Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Summer days

Long time, no post! We've had a busy and full summer and I just haven't made it a priority to sit down at the computer very much. To catch you up to speed on our summer...

summer days

Auntie Em came to live with us for nearly two months, much to the delight of everyone.

summer days

We took an unforeseen trip to New England -- and decided to drive there with all three kids! Our route took us through Canada, stopping at Niagara Falls, and took me to eight new states (having never been further northeast than Pennsylvania).

summer days

My favorite day out with the kids, while Douglas was occupied with a music workshop, was taking them to Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT. We love Raffi (at least his early albums, not so much the later ones) and his song "Baby Beluga." Edmund has been very interested in marine creatures this summer and the chance to see beluga whales up close was not to be missed!

Of sewing interest, I can now say I've visited Mood Fabrics in NYC and am the owner of some lovely Liberty of London cotton poplin as a result!

summer days

Back at home in the sewing room, I cut down this vintage full-size quilt to twin-size for Lavinia's bed. It was an old, worn quilt given to my mom by a friend of hers to use as a play mat for grandbabies. The binding was completely worn and there were some ragged holes around the edges, but I figured if I cut down the size a bit, it could still be usable. Since Lavinia has been in need of a quilt or comforter for her bed, my mom was glad to pass it on to us.

summer days

I found some matching lavender polka-dot cotton at Walmart and made my own binding, handstitching the back for strength. Yes, it took forever, but it looks nice and neat.

summer days
[First day of homeschool 2015!]

Most recently we've started up homeschool for the year. Edmund is in kindergarten now so everything feels a lot more official. I was kindly gifted some Sonlight curriculum from two friends, so we are using that for Bible, history, geography, read-aloud time, and science. I'm using Singapore Math workbooks for math, and making my own way with phonics/reading. For handwriting, I'm doing a bit of an experiment and we're using Cursive First -- we'll see how it goes! Edmund has really blossomed with his artwork this year and I love to see what he draws, too.

summer days

I had fun designing a coat-of-arms for our school in Adobe Illustrator. This binder is the key to my success this year, with everything planned out as much as possible! I'm thankful Sonlight does that for you, and it was easy to make up our own math schedule. For me to succeed as a homeschooling mom, I've realized I must have everything PLANNED OUT -- or else it won't get done!

If you're curious about our school name, Seekings School, it's a nod to my favorite children's books by John Masefield, The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights. (Seekings is the name of the house where Kay, the protagonist, lives.) But, of course, it has a delightful double meaning for seekers after knowledge and truth!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Birthday the 32nd

Another birthday has come and gone and I'm a year older. I love having my birthday in June -- I think it is the best month of the year to be born! It's always beautiful on my birthday!

roses (2)

Yesterday we took a day trip to celebrate my birthday, and I was so blessed to have so many of my beloved family along -- Douglas, the children, my sister-in-law, my parents, and grandmother all made it special! We ate lunch at a classy restaurant and then went to a nearby park with lots of attractions. A lookout tower to climb...




And a lake for paddling in. How fun are these swan boats? Reminds me of Make Way for Ducklings.


I attempted a selfie with Rosie while we were on the water. She was very dubious about wearing a lifejacket at first, but once we got going, she seemed to warm up to the idea of messing about in boats.


And there was a family of real swans!


I made myself a new sundress to wear on my birthday. It's been a long time since I've made a vintage-inspired dress to wear! This one was cobbled together from a vintage 80s pattern of my mom's and a basic sundress pattern of mine, and I drafted the 50s-inspired bodice details myself. The navy gingham came from Hobby Lobby. I have been pleasantly surprised by their fabric offerings lately! I think they are making an effort to cater to home apparel sewists (not just quilters and crafters), which I appreciate.



Then home for a lovely birthday dinner at my mom's. I always look forward to pink roses in June.


I feel very blessed indeed to have so much love showered on me on my birthday.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

UFO sighting

When I reorganized my sewing room at the beginning of the year, it allowed me to gather all my "sewing stuff" into one place and take stock of what I have. I found a number of UFOs (unfinished objects, in crafting parlance) that I either needed to finish or toss. This one dates back to the summer of 2013. The fabric is a cotton lawn from Fashion Fabrics Club that my kids gave me for my birthday, along with the fabric that became the first rendition of my "mama's favorite" maxi dress. I finally cut it out last summer, but the project stalled and I never got it finished, until recently.

blue ikat skirt

It is a pretty simple skirt, so I didn't use a pattern. The waistband is shirred elastic thread, and the skirt is lined to the ruffle with white rayon challis. The hemline is cut in a gentle high-low shape, my first foray into that trend (it's probably not trendy anymore, eh? I'm not really on top of things). It's actually a little big for me right now, since I've lost some weight since last summer -- it doesn't stay at my waist very well, which is where I'd like to wear it. However, I think this feature will make it a nice maternity and post-partum skirt.

blue ikat skirt

I've realized I've not shared a sewing project for myself since before Rosie was born! I hope that will change this summer -- along with my two other UFO skirts, I'd enjoy sewing up a new everyday dress or two for the summertime. What's in your summer project lineup?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Vintage Simplicity 3939: Seersucker

Seersucker sundress

Lavinia is getting to the age where she enjoys wearing dresses, so I'm happy to oblige by sewing up a few! I happened to have this vintage pattern in a size 3 in my stash, so I used some cotton seersucker (also from my stash) and whipped this up for her.

Seersucker sundress

The original pattern calls for tucks and rick-rack to add a little interest. I can't buy any rick-rack in soft, vintage colors locally, so I used the white rick-rack I had on hand. It doesn't "pop" very much, but adds a subtle touch of interest. I ended up taking out the bodice darts called for in the pattern -- I think it's pretty typical for a three-year-old's waist measurement to be the same as her chest! No shaping needed!

Seersucker sundress

Fifties dresses for girls are fairly short, and Lavinia is fairly tall, so I lengthened the skirt by three inches. I didn't actually have enough fabric to do this, so I made a faced hem out of some scrap fabric. This is exactly what it sounds like -- instead of folding the fashion fabric up into a hem, you create a facing as a hem. Since it's a straight skirt, I also used my machine to make a blind stitch hem. This is my favorite quick way to do hems on straight skirts!

Seersucker sundress

Vintage buttons down the back from the stash. Magnificent bridal wreath bush courtesy of my parents' yard.

Seersucker sundress

Happy girl. More made-by-mommy dresses are in your future, Lavinia!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rosie's "Milly-Molly-Mandy" dress

Milly-Molly-Mandy dress

I recently checked out The Big Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook from the library and it was a huge hit at our house. Edmund and Lavinia were both enthralled with the stories of Milly-Molly-Mandy's life in an English village, and I loved their gentleness and sweetness, too. They both begged me to read the stories over and over, until the book had to be returned. I plan to add some more Milly-Molly-Mandy books to our home library!

Milly-Molly-Mandy dress

In the wake of all this, one day at Walmart, I took a stroll down the fabric aisle as I sometimes do, and the kids immediately latched onto this pink and white striped cotton as "just like Milly-Molly-Mandy's dress!" The result was fairly inevitable -- I took home three yards and promised Lavinia a Milly-Molly-Mandy dress of her own. This is an "inspired-by" version rather than an exact copy of Milly-Molly-Mandy's signature dress, as the stripes are not as wide, and there are some differences in construction.

Milly-Molly-Mandy dress

So why, you ask, if the dress was promised to Lavinia, is Rosie wearing it? Well, I made up the pattern myself, and somehow my first bodice attempt was way too small on Lavinia, but thankfully it fit Rosie just right! And so she received the first dress and Lavinia will soon have a matching one. It is a very simple 1920s style, much like this wisteria and sunshine dress. I think it's sweet and an easy style to make!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pillows and decorating

I've been putting a bit of effort into our master bedroom lately, taking care of some things that have been on the to-do list for way too long. Clearing all the clutter out? Check. Hanging pictures? Check. (This is ordinarily an easy task, but made more procrastination-worthy when one's walls are made of concrete or some other similarly impenetrable material.) Replacing the inadequate and ugly tab curtains that were hung on our French door when we moved in? Check.

I'm still keeping a lookout through various channels for some needed items (most notably, two nightstands and a rug). After looking online for curtain rods and not finding what I need at cheaper stores and choking over the prices at nicer stores, I have decided to forgo curtains for now. We have very nice, new cellular blinds, so the curtains would really just be for effect (which is perhaps not needed in a Craftsman home, where windows are often bare). I can add fabric accents in other ways: throw blankets, bedskirt, and -- throw pillows!

floral throw pillows

I found this fabric at and immediately loved it! It's hard to convey colors accurately through a monitor, but the pinks are just the nicest muted vintage rose colors, my favorite. One thing I have learned through looking at decorating magazines is that I always LOVE pink floral. Not a bombardment of it, mind you, but a touch here and there is just the thing to make my heart go pitter-pat. I ran it by Douglas and his masculinity was not threatened by the idea of having pink floral throw pillows in our bedroom, so I placed my order.

The feather pillow forms I used are 20" square, so I cut my squares of fabric to be exactly 20", too. With a bit of extra fabric taken up in the seam allowances, this works quite well for filling out all the corners of the pillow covers. I am so glad I took the time to make self-fabric piping, too -- I think they look much nicer that way. This tutorial at Craftsy is very good, if you have never done that before.

floral throw pillows

On the topic of decorating, I have never shared my favorite decorating magazine with you -- The English Home. It's my only magazine subscription and I do enjoy it! When I can keep a good attitude, that is, as everything featured is way out of my price range. BUT -- I recently read some great older posts from Like Mother, Like Daughter that helped me feel a great deal more peace about my home. Check out Frugal for Beginners, particularly #3 and #5 -- YES, YES, YES!!! Also loved Decorating Books and Beauty and Pinterest -- so many of the same thoughts that have been swirling around in my head, when I'm doing dishes or whatever, but expressed in a much more coherent and entertaining way. :) Thanks, Margo, for introducing me to this great blog through your sidebar! (I feel like I'm the last to the party, but better late than never!)


Monday, April 20, 2015

Simplicity 2081, revisited

Simplicity 2081

I recently finished up another version of vintage sewing pattern Simplicity 2081 for Douglas. Never mind that this was a promised garment for his birthday in 2014. Yes, it was a year late. You can see the first version (also a birthday present) here, if you like. What can I say, I like him in light blue!

I used a striped shirting from Colorado Fabrics (formerly Denver Fabrics), but I laid the pattern pieces crosswise so that the stripe would be horizontal instead of vertical. This time, I also followed the pattern's button layout and made the buttonholes horizontal, as instructed. Sometimes I feel like pattern-makers must know better, but usually when I'm uncertain about an instruction and I go with what the pattern says instead of my own gut instinct, I end up regretting it. The buttons don't go down far enough and it's just kind of weird to have horizontal buttonholes on a shirt! Oh well, we'll say it's authentic to the time period.

I actually painted and re-organized our spare room back in late January, and set up the most functional sewing area I've had in quite a while! So I've been getting a lot more sewing done(!!!). This is, of course, relative to how much sewing I was doing at this time last year, when Rosie was a newborn. Meaning, it's happening, as opposed to not. :) I'm good with that.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

hot cross buns

The kids helped me make hot cross buns on Good Friday. I halved the Pioneer Woman's recipe and that made a dozen for our little family. Edmund helped me frost them while the girls were taking their naps.

hot cross buns

The next day, I found this curiously-consumed bun, which made me laugh. This is Lavinia's. What child doesn't want to eat the frosting? My funny little daughter!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring lunch

spring lunch

This is a recipe I like to make in the spring, whenever asparagus is coming into season. The ingredients may sound odd, but it's truly delicious! (By the way, this is called a sandwich, but I eat it with a knife and fork.)

Asparagus and Cannellini Bean Open-Face Sandwich
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
  • 14 oz. can of cannellini beans
  • 2/3 c. half-and-half (for non-American readers, this is a 50/50 mixture of milk and cream)
  • 4-8 oz. young asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • salt and pepper
Melt butter in sauce pan and saute onion and carrots, around 4 minutes. Add thyme. Rinse beans and drain, then add to onions and carrots. Pour in half-and-half and heat slowly, until just short of boiling. Remove from heat and add freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste.

Poach asparagus spears 3-4 minutes or steam until just tender.

Toast bread. Place asparagus on top of toast, then spoon bean mixture over top (or vice versa, like I did). Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Leather toddler shoes

I'm rather behind on posting any projects! Here are the shoes I made for Rosie's birthday over a month ago. I posted a photo on Instagram while I was making them, and you can see that they originally had leather bows for a little feminine accent.

[One shoe down, one to go!]

I handstitched the bows onto the uppers before assembling the shoes, but I'm sorry to report that my handstitching was not strong enough to withstand even one day of toddler crawling! By the end of the first day, the bows were loose, wonky, and falling off. I removed them and pondered how I could re-attach. The only solution I can think of is leather glue, but I am dubious as to how well that would work. Rosie is now walking more than crawling, which means less stress to the tops of her shoes, but still! Even though the bows were cute, I think I will leave these as is, and chalk it up to a learning experience.

leather baby shoes

Thankfully the quality of the leather hides the holes made by my handstitching. I used the same pattern as my last effort, but resolved the printing issues I had. This time I used a size 6-12 months and they fit her just right. I sewed the shoes on my machine, with a leather needle, and had no problems with skipping stitches except once, when I was trying to sew through too many layers. The leather (and suede for the soles) came from a local shoe repair shop, where I can go and root through bins of scraps and take what I need for a few bucks.

leather baby shoes

This project earned me the title of "shoemaker" from Edmund. :) I'll take it!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Florida in February


We just got back from a family trip to Florida, our first in three years.


Lots of firsts for my girls. First airplane ride, first visit to the beach, first visit to their great-grandparents' condo.


We built some modest sand sculptures.


The weather wasn't very cooperative. We had one sunny day, and although the temperatures were always more pleasant than what we'd experience back home, it was still a bit cool. The natives were wearing winter coats.


Lots of greenery for winter-weary Northerners, however.




And these kids would not be kept from the ocean! Edmund and his cousin loved to jump waves.


My favorite memory was taking Edmund for an early-morning walk to hunt for shells and other beach treasures. The commonest seashells sparked big-time excitement. You can see we found a nice assortment! God's beauty is everywhere.

Thursday, February 19, 2015