Thursday, February 28, 2008

Progress

Last night I managed to get my St. Patrick’s Day table runner pieced, sandwiched, pinned, marked and ready to quilt. I know it is super simple, but it will dress up the table and make things look a bit more festive for March. (And with all the dreary snow around here I need a little festivity.) So tonight, after enjoying Where the Wild Things Are, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food, and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell with S, I plopped myself down in front of my Bernina to quilt. I’ve done some stippling recently, but I haven’t free motioned any marked motifs in at least three years. I was a little nervous that I would be really rusty.

I did a few practice shamrocks on some scraps and it was like riding a bike - I could still do it, but the first one was the equivalent of a bloody knee. Oh, was it ever bad! The more I did though, the better they got and after four or five I was feeling pretty happy. Some of my curves are a bit on the shallow side and my stitches aren’t all exactly the same length, but after my long hiatus from quilting I feel pretty good about it. I guess it just feels good to be back in my sewing room. I need to work on taking more time out of the day for myself and not feeling guilty about all the other things I’m not doing. (Laundry, dishes, etc.) A happy, refreshed and content mom in a less than perfect house must be better than an immaculate house with a stressed-out mom, right? I've got to admit, I’m still working on this one though…

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More Ice

Today was beautiful, a little on the cold side but beautiful. So I picked the kids up at the sitter's, dropped them at home with papa and headed out with my camera. I was hoping to get some pictures of people crossing the ice, but my timing was off and I didn't see anyone venturing out on a snowmobile. I did however get icicles and bicycles. (Hey, that rhymes... Can you tell I have a three year-old in the house?) I must admit, I did not expect to see anyone riding a bike out on the ice, but there he was riding out toward the pack ice. (Pack ice is where the ice isn't flat because the wind had blown broken pieces up into big piles.)

I only went out about 15 or 20 feet - just enough to get the picture of the icicles with the bridge in the background. "They" say there is between four and five inches on the lake right now and there are even a few people making the five mile trip across to the mainland. As for me, I'll wait. When the old-timers start taking their wives and kids across the ice - that's when I'll feel like it is safe enough to cross.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Homework

There will be no crafting tonight... too many papers to grade.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Felted / Fulled Thrift Shop Sweater Bag

I went to a few thrift shops with my mom this weekend while K and I was at my parent's house. I've wanted to try my hand at making a felted bag, so I was thrilled when I found a great 100% wool sweater for $4.00. I based my design on a pattern I found here, though I changed it a little since I wanted to line mine. (I thought it would be sturdier that way.) I really love the lining fabric! I bought it to make a bib to go in K's Easter basket - and it matched the sweater perfectly. (Luckily I bought a half yard extra.) All in all I think it took me about three or four hours. Not bad considering I haven't made many bags.

I also found these little gems for $1.00 while thrifting yesterday. I love thrift shops! I remember making potholders on a loom like this when I was a kid. I hope my two little ones enjoy them. If not, I'm out a buck and I'll have fun make potholders for stocking stuffers. I know how to use the loom, but I can't remember how to use the knitting spool. Thank goodness for Google...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Another Sun Dog

While I was driving to my friend K's house Thursday night I spotted this sun dog near Lake City, Michigan. (It is pretty faint - look above the house and to the left - between the trees.) It is still bitterly cold up here so I took the picture through the car window. (Yes, A, I pulled over to take the picture.)

Morning Moon

Wednesday night's lunar eclipse was kind of a let down for us in Northern Michigan. It was pretty cloudy that night, so we only got occasional glimpses of the eclipse. However, the moon on my way to work Thursday morning was so stunning, I had to stop and take some pictures.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fun Fun Fun

Tonight we painted... with marbles. What fun! Just cut the paper to size, dip the marbles in paint, put the top on the tin, and shake or spin. S and K loved it. I loved it too - just about all the mess was contained within the tin and a snap to clean up. Those are my favorite kind of art projects! The only hard part was getting the paper out of the tin afterwards. A little bamboo shish kabob skewer ended up doing the trick.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Icicles

I'm so glad we finally had some sun yesterday after that rain. There's nothing like a sunny day to improve my mood. I've really wanted to take some pictures of icicles since A got me the new camera, but I thought they'd look better on a sunny day. I managed to find these little guys on a cedar hedge down by the lake. There were surprisingly few icicles around; after all that rain I thought they'd be everywhere.

How'd That Happen?

The kids and I did a cool science experiment today. (It was finally a nice day - we had to spend some time outside!) We went out at about noon and drizzled purple paint around one of our shadows. Then we went back and stood in the exact same spot two hours later. This time we drizzled pink paint around the shadow. But at 2:00 the shadow was in a different place! How come?

As the Earth rotates, the sun moves across the sky. Since the sun shines down on us from different places in the sky, our shadows change throughout the day. This experiment is really fun to do on the driveway in the summer with chalk. Trace someone's shadow early in the morning, at noon, and then again in the evening - you'll see an amazing difference.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Rainy Day Treasure Hunt

It rained on Sunday. In mid-February, in Northern Michigan, it rained. Yuck. The kids were desperate to get outside so we actually started out on a walk, but ended up only going 1/4 mile or so due to the awful weather. A (my husband) put the kids down for their naps and read them Let's Find Treasure, a Bear in the Blue House board book in which Bear sets up a treasure hunt for everyone on a rainy day. It must have inspired him, because the next thing I knew he was going all over the house snapping pictures and making his own rainy day treasure hunt. When S and K got up, he told them a dragon stopped by our house while they were sleeping and left a surprise for them to find.

He handed S a photograph the light fixture we have hanging in the stairway.

On the back it said, "Way up high I light the way, up the stairs every day."

S ran up the stairs to the light, looked up and found another clue inside. Then, for the next 15 or 20 minutes we ran all over the house finding clue after clue trying to find the treasure. (Which, by the way, was nothing more than a basket with two dollar store stuffed bunnies and some leftover Valentine's Day candy inside.) I was amazed that S knew where most of the items were. I couldn't believe he had noticed little things like candle holders and light fixtures - things I would have never guessed a three-year-old would have known where they were.

Setting up the hunt was really easy. All my husband did was snap some pictures of things in the house (a light, a painting, the phone, a speaker, a cupboard, the viewmaster projector, a piggy bank, etc.) printed them out, wrote rhymes on the back, and then stashed a clue by each item. He kept one picture out as the starting place, and hid the treasure behind the last item. I think, all in all, it took him about an hour to get ready. He said the hardest part about it was coming up with the rhymes, but they could have easily been left out since our kids (3 and 20 months) focused on the pictures. With older kids you could even use rhymes or riddles instead of pictures. The kids had so much fun, I think the dragon is going to have to stop by again.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Father & Daughter

My mother-in-law got me the greatest book for Christmas - Fabric Silhouettes, by Louise Handley. I finished my first one this weekend. OK, I haven't really finished it yet since the edges are still raw, but the silhouette part is done. I would have loved to have used some different fabrics, perhaps something more rocky for the beach, but since the only way in or out of town is by airplane this time of year, I had to make due with what I happened to have on hand. I also need to get some sharper X-acto knives before I attempt this again. My husband's are in desperate need of a sharpening. But all in all I am pleased with it as a first attempt.

I must admit, I didn't follow the author's instructions. She suggested using tracing paper and then graphite (carbon) paper to transfer the reverse the pattern. I decided to use a clear transparency sheet - you know, the ones teachers use on the overhead projector - instead and I was able to cut out an entire step. When I make another one I'll take pictures and post a tutorial.

Ice

It was pretty windy last week and big sheets of ice piled up near the shore by our house. I love how blue it looks in the sunshine.

Yum Yum!

With a three-year-old in the house, I am trying to create some fun family traditions. My family didn't really do much for Valentine's Day but I wanted to do something fun with my own children. So, I decided to have a special Valentine's Day dinner. The kids loved the pink heart-shaped pancakes, heart sausage, fruit and strawberry-flavored milk (so it would be pink, of course!) The pink milk was definitely the most popular item on the menu.

Making heart pancakes without a form was more challenging than I anticipated. It wasn't until I was about 1/2 way through the batter before I realized the best strategy was pouring a "V" shape in the pan, otherwise they didn't get a very defined bottom point.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Oh Darn!

Is there anyone else out there who darns socks? I managed to fix three pair tonight. I find it relaxing, plus it makes me feel like watching TV isn't a complete waste of time. And it saves money... If heavy wool socks cost an average of $7.00 a pair, then I just saved myself $21.00. (Can you tell I am a math teacher?) I always use a different color when I fix them again - that way I can keep track. The light blue pair on the left has been fixed four times! (There is a light green repair that didn't show up in the picture.)

Morning Sun Dogs

My husband took this picture this morning as he was snowmobiling to work. It was only about two degrees here this morning, and the lake near our house is not totally frozen over yet. The open water often steams on cold mornings like this one. The steam quickly turns to fine ice crystals as it cools. Today, conditions were just right for spectacular sun-dogs. These are short rainbows that appear on each side of the sun. We usually get to see them in the summer, high in the sky when sunlight passes through ice crystals in the atmosphere. Today's show gave us rainbows sitting right on the ice. The northern of the two rainbows was fainter and did not photograph well, but the southern rainbow stopped him in his tracks.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Valentine's Day Table Runner

Children sure do change one's outlook on things, don't they. Before I had kids I decorated for Christmas but that was it. Now it seems I am decorating for other holidays as well.

Here is the quilted table runner I made for Valentine's Day. It was quick and easy - probably only took me three hours or so. My son loved it! I have fabric to make one for St. Patrick's Day and Easter, too. Size: 14.5 inches X 72 inches