Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Anyone that knows me knows I am a huge Barenaked Ladies fan. (I'll pause for a moment as my old roommates shudder at the memory of If I had a Million Dollars played over, and over.) Hence, Ed Robertson's face carved into a pumpkin. This is by far my most complicated portrait pumpkin to date. I must admit - they look a lot harder to carve then they really are. All you need is a good photo, carbon paper, and linoleum carving tools (similar to these.) If I remember, I'll do a tutorial next year...

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


my new best friend...

Presumed H1N1 has hit Mackinac Island with a vengeance. 24% of our kids were sick on Tuesday and 30% of the kids were out of school on Wednesday. So the principal sent us home yesterday with orders not to return until Monday.

According to our doctor, people born before 1958 are at extremely low risk for getting sick with H1N1. She said a very similar flu went around sometime in the 60s or early 70s and most older folks are immune. So the kids and I hopped on the 9:00 am boat this morning and have had a wonderful day visiting with Great Grandma Mary and Grandpa Jack. (Both born well before '58.)

And don't worry - we aren't infecting the folks down here - their schools have been closed longer than the island's has...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fruity Fun

I picked up this fruit fabric a while back when I had a Jo-Ann's coupon. I didn't really have a plan for it, it just looked fun. I mean who can resist brightly colored fruit?

I have a pile of 3T jeans that still fit my daughter in the waist, but they are a few inches too short so she really couldn't wear them. I couldn't bear to waste them so I've started turning them into skirts. Well, actually, this is my first one. I cut off the legs, evened up the cut and then stitched on a tube of gathered fabric. (I used probably 40 inch (about 1 meter) long strip to make the tube.)

The shirt is my favorite part of the whole outfit. I picked up the T-shirt on sale at Wal-Mart for $2.00 and just raw edge appliqued the apples onto it. I just love how it turned out. I think the skirt and the shirt together probably took less than two hours from start to finish.

The apple shirt still needs another washing or two to fray nicely, but I couldn't resist sharing. Partially because Amanda Jean posted about using the same fabric just the other day, and because I'm just so pleased with how it all turned out. Now I just have to get my daughter to wear the darn thing...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Skinny Minny

I have small children. Yes, they are small as in young, but they are also small as in small when compared to other children of the same age. My son (whom I'll refer to as "Slim" in this post,) at age five is wearing 3T shirts and 4T pants - as long as they have an adjustable waist. I've got to pull that elastic in as small as it will go to get the pants to stay up on him. Remember that Peter Pan costume? I made him the size 3T with the 4T length so I knew it would fit - and even then he can still wear a pair of blue jeans underneath.

My daughter, (also known as "Legs") is not quite as skinny as her brother. She's three and wearing 3T shirts, but she's tall so she needs 4T pants - again with an adjustable waist pulled way in. Needless to say, dressing these two can be a challenge sometimes...

Lots of little girl pants these days don't come with an adjustable waist. I know I could hand sew in button holes and create an adjustable waist, but that would take oodles of time which I'd rather spend doing something else. This little fix seemed better to me. I just zig-zagged in a piece of elastic in the back of the pant to pull the waist in. Hooray! A pair of 4T non-jeans that fit her little tummy. It's like a whole new world of fashion has opened it's doors to her. Look out stretch pants - here she comes!

Friday, October 23, 2009


"I have trotted around the globe and back again in pursuit of my duties and the quest of pleasure; I have been privileged to look upon many of the world's fairest scenes... and I know of no locality so lovely as this."

Spoken by a nameless retired English army officer who was "a nature lover with an eye to the beautiful," and quoted in Mackinac Island and Sault Ste. Marie - Picturesque & Legendary by Stanley Newton, published in 1909.

I must say, I wholeheartedly agree...

What does your neck of the woods look like this time of year?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Autumn Love

Two other teachers and I took the entire Mackinac Island kindergarten through fifth grade (all 29 of them) to the pumpkin patch the other day. And while it involved confronting my worst fear, it was a perfect day.

I'm always nervous taking kids, specifically other people's kids, off the island on field trips because I worry about losing one of them. (Probably all teachers do.) It puts my stomach in knots just thinking about it. Despite the fact that we count, recount and then recount again just to make sure, I always have this nagging feeling that I am missing someone. Thank goodness I never have - all that counting and recounting ( not to mention really good kids) has paid off.

Now, with that in mind picture this -me (the worried counter) letting my students lose in this:

the corn maze.

Talk about facing one's fears! Now each group had a parent with them, the kids loved it, and they all had a fantastic time. You'll have to take my word for how much fun a rousing game of Marco Polo is inside a corn maze. Once we were all back together (and accounted for - twice) I stopped sweating and was able to admit just what a great time it was.

And I didn't worry the whole time - while in the maze I was able to pick up a shopping bag full of popcorn to dry and enjoy later this fall. Mmmmmmmmmm fresh popcorn...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Weekend Sewing Project #3

The Everything Tote

I love how big this bag is! It fills my entire bike basket plus the purple paisley just makes me happy.

When I make another one I plan on doing the handles differently. I didn't really do them the way the book suggests and I'm not thrilled about the way mine turned out They aren't exactly "shoulder friendly" but that's OK - live and learn. (Could it be that I skimmed the directions and thought I understood? Not me.)

I didn't line my handles either. I checked Heather Ross' errata page so I knew I needed one yard of each fabric (instead of the .5 yard listed in the book) but even that wasn't enough. I had to piece my handle pieces, which was a bit of a pain since they were cut on the bias. But, since it was corduroy the seams don't really show. When I make this bag again (and I probably will) I will buy 1.5 yards just to make sure I don't have to piece the handles again. Oh yeah, and I'll pay closer attention to the directions.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


My little ghostie and Peter Pan are ready for Halloween.

My son's costume was easy - everything I made for him used commercial patterns. (Shirt: Butterick 6295, pants: Butterick B4319, hat: Butterick 4319 (minus the brim,) and the shoes: Butterick B4632.) Most of them I inherited from my friend Maggie after she inherited them and realized they'd be of more use to me. (Thanks Maggie.) My favorite part of his whole outfit is his little moccasins. I altered the pattern so they would fit over his shoes. Given all the horses Mackinac Island is not a good place to walk without appropriate footwear, so wearing shoes underneath is a must.

Little Miss Ghost was a completely different story. I had a picture in my head of what I wanted her costume to look like after seeing this pattern at the store. However, it didn't come in child sizes. No problem, I thought, I can draft something similar in her size...

Sorry about the cheesy leaf - it was the only way I could show you the whole costume without showing her face. I started out with a pattern I've used before and just altered it to look like the picture. It ended up fairly similar to the original, but mine is puffier. I suppose it isn't bad for a first try, but if I ever make another one I will do a few things differently. First of all I will use three layers of fabric for the main body (instead of two) and I will use fewer layers on her arms. The way it is, I think she looks a little top heavy.

I really like how the lettuce effect on the edges of the fabric turned out. It was the first time I've sewn with such sheer fabric and I was a little worried about it. But it worked out O.K. I also like how having her wear black underneath helps her body fade away. I think that will look really good when we go out on Halloween; hopefully she'll look like she is hovering.

I guess it really doesn't matter what I think, she likes it and that's what really matters...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wiggily Giggly Fun

Have you ever made homemade worms? We have...

... and it was great fun.

I bought the materials here and it was worth every penny. Now, my two little ones are really to young to understand they were really building polymers by cross-linking long chains of molecules, but they did understand that mixing the two liquids caused a reaction. They understood that they caused an "irreversible change" and that we couldn't unmake our worms. (Though we did have to experiment to see if we could.) Now that's science. Plus S and K got to investigate color mixing, they spent some time quality time with mom and dad, and due to activities like this one they are beginning to associate science with fun. (Ah... the science teacher in me gets a big grin just thinking about it.)

If you home school or just want to have some fun with your kids, I highly recommend picking up one of these kits. And just so you know, I didn't get my kit for free in exchange for blogging about it. I am not being compensated in any way - we just had so much fun making worms that I thought you might want to try making them yourself. You won't regret it, I promise!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Little by little the island's horses are leaving. Since only about 500 of us are here all winter most of them aren't needed, so they are taken off the island for some well earned rest and relaxation. The family that owns most of Mackinac Island Carriage Tours has a farm in Pickford - up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula* where the horses will spend the winter.

*The Upper Peninsula is affectionately referred to as the U.P. in Michigan. Folks living the the U.P. are called "Yoopers" while folks from lower Michigan are called "Trolls" since they live below the bridge.

Thank you for all the well wishes. My neck is healing nicely. In fact, I didn't need any medication today - yeah. I'm still not 100% yet, but I'll be back to my old self again in a day or two.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall on Mackinac

Some days it just takes my breath away...

I rode out to Woodbluff to run an errand Saturday morning and was pleased as punch that I actually remembered to bring my camera. My daughter kept a watchful eye out for dragons while we stopped so I could snap a few pictures on the golf course. (She saw several but luckily they were all nice and easily "shooed" away.)

I took the afternoon off today - after going to the Medical Center because I did something to my neck this morning. I have no idea what I did but even after an adjustment, muscle relaxers, and quite a bit of time with the heating pad, I still hurt. Grumble grumble. However, I still have hope that I am going to wake up tomorrow morning, well rested and pain free. Keep your fingers crossed for me...

editorial note from the Hubby: This post is heavily edited due to the effects of muscle relaxants. Liz is doing much better and is being properly pampered.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Now that it's getting a bit chilly on Mackinac Island, I'm doing a lot more snuggling (our high today was 49 F - about 9 C) . Luckily I have this to snuggle under:

This post is way over due since this beautiful quilt found its way to me in late May. (Don't worry I am hanging my head in shame.) J from Sew Bee It made it for me as her Pay it Forward gift and I still can't get over how amazing it is! It's beautiful, the prefect size for on the couch and she shipped it to me all the way from Hungary. How cool is that?

Thank you so much J. I just can't tell you how much we love this quilt. I'm also feeling horribly guilty about not getting my Pay It Forwards out yet. After the Halloween costumes are finished - those will be next on my list.

Speaking of Halloween costumes, the ghost is finished. Well, almost. She needs show covers since she doesn't have any black shoes, but otherwise it's done. I'll fill you in on the details once I get some decent pictures. Now it is on to Peter Pan. He should be a bit easier - at least I have a pattern for that one...

Thursday, October 8, 2009


As I was walking home today, the first odd thing I noticed was a coat in the middle of the road. I checked the size and thought my husband must have dropped it on his way home, so I picked it up. A few houses later I spotted two pumpkins in the middle of a neighbor's yard. "That's odd," I thought.

When I turned the corner by my house I saw broken eggs in the middle of the street and as I looked up I saw grocery boxes and oxygen tanks - all piled up at the side of the road. Several of my neighbors were walking around picking up the boxes and organizing everything; that was when I heard it - "runaway."

Teams of horses do occasionally run away on Mackinac Island. A runaway is when a horse or a team of horses get scared by something and bolt - usually without a rider or driver to control them. Even if there is a rider or driver, the horse or horses are often so scared that they can't be controlled very well anyway. They just want to get away from whatever scared them and get away now! Often the runaways are dray teams since the drivers have to let go of the lines and climb down from the dray to load or unload it.

Today a dray was delivering oxygen tanks to a lady who lives around the corner from me when one of the valves on one of the tanks broke and started leaking oxygen - causing a very loud "shhhhhhhh" noise. That spooked the team and they took off like wildfire running down the street - dropping pumpkins, boxes and eggs as they went. At one point the driver chased after them and caught up, but was run over as he attempted to stop the team. The horses just kept right on going and didn't stop until they ran down a dead end street and ended up stuck in the trees on the edge of the woods.

We had to convince the driver to go to the Medical Center - he told us, "I'll walk down later." We called him a cab after we noticed how he was holding his arm and how his hand looked blue. If he doesn't end up with a broken rib or two I will be shocked. Hopefully that's all it is - given that the horses ran right over him.

The groceries can be replaced and the lamp post on the corner can be repaired. I'm just thankful the kids and I weren't walking home from the sitter's house when that team plowed through - those horses ran through about 3/4 of our walk home.

Kind of scary? You bet! But when horses are your main form of transportation, runaways are a fact of life. When you consider that there are hundreds of horses on the island in the summer, I'm really impressed that we have so few accidents. I bet if you compared the number of car accidents in a town our size to the number of horse accidents we have in a year, we'd come out on the safer side.

I've had enough excitement for one day and I'm hoping for a nice quiet weekend. How about you - any plans?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Fifteen Minutes

This weekend I gave a presentation at the Michigan Historical Society's Annual Conference, which was held on Mackinac this year. The planning committee thought people might enjoy learning about life on Mackinac, so Mark (whom you may remember from this post,) Mayor Doud and I were asked to give the conference goers a peek into year-round island life.

As you may have guessed, my part of the presentation was on raising children on Mackinac Island. I have to admit, putting the presentation together was a breeze - I've been writing it little by little ever since I started blogging. The best part, for me, was getting to include photos of the kids faces in the slide show. Some days it just about kills me not to include some of the great pictures I get of them - especially when a certain photo illustrates our lives perfectly.

I'm pleased to report that the three of us were well received and we had the second largest turn out the Historical Society has ever had for a Sunday morning session at the conference. Someone even suggested to me that I turn my presentation into a DVD to sell in the shops downtown. Hmmmmm... I guess I would have to get over my fear of putting my kids faces "out there" wouldn't I...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Great Start

This is how I started my day.

Right before school started this morning the kids and I were lucky enough to catch one of the prettiest double rainbows I've ever seen.

"Three rainbows Mama, I saw three," insisted my son. And while I may be almost 40, I don't think my eye sight is that bad. Makes all that biking I had to do in the rain this weekend so completely worth it.

Friday, October 2, 2009


It is October and fall is in the air on Mackinac Island.

The leaves are changing color,

we've been getting a little much needed rain,

and the woods have that deliciously earthy wet-leafy smell.
I just can't get enough of it.

Fall on Mackinac - even though it means riding my bike home in the pouring rain - it's my favorite time of year...