Tuesday, August 31, 2010

End of Summer Days

You know that warm saturated light that fills the late afternoons and evenings.  Warming all it touches, deepening colors and filling everything with such magic.  I love that light.  I love what it does to things.  How it changes the way that I see things.  I love how my family looks as they run and play in it.  The end of summer feels like this light all day long.  And we are basking in it!  Breathing it in.  Filling it as best we can.  Letting it wears us out in happy exhaustion. 

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The start of our first homeschool year is right around the corner.  But today…today it is still summer.  And quite frankly…even after “school” starts much of our days will be spent in the same wonderfully free exploration of this miraculous season…these “end of summer days”. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Flying By


Sometimes it seems as though a difficult moment will never pass…that the day seems impossibly long…and that a “phase” that we’re passing through might actually do me in.  But most days.  Most moments.  Most phases make it crystal clear that everything is flying by.  The childhood that is surrouning me with such energy and speed each day is actually flying by at that same speed.  It is simply delightful to watch children learn and develop leaving certain phases behind and mastering new ones.  But there is always a twinge of sadness when the children as I knew them say goodbye…only to bring in a new version of themselves to become acquainted with.  I will admit that I do always love and treasure their new little selves and rejoice with them at their new skills and developments.  But, oh to have to say goodbye to such wonderful days past.  I’m quite sure that one day very soon I will wake up, look in the mirror, and this will be me. 


In the meantime we are exploring and breathing deeply the beauty of late summer that is all around us.  Shocked as bits of red and gold start to drift to the ground we quicken our pace a bit.  Add a few things up to the top of our list and live each day happily.  Change is the only constant after all. 

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

How to Alter a Pattern to Make a Shirt Dress

I love to sew. I especially love to sew for my little ones. Clothes, toys, quilts, it’s just so fun! It is not always less expensive to sew clothes rather than purchase them…but that’s not why I do it. I do it because the joy to be found in creating is of far more worth than the ease and immediacy of shopping. My collection of vintage patterns (may favorite kind to work with) is growing pleasantly. But I have to admit even with my vintage patterns I do a lot of altering to make things “just so”! I know how I want things to look often and can’t find just the pattern I need. So I combine patterns and adjust patterns and wing it on a grand scale. Don’t be intimidated. It’s really not as hard or crazy as it may sound. Want to try?!?! Here is somewhat complete tutorial of how to alter a little boys dress shirt into a little girls shirt dress.

I started with a super generic little boys shirt pattern that I’ve been holding onto to use for the little man cub in a few years. It’s my little girls size right now. 109_0038 I cut out the interfacing can collar pieces as directed. The front and back shirt pieces I altered right on the fabric. Most often I draft my alterations onto big sheets of paper…but I was feeling impatient and daring…!!! Here’s a step by step!

1. Pin the shirt back pattern piece.


2. Measure from the top of the pattern to the desired length and mark lightly.


3. Using a quilting rule (or ruler!) mark the hem perpendicular to the fold of the fabric.109_0042

4. Mark 1”above the hem at the non folded edge. 109_0043

5. Line the quilters rule up with the pattern at the arm pit. Swing the rule out from that point to create an A-line shape. Trace along the rule to create your new cutting line. 109_0044109_0045109_0046

6. Make a gentle curve from the 1” mark down to the hem…meeting the original hem line approximately halfway. 109_0047

7. Repeat with the front pattern pieces first establishing the center of the garment by lengthening the inside seam straight down. 109_0048109_0051

8. Follow the same A-line angle on the outside edge as used on the back pattern piece. 109_0052

I wanted a few gathers on the top of the sleeve so I altered them a bit also.

9. Fold the sleeve pattern (perfectly!) in half. Pin parallel to the fold. The farther the pattern piece is from the fold the more gathers you will have and the bigger your sleeve will be. I actually went back and brought in my sleeve a bit at the under arm to decrease the width a bit. 109_0053109_0054

Assemble the garment as directed by the pattern. For all intents and purposes what you have made is only a longer and wider hemmed shirt so all directions apply. Almost! Place two buttons then close the placket topstitching on both sides all the way to the hem.

I also wanted a belt with a ruffle accent so cut a length of fabric 4 1/2” wide, sewed it into a tube, turned it right side out and pressed it flat. I cut a 2 1/4” wide strip and made a lovely little ruffle detail to add the bottom of the sash. I attached the sash below the buttons at an empire waist height.

It is darling and is completely adored by the wearer! She loves having one so much like mama’s…and made by mama! I’m sure the second and third attempts will be even smoother and more polished…I’m thinking a a beautiful plaid with long sleeves for fall…or a vintage print for these end of summer days…!

She was quite intent on posing her own pictures…!

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Friday, August 27, 2010


Many around the blogging community take fridays to post a moment from their week, caught on a camera, that they want to savor and remember. It is a beautiful sentiment really. I have found that, for me, this practice has evolved over time to cause me to look back on my week of images, moments, and adventures. Where did we start, what did we pass through, what happened, what did we love, what did we create, what did we learn?

These images so very very clearly capture what so much of this week has been…and what faces us in the coming weeks as well!

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96 bottles made it through my hands and have been tucked away for winter. But that’s counting the little itty bitty jelly jars too…so don’t think I’m too crazy!

Peaches sliced and halfed canned in a very light syrup (20% sugar)

Tomato soup using this recipe.

Tomato juice.

Stewed tomaotes.

Peach jam using this same process and recipe…but with peaches!

Ground peaches frozen and ready to be made into jam when I am ready! There is, after all, only so much control that you can give a bushel (or four!) of peaches over your life!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stepping Back

If there is anything at all that can be said of this generation, this era, this time, is that it is fast.  Everything is flying by at top speed in a sort of whirlwind that is oh so hard to avoid…if you want to that is.  Internet is fast.  “Food” can be crazy fast.  Communication and the relay of information is immediate if nothing else.  Children and adults move from one class, store, or lesson to another all day everyday quick as can be.  Gadgets and gizmos line the pockets, ears, and dashboards of even the youngest of souls instilling speed as a baseline for functioning.  The need for immediate results and high speed everything is simply “normal”. 

The speed of this time seems to work against the goals and desires that we have for our family and especially the childhood we envision for our little ones.  Now this isn’t to say that I write off all the advantages of the high-speed technological advances available.  I love high-speed internet, and more especially a laptop with wireless connection, digital cameras that upload pictures quickly, the blogging community, and several other momentarily forgotten things I’m sure.  Using the speed of our time to our advantage we can actually slow down our life to allow for the freedom, naturalness, creative exploration, and tied to the earth goodness.   By slowing down and carefully filtering “speed” I believe that we bring more enrichment and lasting goodness to the lives that seem to be flying by in front of us as it is.  Childhood is so fleeting in nature as it is.  No need to speed it up!  107_0096

Though we slow our lives to a pace that is comfortable for all of us we do so enjoy exploring times that moved at an even slower pace.  A short drive into the heart of New York state is the Genesee County Village and Museum.  It is a marvelous (albeit slightly expensive!) place to explore, slow down, learn, savor, and reflect.  We learn so much when we visit, and although we are happy to bring our speedy and flashy big red stroller, we enjoy each moment stepped away from the speed it implies and the calm reflection and wonder in the homes and shops.  The visit highlighted here was one of the hottest and most humid days of the summer.  We were each hot and sticky and wonderfully happy! 

The kidlings were so enthralled with the stories of the past that filled each place we visited.  Their big eyes took in all that was around them and questions never ceased escaping their lips.  They found value and wonder in all they encountered because it was presented as something of value and truly wonderful.  Indeed it was a wonderful day of learning and exploration.  They especially loved the animals (and most especially the magnificent oxen), the printing press, the potter, the rustic cabin, the tinsmith, the animal barn….!  Though I found so much to be emulated and learned from I was especially caught up in (this time) the patterns I saw everywhere.  On the walls, on the floors, on the beds…the patterns and designs were so beautiful to me.  I felt connected to the women and mothers so long past that worked with their hands to improve and beautify their homes for themselves and their families just as I try so hard to do in my own life. 

It was a beautiful day of stepping back, slowing down, and basking in the grace of a simpler time. 

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‘Tis a gift to be simple.