Friday, September 25, 2015

Felted Sweater Mittens

Don't hate me, it is Fall you know. A completely reasonable time to post about some light pairs of mittens. Fall mittens. Don't panic. ;)

Galaxy mittens for Sophie
So I was cleaning out my stash this summer and found a bag of felted sweater scraps left over from making diaper covers when Sophie was a baby. I figured that almost 5 years of taking up space was long enough and it was time to use them up or get rid of them.

Flower mittens for Katie
My yarn stash also happened to have all of these little skeins of coloured wool and so... voila! Little mittens for all of the cousins with embroidered pictures to tell them apart :)

Sea and Sand mittens for DJ
Now obviously embroidery is not my thing, but these were fairly easy. I just traced each kids hand to be sure it would fit, added seam allowances and voila. Instant pattern. (I kind of messed up Deacon's though. He can barely get them on. Oh well, what can you do?)

Little house mittens for Deacon
These would make really cute Christmas presents I think. No sewing machine required and even an older child could make them!

Rain cloud mittens for Hunter
I had just enough left over to make an extra pair in baby size. I figured I might as well while I was at it, instead of throwing the rest out. I'm sure they'll get used eventually.

Leaf mittens
I also wanted to add that the decorative stitches on the outside aren't just for looks. I have tried felted sweater mittens in the past and NOTHING I did would make them curve smoothly when I turned them inside out! I have no idea why, so I just went a different route this time.

One more photo, for your amusement. The secret to my lovely white background. Were you impressed? High tech, I know.  ;)

Oh no, I mentioned Christmas presents! Are you running away now?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Peach Cookies

It's been awhile since I've made these, but I was so proud I had to share! I'm pretty sure these are the most impressive looking things I've made in my entire life!

I will definitely start by saying that I didn't invent these. I saw this beautiful recipe and thought, why not try it? I had a picnic coming up and hadn't made anything fancy in ages, and man do they look like you know what you're doing!

I will also admit that about halfway through (before the dye and sugar). this looks like you are screwing it up.Don't panic though! As long as your little cookies are rounded nicely they will turn out fine. (Cough cough little hands helping haha.)

And then people will think you are a baking rock star. You're welcome.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Grownup Birthday Skirts

I felt like making something summery and light for my best friend's birthday. It just so happens I had some pretty vintage florals and a giant bag of lace, so this was the obvious choice!

These are a two layer version of the simple skirt, with the elastic being held between the two layers. One layer is slightly longer than the other, with lace sewn on the hem. Nothing complicated, but still a very pretty effect.

I liked hers so much that I whipped up one of my own to wear to the city to see her!
I see that you are not shocked that it's pink... ;)

Things were a bit crazy when we got there, and we only got to see each other for a quick dinner in a crowded and noisy restaurant (with fabulous dumplings) while herding children who were cranky after a long day and the servers stealing their chopsticks, but it was nice to connect face to face. Maybe I'll take the trip solo next time though :P

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pioneer Unit Study for Kindy

Exciting news, Porty Baby number 4 is on the way! The first trimester was the longest one I've ever had, but it is now officially over and I'm regaining some energy. Enough energy that I decided to do a little unit study with my kiddos, even though they are going to school for the year. Insert sad face here, but this mama needs a break once the new one arrives. Both our family and Kathryn's family have started reading Little House in the Big Woods, the first of the Little House On the Prairie series. My kids are enchanted. I was originally planning on spreading it out for six weeks, but they have me reading it everyday. This means that we are doing an activity nearly every day. Today I wanted to share a list of possible activities to get you started on your own pioneer themed unit study.

Handkerchief dolls
Honey Taffy
Molasses and sugar snow candy
Lincoln Logs
Build covered wagons out of popsicle sticks and paper
Corn husk dolls
"pioneer" games, such as potatoes sack and three legged races
Paper dolls
Make your own quill and ink
Play house outside, using everything nature has to offer, such as leaves, sticks, acorns...

Please feel free to add to my list. So far we have coloured log cabin pictures, played with Lincoln logs and made handkerchief dolls.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Vintage Pattern Haul!

I want to show you what I got recently, I just couldn't keep the cuteness to myself!

So many... <3

A whole stack of vintage patterns! For free! (Yay Freecycle!) 

They were listed as "older" so I knew I risked getting a bag of 90's crazyness, but I am sooo glad I went for it anyways!!

Not many for the Boo, but what there was is adorable :)

The one thing people kept being surprised by was how short little girl dresses used to be. I'm assuming it's to conserve fabric, but don't quote me on that.

Want to know the only downside? Most of these are size 3 or 6. Sophie is in a 6 now and wouldn't be caught dead in any of them. Or maybe it doesn't matter. She's so skinny that I could probably just lengthen them for the next few years ;)

Or maybe I'll just frame them on the wall of my imaginary sewing room. I mean, look at those little capes and kerchiefs...  <3

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Butterscotch Bonnet

Hello Darling!
I've been very busy lately, want to see some of what I've been up to?

I call this one the butterscotch bonnet because the yarn just looks delicious! This is what started the whole outfit, that and one of my dance ladies expecting a little girl this fall. I used
this free crochet pixie hat pattern as my inspiration. The changes I made were to use single crochet as the main stitch, and making a scalloped edge instead of the fluffy trim. I also threaded some lace through the double crochets instead of a chin strap.

This little top is actually just a shortened version of this baby dress. (Also a free pattern.) The yarn I used is super soft, but has a slight sheen to it so it photographed a little crazy. You can see a slightly better view of the lace pattern below.

I trimmed it in the same cream coloured yarn as the diaper cover. No pattern link for this one. The one I tried following was a disaster, but that's the risk you take with free patterns found randomly on the internet! I just took the basic shapes that worked and free-styled it in the right proportions. I used a ribbon instead of the elastic recommended by the (terrible) pattern because I knew it would show through.

Also, ruffle baby bums! :)

 I have a little confession to add here at the end:
I liked these pieces so much I made them all over again! I never feel very well when I'm pregnant and don't find out the gender of my babies, so I'm lucky if I manage a piece or two of gender neutral clothing before a baby arrives. And we all know how much gets done after... :P 

So my brilliant new plan, is that whenever I make little baby gifts for the people around me I have been doubling them. I did it once before with some little baby pants. (Maybe I'll tell you that story someday...) 

Because really, once you've gone to the trouble of picking a pattern and fabric and getting everything out, cutting out one more pair is hardly a bother. And if I never have another boy/girl? Well I'll have a little stash of pre-made baby shower gifts that I had a ton of fun making :)

p.s. In case you missed it, this was not a pregnancy announcement ;) I just have an obsession with making itty bitty baby things. Because I'm your Grandma.

Friday, June 26, 2015


Why, you are wondering, am I sticking my recycling in holes in my garden?

It's my attempt at keeping some moisture in my garden this year. I watched a few YouTube videos about milk jug ollas and gave it a try. The idea is to poke the bottles full of holes, plant them in your garden and fill them up. The water will slowly seep into the lower layers of the soil. The reverse is also true in that it will catch extra rainfall to let seep out later. (Just be sure to keep the caps to prevent mosquitoes!)

On a side note, these are the three kinds of potatoes I planted.

This is my attempt at showing you the water in the bottom.

This sad picture shows the state of my soil. I couldn't dig any deeper than this! (Hence the potatoes.) Hopefully in a year or two I'll be able to bury them to the top. :)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Glitter Makeup

Just a quick idea for you on this Monday morning. It's incredibly simple, but it involves glitter so you can't go wrong ;)

The dollar store had both super fine glitter and tubes of clear lip gloss and mascara, and I had my recital coming up...

So not rocket science or anything. Just add the two together. I used my smallest measuring spoon and tapped in a bit at a time. I did it over a baking tray to save my sanity at cleanup time.

The results? I would say that the lip gloss was by far the winner. It distributed nicely and came out evenly when worn. The mascara looks great in the tube but my first attempt (with larger glitter) doesn't make it past the part of the tube that wipes most of the mascara off of your brush very well. The second attempt with super fine glitter ended up detaching that same piece. Because ya, dollar store.

I've given all but one of the lip glosses away but may have to make a second batch (with different colours?) to give as kid gifts. They are super cute on little cheeks :)

Friday, June 19, 2015

How to Soften Scratchy Yarn

I picked up two $1.99 bags of yarn from the thrift store filled with yellows, whites and oranges. They were just too pretty to leave behind :)
Then when I opened them at home I realized why they were so cheap. Ahem.

I really, really can't handle scratchy yarn in my hands while I'm making something. It's like a weird sensory thing for me. So when I found this excellent pin with instructions on how to soften a scratchy afghan, I started one step earlier and washed my yarn pre-project. The good news is that it absolutely worked! I even skipped the softener sheets and every ball I put through is usable now. The bad news? It came out looking like this and it took me a week and a half to untangle it all!
So maybe learn from my mistake and soak the finished garment instead.  :P

I have been in a serious sewing rut lately. I think up just as many new projects but the thought of bringing down my sewing machine does nothing for me. I'm not sure how that's possible with this lovely pile of fabric beside me! (I almost titled this post "Proof that I'm your Grandma" because of my retro floral obsession.) I'm not worried though, I've been pretty prolific on the yarn side of things. I tend to go full tilt at one or the other.

Still in full recital mode over here. Even Sophie's getting excited! I finished all of my costume sewing awhile ago and now I just have to play with my hair and makeup. (Not exactly a hardship.)

For your amusement I'll confess that I definitely walked into the dollar store after class looking like this. I figured I could get away with it since I was buying bobby pins and sequins!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


How often are you brave? Actually uncomfortable or nervous or afraid about something and then doing it anyways?

I have my dance recital coming up so it's been on my mind. (Sorry for the lack of project posts, I've been mostly in costume land and don't want to post what I've been making until after the performance.)  It's got me thinking about a few things. One is that I was so incredibly nervous before my very first recital (3 years ago now!), that I can hardly remember a thing! But I never considered not doing it.

You see, I'm used to feeling that way. Especially in front of people I don't know very well, or when it's personal or about something important to me. Dancing combines all of these things for me, so a part of me wants to keep it in the studio, in the safe little space I've made myself.

But I decided a long time ago that I wasn't that girl. The one who hides silently in the corner because she is afraid. People don't usually think of the shy people in their lives when they picture bravery. Our kind is invisible, because we are just doing the things you do without thinking. But courage adds up, and when it's important you find you're already in the habit.

So now I am the one who hides smiling behind sequins, stepping out from the corner even though I'm afraid. Because I'm going to be uncomfortable anyways. I might as well look fabulous doing it ;)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

ABC's of homeschooling littles

As a homeschooling parent of young children, I'm often second guessing myself, wondering if I am doing enough. It seems like such a daunting task, shaping these little people into well adjusted adults that are fun to be around and are contributors to their families and communities. Am I doing it right? Am I doing enough? Am I pushing them more than I should be? Am I too relaxed with my parenting style? Are my kids happy? The questions are never ending. My husband and I are going to try homeschooling until our last child is old enough for school, after that, we will re evaluate and see if we would like to continue, or if we feel like it isn't a good fit for our family. Since our kids are so young right now, we don't follow a curriculum, nor are we sure we are going to. Our unschooling approach not only raises questions from us, but from other as well. The hardest question to answer is simply, what do you do all day? Today I've decided to answer that with 26 things we may do during the week.

ABC's of Homeschooling Little Ones
B-Bike rides
F-Finger paint
M-Modelling Clay
P-Puppet theater
Q-Quiet time
X-mail boX

Some days I feel like all we do is eat and do laundry, but really our days are full of outdoor activities, art and a lot of reading and free play. Hopefully you are now inspired to not be so hard on yourself, even on a bad day, your kids are still learning and growing wonderfully.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Bunny Bread!

Because everything is better cute.

I got the recipe from here and have probably made it four times now. I've had great results and everyone loves it! It also only needs simple pantry ingredients. (I am the queen of wanting to make things RIGHT NOW that I'm missing one ingredient for.) I like to make six smallish loaves with this recipe and freezing all but one or two. They end up being about a day or two's worth of bread for our family and it keeps it tasting fresh.

This time I snipped some bunny ears and tails into our loaves and then let Sophie colour them with out food colouring markers. I'm super in love with how detailed she made the little faces :)

P.s. Like the Siamese bunny triplets in the first photo?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Glimpses of Spring

We FINALLY got our seeds started last week! Three days in we already had little shoots from the sunflower seeds. Sophie is so excited!

We're trying the eggshell method (go free!). The windowsills in our basement apartment are just wide enough to hold an egg carton, and long enough to put three side by side. We may expand operations next year, as we have one more window in the living room. I could double our started seeds if I can convince my husband that a row of soil and water above his computer isn't really that bad of an idea. ;)

P.s. We started sunflowers, pumpkins, tomatoes and cucumbers. I also have some potatoes sprouting under the sink. Everything else I'll direct seed. What do you start early? (I will confess to having plans to sprout sweet potatoes as well, but they went bad on the counter before I got around to it!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

the no facebook experiment

A Funny little thing happened about a week and a half ago. I deactivated my Facebook account. I knew that I spent too much time on it, especially in the morning, but I didn't truly realise how much until I was no longer on it. now don't get me wrong, it is a wonderful tool to keep up with friends and family and connect with your community, but I was addicted. Also, trying to keep up with everyone from every walk of your life is exhausting. Yes, many of them are wonderful and have much to share from  their life experiences, but what are the chances that I will ever see them again? And if I am fortunate enough to see them again, we will have plenty to talk about with me not following their every move online. After I deactivated my account, another funny thing happened, something that I had experienced once before, when we took text messaging off of my phone plan, people started to call, and we had real conversations. I had to call people if I wanted information on something or to say hello. We have since made a new family account and are slowly adding family members and a few close friends, and I will reactivate my account briefly from time to time to see picture of new babies and the like, but I am thoroughly enjoying not being connected all day everyday to everyone. Why not give it a try? Even for a week. It feels great and who knows, it might just lead to more time spent together with your family, and maybe some more outdoor time!

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Unicorn Awareness Campaign

So I had something happen recently.
Something kind and reassuring and therefore (unfortunately) unusual in the world of parenting.
(I know I promised unicorns, but you'll have to wait until the end for them.)

One of my Littles has a hard time with loud noises when stressed, as well as having trouble keeping it together while hungry or tired. These two combined during the singing at church and this little person couldn't handle being in there until it was time for nursery. I ended up in the lobby with a kid who was stressed out and barely keeping it together.

Awhile later another Mama came and sat down and talked with me about how we sometimes expect little ones to change their attitudes on the spot, without considering how hard that is even for us adults, or thinking of how long it can take us to let God change how we feel about something.

Now this isn't a "my church is the nicest place to be" post but I will say that it's probably one of the only places that that was likely to happen. Even as other parents we live with these invisible blinders on that make us look straight past the parents who are struggling. When most of the time that "bad" behavior is actually the result of good parenting. That kid you hear screaming in the grocery store could probably be silenced with a trip down the candy aisle, but is that going to make the kind of adult that you'll want to deal with some day?

One of the strange things about parenting is that the superficial interactions just explode when you have a baby, but you disappear during the dirty work (or worse, face the disapproving stare or comment). So much so that one person cutting us some slack and saying that they've been there is a memorable event. So maybe I'm just saying that you could be that person too. It's so easy. Just an understanding smile and an "I remember that age!" or "Good for you for not giving in!".  Because it's hard to keep your patience  and resolve when people are acting like you've brought a unicorn out in public (either their eyes skip over you like their minds can't process what they see, or they look down their noses as if to say that respectable people wouldn't be seen in public with mythical creatures).

So please, don't hate the unicorns. Say nice things instead. ;)

(Maybe I should start a unicorn awareness campaign. Would you join? Lol)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Cupcake Skirt

Can we start with how happy I am that my yard doesn't look like this anymore? Oh Winter, how I don't miss you...
Anyways... ;)

On to the sewing! I actually made this for myself during my birthday-presents-for-me sewing spree. That plus the shape have given it the name of "the cupcake skirt".

This was a super cheap thrift store project. Can you guess what it's made from?

This my friends is actually a bed skirt. Yep. You read that right! It's made like must tiered ruffle skirts, basically just sewing the tiers onto a simple elastic waist skirt. I used a heavier weight material for the base skirt so that it would keep it's shape.

 It's probably one of my favorite clothing pieces right now. Cupcakes make me happy, in any form!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

1000 hours update

Wow, winter in Canada with three little ones makes it hard to get outside. Even with our trip to Cuba, we only accumulated 136 hours outside during the first three months of the year. Then something wonderful happened. Spring arrived! This month, not including today, we have spent 107 hours and 15 minutes outside. Not too bad considering that we spent the better part of our rainy week last week inside. I can't wait for camping season, spending entire weekends outside. How about your family? Are you meeting your screen free/ outdoor time goals for the year? If your struggling, why not brainstorm at dinner with your family and come up with ideas on how to spend more time outside this year. Here are a few questions to get you started:

What activities do we do inside that we could do outside instead?

How much time are the members of your family spending on the computer or watching TV? Is it more than the amount of time spent outside? What could be done to restore the balance?

What are your favourite outdoor activities to do together as a family?

What is something that you enjoyed doing outdoors as a child that you would like to pass on to your children?

After you are done brainstorming, try to come up with a plan and figure out a way to stick to it. Sticker charts work great for kids. Place special events like outdoor festivals and camping trips on the calendar with countdowns to important activities. Delegate tasks to every family member when planning and preparing for outings. Oldest to youngest, everyone is more likely to have fun if they played a part in making a successful outing happen. Don't sweat it if the magic isn't always there, it takes awhile to find a system that works for each family.

This is all a great idea in theory you say, but in real life, it's hard getting the kids  out the door. I know. I really do, I live it everyday. One great suggestion I've heard is to have a few pre packed bags in your closet, ready for different destinations, beach, park, forest, picnic... And to have pre made snacks in your fridge, freezer and pantry, ready to grab and go, as soon as your hear "Mommy, what do birds eat?" Let's go find out sweetie...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Heart Pocket Top

Just a simple peasant top. This was a very easy project, you can find tutorials all over the internet. Most of the extra details (the lace and ruffles) are actually because I made it a tad short.

She requested heart pockets, aren't they cute? A little droopy though, because I just cut them out of an old t-shirt. I really should have lined them or something.

I'm not in love with the lace, it's not quite the same colour as the white pockets and ruffle. Should I take it off you think?

I'm always a fan of elastic necklines on kids clothes, so easy to get on!

This was actually a request from Sophie. She picked the fabric, the pattern and the pockets. She then of course refused to wear it because it's pink. Hey Jess, does Katie want a new top? I'm just going to start sewing for your lovely, agreeable child instead :P

What do you think? Should I attempt it in another colour for Sophie?