Friday, July 30, 2010

A Little Break

Just dropping in to let you know that posting will be a bit light around here for awhile. Grace starts kindergarten in just three short weeks from now, so I plan on savoring that time with her. In addition, I'll be spending my evenings sewing - she's requested a handmade dress for the first day of school. And due to some indecisiveness on her part in regards to the fabric (apples vs. owls), I'll be sewing two dresses simultaneously. I just finished tracing the pattern (that's what you see taped to the window in the photo) - so wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

Sophie has two favorite summer pastimes (perhaps three if you include eating) - napping on the couch and attacking the chlorinater. Surely, you get the napping part but I bet you're a bit puzzled in regards to the chlorinater. Well, you're not alone. She's long had an obsession with it, especially the one floating around Meme and Pop's pool, but it seems to be her sole focus these days. If one of us passes by the door which leads to our pool, she immediately jumps up from her sleeping position and assumes we're going to let her out. Lucky for her, we often oblige.

She's one silly dog I tell you - perhaps that's why we love her so!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Slow Stitching

Back in March I started stitching the "reverse-applique swing skirt" found in the "Alabama Stitch Book", written by Natalie Chanin. The entire skirt, which was made from cotton t-shirts, was stitched by hand. Yes, that's right - all by hand! And after four months it's finished.....

A close-up of the skirt's front side.....

And a close-up of the skirt's underside (I opted to place all of the knots on the reverse side so they wouldn't be visible from the front).....

It was certainly a slow process but I couldn't be happier with results. I actually enjoyed the project so much that I just started cutting the squares for the "sampler quilt". More slow stitching here I come!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Baby Gifts

Two of my coworkers are expecting little ones, well in all actuality one baby has already arrived. I wanted to give each of them something handmade.

For the little girl, Grace helped me select the book "Little Pea", written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jen Corace. Since it's a food related book I made a bib, embroidering it with the baby's name and a spoon with none other than the pea from the story.

And for the baby boy, who has not yet arrived, I made an apron since his Mama enjoys baking to the degree that I do. We also purchased several child-sized kitchen gadgets to tuck into the little patchwork pocket. I can see him standing on a "helper stool" from a very young age, just like Grace once did.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mr. Eggshell Man

After a recent baking frenzy we were left with quite a few eggshells. We opted to spare them from the trashcan (albeit temporarily) and put them to good use by making egg heads.

Grace drew a face on each of the shells, added a bit of soil, sprinkled them with winter wheat, then spritzed them with water. In a matter of a week or so our egg people had full heads of "hair". At that point Grace decided each was in need of a haircut - which to no surprise was her favorite part of the process.

Mr. Eggshell Man got quite a trim wouldn't you say?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chapter Book Success

Dean and I have attempted to read to Grace from chapter books in the past. It all started on a Disney trip when we neglected to bring picture books to read at bedtime. To solve our conundrum Dean decided to read aloud from the novel he brought along. It worked - Grace was content "imagining the pictures" in her mind.

With this success, Dean took her to the bookstore and they selected several chapter books - one being "The Jungle Book" by Rudyard Kipling. When it was Dean's turn to read with her at night, he read from one of the books they purchased. But, boredom soon set in - so it was back to picture books.

Now with Grace being a bit older, we decided to give chapter books another try. We chose a book that had won a Newbery Honor and was about something she's very interested in, dragons. The book (well, it's actually three stories in one), "Three Tales of My Father's Dragon", written by Ruth Stiles Gannett, was a hit to say the least. Between Dean and myself we read entire book, all 242 pages, to her in five days. And as an added bonus, the book has inspired a wealth of discussions, pretend play and of course, artwork.

The next book we plan to read is, "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" by Grace Lin, who happens to be one of our favorite picture book writers/illustrators. It's a Newbery Honor book too (this year), so we can't wait to get started reading it aloud. Hooray for chapter book success!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dessert Anyone?

Here's Grace's latest dessert creation, made from scratch in her kitchen - "Chocolate Chip Cookie Bread Pudding". Would you like to try a bite?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer Camp, Round 2

Round two of summer camp is officially underway. This week Grace is attending our local children's science museum, GWIZ, learning all about dinosaurs. Her favorite activity so far was being able to touch fossilized dinosaur bones and teeth - "it was so awesome"!

She had requested a handmade dinosaur shirt and/or skirt for the festivities but time got away from us. So I offered a compromise - embroidering one of her drawings on the camp t-shirt. Thankfully, she thought it was a wonderful idea - that's her wearing it in the picture above.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Book Inspiration :: Knitting

After reading many wonderful reviews on various blogs about the book, "Knitting Nell", written and illustrated by Julie Jersild Roth, I began searching our library system high and low for a copy. My persistence finally paid off - we found it.

Not only is the story beautifully written, but the illustrations (they're done in watercolor, my personal favorite) are perfectly done as well. After reading the book together, Grace was inspired to make one of her friends (aka stuffed animals) a scarf. So out came our knitting mushroom and a skein of multi-colored cotton yarn. We've attempted to use the mushroom in the past but Grace would often become frustrated within minutes of trying to use it. Thankfully, today was different. She appears to have mastered it and can "knit" with minimal assistance - within a short time she had twenty inches of the scarf done!

Perhaps one day Grace and I can learn to cast on the needles and make a prize winning sweater or items for children in need, just like sweet Nell did. But for now I see many "scarfs" in our future - which is perfect just the same!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Our Summer Table

During my most recent trip to the fabric store I came across a bolt of fabric that I couldn't live without - it was a light weight cotton with stripes of ribbon and rick-rack (and oh how I love rick-rack). There was only a bit more than a yard left so I wasn't sure what to use it for. Then the perfect project came to mind - a summer tablecloth.

This afternoon after hemming the four sides of the fabric, Grace and I headed outdoors to cut fresh flowers from our garden. Viola, just like that our kitchen table was ready for summer!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

We have Sunshine

After nearly a week of overcast skies and rainy weather, Mr. Sun has finally decided to shine. So needless to say, a fair amount of our afternoon was spent in the pool catching up on all the swimming we missed out on during the rain fest.

Oh Mr. Sun, we're so glad you're back!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Rainy Weather

With the rainy weather putting a damper our weekend plans of swimming and barbecues, we've had to come up with alternative activities to keep ourselves busy. Today, since Dean had the day off, we headed to the Ringling Museum of Art. (For you locals or those living within driving distance, the Museum has free admission on Mondays.) Grace described the experience as "medium fun", which is not to be confused with "fun" mind you.

She did however enjoy the couple of areas within the galleries that were geared towards children. In the rather lousy picture above she's creating a polyptych, which is a piece of art containing many panels. We plan to add it to our summer art books to remember this "medium fun" experience.

I have one simple request for Mother Nature - can we please see the sun tomorrow, just for an hour perhaps? We are sending our thanks in advance.

As as side note, we came across a wonderful rainy weather themed picture book called, "The Falling Raindrop" by Neil Johnson and Joel Chin. It's a perfect read during this non-stop rain fest!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Book Inspiration :: Apple Pie on the Fourth

We started a new tradition three years ago on the Fourth of July - baking a homemade apple pie. It all began when we checked out two patriotic themed books from the library. The first was, "How to Bake an American Pie" written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Raul Colon and the second, "Apple Pie Fourth of July" was written by Janet Wong and illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine. The books inspired us to find a yummy recipe and get baking on America's birthday.

We use the recipe, with several adaptations (store bought wheat crust, wheat pastry flour in place of white, half the amount of butter and sans top crust), found (here). It's simply delicious - a must try in my personal opinion.

This is a tradition that will be part of our holiday for many years to come (when I had to work last year, Meme made the pie with Grace), thanks to two wonderful picture books. Hooray for apple pie on the Fourth of July!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Patriotic Dress

Upon returning home from our wonderful trip to Meme and Pop's house, Grace began drawing Fourth of July themed pictures - the flag, Statue of Liberty and an apple pie. Soon after, the subtle inquires started in regards to me making a patriotic dress for her. To be honest, I had no intentions of making a dress that would only be worn once or twice. But her pleas continued and I eventually surrendered.

Here's a sneak peek of the dress she'll be wearing for apple pie baking, firework watching and the like....

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!