Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hercules Quilt

I completed my husband’s “Twelve Labors of Hercules” quilt a few days after his birthday. The only part I had not completed by his actual birthday was hand-sewing the binding onto the quilt. The quilt is based on a free quilt pattern from Cranston Village called A Day at the Calico Zoo. I liked that there were twelve blocks – the exact number of labors of Hercules. That each block was framed was nice too. Of course, I didn’t quite get it all right. I did sew some of the frames together wrong. I’ll try to make him a nicer quilt someday on this same topic. Despite all its imperfections it was fun to make. My mom helped embroider it, my three-year-old cut the string after my mom was done with her embroidery and my six-year-old picked out some of the color combinations (look at our spiffy pink and purple boar).

Lessons Learned:
Buy Good Fabric. The fabric on the front was all purchased from a large department store. It was unforgiving and a pain to work with. I'm thinking I stopped working on the quilt because I was having such an issue with it.
Buy Good Thread. I was surprised that a different thread (read better than the cheap kind at that same department store) made a difference.
Just Do It. In the end I just went with I can do it. Worst case scenario is I have to re-do or rip something out. I actually did rip off the first binding I had sewn onto the quilt - it just didn't look right. This doesn't look quite right either. When I looked back at the original design I noticed it was supposed to be a big picture window border (like each block is framed with a window) as the border. Ooops - next time I'm sure I'll do better.

My dad helped to entertain the three-year-old when she wasn’t using the scissors by making her a butterfly. She rolled up a tube of paper and wanted pipe cleaners attached to it.

This is what the first version looked like. She then became less than happy when the wings kept sliding off of her paper. My dad, being resourceful, stated he thought he knew where an empty toilet paper roll was.

Within ten minutes my daughter had a new butterfly (shown above) and was extremely happy with it. I love the button eyes! When my older daughter arrived home from school my dad asked her if she wanted a butterfly too. She thought about it and asked if he could make her a maiasaura instead. He made her a butterfly.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Making a tee pee

My daughter was in a funk when she came home from school today. Thankfully her little sister and I had been out during the morning collecting large sticks to make our very own tee pee. The prospect of building a tee pee piqued her interest immediately. One of her friends has one in her yard is what she told me. I've been wanting to make one for a while and even thought about buying a pattern (that also told me I need to spend $50 on supplies).

My thought process - it would be outdoors; there was no way I was ever going to make it to a hardware store to buy PVC pipes and - really - isn't part of the joy of a tee pee making it out of the things we have right in our own backyard?

The tee pee is not very sturdy but both girls fit inside and they even ate their lunch inside it. My older one wants to know if she can live in it. I told her we'll have to make a larger one before she can sleep outside in it.

Sticks - found in the woods around our house
Sheet - was free from freecycle
Happy Kids that think their mommy can build - priceless

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oriole vs. Hummingbird

Mother's Day weekend I ran out of jelly. The Orioles let me know they were not pleased. They took over the hummingbird feeder. The Mass Audubon Oriole Project 2008 is currently happening and they are looking for oriole enthusiasts to report any birds that they see on their website.

We currently have four male and two or three female orioles in our yard. I guess putting the jelly out early in May to attract migrating birds worked. They are such characters. I had three kids lined up in front of our big window in the kitchen eating sandwiches watching their antics and giving me the play by play. Gotta love nature being better than t.v.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


What happens when you download photos from your camera and have no idea your kids were taking pictures with it...

Vincent van Gogh (his ear really comes off)


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Birds and the Bees

Well, wasps would be more accurate but first, the birds.

May marks the return of Orioles and Hummingbirds to New England. I've had both in my yard. I currently have two male and one female oriole (she is in the above photo) in my yard. My daughter was just telling my brother that the male orioles were fighting over a girl! And our resident hummingbird, Zippy, was seen. We are now waiting for his wife, Mrs. Zippy, to arrive.

Orioles are great and are easy to feed. They eat grape jelly. We have a few catbirds around (one is in the tree in the above photo) and they also eat the jelly (okay, I've caught the cardinal and the chickadees tasting it too). They also eat oranges but I haven't bought any lately.

On to the insect portion of this post...

I saw a baby yellow jacket in Lola's room by her one window. I went downstairs to get one of my shoes and the new Bee Safe bee spray that I bought (active ingredient peppermint oil) and sprayed it, squished it and then flushed it. I then decided to spray all the windows with this stuff - the critter probably came in where the screen wasn't flush against the window. So I walked around to each bedroom. Then I decided I should really spray the storage area in the attic. Meanwhile, my mom had called & I was talking to her while I meandered with the bee spray.

I opened the door, started spraying and what flew right into my face - and onto my clothes - but a wasp. My poor mom - I screamed so loudly I put out her eardrum, I'm sure. I slammed the door shut & kept spraying. The spray must work because the wasp kept flying away from me. I didn't have any shoes with me but I did have a nice large pair of scissors that I grabbed out of the sewing room & then used to pick up the offender & promptly brought it down to the garbage & cut it in half.

I was crazy enough to return to the 3rd floor where a second wasp was waiting on the skylight. I quickly opened the door to the storage area, stuck my arm in and started spraying like a maniac and then just as quickly slammed the door shut. I wish I had had a video camera at the time. The insect literally stood up on its hind legs and fell backward (like it was fainting - or just feigning death) before righting itself again. I'll go in tonight, when the insects are sleeping, and spray some more. Right now I think my heart is racing too fast & I might need some daytime, mind numbing television to calm me down...

Monday, May 5, 2008


I have a UFO (unfinished object) that I have recently picked up again and am trying to finish in about a two week period. The project? A quilt for my husband. The subject? The 12 Labors of Hercules.

I cut the squares seriously - years ago - I can't remember exactly when. But, now that I am actually sewing more and have more faith in my skills I decided to throw caution to the wind and am diligently working on the quilt daily. I actually have five of the twelve labors at least half finished.

My husband's birthday is May 19th and I'm hoping this will be completely finished by then. I keep wondering if I can teach my 6 and 3 year-old to make french knots for eyes on some of the blocks...perhaps.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Yard Sale?!?

Those two words always make me think of Toy Story 2.

This past weekend I went to a yard sale. It was posted on my mother's club forum and stated there would be fabric there (as well as 87 baskets). Since daughter number one wants to sew, and since I had such great fortune with my freecycle request, I decided to go to the yard sale. I told my girls I would get them each a basket if they behaved.

Once there I found a bin full of placemats, a curtain, and a few dishtowels. I'm big on placemats. I like having them for playdates, tea parties, impromptu pizza in the floor (the pizza is on plates - the plates on the placemats), etc. So, I got the whole box, plus four dolls, for $8. Then, I asked if they had fabric and what I found was amazing. You know, when you go into Lowe's or Home Depot and they have those large books with fabric samples. There were those. And, they were looking for $1 or $2 each. So, I got a bunch of those and some curtain fabric (the woman that owned the home used to have an upholstery business).

My daughters are so excited! I went back during the week to the attic and got about 30 more books of sample fabrics, some notions (buttons!), some needles, some really cool trim that I have no idea what it is good for but I'm sure the kids will.

We already made a sleeping bag for the webkins and a reusable shopping bag. We're going to make a pillow for a friend's birthday and a few 'one of a kind' crayon rolls. Clothes for the webkins are high on my daughter's list. I just need to explain what a pattern is and that she needs to cut the pattern before she can just sew - or do I?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Yoga Bag

Children are natural born yogis. If you watch a newborn stretch and then, as the child learns to roll-over and move, their natural movements are yoga poses. When I was pregnant I took a pre-natal yoga class and it was the best thing I ever did. We have two kids yoga dvd's from gaiam and both girls like doing yoga. A flyer came home from school that showed an after-school yoga class was going to be offered. I immediately forgot about the form until the day before it was due. Thankfully there was room left. Daughter #1 is officially starting her own yoga class today. I am hoping she will learn some coping skills. She is a perfectionist. She doesn't like to make mistakes and will crumple up paper and throw it across the room if she does not do something to her liking. Anything that can help her take a breath (literally with yoga) and perhaps think before she crumples up paper would be a great help. Being the good mother that I am we already owned a yoga mat - all she needed was a bag.

I remembered Amy Butler had one I thought perhaps in one of her books. I clicked over to her website and lo and behold - it was being offered as a free pattern. I downloaded the pdf file, printed it up and in half a day I had made a bag. The pattern was easy to follow. The only negative thing I have to say is that I used a medium weight fabric and one of the last steps - sewing the strap of the bag down - was impossible to do. The material did not fit under the foot of my machine. Instead, I sewed under that area, did my top edging on the inside and applied some stitch witchery on the inside of the bag where the material was oh so thick just to try to secure it a little better.

Other than that the bag was a huge hit and my younger daughter now wants me to make her a bag for her Bella Dancerella dance mat.


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