Thursday, September 30, 2010


Some days…!  Some days are just a bit tricky.  Everyone is out of sync and the “machine” has to be rethreaded again and again and again.  This is not to say that the day is a tragedy.  Just a whole lot of short burst of wonderful intermittent with consistent set backs and struggles.  Just one of those days that each mother knows … oh so well…!  All day, from breakfast to bedtime we threaded and rethreaded the machine…trying new things and beginning again from a new angle.  Several fresh starts brought us outside where the fall air, open spaces, and natures goodness everywhere have proven magical time and time again.  It didn’t save the day for us this day…but it saved many many moments!!  September 039September 041

We worked on cleaning up the garden for fall which was bittersweet actually.  It’s hard not to feel a bit sad toppling such enormous sunflowers and pulling down all those twisty bean plants.  The birds have been feasting on the seeds from the huge sunflower heads but the few (thousand) that weren’t eaten we pulled out and spread out in the “long grass” at the edge of the yard.  We felt a bit like The Lupin Lady…though the little miss decided we should be called the sunflower girls.  With any luck there will be a stand of gorgeous sunny blooms next summer.  September 072September 044September 045

Nature adventures out of doors and a bit of nature brought back in always does so much good.  No matter how many times the process must be repeated!  September 049

Baking is one of our other trusted refreshers.  Ha!  What began as an attempt to make something healthy and delicious (granola bars) for my husband to eat while he’s traveling in the next few days ended up in a sticky gooey nutty mess.  Despite the unorganized, unintentional stickiness it is filled with nutty goodness and all sorts of wholesome bits.  Very much like our day.            September 053

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Perfect Vintage Pants

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Finally!!! The sewing machine and I are adventuring again! I’ve had a stack of vintage patterns I’ve been itching to dive into and boy was it worth the wait! The first pattern to make it to the studio table turns out to be the perfect vintage 5 year old pants. Excellent! They are made up so quickly and simple and easy to wear. This pattern and I are going to be put to use making capris, pajama pants, and the fanciest assortment of fall pants any very almost 5 year old girl could dream of!! Oh…and the darling little tunic in the pattern just needs buttons…and oh my, it is as cute as a button! Enter all things vintage!September 033

September 034All pictures taken with the enthusiastic help of the little man cub and posed and styled by the model!!!! Oh...and I just need to say that she wore these all day yesterday from the moment that they came off the sewing machine and I didn't take a single picture (shame on me) so I had her slip them on again this morning for a quick shot. Hence the slightly wrinkled - extra comfy look!

The pants are duck cloth in the loveliest blue which has just enough purple in it to pass the test (!) and the trim is a simple cotton with a bit of sparkle in a few of the stripes! I'm going to use heavier fabrics (corduroys, denims etc) for everyday fall pants and fleece, flannels, and knits for sleepwear. I found the pattern at one of my favorite local thrifting spots. It was, apparently, a match made in heaven!

Sometimes I am quite sure that I was born in the wrong era. But on the other hand…sewing now means that I can sew using patterns from all of my beloved vintage eras and enjoy high speed internet at the same time!

Ahh…it is nice to be sewing vintage again!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pizza Rolls

With the coming of Autumn and the darker evenings we have returned to our beloved “pizza and a movie night” Fridays.  The summer months brought pizza-and-play-outside nights.  Which we also loved!  The Planet Earth movies have been crossing our screen bit by bit, opening up little minds (and big minds!) to the wonders of the earth.  Talk about launching points!!! 

In the kitchen I have jumped back into the infinite goodness that is pizza, with a quite a few more tricks to try.  The first was a raving success!  Pizza rolls!  I made my usual crust and topped it with sauce, a blend of several cheeses, peppers, chives, parsely, basil, and pepperoni and then rolled the dough up like a cinnamon roll log.  I sliced into ~1 1/2” sections and placed them on a greased pizza sheet.  They baked for about the same time as a “normal” pizza ~12-15 minutes.  They were amazing!  Truly!  Definitely something we’ll be making again!  (My sister shared this idea with me…she is the cinnamon roll queen,so I think it might be an original idea…!)  September 109

Friday, September 24, 2010

{this moment}

This moment the end of summer bounty is being thoroughly enjoyed.  With dreams of roasted potatoes and squash, and the savors of fall produce creeping into our busy little minds.  Oh the bounty of the earth! 

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Dance Bag

September 117In truth we probably had a bag in the house that would have suited the purpose just fine.  But it is oh-so-much-fun to create a new mama-made bag for the beginning of something so exciting.  So a new dance bag was made.  I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I had been sewing.  I also didn’t realize how much I had missed it.  I didn’t have a pattern.  Just a stack of very carefully chosen fabric (my oh my does that girl know what she likes!) and an idea.  I knew I wanted a drawstring top and a ruffle.  The rest was just cutting and experimenting, a nip here and a tuck there…keeping things super simple.  There is something very liberating and therapeutic in this sort of sewing.  When all is said and done the bag is a perfect representation of this little dancer of mine…and oh does she love it!  When I was taking pictures of the bag as we were scooting out the door to class I realized just how “her” this outfit is. Soft fleece, pretty flowers, girly colored stripes with a bit of sparkle, and a shimmery pink tutu…oh my yes..this is my girl.   September 118

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This bag was a great little warm-up getting back in the sewing groove.  I have big plans for the coming weeks.  Most of them revolve around the fact that each outfit she chooses “must” include a skirt, dress, or tunic…and that the current growth spurt is leaving the dress supply quite depleted.  But let’s be honest.  Sewing clothes for children is not always the cheapest or easiest solution…but boy is it fun and healthy for this mama!! 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Clothespin Math

September 041On the (long) trip home from a recent adventure my daughter had a blast teaching herself basic addition using a set of Montessori Color Spools I had made.   It is spontaneous learning and discovery like this that makes learning together so magical.  We capitalized on this period of discovery and have been “doing math” with all sorts of things lately.  Like counting all the cupboard doors on one side of the kitchen and adding them with the ones on the other side.  Or counting all the drawers and adding them to the doors.  Or counting the French doors and adding them to the solid doors.  Or counting the grown up shoes and adding them to the kidling shoes on the shoe mats (as we organize them of course!)  Along with moving around the house as we count we’ve been working with a wide variety of objects as we count and add.  Clothespins for example.  They are smooth and interesting to hold and add a sensory element to our math discoveries.  After we had worked through a page of sums we sorted the collection of clothespins according to their subtle differences, refining our senses and analytical skills.  I wonder if we can bring our clothespins with us as we approach calculus in a hundred years…! 

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Monday, September 20, 2010

How to Make Paper

Every day, several times a day, my little girl asks for a card to write a letter to someone she loves. We are working together to create her very own supply of cards, envelopes and all the fixings (which I am embarrassed to say really should have been done a long time ago). We are also exploring the history of paper, writing, and printing. Our first adventure with paper making went very well and we have big plans for further explorations. Stay tuned for a few Christmas project ideas made with your very own paper!

Our first paper making experiment was based on a decades old kit put together by Arnold Grummer’s . This kit was used many many times by my mother and little sister and we are so excited to give it another life in another generation. It is a very basic paper “recipe” and uses tin cans as a mold making wonderfully round little papers. Paper making is a very simple process which involves simple materials. Just my kind of thing! Here’s the process we followed. (I did scan Arnold’s directions as quick as I could amidst a steady peppering of questions from little mouths…yikes!..and then mostly went with common sense and bits and pieces I remembered from my own childhood papermaking)


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These supplies came with the kit…but I will do my best to suggest alternatives.

Sources for paper making supplies: the Arnold Grummers site is easy to use and well stocked…have fun!

  • Support screen (course plastic screen…plastic needle point canvas)
  • Paper Making Screen (fine plastic screen…?!)
  • Press Bar (piece of wood…any piece of wood ~8” x 8”)
  • Water Removal Screen (floppy window screen…window screen scrap)
  • Couch Sheets (6” x 6” white blotter sheets…coffee filters pressed very flat)
  • Drain Rack (rigid grid…wire cooling rack)
  • Two tin cans of equal size.

Blender, Rags, Liquids Measuring Cup, and paper


Now lets get started!

Step 1. Tear a 6”x 6” piece of any type of paper into small pieces and put them into a blender with 2 cups of water. Here’s the place to have lots of fun experimenting…try different papers and paper-like fibers. We like to use construction paper…but the skies the limit! Try adding, seeds, petals, herbs, etc.

(This makes one small “tin can paper”…the more you rip up the more paper you can make…just remember to adjust the water you add accordingly.)

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Step 2. Put the lid on the onto the blender (!) and run it for 30 seconds. As the blender runs you are recycling the paper back into pulp that you will use to create your own unique paper.September 053

Step 3. Place your (empty) tin can on a level surface, open end up. September 056

Step 4. Place the support screen on top of the can. Place the white papermaking screen on top of the support screen.

Step 5. Cut off both ends of the second tin can. Place it on top of the papermaking screen so the rims of the cans match. (This is super tricky with little hands helping so have rags ready for any spills!)

Step 6. Pour the pulp from the blender into a smaller easier to handle container…like a liquid measuring cup. Pour the pulp into the can at a steady speed. Be careful not to bump the cans while the water drains into the second can. September 058September 059September 060

Step 7. When all the water has drained through lift the top can straight up off the screen.September 062

Yay…that floppy gooey thing is your new sheet of paper! Just a few more steps to get all that extra water out!

This is the step to add anything that you want to be on the surface of your paper…like a pressed flower.

Step 8. Carefully lift the papermaking screen with your new sheet off the can and lay it on a flat, clean surface. Lay the water removal screen over your new sheet. September 063

Step 9. Take a sponge (or several layers of folded dish towel which is what we happened to have on hand!) and press it repeatedly down on the water removal screen to remove water. Wring out the sponge as necessary. Continue until no more water is removed.September 065

Step 10. Carefully lift and peel off the water removal screen.

Step 11. Place a couch sheet over your new sheet. Turn over the sandwich you’ve made with couch sheet – new paper – papermaking screen…leaving the papermaking screen on top. Press the sponge down hard and repeatedly on the papermaking screen removing more water.

Step 12. Carefully lift and peel off the papermaking screen leaving your new paper on the couch sheet. Place a dry couch sheet on top of your new paper and using the press board press down firmly to remove water.

Step 13. Remove the top couch sheet and carefully peel your new sheet from the other couch sheet. Place your new sheet of paper between two dry couch sheets and press again if needed.

Don’t throw you wet couch sheet away. Use them – dry them – re-use them!September 070

Step 20. Take your new paper from between the couch sheets and lay it on a clean flat surface. September 069

Step 21. Final drying: Take a clothes iron and press carefully with the steam off.

There is so much room for exploration and discovery with this process. We have big plans for lots of experiments, projects, and gifts.

Friday, September 17, 2010

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  Simple images - capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

On our way to our first dance class.  Let the adventures begin! 

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Outtakes…and the New York State Fair

I do so enjoy capturing the life and beautiful moments of my little loves.  Many of my favorite images make it here in this space.  But oh so many more stay tucked away in a little folder hidden away somewhere deep inside my computer.  These outtakes are precious in and of themselves as they are a testament of the spontaneous joy that it is to photograph children. 

On our recent out of town adventures we visited the New York State Fair.  It was a day packed full of spectacles, livestock, and crafts beyond the imagination.  Here are a few outtakes from a desperate attempt to capture, in super generic stand-side-by-side and smile style, their windblown joy after touring a historic train. 

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There was simply so much to see and do.  We barely scratched the surface really…but as everyone left completely exhausted with little minds full of wonderful sights and sounds and lots of big ideas, we’ll call it a wild success.  Among our favorites were the horse shows (full of completely decked out and very fancy horses) which completely captivated my littles, and a brood of rainbow colored chicks.  Though the broods unique colors could be explained logically…(kool aid dye! which washes out in a day or two) it was pure and unquestionable magic and wonder to little minds.  To be honest I expect that the little chicks that we hope enter our lives someday will spend a day or two with the same color treatment.  I just don’t think they’ll be able to resist such colorful fun.