Friday, December 30, 2011

Home School Guides

Once upon a time ago I had grand intentions of posting our homeschool preschool lessons as we completed them.  Then along came I apologize for not posting these as they were current to us.  Each guide was put together as a thematic unit utilizing entirely free resources from either the entire or our local library.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fair Isle Hats for the Hoot Kids

I love love love Fair Isle knitting.  I enjoy the process and the end result.  I love watching the pattern develop as I knit.  I started with this pattern but then had to shorten it a great deal.  My gauge was apparently too long.  Lil' Hoot already loves hers.  I'm hopeful this one will fit My Boy well from the start.  I hope to make it a tradition to knit them both hats each year, or at least each year until they get "too cool" for it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ear Flap Hat for My Boy


I made this same Ear Flap Hat for Lil' Hoot.  It fit her very well and was perfect for the whole winter.  I fear that this one will be too large for My Boy but only time will tell.  I started a crochet edge for it several times but it seemed to make the hat stretch even larger so I gave up (for now at least).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stranded Cowl


Part of the Making for Me week I did back in August.  I know that with the new baby coming I will be wearing him in front of me much of the time and I remember my neck always being chilly when I did so with Grace.  Scarves never worked well so I thought a cowl would be the perfect solution.  This great yarn (a wonderful gift) was calling to me from my stash.  I started off with this pattern but then changed it to knit in the round. I just like the look better for this yarn.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Step Stool


We have a fair amount of scrap wood hanging out in our garage from a past project that didn't quite make it to completion so I decided to start making progress on my Learn To Make List. This step stool was the first project, made from the plans found on Ana White's website. I altered it slightly to fit the scraps I had on hand. I also did a simple arc at the bottom rather than the cut out in the plans. When it came to screwing the boards together though, I needed some help. My dear husband came to my rescue and we finished it up together.

It works perfectly in the bathroom and gives Lil' Hoot the extra little boost she needs in order to wash her hands all by herself. It also works well in the kitchen but is too heavy for Lil' Hoot to move on her own (which is a good thing).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bacon Egg and Cheese Biscuit Muffins

bacon egg and cheese biscuit muffins

I found this recipe on my newest internet love - Pinterest. They're fun, they're tasty and they're so easy! Check 'em out - Bacon Egg & Cheese Biscuit Muffins
. Oh, one small point, I had to turn down the oven to 375 rather than 400. At 400 the biscuits burned slightly on the bottom by the time the eggs set. I had to then lengthen the cooking time, checking them every few minutes until the eggs set.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mariposa Tunic

Back in August I decided to focus a bit on sewing for me. First up - the Mariposa Tunic from Handmade Beginnings by Anna Maria Horner. (I'm in love with this book by the way. I just wish I had more time to make every thing in it!)  I was a more than a little intimidated and certain I would make a few mistakes so I made this first effort from some clearance Wal-mart fabric (so the whole thing cost me about $2 to make). 

Mariposa Tunic

I read every comment and blog post that I could find then jumped right in.  I found the pattern really easy to follow.  There are lots of varying comments about the modesty panel and it's true - it will totally depend on your bust how it fits you.  I had to take it up several inches but should have cut it higher.  The chest fit well but the arm holes were huge, which is very typical fit for my body shape.  I ended up having a friend help me put in some darts.  In the end - I love this pattern and I love the fit.  I plan to make another for post-partum wear (as a dress rather than a tunic).  Oh, I used a standard (cheap) cotton and it was way too stiff.  Next time around I will look for a much softer fabric.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blanket for my Boy

Baby Boy Blanket 1

I started a knitted blanket for Grace but no matter what I didn't like it. I thought I'd never actually knit a blanket, but this one really spoke to me. It's the Shawl pattern from Special Knits by Debbie Bliss.  I read a lot of comments that it was too boring but I found it perfect.  During the first trimester I was too tired at night to do much other than knit and watch TV so the easy repetition was about all I could handle.  It took me forever to figure out the edging but I absolutely love it. 

Baby Boy Blanket 2

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Weather - Sun and Rain

Last week we focused on weather, but more specifically on Sun and Rain.  We will also do Windy, Snowy, etc. but for now I chose Sun and Rain since those are what we are experiencing in our current forecast.  Grace already has a familiarity with both concepts from experience, previous conversations and Sid the Science Kid episodes.

We added a more difficult chart to our Learning Board - the What's the Weather? Chart.  There are many out there for printing so I just chose my favorite.  We simply focus on if it is Sunny or if it is Raining and will add in the other options later.  (Most of the time Lil' Hoot says it is raining even if it's not simply because she loves the rain. Last week she was asking me to make it rain just so she could use an umbrella.)

Here is our guide for the week: Teaching Guide

We had lots of fun with this one.  On Monday we were lucky to have puddles left over from Sunday on our trail so we had a little puddle-finding expedition.

Rain Puddle 1

On Wednesday the weather got a little cloudy with a few sprinkles so we took the chance to learn about how to dress for the rain.


I'm learning about the types of music that engage Lil' Hoots.  Basically, if it doesn't have actions then she hasn't any interest.  So we did more "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "This Little Light of Mine" than any other songs.  I had a book from the library to go along with "All Things Bright and Beautiful" which also worked out well.

By Friday Lil' Hoot asked me for "School Time" and even pulled out the books and began 'reading' them on her own before I could even get in the room.  As a result that's almost all we did that day, she wanted to read book after book that day so of course I obliged!  Her absolute favorite book from this week was the What's the Weather? Fun Flap Book from Scholastic.  It was simple and interactive - perfect for keeping her attention.  Though she also enjoyed reading all the fiction books that included rain and looking at the pictures in the Sunshine books.

Art Projects for the Week




Friday, September 23, 2011

Lil Hoot's New Room - The Quilt

Remember back a year and a half ago when I started painting Lil' Hoot's new room? No? Really? Well, about a year after I finished painting the room she finally moved in. I got a bright idea that I should make the quilt for her bed. Yep, my first whole quilt and I decided to make it a twin-size quilt. (Seriously, what was I thinking?!) I took months trying to decide on a fabric and really have my friends to thank for picking Central Park by Kate Spain. I fell in love with the fabric and then found that certain blues matched perfectly with the walls - yeah!


Of course, I couldn't find a pattern that I liked so I complicated things even further by designing my own. I was inspired by this quilt back that I found on Flickr. I ordered a layer cake and got started. It was a simple top to piece together, but don't look too close. I'm not a perfectionist. :-)
Quilt Top under construction

Quilt Top pieced 1

I did my best to quilt it by stitch-in-ditch but without a walking foot it was a challenge, so don't look too close there either.


I pieced the back with some of the squares from my May Moms quilt bee. (Thanks ladies!)

I also added a little dedication for my girl. I hope the quilt becomes an heirloom for her.

Her whole room was then built around this fabric and this quilt. I used the same fabric for dressing the window. And I'm slowly but surely working on pillows.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Healthy Bodies

A few months back my husband and I started discussing the idea of home school for Grace.  We have yet to decide about it for long term but we did decide that adding a bit of structure to our days would be a good thing.  As it was we had 100% free play time with bits of "teaching" stuck in whenever the opportunity arose, not a bad way of doing things but I could see the willingness and the need to go ahead and start short, informal but structured lessons.  So I got to searching (and thank you Pinterest) and put some things together.  I think it will also help to have some ideas at-the-ready once the new baby comes.

I have the added benefit of having teachers for parents.  Particularly that my mom is an elementary educator with tons of knowledge and even some fun items to pass along, including our calendar.

calendar and learning board

At the suggestion of my mom (and my own memories) we start with the calendar.  Lil' Hoot loves to tack the date up each date then we talk about the day and count the apples.  She already knows about charts from watching the Sid the Science Kid and tells me about them whenever she sees one.

I developed our lessons based on the inspiration I found at Our Preschool Homeschool.  I altered it significantly to fit my daughter, her learning style and knowledge base, which is one of the great things about teaching at home.  I developed our themes based around what outings we have each week so that life conveniently intertwines with teaching.

Our first week's theme was Healthy Bodies, to include body parts, fitness, nutrition and doctor visits.  I chose to explore four different aspects because Lil' Hoot is familiar with all these concepts and I don't plan to delve deeply into them.  I developed what I am calling a "Teaching Guide" - it has all the ideas I have for each day listed in one place.  Some days we don't get to everything, other days she has a long attention span and I have to come up with more.

Teaching Guide - Week one - Healthy Bodies

Biggest hit of the week - tracing our bodies and labeling body parts.


We practiced laying still and tracing our bodies with sidewalk chalk over the weekend with Daddy so Lil' Hoot would understand what I needed her to do on Monday for our first lesson.  She has since requested to do this over and over, each time she tells me about the body parts shown.

Her attention span varied from day to day (as expected) but overall I was surprised by her level of interest.  I used transition songs from Sid the Science Kid since she loves that show and is familiar with the songs.  (Example, we sing "School Time" rather than "Rug Time" and she now gets excited and sings along as we head to our school space.) 

As for books, I am not purchasing books for our lessons.  I simply search our local library system for books that fit our topic.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quick Gift - Pup Tent

Inspired by the pup tent pattern in Weekend Sewing by Heather Bailey, I whipped up a pup tent as a gift as a birthday gift for a friend's son.  I used a spare twin sheet then added loops of coordinating bias tape as suggested in the pattern.  I bought tent "stakes" at Lowe's - galvanized barn nails.  They're cheaper than knitting needles and they won't rust.  (For obvious reasons I didn't put those in the bag.  I gave those to his parents.)


I used an old curtains package to hold the tent and rope. Then typed up some simple instructions and made the "label". A fun, homemade gift that didn't break the bank and encourages imaginative play - that's an all around great gift in my book.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Quilting Bee Blocks

I got a smidge behind on blocks for the quilting bee while I was focused on getting Lil Hoot's new room ready for her move back in July.  (Series to come on that soon.)  I am not quite caught up and not quite complete with making blocks for our Virtual Quilting Bee.  I can't believe we have been doing this since last year!  We have all grown so much in both skills and confidence.  I can't wait to see the end results.

Flying Geese Bee Block

The Flying Geese Block.

Never would I have ever contemplated making this block. I mean, I think it's really cool, really cool, but I would not consider it within my abilities to make. Yet, here it is. It isn't perfect and I read the directions wrong so it's backwards from how it "should" be (geese flying clockwise) but my Queen Bee decided she liked them flying 'backwards'. It was interesting and I am so glad I learned to use freezer paper for piecing but I won't be making a quilt of them any time soon!

Dresden Plate Quilt Block - July
The Dresden Plate Block.

This block is intended for a quilt representing the 12 months of the year.  My month was July (in honor of my birthday).  I chose the Dresden plate design because it reminded me of both the sun and of fireworks.  I love the fabrics chosen by the Queen Bee and each one represents something different to me about July - greens for the lush grass, flowers for flowers and fireworks, the punch of yellow and orange inside pink for the sun and fireworks, blue for cool water and lazy days beside the pool/ocean, and the red is patriotic to me - celebrating Independence Day.  Oh yes, all those things are a bit deep for 'just a quilt block' but spending hours contemplating, cutting, sewing and creating...I thought about it all.

As for the design itself...I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the circle of points was to sew together, but attaching it to the background was a different story.  I used the instructions from the Sew Mama Sew Sew-Along when I made my practice block.  I didn't like their method for the middle circle, it looked too layered to me, so I just cut a circle and then ironed it on using Steam a Seam.  For attaching it to the background I simply placed, pinned and starting sewing with a small zig zag stitch.  It did not work well.  The pins let the whole thing shift around too easily and I ended up with a crinkle at the end.  It's not overly apparent but it was annoying.  In the future I will probably try some kind of temporary adhesive or a bit of Steam a Seam.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Color Tag

Don't have a partner to play tag with you?
Neither did Lil' Hoot so we made up a new version - Color Tag.
I call out a color and she runs to "tag" it.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Camera Messenger Bag

Camera Messenger Bag

Messenger-style Camera Bag

This bag was made for our photographer.  She requested messenger style with a few pockets.  I measured her camera and accessories then got to work sketching it out.  I can't remember how many times I re-worked those measurements!  I reviewed every tutorial I could find for building a camera bag and camera bag insert.  There was one thing I disliked about most of them - the 'padding' was simply a double layer of batting, at best.  And I'm sorry, but a camera that costs a few thousand dollars needs more protection!

So I set to work with 1" foam instead.  It was certainly not the easiest thing to do - all the seam allowances were more challenging, getting the foam to stay in place, lining up the pockets, etc.  In the end I tried everything to get the foam to stop shifting and I hope it worked.  I glued the edges to add some stability and did quite a bit of hand sewing to tack everything in its place.

It seemed like such a simple idea - take one of my regular bag designs and add foam.  Ha!  I don't think there will be a next time around for this bag.  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Re-Visiting My List

A few months back I published a list of Stuff To Make and now that I have reached the third trimester I thought I would re-evaluate and see where I'm at before I make a new list.

The Old Lists:

My List

  1. Two Maternity Dresses - Mariposa Dress and Empire Waist Dress - Mostly done, just need someone to help me pin the hem length and a side dart.  I actually made three maternity things for myself recently.
  2. Blossom Blouse for myself and Lil Hoot - On the fence now about this one, I may have another pattern instead.
  3. Sun Hats for myself and Lil Hoot - Made one for Lil Hoot and found an old booney cap that's been working great for me.
  4. Central Park Quilt for Lil Hoot's room and some throw pillows/pillow shams. - Quilt is done but the pillows are still in the works.
  5. Spectrum Quilt for our new baby - Not gonna happen yet, but I have a different quilt planned for pre-arrival.
  6. Collaborative Wall Art with Lil Hoot for her new room - Completed and just waiting to be hung.
  7. Finish Lil Hoot's Robin Hood Jacket - Done, except for buttons - still searching.
  8. Knit a sweater for The Kid - Undecided on the pattern still, winter hats for both kids are going to come first.

For Others List

  1. Camera Bag - Done
  2. Two Growth Charts - Slated for this month
  3. Three Summer Dresses - Done
  4. Two Mini-Quilts - Revised
  5. Henny Penny - Revised
  6. Crib Quilt - Revised
Whew.  And there's some stuff I have done that isn't even on that list, which you'll see popping up on the blog soon.  I'm feeling better and better now about my accomplishments this summer.  So now it's time for the New List.  I have two baby showers left this fall and one new arrival who is need of a little something.

New List
  1. Finish up maternity dresses/tops and get them in my wardrobe!
  2. Buttons for Lil Hoot's RHJ.
  3. Winter hats all around.
  4. Pillows for Lil Hoot's bed.
  5. Lunch tote for Big Hoot.
  6. Growth Charts - 4 of them.
  7. Sid shirt for Lil Hoot.
  8. New baby onesies.
  9. Flannel quilt for The Boy Hoot (new baby).
  10. Learn to overdye fabric and use up all those cotton knits in my closet as pjs and onesies.
  11. Finish up my quilt bee blocks.
Now then...where to start?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chocolate Glazed Donut Muffins

donut muffins

I don't recall exactly how I first stumbled across these beautiful creations but I do know I immediately pinned them. The version I made and pinned came from Joy the Baker's blog.

I love muffins - they're handy. I can make them ahead of time. They fit in one hand. They travel well and are pre-portioned.

I love donuts - they're yummy. But...they're no treat for the hips, so a baked version has to be better right?

I love chocolate - enough said.

So what could be better than combining all those things together?!

As with all things, I had to make a few changes...

I eliminated the nutmeg because I didn't want a nutmeg flavor to them.
I used skim milk because that's what I had on hand.
I used vanilla yogurt rather than plain because that's what they had in small sizes.
I used semi-sweet chocolate rather than unsweetened because we like our chocolate to taste really chocolatey.

Overall, easy to make and worth the time invested, though I really thought they tasted like a dense version of my vanilla cupcakes.

The chocolate glaze was perfect. I may never make icing/frosting for any cupcake ever again. The glaze was prettier and easier and yummier than any other recipe I have ever made.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Robin Hood Jacket

About a year ago I cast on the Robin Hood Jacket from Zoe Mellor's Adorable Knits for Tots.  I knit this pattern a few years ago for a friend's new baby and really enjoyed it.  I always knew I wanted one for Lil' Hoot but thought I'd make it in a larger toddler size so (hopefully) she can wear it longer.

What I didn't like about the pattern is that all the pieces are knit separately and then seamed together.  I thought I'd just go ahead and knit the fronts along with the back and leave arm holes when I got to that point.  Good idea, in theory.  It turns out I didn't leave a big enough space for the arm holes, so when I realized I couldn't fix it, I did what every frustrated knitter does...I shoved it in the closet for awhile until finally ripping it all out to start over.  By that time it was well into fall and there was no way I was going to get it finished.

So this Spring when the first trimester exhaustion peaked and all I could do at night was sit and watch tv, I cast on for a new RHJ in a much larger size.  I decided, in my tired state, I should follow the pattern to the letter.  It worked out much better...except...despite being on gauge and knitting a larger size, the sleeves seem to be a bit tight, somewhat remarkable considering my skinny child.  Blocking works wonders though and her sweater is all set for fall...almost...

As you can see, it still needs buttons.  It's not for lack of trying though, I just haven't found the right buttons yet.  I hereby publicly declare to find them, buy them and get them sewn on before fall (if it ever comes).

Robin Hood Jacket Back
Robin Hood Jacket Front

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Smocked Sundresses and an Itty Bitty Baby Dress

Boy-oh-boy am I slow in posted (and completely finishing) these dresses!

smocked sundress itty bitty baby dress

Ok, so these dresses have been done for awhile but were part of a super-secret surprise gift for a friend.  I made the Itty Bitty Baby Dress from Made By Rae for her new addition (due any day now) and a Smocked Sundress from Heather Ross for her little girl.

Of course, I couldn't stop at just one Smocked Sundress - Lil Hoot needed one too.  I did the straps differently on Lil Hoot's dress.  I knew she wouldn't stand for straps that tied at her shoulders so I made straps by encasing elastic in a fabric tube.  It's easy-on that way.  What I didn't consider is that it is also incredibly easy-off.  Lil Hoot is constantly taking the straps on/off her shoulders which allows the dress to slide on down and expose her top half - not really what you want to happen at church on Sunday.

smocked sundress front

smocked sundress back

Friday, June 24, 2011

Snappy Toddler Top

I've been in the mood to just follow someone else's steps and not have to design from scratch, so I started the Snappy Toddler Top pattern from Prudent Baby...months ago.  It was one of those projects that I just had to put away for a little bit before I could make any progress.

Snappy Toddler Top

First, always read the comments (if available) before starting a project.  The many people who have gone before you probably have something good to know.  I didn't.  I just dove right in and found myself very angry with the snap installation process.  If I got them to line up right then hammering, even gently and on a soft surface, inevitably bent the snap and made it un-usable.  When the instructions said to "simply line up and hammer in place" - they lied.  So I completely ruined my first set of yoke pieces with trial and error on snaps.  It was okay though...

My first set of yoke pieces didn't come out very smooth.  I'm still new to the machine I'm using and sewing all the small curves of the yoke on this machine certainly had a learning curve (pun intended).  So having to make a second set of yoke pieces ended up being a good thing because the second set came out much smoother.

And I now read all the comments and even collected advice from friends about snaps.  I put the whole thing to the side for a bit while I worked on other projects.  I waited for a sale and then I purchased a pair of snap pliers.  (Great snap tutorial at Sew, Mama, Sew.)  Taking a cue from the comments, I installed the snaps last.  Success!

Of course, since it took me two months from start to finish, I already need to let out the bottom hem so it's not too short!


Lil' Hoot chose the fabric and thanks to Jessica for having sent it along to my stash!  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Doll Stroller Make Over

I found Grace a little doll stroller for a few bucks at a garage sale, but...the seat was icky - slick, stained, odd fabric.  Yuck.  So I knew I'd have to make a new one but it looked simple enough.

I started with this:


Then I ripped it all apart and made the pattern pieces:


And, eventually, I ended up with this:
Finished Stroller

And a very, very happy Lil' Hoot:

I said "eventually" because I forgot to mark where the pieces should be sewn back together and gave myself a little fit until I saw an online tutorial for an almost identical stroller seat and had a realization. Also, I wanted to make this from things I had in my closet already - no running to the store or spending more money on it. So I used stash fabric, ribbon and bias tape instead of canvas webbing and re-used the same buckle. The dolls really aren't picky and neither is Lil' Hoot. I have a feeling it will rip out before too long though since my tiny toddler refuses to believe the stroller is only for dolls.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


My most recently completed projects have primarily been gifts so I have kept them under wraps.  The first of the gifts has been given so I can finally post about it!  I spent months searching for the perfect gift for my friend's little boy and when I stumbled on this tutorial only a day before our swap deadline, well, I had to make it.  He loves both Toy Story and horses so a Bullseye softie was perfect!

I used the Bullseye Tutorial from the Running with Scissors blog - with a few very minor tweaks.

2011-04-30_09-12-02_347 by Mama Hoot Designs
First, I used pipe cleaners (aka fuzzy sticks) twisted together because that's what I had on hand.  

Second, I added more hand sewing.  As a generalization I prefer not to rely on hot glue to hold together anything exposed to toddler abuse (see Toy Story 3 for reference).  So I glued and then also sewed.  I used a blanket stitch on the hooves, a straight stitch on the ears and french knots for the eye balls.  I did use a fabric marker for the nose.

I also learned a few things for the next time I make one - first, I placed the tail too high (my mistake, she shows you on the pattern where to put it, duh); second, don't forget to clip the curves before flipping it right side out (again, I just needed to read the tutorial, duh); third, pay more attention to the front curve, mine came out much flatter in the front than hers.  Oh and I would really like to make a leather saddle next time, I didn't have any scraps on hand so I would like to get some.

Overall it was fun to make and I am told it is much appreciated.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Fix It Box

At the bottom of the closet in my sewing room there are three boxes, they are all full.  One is a box of clothing that waits to be repurposed into new items; one is a box of items ready to be gifted to new homes; and one is a box of items waiting to be fixed.  The "Fix It" box gathers lots and lots of dust.  It's the utilitarian side of sewing that just isn't attractive to me.  It's work.

I would much rather start on a cute new dress than sit down a hem some pants, mend some holes or sew on a button.  The sad reality is that once something gets to the Fix It box then it will probably not be seen again for a long, long time.  I know I need to change that.  I recently reorganized the whole room and went through the Fix It box.  Interestingly enough my husband just asked about a pair of his shorts that have been in the box since last summer.  They were mended but I needed to repair the pocket.  It took me less than 5 minutes to get the shorts ready for him to wear.  Why have I put this off so long?!

So I made a new commitment to myself - I promised to take one thing out of the Fix It box and fix it (in its entirety) before moving on to my new, fun project.  Today's Fix It - a button on a different pair of my husband's shorts.  It seemed to be the most immediate need.  Again it took only minutes and now I'm off to re-try the Snappy Toddler Top from Prudent Baby.  Those dag-blasted snaps are giving me grief!!!

What about you?  Do you have a similar box somewhere in your house?  I challenge you to find a way to tackle it!  Let's see if we can get that box emptied out!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Everybody Needs A Little Time Away

After a bit of time away from sewing and blogging, I'm coming back.  I haven't been completely idle in my studio but I have shifted gears and slowed way down.  In fact, I have very few completed projects over the past few months.  And I have quite a few half-finished projects just waiting for me.  So in the spirit of productivity and to overcome my great Indecision lately...I took a cue from Stitched in Color's recent blog post and made A Sewing List.  Well, actually, mine is a Crafting List because it isn't exclusively sewing.

Also, if you haven't heard, I am just about 4 months pregnant, so I know that my list is for projects to be completed before baby's arrival in late October. 

My List
  1. Two Maternity Dresses - Mariposa Dress and Empire Waist Dress
  2. Blossom Blouse for myself and Lil Hoot
  3. Sun Hats for myself and Lil Hoot
  4. Central Park Quilt for Lil Hoot's room and some throw pillows/pillow shams.
  5. Spectrum Quilt for our new baby, The Kid
  6. Collaborative Wall Art with Lil Hoot for her new room
  7. Finish Lil Hoot's Robin Hood Jacket
  8. Knit a sweater for The Kid
I could go on but I feel like since these were the first to come to mind then I should stop here and focus on these.

But I realized I couldn't just make one list.  I enjoy making things for others and already have plans for several things for others and their young 'uns.

For Others List
  1. Camera Bag
  2. Two Growth Charts
  3. Three Summer Dresses
  4. Two Mini-Quilts
  5. Henny Penny
  6. Crib Quilt
All is subject to change of course, but I'm hoping this will help me get moving forward.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Free Motion Quilting

My interest in free-motion quilting began this past summer with this post at Craft Apple.  Then this fall, several of my friends learned the technique.  And when I saw this beautiful bib posted by my friend, Quirky Granola Girl, I just had to learn for myself.
I started by asking her (and a few others) some questions.  Then I watched a few tutorials - Craft AppleCrazy Mom Quilts, and (of course) Oh, Fransson!  I laughed when I saw the speed with which these women can quilt.  Rest assured, if you are like me, there is no need to go that fast.  And the first attempt, it probably won't be pretty, see? 

First Attempt
 But don't sweat it, because it will get better.  And if you have questions, there are tons of people out there willing to help.  Crafters/Knitters/Quilters - we're a generally friendly bunch.
Second Attempt
And then we you get up the nerve - start your first project.  For me, once I had the groove down, I had to keep going.  It takes me a while to warm-up before I can get going again.
First Project

Monday, February 21, 2011


It is a New Year's goal of mine to try at least one local restaurant or bakery each month.  Not a huge goal, but we tend not to eat out very often.  For February, we made it a family event - one place for each of us.  First, we were off to Monkey Bizness for Lil' Hoot.  Then, we ate at Oklahoma Joe's - a favorite of Big Hoot.  And our final stop, Smallcakes was just for me.

Smallcakes came to my attention through Cupcake Wars on the Food Network.  (I tend to be a bit of a Food Network junkie.)  In their first appearance on the show Owner/Baker Jeff Martin admitted to the judges that a flavor was forgotten.  While his honesty was admired, he was sent home.  The appearance gathered him local fame and the news piece caught my attention.  And I am always on the look out for a good cupcake. 

Forgive my poor photos but I just couldn't wait until morning to bust open the box.  Aren't they pretty?

And the breakdown of contents, starting at top left:

My cupcake - Drum Stick
Classic vanilla cake
topped with both fudge icing
and vanilla buttercream
drizzled with caramel & a few nuts
Big Hoot's cupcake - Choc-o-holic
Classic chocolate cake
topped with chocolate buttercream 

Lil Hoot's Cupcake - The Hostess
Chocolate Cake filled with vanilla buttercream, topped with fudge icing

The Reviews:

Lil Hoot cried when we split her cupcake in half.  She loved it so much, she couldn't bear to part with even a piece of it.  (Note to parents:  Always split the cupcake in half when it's out of sight, then give only the half from the beginning.  Duh.) 

Big Hoot scarfed his cupcake down and deemed it, "Delectable."

Mama Hoot - I loved the cake and the fudge icing, but the buttercream is a bit sweet for me.  I will certainly have one again though.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quilting Bee Blocks

As I mentioned before, I am currently part of a virtual quilting bee.  We started back in October and here is a walk through our blocks.  I am loving learning new techniques and taking them with me into my products.

January's Block - String Quilt

October's Block - String Quilt

November's Block - Anna's Design

Monday, January 31, 2011

Studio Reorganization

Some how, after every project, my studio is an overwhelming disaster.  I knew after the holidays were over that I needed to find a solution.  I cannot work in chaos, it sucks the life right out of me.  So here's what I started with:

I'm pretty embarressed to even admit to these photos, but it's the truth.  It just wasn't working for me.  So I cleaned out and reorganized.

 I started with my closets.  I couldn't see what I had so I ended up dragging it all out into my work space and digging through it.  I pulled out all my fabric and separated it by type and color.  Then I organized my scraps the same way, using the ziplock bags and bins to hold them.  Same for ribbons, bias tapes, etc.  I used an old embroidery floss box to separate buttons.  The large boxes at the bottom of one closet hold yards of apparel fabric that are waiting for the some day that I need them.  As well as clothing that waits to be repurposed.

And I cleaned out all the rest of my shelves, getting rid of anything without purpose.  I rearranged so that I can use the extra boards and shelves from our garage and we don't have to buy anything new.  I now use the shelves beneath my cutting table to hold completed orders that need to be shipped and current projects (and their supplies).

So far, so good - my studio is working much better.  Even when I do make a mess, it's faster to clean up.  Of course, it also takes some discipline to put things away as soon as I am done with them rather than thinking to myself, "I'll pick it all up at the end."