lavinia before Rosamund was born, but never got around to photographing it for the ol' blog. A few months ago, my mother-in-law visited an indie fabric store and asked if I was looking for anything specific. I requested cotton corduroy in soft colors for a winter dress for Lavinia, and she delivered! I got this pretty length of sky blue and I also have some light grey, perhaps to be made into something next winter. I used Burda Kids 9503 as a pattern and followed it pretty closely, only making a few changes (lengthening the dress to knee-length and making an elastic casing at the cuffs instead of sewing a cuff and placket).

Burda Kids 9503

The pattern itself is fine, but the instructions leave a little to be desired. I gather that Burda patterns are translated from German and they don't seem to be proofread very well! A few warnings if you want to attempt this pattern -- the bias binding for the neckline is way too short, as a few other reviewers have noted. Also, the button placket instructions are terrible. Unless you have done this sort of placket before, definitely practice on some scraps first! Otherwise, the dress goes together pretty intuitively.

Burda Kids 9503

For fun, I finished some of the inside seams with homemade bias binding, made from leftover scraps of softest blue dotted swiss.