Sunday, December 11

Baby Hats, and Beards

I’m in the midst of wallpapering – kitchen, family room, three bedrooms (pictures coming soon!) – but when I’m not covered in paste, I’ve been crocheting. Mostly hats. Including baby hats (essentially followed this Jen Spears pattern starting with 8 dcs instead of 12, and smaller hook)…


…with beards attached (made up the beard as I went, then attached this Marion Crick mustache).


My cousin and his wife just had their first baby. They were told they were having a girl. They had a boy!

Now he can wear his beard so there is no confusion. Plus, while the proud papa isn’t currently sporting any shaggy facial hair, all his buddies – the babe’s surrogate uncles – are doing the “mountain man” thing. So now he can fit in with them too.

Not sure if it’ll actually fit my newest little cousin, but it seemed to fit Chocolate the Bunny pretty well.


By the way, if anyone thinks I’ve lost it, attaching a beard to a beanie, at least I have company in my lunacy as a google image search for “beard beanie” quickly proves.

Oh, and my younger brother wants one now too.

Tuesday, December 6

Cute Graham Cracker Cottages


I had grand plans to host a “gingerbread” house decorating party with my neighbors this year like I did with my kids, nieces and nephews last year. And then I saw an article in the recent Family Fun Magazine with the same idea.

Only difference: their party used real gingerbread to construct the houses, baked and assembled by the host ahead of time. At my party, we used graham crackers! 20 rectangular crackers make a large house, like this one I made previously. And four rectangular crackers make a wee little cottage.


I hesitate to even write this post since I did a google image search for “graham cracker gingerbread house” and found loads of examples of houses made from four crackers. BUT…

None had overhanging eaves.


And I love overhanging eaves on my cottages.


So, here’s my little trick. For the side and the roof pieces, instead of the usual break-two-crackers-in-half approach, I saw just a little over one quarter off one side of the cracker. This small piece becomes the side of the house. And the almost-3/4s piece becomes the roof.image

For the other two crackers, I saw the corners off to make a nice steeply-pitched gable. image

My other trick, to keep them from toppling over when assembling them, is to start them off sideways. This probably only works since the side pieces are so short. I pipe the icing onto the backs of the gabled pieces, set the side pieces in place sticking straight up on one gabled pieces…


…then set the other gabled piece on top and stand it upright to finish drying.


A minute or two later, it’s ready for the roof. Icing goes all along the top edges (unlike photo where it’s only on half the edges)…


…and roof pieces are put in place, with a little more icing right along the top ridge.


Side note: that bit of pastry bag visible in a previous photo is a Wilton’s Disposable Decorating Bags with the tip snipped off and the other end closed off with a twist-tie. Great for little hands.


Now, the question is, once they’re covered in candy, are those lovely overhanging eaves of mine even noticeable any more?


When decorated by kids seven and under, not so much.

Hmm, maybe breaking them in half is the way to go after all. As least for a few more years while the emphasis is still on quantity over all else! : )

Wednesday, November 30

A Patchwork Purse for a Joy-filled Jen

Among our dozen houseguests last week was my sister-in-law Jen. Every time I am with her, I grow as a person. This time, she showed me how to roll with the punches, how to keep the important things in perspective.

She and my brother had taken my kids and some of their kids to meet another friend at a local zoo. Two hours later, they came back to their van to find the front passenger window smashed and Jen’s purse gone!

Talking to her later, she essentially cut me off when I started to say what a horrible afternoon she must have had. “Oh no! Our time at the zoo was WONDERFUL!” she said with a big smile. Sure, she was upset about the theft, but she didn’t let it color her whole day. What an inspiration!

Anyway, there wasn’t much cash, the credit cards were locked down, and her driver’s license could be replaced. She seemed most bummed about the loss of her cute little purse – just a small little pouch with all sorts of fabrics sewn on with messy zigzag stitches.

And if you read the title, you know where this is going. I couldn’t reverse time to get her old purse back but I could make her a new one.


Jen prefers the patchwork side but it can be turned inside out to reveal a striped corduroy side instead.


For my pattern, I went back to my old stand-by, the Reversi-Purse, since it was just the right size. Til now, I’d only made it for little girls (e.g. here, here, and here with link to pattern pieces), but there’s more than enough room for a few big girl basics – wallet, phone, checkbook.


It was fun picking out the scraps to add – Jen loves daisies, stripes, nature, quirky surprises, and bold colors.


If I’d had just a bit more time, I would’ve loved to embroider an initial somewhere, but I was in a serious time crunch, getting this done before they left town again. So the daisy is the only thing sewn on by hand.


My only question is, why haven’t I made myself something like this yet?!? My purse this size – a burst of color I bought in Costa Rica – died years ago. And I miss it. High time I holed up in my studio for a few hours and pulled out my scrap bag again. For something for me

But first, time to fold another laundry basket full of bedding. And be thankful for Jen and joy-filled example she is to me. (And the eleven other amazing people who filled my home last week!)

Thursday, November 24

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Thanksgiving here in the US today. I hope your life is overflowing with things to be thankful for. I know mine is.


And isn’t this overflowing fruit centerpiece beautiful? When my mom found out I don’t have a cornucopia basket, Mama MacGuyver got to work with an easter basket (with a handle), some fabric, some tape, and a plastic drinking cup.

Pretty amazing, huh? (The centerpiece AND the woman who made it!)

Saturday, November 12

Guest Tablecloth Update

It’s been almost three years since the first embroidered name was added to my grandmother’s tablecloth-turned-guestbook.


But I pulled it out again last weekend when we had some neighbors over for coffee on Sunday afternoon.


And I’ve been embroidering the new names in spare moments throughout the week (e.g. while waiting in the preschool pickup line or watching Buck on netflix).


After all, I want it done and washed and ready for Thanksgiving when my family will all be here again. I wonder how much bigger those little hands have gotten.


Some people leave simple marks.


Some get more ornate.


And some add messages along with their name. (Oh, how I was tempted to use Viking purple on this Packers fan’s note!)


Those who come back after their first visit have options. They can sign again elsewhere.

Or they can add something to their original spot. (Note the three different colors?)


Or I can add something to their original spot for them. Either whatever strikes my fancy…


…or something that aligns with their interests.


Once I’m done with the names, using the same color floss, I also add a little note somewhere along the border, recording the date and event.


Hmm, looking at the photo above, I notice two things:

  1. We sure eat raclette a lot when we have friends over. (Makes for an easy peasy dinner party when you don’t have to worry about cooking the food before the guests arrive.)
  2. I need to get better about remembering to pull this out! There are so many times I forgot! Including two other times this week alone!

So if you ever come over to my house for a meal, and you don’t see this on the table under all the dishes, REMIND ME TO GO GET IT! : )


Thursday, November 10

Look what I found…

…while cleaning up the studio last night with my mom and my husband!


It’s the floor that I installed this summer. The one that’s been missing since August! Hooray!

Practical Husband, after some moving and lifting and installing aid, was soon released from helping any further. He’d asked one too many times, “Why are you keeping this?”

But sweet Momma stayed late into the evening, pulling pieces of fabric off the pile, folding them into neat 3”, 6” or 12” widths, and arranging them in colorful columns.


Aaaaah. I can’t wait to dig into them. So many ideas, wanting to get out…


But first, just a little more work to get the room just a little more ready. The floor will be covered in bits of thread and fabrics and scraps soon enough…

Monday, November 7

A Cake I Didn’t Make

It was my birthday last weekend. Had a wonderful… I was going to say “day” but really it was a whole weekend of loveliness. Spending time with my family. Going out for a Thai dinner, sans kids! Enjoying visits from old friends and new ones.

And eating cake. Lots of cake! One of which was made by my girls.


Oldest did the lettering.


Middlest did the blue flowers. Hmm, no photo of that step…

Youngest did some of the white dots for the border. And squirted large amounts into her palm, copying her older sister.


Rest of the white dots—and “mmy"—were done by a sweet neighbor, her first time wielding a pastry bag. Way to go, E!


Part of the brainstorming including the idea of sticking on Playmobile figures, which they’d seen me do on Sophie’s Castle cake. Why they stuck on fern-eating goats was never made quite clear to me.


But I sure did love that cake!


P.S. Other cakes (and cake-ish substances) ingested over the weekend included chocolate cake balls, Oma’s raspberry cottage cake, and peach tarts. Yum!


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