Thursday, December 31, 2015

Lovely


The nasty storm may have delayed our trip home by a couple of days, but it was delightful to come home to a lovely blanket of fluffy white snow.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Happy Feet






Mackinac is having a little baby boom. One baby was born a couple of weeks ago, and two more (twins) are due soon. So, of course, I've been making jammies - specifically Peek-a-Boo Pattern's Happy Feet Pajamas

They are so stinkin' cute. In the newborn size they are adorably tiny. (I haven't had little ones that small for such a long time. Sigh...) And they were so easy to make; each leg / foot is only three pieces, so they sewed up really fast. The top has raglan sleeves, so there were no armscye (arm holes) to ease and sew. The hardest part of the whole thing was sewing on those little cuffs, but once I got the hang of it, they went quickly. I think each set took less than an hour and a half.  

I made deer set because the little guy's dad is a hunter. I remembered my husband's frustration when our kids were born. He was kind of forgotten in the whirlwind of showers and presents, so I wanted to make sure this dad to felt remembered. As for the sock monkey fleece, it was just too adorable not to buy!

I love that this pattern includes all the sizes from newborn up to size 12. Now that the baby jammies are done, I can get to work on bigger PJs for my kiddos. After making those little newborn feet, my daughter's feet seem gigantic! 


I did receive this pattern for free, but the opinions expressed above are my own.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Learning to Sew

Merry Christmas! 

My students worked so hard this December to make these cute decorations for their parents, but I couldn't post about it or it would've spoiled the surprise. 

I was very impressed at their effort and attention to detail. For most of them, it was one of the first times they've ever picked up a needle, but now all 18 of them know how to tell the difference between the right and wrong side of fabric; sew a running stitch, back stitch and a slip stitch; turn something right side out and press; and how to sew on a button. Not to mention that they all know the difference between thread and string. Now, whether or not they remember it all is another story, but if nothing else, they've all had a good introduction to sewing by hand. 

If you'd like the pattern to make a little snowman for yourself, you can purchase the pattern here. (Although the original pattern is designed to hang on the wall and is 12 snowballs tall.)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Everything Tote

Sometimes I just need to make something for myself...


So I pulled my copy of this book from the shelf and got started. (I bought it a few years ago when my friend Maggie and I did a Sew Along.) I did however, make one change - I added in the zip top.


I travel back and forth from the Island to the mainland often, and a bag that closes is much more useful to me than one with an open top. If I make another one though, I'll make the top a couple of inches wider. It's a bit on the narrow side... 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Ask and You Shall Receive


Recently I happened to casually mention to my husband that I wanted a dress form. Two days later he surprised me with this  beauty. OK, maybe she's not a beauty yet, but when I look at her I see oodles of possibilities.

He was shutting off the water in one of the buildings on the island and there she was in the back of a storage room filled with junk. The building had recently sold, and after after making inquiries my husband was told, "It's yours if you want it." 

She was made by the Grand Rapids Dress Form Company, but we're not sure when she was made or whether she was for displaying clothing in a store or for sewing. True, she's going to need a little TLC to bring her back up to snuff, but it looks like she's complete - minus a wing nut or two.

She's currently stashed in the corner of my sewing room, patiently waiting for summer when I'll  have the time to give her the attention she deserves.  With some cleaning, new fabric covers and padding in a few places, I should have a usable dress form.

I think I'm going to call her Madge...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Funny for the Day


Today I started a sewing project with my 4th, 5th & 6th grade class of 14 boys and five girls. As we were hand sewing a Christmas ornament one of the boys complained that he keep poking himself. I explained to him, "Pokes are a part of sewing. When you hand sew often,  you can actually build up calluses on your fingers from repeatedly sticking them with the needle."

"Really?" He asked. I assured him that it was true; when I was hand quilting every day I did indeed have a sewing callous on one of my fingers.  

My 5th grader looked over at his friend and said, "Dude! Get to work. We need these calluses so we can grip the football better!" 

They were two of my hardest workers for the rest of the morning...

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Bicycle Dress

When it comes to sewing for my daughter, she's kind of a tough nut. She's a little on the finicky side when it comes to clothes. No, that's not quite accurate either. To be truthful  she's so  incredibly picky when it comes to what she will and will not wear, that some days it drives me crazy. And, she has an opinion about every article of clothing she comes into contact with. She likes knits. She likes leggings. She likes loose. (She prefers to be naked, but we've drawn that line at her bedroom door on that one.) Give her a fitted shirt or a pair of denim pants and you'll be lucky if all you get is the stink eye. Really.

That said, I was a little nervous about making this dress. It wasn't a knit or even remotely stretchy, but I loved the fabric so much. When I saw it at Joann's it called to me, "Wouldn't I make the prefect dress for a little Mackinac Island girl?" So, of course, it had to come home with me - along with McCall's M7111


I loved it and I had to make it. I am so glad it did, because she actually likes it. (Though she'll never wear that blue jean jacket again; "It's too stiff!") And the dress is so stinkin' cute that I can't help but smile when I see her in it. In fact, I think she needs another one. Perhaps the next one should have horses on it. Or Pokemon. She'd love that...


Monday, November 30, 2015

Reading


I've been rereading this series because it's all kinds of wonderful - especially if you like stories that are on the usual side.


The author, Ransom Riggs, took odd antique photographs  and used them to inspire his interesting tale about Jacob,


a 16 year-old boy, who sums up his life like this, "I use to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was."


I just finished the third, and last book, and I must say I am pleased with how the story wrapped up. If you're looking for an interesting read, I highly recommend Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

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

Connecting


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


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

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.

Sigh.

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

Autum


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 Gotopatterns.com 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.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

October


October is here. 

Finally. 

I love October. September is always such a hectic month for me; it's not a bad month, it's just an incredibly busy month. September means the kids and I all head back to school. All three of us do well with the routine of school, but sometimes it takes  a few weeks to  adjust to the new normal, that's all. I always feel like I can slow down and breathe again once October hits. Plus, by the time October rolls around fall is here: the nights are getting cooler, the  leaves are starting to change, and that lovely earthy leafy smell is in the air. I would have to say that October is probably my favorite month on Mackinac.

Those are Jim's pumpkins, growing near where the Carriage Tours' horses get their daily showers. They always seem to grow well there. Every day, as we walk home from school, S and K marvel at how big they grown and contemplate which lucky island kids will get to carve faces into them for Halloween...

Friday, September 25, 2015

It's the Little Things


Happiness is a bike basket that makes me smile every time I see it. There's something about sunflowers, even the artificial ones, that just makes me happy...

Monday, September 21, 2015

Feathered Friends


As crazy as it sounds, we borrowed three chickens from some friends of ours. They have 40 or so chickens and were thrilled to give S and K a tiny taste of farm living. I had romantic visions of throwing corn out for them and then singing quietly to myself as I brought two eggs back to the house each and every morning. (In my day dreams I was always singing this song from Beauty and the Beast, but I suppose that really isn't important to the story.)


Henrietta, Fudge and Big Mama were ours for the summer, so of course we had to name them. 


The girls have only been with us for a short time, but we are quickly learning that chickens, do in fact, have distinct personalities. Fudge, the youngest of the flock, is by far the most inquisitive. Henrietta is standoffish and Big Mama rules the roost (pun intended.) Both Fudge and Big Mama (so named because she is considerably larger than the others) will eat snacks right out of our hands. Their current favorite snacks are dehydrated meal worms, followed by sandwich crusts and weeds from the garden.

The coop use to be the kids' playhouse. They hadn't used it in several years and our friend thought it would make a perfect place for hens to roost and nest. (Thank you Rick.) Except...

In the three months since the girls arrived, we'd only gotten one egg. Yep. 

One. 
Stinking. 
Egg. 

One lone egg was waiting on the coop floor the morning after they arrived. I've read several books and have joined the forum at BackyardChickens.com, but I was at a loss.  Our theory was that they thought they were on vacation - they were on Mackinac Island for the summer after all. Allen even started calling them "The Freeloading Slackers" and occasionally referred to them as "Sweet, Sour and Teriyaki," much to the horror of S & K.

No big deal, I felt like even if we didn't get any more eggs, we learned a ton and that made it all worth while. But then a miracle happened. OK, maybe it wasn't a miracle, but it was darn exciting. We'd really given up on actually checking for eggs when we went out to get the girls up and put them to bed. (Not literally; that's just what we call opening the coop door in the morning and then and closing the coop up at night.) On Saturday morning we found three lovely brown eggs in the nest. I was so excited I forgot to snap a picture! We had another egg on Sunday and yet another today.



We're not sure which one of the girls is leaving the eggs for us, but we suspect Fudge. She sexually matured in August, so we're thinking it's most likely her. Go back and look at that first picture - that was what Fudge looked like in June while the picture below was taken today. Just look at the difference in her comb and wattle between June and September (the comb is on top of her head and the wattles hang down.) It amazes me just how much she's grown.


Now that we're actually getting a few eggs, it's going to be a lot harder to send the girls back home this fall...