Saturday, August 27, 2011

A First

You know you live in a small town when the very first time you attend services at a church, you are asked to do a reading. Mackinac Island is a very small town. With only 500 of us here year-round, you pretty much know everybody - really well. It dawned on me the other day that I've lived here for nearly 20 years, I've been friends with the local Episcopal priest all that time, but I've never attended services at the island's Trinity Church.

I decided to go because a dear friend of mine from Philadelphia, who happens to be an Episcopal priest, was giving the Mass that day. (If I got that wrong, please forgive me. I'm not sure what which verb is correct - giving? leading? celebrating?)

photo via

Trinity is a lovely little church, just up a from Market Street, near the bottom Fort Hill. Although services began in the 1830s, the parish wasn't organized until 1873. The members met in the fort and the Court House until the building was finished in 1882. I love that a number of the soldiers from Fort Mackinac provided some of the labor needed to construct the church.

Mass was lovely. All the more special because of my connection with Father R. I'm still not use to referring to him that way. It's been an adjustment for me, learning to see him as a priest. Sure, he is still my friend - the same friend I've had for going on 20 years now, but he's a priest. I first met him back when he was 18 or 19 - in his "pre-priest" days. I guess I just never thought about "priest" and "friend" being the same person. Priests weren't friends - they were up there on the altar - separate from the rest of us. Unknowingly he's helped me learn that priests are people too - just like teachers. R is a wonderful man, and I think the priesthood suits him. Now I know just how my students use to feel when they would see me at Meijer, stare at me with a look of shock on their faces and say, "Teachers shop? I thought you lived at school."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mackinac Moments

Mother Nature just couldn't make up her mind today. It would be beautiful and sunny and then dark thunderous storm clouds would roll through. Then, the sun would come out again.

The first storm that went through this morning actually brought us some pea-sized hail.

It was a perfect day to work inside. I managed to get quite a bit done in my classroom and only got a little damp on my bike ride home...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Adjustable Headband Tutorial

Earlier this summer my daughter chopped her hair. And I mean chopped. She went from having hair that fell to the middle of her back without bangs, to having chin length hair with bangs. Now we are working on growing those bangs out but they keep falling into her face. Ugh! It must be the teacher in me, but hair in a child's eyes drives me nuts. (The little girl above, with the beautiful curls, is my daughter's friend. Sadly, my little girl had absolutely no interest in modeling for me.)

I love these headbands because they're adjustable. At their smallest, they fit a two to three year-old, but adjusted to their largest size they'll fit an adult. I made my first batch back in 2009, but never did a tutorial. This past June I got an email from Lisa in California hoping that I would share how I made them, and I thought that I'd better get it done before school started. I'm looking at a crazy school year coming up (but more on that another day). So, Lisa, this one's for you!

Let's get started, shall we...

Here's what you'll need:
  • Fabric - two pieces measuring 2 in (5 cm) by 14 in (35.5 cm)
  • Matching thread
  • Rotary cutter, ruler and mat, though you can just use scissors
  • Scissors
  • 3/8 inch (1 cm) wide elastic - 14 inches (35.5 cm) long
  • Pins
  • Fabric marking pen
  • 3/8 inch Lingerie strap slides & rings - mine were made by Dritz. I found them at Joann Fabrics in the notions section. They came in a package of six - two white, two black and two clear. Slides from an old bra will work just fine, too.
  • A knitting needle or something similar to turn the headband right side out after sewing
Step One: Choose Your Fabrics

I really love using a striped fabric for these, but be aware of the direction you want to stripes to go. In the school fabric shown above, I wanted the ruler to go around my daughter's head, so I had to purchase 1/2 yard (about 45 cm.) For the sample headband shown above, I wanted the stripes to be perpendicular to the long sides of the headband, so I only needed to buy 1/4 yard (about 21 cm.) The hot pink backing was a fat quarter.

I like to make these reversible, so I use two different fabrics. Only one will show at a time, so they don't really need to coordinate.

Step Two: Cut Your Fabric

Cut two strips of fabric so each is 2 in by 14 in. (5 cm by 35.5 cm) If you have a strip of a design element you'd like to use, you can cut them a bit narrower or wider. Just make sure to cut the strips the same width. For the ruler headband I just used my rotary ruler to cut 1/4 inch outside each side of the ruler on the fabric. (That headband is narrower than two inches.)

Step Three: Tapering the Ends

In order to taper the ends of the headband, you need to find the center. Fold both strips in half length wise and press.

Now, stack the four ends on top of one another.

Use your fabric marking pen and mark a line for the taper on the end. I didn't measure, I just kind of winged it. Just be sure not to make the end of the headband too narrow.

Cut off the little triangle pieces. Make sure you press hard - you are cutting through four layers of fabric.

When you unfold the fabric it should look something like this. At this point you could press out the fold, but I kind of like having it there as a guide to help me when I put in the elastic.

Now, you don't have to taper the ends. You can just leave them square - like these. I just think they look a little nicer tapered.

Step Four: Elastic

Cut your elastic into two pieces:
  • 2 inches (5 cm)
  • 12 inches (30.5 cm)

Start by sliding the ring onto the small piece of elastic. If you are using old bra hardware, you'll probably be using a slide - the piece that looks like a squashed 8. (At least all the bras I've taken apart have two slides rather than a ring and a slide.) It's OK if you have two slides - just turn the slide so it is laying on its side - so that the 8 looks like it's laying down. Place the small piece of elastic through the hole on the right side of the slide. It will work just like the ring, just with a separation down the middle.

Next, fold the elastic in half and place it on the end of the headband like this:

I like to pin it in place so it doesn't move around too much.

Step Five: Sewing

Place the two pieces of your headband right sides together and pin into place. Beginning at the end without the elastic, stitch all the way around the outside using a 1/4 inch (about .5 cm) seam allowance. Be sure to leave the non-elastic end open for turning. I like to back stitch over the elastic to make sure it's really sewn in well.

Step Six: Turning

Clip the corners of the elastic end. Do not clip the other end.

Insert your knitting needle, or whatever you are using, and turn your headband right side out.

When you're done, you'll have something like this:

Press the headband flat. Take your time with this step so the edges are nice and crisp. I had to use the knitting needle to help push out the corners on mine. You'll notice my elastic looks a little wonky; I thought about redoing it, but it's hidden by my daughter's hair so I wasn't too worried about it. I know the elastic looks long, but it needs to be to give the presser foot enough room to stitch around it. If you'd like a much shorter piece sticking out, you could hand sew that end.

Now, move over to that unfinished end. Take the unfinished fabric ends and tuck them into the end of the headband about 1/4 inch (about .5 cm) or so and press. You want a nice neat end. That knitting needle came in really handy here, too. You'll sew that end closed in a few minutes.

Step Seven: Elastic Part Two

Take your remaining slide and place it on your remaining piece of elastic. (It doesn't matter which end.)

Fold the end over,

and stitch into place. I found a zipper foot really helpful here. It let me sew much closer to the slide. You could also sew it by hand.

Step Eight: Putting It All Together

Lay your headband out on your sewing table. Put the side you like the best facing the table, though it really doesn't matter.

Hold on to the end of the elastic that you stitched to the slide.

Thread the elastic through the ring (or the empty hole if you are using a slide instead of a ring) and then back and into the first hole on the slide.

Next, put the elastic down into the other hole on the slide.

Slide the end of the elastic into the end of the headband and pin into place.

Step Nine: Finishing

You really only need to sew the end of the headband to hold the elastic in place, but I think they look so much nicer when the stitching goes all the way around.

Did you know that if you put your bobbin thread through the little hole in the arm on your bobbin case (at least on my Bernina machine) it keeps the bobbin thread from being visible on the top of your sewing? A nice thing to know when you need to use a different color thread in the top and the bottom.

I used my edge stitch foot to stitch all the way around my headband. If you don't have an edge stitch foot, just put your needle all the way over to one side and use your smallest presser foot as a guide so you'll get a nice even stitching line. Or just go out and buy the edge stitch foot for your machine. I love this foot! People will "ooh" and "aah" at how nice your stitching looks; only you'll know who easy it is was. Seriously - go get one!

If you are worried, go back and add in a second line of stitching on the ends - just to make sure the elastic won't pull out.

See what I mean about the bobbin thread not showing? Not a bit of pink shows through to the top.

That's it - you're done! I'm telling you though, these headbands are kind of like potato chips; once you start making them, you can't stop.

Just think of how cute your special little girl will look with one in her hair. And the best part it, she'll never out grow it because it's adjustable!

Of all the headbands I've made, the little dog one is my favorite. That fabric was a little harder because it didn't have a straight line stripe where I could easily cut. So, I laid my rotary ruler down on top of the fabric and lined up the 1/2 inch line with the dogs feet and cut. That way I had 1/4 inch between the dogs and the edge of the headband and my 1/4 inch seam allowance. That one is also a bit wider than two inches - it really doesn't matter as long as the two fabric pieces are cut to the same size.

Now, go make some headbands...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Emergency Vet Visit

My husband fled the island last night, on the 11:00 pm boat, hoping to get our dog to the vet in time...

He'd already consulted with the summer island vet about Bailey's swelling, distended abdomen, odd behavior, bloating, and possible intestinal torsion. Without emergency equipment, the vet could do nothing, so Allen headed to a vet in Harbor Springs - a 20 minute wait for the boat, a 15 minute ride, and a one hour drive away. I hoped they'd make it - we'd had Bailey since she was a puppy and I knew Allen wasn't ready to say goodbye to her, nor were the kids.

At 1:30 am the phone rang. After X-rays the vet said neither her intestines or her stomach was twisted (a good sign) yet she was quite bloated. Under general anesthetic he used a needle to drain off the fluid and wanted her to stay the night. It was looking good, but she wasn't out of the woods yet.

At 8:30 am my husband called again to say she was doing well. She needs antibiotics, but should be OK and he was going to bring her home later today. Though, since the vet can't determine why this happened, he warned my husband that it could happen again...

Our cat, Sushi -
all 18 pounds of her.

Owning a pet on Mackinac Island is like owning a pet way out in the country. If there is a problem, you aren't very close to emergency care. Several years ago, Bailey found and ate an entire bottle of Advil. I remember my husband feeding her activated charcoal, putting her in the snowmobile cutter and racing across the ice to get her to the vet. She dodged the bullet that time too, but not all our pets have been so lucky.

About twelve years ago my cat, Chelsea, died from an acute asthma attack. She took medication to help her breathing on a daily basis, but when that first severe attack came there was nothing we could do. It was late at night, after the boats had stopped running, at a time of the year where no vet was available, and even if one was here, what could he have done? We probably only had ten minutes between when the attack started and when sweet little Chelsea died in my arms. We wrapped her in a small quilt and buried her later that night. She was such a good little kitty...

Bailey is about 10 - old for a large dog. And I can't help but wonder if she is nearing the end of her life. I can't bear the thought of her, or my husband, going through another episode like this one again.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I Love


August is beautiful on Mackinac Island.

My lilies and daisies have exploded,

as have the roses in the Grand Hotel Tea Garden.
Summer on Mackinac may be short,
but it's beautiful.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Disney on a Dime #4

#4: Personalized Autographed Photos

In one of my mother-in-law's Disney travel books, I found the address where you could write in and request autographed photographs from Disney characters. So, on a whim, I sent in requests for photos of all the characters I knew my kids would love. In addition to the photo above we also have: Tinkerbelle, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Belle, and Cinderella. (As I look back, I should have asked for Ariel and Pocahontis, too, but oh well.) As we toured the parks it was nice to know that I had those photos tucked away back at the room. That way if we missed a character, or if the line had been closed, (or in the case of Tinkerbelle the line was an hour and a half long!) the kids would still have an autograph.

I was glad I had given myself a lot of lead time because it did take four of five weeks for the photos to come back in the mail. If you decide to send away for a few yourself, make sure that each request is sent in a separate envelope. (I just typed up a general letter and then went back in and changed the character's name each time I printed it.) And don't worry that the signatures won't match! The staff must get some kind of training because the autographs we got at Walt Disney World were pretty darn close to the ones on the pictures that came through the mail. Close enough where I was quite impressed. My son likes them so much, he has decided he wants a few of them framed to put up in his bedroom. So, for us, the pictures were well worth the cost of the stamps...

Send your requests to:

Walt Disney Company
Attn: Fan Mail Department
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521