Monday, November 23, 2015

My Daughter's New Go To Dresses

I've been doing a lot of sewing for my daughter lately. All using this pattern and I love it!

And when I say love, I mean love. It's from the same pattern shop where I got the pattern to make these pants and this blazer

One of my favorite things about Go To Patterns is being able to print the pattern out at home. Thirty minutes at the dining room table with the scissors and tape and I had a full sized pattern. I actually prefer these print-at-home pdf patterns to commercial sewing patterns; Simplicity, Butterick and McCall's print their patterns on tissue paper and, sometimes  they can be a pain to use.

The Go To Signature Dress has got a ton of mix and match options, so I can make a bazillion different things from it. So far K has gotten a maxi dress with inseam pockets and a flutter sleeve, and a short sleeve tunic with a kangaroo pouch. (OK, maybe I can't get a bazillion different options, but the math teacher in me is quite confident that 3 length options X 4 sleeve options X 4 pocket options X 3 waistband options = 144 combinations. And that doesn't even take into account that you can do things like put a cap sleeve over a long sleeve.

Plus, this dress is so easy to sew  up. At first I was a bit nervous because I'd never done a sewn-in neckband before, but it was surprisingly easy; Andrea's directions were quite clear and really easy to follow. After sewing in two of them, I feel like I've got it down. (Believe it or not, I actually like doing that step with my sewing machine better than using my serger.)

If making so many items from one pattern sounds odd to you, then you don't have a finicky child. My daughter is all about how clothes feel. If something is just quite so, she won't wear it. So rather than risk purchasing things she might like, it's just easier to make things I know, or at least can be fairly sure, she'll love. And the Go To Signature Dress fits that bill perfectly. 

The tunic length is perfect for leggings, (In fact, I may just have to buy this pattern next.) Actually, the next I need to do is to order some really cute fabric for another maxi dress. K is getting frustrated with me since I'm only letting her wear this one once a week.

I was given this pattern at no cost, but the opinions presented in this post are my own.

Monday, November 16, 2015


With all the Harry Potter love we've had around here, I decided to try making a treacle tart. Treacle tart is Harry's favorite desert, so it had to be good, right?

The kids struggled to find the patience to wait until it was cool enough to eat and then raced to the table to tuck in and take their first bite...

Blech! It was awful. Like walk-over-to-the-trash-and-spit-it-out-and-go-get-a-drink-of-something-to-wash-the-taste-away-awful. I was so bummed.

I started thinking about the recipe I'd used.  First of all it called for imitation golden syrup, because, of course, where I am going to find golden syrup in Northern Michigan? Meijer says they carry it, but I have yet to find it in stock. The recipe said to make imitation syrup by mixing corn syrup and molasses, but it was was way too molassesy - to the point of being bitter. (Molassey is a word, right?) Plus all the lemon juice made it very very tart. It just didn't taste like a delicious desert; I mean it has to taste good if Harry loves it so much, right?  We just had to give it another try, so I broke down and ordered golden syrup from Amazon and using the recipe from Lyle's, we tried again.

I'm glad we gave it another go because it ended up being delicious; like mom-will-you-make-this-again-next-weekend delicious. We all loved it. I really liked the short crust, but my favorite part was listening to my children talk as they slurped giant spoonfuls of whipped cream. They  had a very in-depth  discussion of why they thought Harry liked treacle tart so much. It was amazing how one desert helped them make a much more personal connection to their favorite books.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

So Happy, Yet So Sad

This Post contains spoilers.
If you plan to read the Harry Potter books,
but haven't yet,

It's over. We're done. Finished...

As a family we've been enjoying the Harry Potter books, on and off for several years now, and we recently reached the end of HP and the Deathly Hallows.


We've read or listened to all 4,224 pages (according to Scholastic) and fallen in love with JK Rowling's incredible characters.  

I'm so proud of my nine year-old daughter. She just couldn't wait to finish listening to some of the books, so she grabbed each book off the shelf and read them herself. There was no way I would have even attempted an 800 page book when I was nine, but she was determined to know exactly what happened. Keeping secrets was hard for her. She knew Dumbledore died; she knew Snape had a good heart; yet somehow she managed to keep quiet about it. (I'm still in awe she was able to keep her mouth shut.)

Coming to the end of the story was a wonderful thing: learning secrets and coming to know the truths that seemed impossible; to know who lived and who died, and how good managed to triumph over evil. Yet, at the same time, reaching the end was awful. The tale is over; there's isn't any more. 

The kids are genuinely sad that they've reached the end of Harry's story. And while the thought of introducing them to new tales with wonderful characters excites me, there's just something about Harry, his friends, Dumbledore, and Snape that's going to stick with us. I hope for a very long time...  

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Seeing Double - Halloween 2015

This year both kids wanted to be Pikachu for Halloween. It seemed odd to me that they both wanted to be the same thing, but when it came down to it, all I wanted was happy kids, so I made two Pikachu costumes.

I actually ended up making three Pikachu costumes. The first on I made for my daughter was huge. When she tried it on the crotch was down by her knees. Needless to say, I ended up making another one. The first one was so gigantic, it almost fits me. 

The biggest challenge for me this year was making those those tails. I ended up using foam core board and covering them with fabric. (Which then attached to their backs with velcro.) The spray adhesive held great until we got home; it finally gave way when we walked in the door after trick-or-treating through town. Talk about perfect timing!

I hope you and yours have a wonderful time tonight. We're just hanging out waiting for dusk before we head out to trick-or-treat...

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Fall on Mackinac Island, is by far, my favorite season. It may have been chilly and wet today, but with umbrella and rain gear in hand, I still enjoyed my time outside...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

In Case You Were Wondering...

Mackinac Island kids love field trips. Off Island adventures are probably a little more challenging for us than they are for mainland schools, but we still take field trips when we can. We just have to plan around the boat schedule when we are thinking about a trip.

Believe it or not, the Mackinac Island Public School owns a bus. Well, we own half of a bus. We bought it with the St. Ignace schools - they use it most of the time, but when we need it, it's there. Occasionally parents will drive for trips, but more often than not, we take the bus.

I took this picture on Friday when we took the 4th, 5th and 6th graders to Palms Book State Park near Manistique, to visit the Big Spring. It was a great learning experience or the kids, full of words like topography, sink hole, spring and hydrostatic pressure. After visiting the spring, we stopped at the Cut Rive Bridge for a picnic and a few more geology lessons...

You can read about two of our other field trips here and here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Pikachu Pants

My son loves Pokemon these days, so I shouldn't have been surprised when he asked to be Pikachu for Halloween. I love that he had a very clear vision of what he wanted to look like, "I don't want a Pikachu suit. I want normal clothes that make me look like Pikachu. And I want ears; ears on a headband, not on a hat or a hood."  I kind of got the vibe that he wanted to look cool. He is 11 after all, and I have to remember that when you're 11, you often worry about what your friends think...

I knew he didn't want a pajama style pant, but I had never seen a pattern for blue jeans. Until, I found this Skinny Jeans pattern. It was perfect, but the only fabric I could find was lemon yellow. No problem... 

A packet of this in the kitchen sink and I was good to go. The best thing about this kind of pattern, is there was no trip to the fabric store. Go to Patterns sells downloadable pdf patterns that you buy and print out at home. Let me tell you, that's a wonderful thing when you live on an island and the nearest fabric store is a 30 - 45 minute boat ride and then an hour drive away. So, once my fabric was the perfect Pikachu yellow, I just printed out my pattern and got to work. Sure I had to cut out the pieces and tape them together, but it was super easy, and it took a whole lot less time than a trip to the store.

I quickly sewed up a pair and S tried them on. He loved the pants, except he didn't care for how low cut they were in the front. As you can see, the front was two full inches lower than the back, and he didn't like how his underwear was visible over the top of the waistband. (Plus he is so thin, he has no behind to help hold his pants up.) I was surprised when he asked me if I could just add in more fabric to make them come up higher. Thank goodness I bought more fabric than I needed and I had enough to make a second yellow pair. (Yet another instance where being a fabric hoarder has been a good thing.)

In about 15 minutes I drafted a new pattern piece to raise the front up so it was about equal with the back. (I had to alter the shape of the pocket inside too, so if you want to know more about that email me, and I can go into more detail for you.) 

Just to be sure that the pieces all worked together, I made a second pair out of denim I already had stashed away.  It ended up being a really good thing because S told me those were his favorite pants ever and that he was never taking them off...

That was, until he saw the pocket on the next pair I made. As soon as he saw that pocket, the denim pants got demoted into second place and he christened these his "Pikachu Pants." Thank goodness my daughter will not wear jeans, because if she did, I'm sure I would not have been allowed to sleep until she had a pair as well.

If you're looking for a jeans pattern, Peekaboo Pattern Shop's Skinny Jeans pattern is a dream. The instructions are incredibly clear and it sews up fast - with a serger I made the third pair in less than four hours - including cutting the pieces and all the top stitching. You can find the pattern at or just click here

I'm glad my son thinks it's cool that I make things for him and I think he'll get a of use out of these, (even if they are yellow!) Sometimes it can be so hard to sew for boys. 

Do you have any boy patterns you love? If you do, please let me know...

I was given this pattern at no cost, but the opinions presented in this post are my own.