Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pillowcase Dress #1

I finished my first pillowcase dress for K last night. For her, it needed to be 20 inches long, which ended up being only 1/2 of the king sized pillowcase. I have enough matching fabric left to make either a little diaper cover or a hat, but I can't decide which to make. What do you think?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Foam + Contact Paper = Fun

This was so fun and so easy! I bought foam sheets (I think they are called Foamies) at the fabric store and cut them into one inch squares. I have access to a nice paper cutter at school, (and they are cheaper by the sheet,) but you can buy pre-cut shapes, letters, flowers and animals. I just saw tubs of them at Wal-Mart last week. I thought about getting them for the swap (more on that soon) but the $4.95 price tag was going to put me over the $10.00 swap budget. Anyway...

I taped the contact paper to the dining room table sticky side up and let the kids make mosaics with the square tiles. They had a hoot. K loved sticking them on, pulling them off and then moving them, (it's all about power when you're two,) while S decided it was more fun to pretend they were merpeople all standing in a line. (He is really into mermen / mermaids right now.) I just had fun watching them and listening to their conversations... and of course the complete lack of clean-up. The only down side is only the first layer will stick to the contact paper, so the designs can't be three dimensional. Pieces can overlap, but part of each piece must touch the paper. I used clear contact because that was what I had on hand, but the patterned kind would work well too. Since the kids work on the back, it would just look like a white piece of sticky paper.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Crayon Rolls

I managed to finish up my last crayon roll tonight thanks to the tutorial at Skip to My Lou. (I added the fold over flap to prevent the crayons from working their way out of the roll while being tossed around inside the diaper bag. My bag often takes quite a beating. )

Of course, the first one I made didn't turn out quite right... Perhaps because I got a little bit sidetracked and didn't read the directions as carefully as I needed to. Who me? Yeah... I skimmed instead of read and ended up making one and one half inch slots for the crayons instead of the correct one inch slots. Not a terrible mistake though, now two crayons fit in each slot instead of one. I'll keep that one for my diaper bag and give the other two away. To whom you ask? I can't say just yet, it's a surprise.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Another Step Closer to Spring

This is what I saw as I walked out of school this afternoon - the first freighter of the year. Yeah! The sound of freighters passing by is a sure sign that spring is almost here. The Sault Locks opened today, so the freighters will pass by pretty regularly from now on. It also means that the Coast Guard cutter will break up the ice to keep the shipping lanes open, which brings us one step closer to the island's ferry service starting up again. We are all ready for the boats to run...

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Bibs

My two little ones each found a new bib in their Easter basket yesterday morning. K liked hers, but not S - he wanted one with Cinderella on it. (What was I thinking...making a three year-old boy something with lizards on it?) Then, after his father suggested the lizards might jump up and crawl into his ears, he wanted no part of it. After spending some time together catching the lizards and biting off their heads, all was right with the world and S wore the bib to dinner. I love these bibs. They each only took about 30 minutes to make and they're huge. They cover the kids completely from neck to waste- a good thing for my messy little eaters.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Eggs & Thrifting Fun

The kids and I are down in the booming metropolis of Boyne City, Michigan, with my parents for a nice long Easter weekend. (No school for me on Friday or Monday. ) I would love to be able to say that we did some amazingly creative Easter craft, but we didn't. We dyed eggs; plain and simple, we dyed a dozen eggs. Though, it was the first time my children had ever dyed eggs, so for them it was an amazingly creative Easter craft. I'm glad grandma thought ahead and bought the eggs a few days ago, because when I was at Wal-Mart this evening, they were completely out of eggs. (Is Wal-Mart ever out of anything???0 K thoroughly enjoyed herself. Especially when she threw, (yes threw) an egg into the green dye cup and splashed green everywhere. She thought it was highly amusing. Luckily, grandma had thought ahead and covered the table with newspapers, as well as make paint shirts out of old pillowcases. (I made sure to post a picture of K today since it seems like I always post pictures of her brother.) The highlight of my day also involved pillowcases. Chikaustin recently posted about a pillowcase dress she made for her daughter. It is the cutest thing ever, and she was kind enough to share with me where she found the pattern. So, when I saw these pillowcases today while I was out thrifting, I grabbed them. (A bargain at $0.50 - $1.00 each, don't you think.) My husband will hate the floral ones, but I like them. Especially the one on the far left - I had those same sheets as a kid! Such good memories of the 70s... Since I am in "the real world" with access to a fabric store, I picked up the fabric, a bias tape maker and thread to finish them off into dresses. But that will have to wait until I get back home on Monday.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lilly's Thistle

I have a tea cup collection. I guess it isn't really my tea cup collection, I inherited it from my Grandma Lilly. It was one of those things that I just couldn't bear to let go when she passed away, so I kept it. When I read that everyone was sharing "Tea Cup Stories" over at Gracious Hospitality this week, I knew I had to participate.

Of all the cups my grandma collected, this one is my favorite. Trust me - she was a collector. Every time she and my Grandpa took a trip, she came home with a cup. I have cups from colleges, coronations, and practically every china company I have ever heard of (and a few I haven't.) I even have one stamped "Made in Occupied Japan." As cool and interesting as all those are, this is the cup I love. It just reminds me of her. She was born in Scotland and came over to the United States when she was only seven years old. (My dad still has her papers from Ellis Island.) Being very Scottish, she always loved thistles. Looking at this pretty little thistle cup makes me think of her; her long painted fingernails, her perfect hair (that I discovered was a wig, quite by accident, when I was about 12,) how she couldn't straighten out her little finger on one hand, and the dinners we use to share a t Big Boy every time she and Grandpa came from Florida to visit. Ah, the good old days... I hope my daughter loves these cups as much as I do, though she'll probably fall in love with a different one. I'm glad she'll have a special connection with her Great-Grandmother.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Antibiotics Are a Beautiful Thing... When You Can Get Them

It turns out it was a very good thing we celebrated St. Patrick's Day on Sunday since I left work early on Monday. Where did I go, you ask? To the Medical Center because it seems I have quite the ear infection.

The doctor wrote me a prescription for antibiotics. Which she faxed over to the pharmacy on the mainland, who then sends the Rx through the mail. (The island has no pharmacy.) Sounds great, right? Through rain and sleet and hail the mail must get through, right? Not when your mail delivery relies on an airplane that can't fly or land in foggy weather. Due to that foggy weather, we had no mail yesterday. (Grumble grumble.) Luckily our nurse, M, sent me home with a small supply of antibiotics just to be safe. (Thank you M!) And she was kind enough to not give me funny looks when I was taking pictures in the waiting room. I took my last pill at noon as I was crossing my fingers and hoping the mail flew over today. Thankfully a little Bay Pharmacy package was in my mailbox when I stopped at the post office on my way home from school.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Early St. Patrick's Day Fun

So we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day a little early at my house. It was just easier to celebrate today when we would have all day, instead of just a few hours after work tomorrow. Plus Monday is staff meeting day, so I get home even later. Celebrating today just made more sense. So, on behalf of my family, St. Patrick I apologize.
Last night S and I made green shamrock and leprechaun cookies. OK, the cookie cutter was labeled “gingerbread man,” but when you dye the dough green leprechaun sounds so much better, don’t you think? K didn’t help make them, but she sure did help eat them. Twice today I caught her hiding under the dining room table with a green tongue. First thing this morning, S and K discovered the little pots of gold coins a leprechaun had left for them on the dining room table. After lunch S and K were thrilled to discover the leprechaun had tricked us. It wasn’t gold coins on the table after all, it was chocolate! (The set of six pots and bulk gold coins cost less than $5.00 at Meijer.)
Later on, we “found” the Treasure Stones the leprechaun had left. (Treasure stones are rock-like balls that have a treasure hidden inside.) By far they were the highlight of the day. Both S and K loved pounding on them with the hammer to get at the treasures. Pop over to Skip to My Lou for the directions. You are supposed to let them dry for several days, but I didn’t. I just baked them for 4 hours instead of two, at 200 degrees instead of 170, and then let them sit over night. They worked just fine. Try as I might, I could not get the stones to look less poop-like. When we found them, S actually thought the dog had an accident on the floor. I even rolled them in sand to lighten the color and give them a better texture. (The grand total for the stones was $3.99. That was for the treasures – super balls and miniature sea creatures - both from Target. I had all the ingredients for the stones on hand.) The sea creature treasures were a big hit. S had to have his sea star, squirming eel and shark in the tub tonight. I’m not quite sure why it is a “squirming eel” but all day long it was never just an eel; it was always squirming…
After we hammered open some of the stones, my husband noticed the rainbow from the prism we have in the window was shining on my lap. How perfect was that? We found the treasure at the end of the rainbow!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

First Quilt

In honor of National Quilting Day, I thought I would post pictures of my very first quilt. I am calling my blog The Quilted Turtle after all. It’s about time I posted some quilts, don’t you think? Looking back on this quilt now, almost 20 years after I started it, (ouch! can it have been that long? am I actually old enough to say that?) I love it and hate it at the same time. (Well, not really hate, I just wish I'd done a few things differently...)

I wish I had chosen better colors - something with different values. I started this quilt when I was 19, and back then I really liked the pink and blue together. Back in 1989, I loved that it was the same fabric just printed in different colors. Now… not so much. But that’s OK, hopefully some day my daughter will love this quilt and I can share it with her. (Or my son, whose favorite color currently happens to be pink.) I’ve never been very good with colors – they scare me.

I love that it is 100% hand done – pieced and quilted. And despite the fact that it took me at least five years to finish it, that I stuck to it and didn’t break down and get out the sewing machine. Knowing what it takes to make a quilt completely by hand makes me appreciate my Bernina even more. I learned a lot making this Double Irish Chain; so I'm sending big thanks out to Janice and Trish for starting my love of quilting.

Anyone else interested in showing their first quilt? I'd love to see them. If you post pictures, please let me know so I can stop by and look.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day

Being the geeky math teacher that I am, I feel compelled to wish you all a very happy Pi Day. I hope sometime today you will take a moment to express your appreciation of all things circular. At school we celebrated at approximately 1:59.

Why today at 1:59, you ask? Well, today is March 14th - 3/14. So at 1:59 it was 3/14 1:59 and Pi is approximately equal to 3.14159. Get it? I warned you that I was a geeky math teacher... But I'm not alone. Below are the earrings my friend, S, wore to school today. (Yes, she's a math teacher, too.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Here Comes the Sun

Aren't sunny days wonderful. This is what the Straits looked like yesterday afternoon - it was almost 6:00 and we still had sun - yeah! Daylight Savings Time is finally here, and that means spring is coming. I don't have tulips coming up like my mother-in-law in southern Indiana - we actually got a few inches of snow today, but spring is now officially one step closer. OK, I know DST came three weeks earlier this year, so spring isn't really almost here. I won't have tulips until May, but spring feels closer. To me that extra hour of daylight has a placebo effect... If spring feels closer, it must be, right? If only it weren't all in my head...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

D is for Decapitated

Our friend is in the hospital with nasty pockets of anaerobic bacteria in one of her lungs, so to help her out, we have her dog - Rusty. He's a great dog, BUT he has a habit of taking the kid's toys out of the toy box and destroying them; like beyond repair destroying them. The other day he helped himself to K's beloved Cookie Monster. My husband only had his backed turned for a minute and the next thing he knew Cookie was decapitated, a paraplegic, and full of holes. I would love to have crime scene photos for you (since there was stuffing and bits of blue fur EVERYWHERE,) but A cleaned it up before K could see it. (Which is a good thing since she is so two right now.) Anyway, poor Cookie was basically beyond repair. So what do you do when one of your child's two favorite things in the entire world has been ripped to shreds? I was at a loss. Cookie had been a gift and I had no idea where he came from. So, I hid the evidence in my sewing room with the intent of trying to fix him when I had some time.

The next day I crossed the ice and happened to stop in my favorite thrift shop. As I walked into the kid's section, the clouds parted and beams of light shown down from heaven. I could hear the Muppets singing - hallelujah! There, on the top of the stuffed animal bin, sat a perfect Cookie Monster. (And there was much rejoicing.) K is now happy as a clam walking around with Cookie in her little pink stroller and all is right with the world.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

C is for Hamburger?

Because they are made out of COOKIES! (Now, you have to imagine me saying that in my best Cookie Monster voice. It is much better that way.)

And they were so easy to make, too. All you need are vanilla wafers, York peppermint patties, yellow frosting mustard, green coconut lettuce, red frosting ketchup, and some sesame seeds. (Follow this link for the recipe and tutorial.) My husband found it a few days ago and has been dying to make them with the kids, so when I crossed the ice on Saturday (more on that story another day,) he asked me to pick up the supplies. S love making them! K on the other hand, wasn't so sure. She did NOT like getting the frosting on her hands one bit. To the point that she didn't even want to eat one for fear of getting her hands all sticky.

Afterwards, S and I hopped on the snowmobile and went out making deliveries to a few friends in the neighborhood. S loved passing them out to people. He would hand them the plate and then say, "We made these for you," with a huge smile on his face. I'm not sure which he enjoyed the most, eating them of giving them away. I'm glad we went to pass them out. It is important to me that he grows up thinking that we should do nice things for other people just because we can.

Fabric Silhouette #2

She's finally done. After two weeks of languishing on the table I finished her last night. It is my friend M in her 1830s dress. We had so much fun snapping photos in our period clothing this past summer. Why do we have 1830s period clothing you ask? Well, we both use to work together at an 1830s historic site and we both enjoy sewing. Besides, M needed the challenge of making 1/8 inch wide piping.

I took lots of pictures as I went through the process of making it so I could post a tutorial, but I wanted to get other people's opinions before it did. I was inspired by Louise Handley's book, Fabric Silhouettes, but I did not follow her directions for transferring the photograph onto the fusible web. I did, however, use her suggestion to cut out slits and slivers to give the silhouette more detail. So, I'm wondering if it is appropriate for me to post a tutorial? If you have an opinion, please comment and let me know what you think.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Green Day Five

Today I have a mish-mash of green. A fuel oil drum I walked by on my way to get the mail and one of my students checking her math homework. She didn't quite get why anyone would want a picture of her green pen and sweatshirt, but let me snap the picture anyway.

I have really enjoyed this week of green. It got me to open my eyes and notice things I would have otherwise walked right by. It also encouraged me to take my camera with me everywhere I went, which has been a good thing. (Thank you A, for buying it for me. It is the best present ever!)

Felt Cookies

A week or so ago, Marie posted some really cute felt sugar cookies that she made. One of my son's favorite stories right now is The Gingerbread Man, so I made gingerbread men instead of sugar cookies. My chololate cookies looked a little plain so I added the rick rac and now my hudand says they look more like Hostess Ding Dongs than cookies, but both S and K had fun pretending to munch on them. As S pretended to take a big bite out of one of them this morning he said, "Run run as fast as you can, but I can catch you Gingerbread man!" So funny. Thanks for the great idea Marie.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Green Day Four

My little contribution to Green Week today is my finished shamrock table runner. My son, S, was so excited when I put it out. "Look Mama, something new is on the table. Did you make it?" (Then he promptly asked if I would make him a princess dress and a tail.) Now he's excited about St. Patrick's Day, is curious about leprechauns (we've been reading St. Patrick's Day books,) and wants to know if we are going to have a special green dinner. (See Yum Yum.) I love the fact that a simple table runner excites him and that at three he knows we can "make stuff." I can't wait until he asks me if he can sew something...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Green Day Three

I've got two little ones home sick today with green coming out of their noses. Poor things - all congested and coughing. Doesn't it break your heart when they feel bad and you can't do anything for them? I know it only improves their immune systems to have to work every now and then, but as a mother I still wish I could make it all better. I didn't think green goo was the best choice for green week, so here are some toys I had to step over this morning. The gear toy was a wonderful gift from Uncle K and Aunt J from Massachusetts and the xylophone was a great $2.00 garage sale find.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Green Around Town

Don't you just love wrought iron? I do. I love it. There's just something about the curves and the lines wrought iron has. Plus having some basic (and I mean very basic) blacksmithing skills, I know how much work goes into something like a fence. Most people paint it black, but the family who owns this bed and breakfast is Irish, so the green makes sense. Around here all the B&Bs, hotels and historic buildings are boarded up for the winter. But in six weeks or so, that will begin to change.

I am so ready for spring! mayfly's green week photo of the daffodils - at least I think they are daffodils - just coming out of the ground has my head buzzing with thoughts of spring; my flowers won't be up until May. I just keep reminding myself that they are worth the wait.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Green at School

In an effort to think about spring I am participating in shining egg's Green Week. Sadly there is virtually no green here in Northern Michigan since we are still knee deep in winter (literally.) As I walked around my school today thinking about green, I quickly noticed that I am surrounded by it - from the alphabet across the hall to the bins in the back of my classroom. Just finding little bits of green today brought a smile to my face. It amazes me that I have been in that building almost every day for the last 15 years but today was the first time I really took notice. Thank you shining egg for getting me to stop and look.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ginger Cookies

These yummy little gems are my new favorite and they are so easy to make. Trust me, I am not particularly good at anything in the kitchen, but these are so easy even I can make them. The recipe will seem off to you, I know it did to me the first time I made them, but they come out just fine even without any eggs. A word of warning though, they are quite gingery. Not to the point of being too spicy, but you probably won't like them if you aren't a ginger fan.

Ginger Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup brown or white sugar (I use brown)
1 cup molasses
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 and 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar in a mixer. (Use a mixer - this is really really hard to mix up by hand.) Next add the molasses and mix. Throw in the spices and then add the flour.

Make small balls of dough and roll them in sugar. You can just bake them without rolling them in the sugar, but my husband says they are much better with it. I use turbinado or raw sugar because the crystals are bigger and I like the crunch they add to the cookie.

Bake at 350 degrees on an ungreased cookie sheet for 11 -13 minutes. You'll know they are done when they spring back when touched. Bake a little less time for a less of a crunch, longer for more. If you like them I'd love to know. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Ice Crossing

Today, for the first time this year, I did it – I crossed the ice; I hopped on my snowmobile and made the three mile trip across the frozen lake to the mainland. And I’ve got to tell you it felt wonderful. It is the first time in several years that I haven’t been constrained by a boat or a plane schedule. It was 10:30 am, it was beautiful, lots of people I trust were traveling and reporting it safe, so I went. (Plus I one of our school board members was willing to escort me across. Thank you J.)
Ahhhhhhhh freedom. I drove across, picked–up Chinese food and came right home. Which seems like nothing, I know. But, for those of us who can’t have Chinese food any night we happen to feel like it, the ability to decide we wanted it and at a moments notice go out and get it, was a wonderful treat. I know what some of you are thinking – she’s insane. But I’m really not. The trail is well marked with old Christmas trees, and even in poor weather creeps up on you, you can usually see from tree to tree. No worries today though - the weather was beautiful.

I must admit, I did get a little creeped out on the ice today. While I was kneeling to take this picture, four snowmobiles passed me. I could feel the ice vibrate underneath me as they passed. That's when I decided I had taken enough pictures and headed for home.

We are supposed to get 25 mph winds tonight, so who knows if the ice will be "safe" tomorrow. I'm glad I went today. No big deal, I can always go back to that plane schedule...