Category Archives: crafts

So spoiled

I’ve written a few times about the epic pumpkin patch my mom’s cousin used to own just outside of Redlands, CA. We started going there when my now 8 year old was a month old. Being family we did all the activities for free and basically for the years before we moved here, I had all the fancy (and tasty) heirloom pumpkins I could stand for free. Well change comes to us all and we, um, moved across the country. Last year I just couldn’t bring myself to pay for a pumpkin patch, plus we were super busy so we just picked up jack’o’lantern pumpkins at Walmart and called it meh. This year a friend invited me to go with her and her son to a local Pumpkin Patch (one of about 87 in a 5 mile radius of our house…turns out when you can grow things like corn mazes, people do.) I finally got my spoiled self in gear and made peace with the fact that no it wouldn’t be the same, and yes it was going to cost me both my arm and my leg. Sigh. The munchkins were beyond thrilled with the experience so I’m thinking we may be back in the proverbial holiday tradition saddle once again.

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People either love these things or hate them. I hate that I love them. And the disembodied cow/sheep heads? fuggetaboutit.

I’m not sure if I can adequately express the magnitude of my gratitude, that my kids are both easily entertained and easy to please. Tire and dirt? We’re set for hours, Mom!

Not pictured is the huge silo fort with air cannons. Not sure how I was so negligent in my picture taking that I have no pictures of it’s magnificence.

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But the real star, the real icing on our fall extravaganza cake was this little barn thing filled with corn. We spent a solid hour in here and they probably would have stayed longer. True I had to fish corn out of pants and skivvies, but it was the best sensory exploration activity of the whole season for all the ages. All of the things we did just reminded me and threw into stark relief that 99.9% of the time, simple is the right answer (and not just for kids).

We rounded out the day with a haunted hay ride to a field of perfectly placed (if not exactly grown) pumpkins to find our Jack’o’lanterns. Corra had a huge (fake) spider almost land on her head and ghosts came out of the trees. It was pretty great.

So next on our tradition documenting docket: Halloween itself!

 

 

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Filed under crafts, Holidays, homeschool, life the universe and everything

dragons, and ghosts, and pigs, and fairies…oh my!

oI love Halloween, don’t you? Being a mom is what actually inspired this love. I stopped trick-or-treating when I was about 12 and being a rather awkward teenager I never really had much to do on Halloween and felt like the biggest loser because of that. But then a husband and kids came and all that mess changed. Now I’m a veritable rock star when I pull off costumes that impress and delight my children and I get to orchestrate fun lunches (mummy hot dogs) and Day of the Dead parties (complete with sugar skull sugar cookies!) This year was something of a wild card. Because of hurricane Matthew and our church’s commitment to help with the clean up effort, our normal trunk-or-treat was canceled. We happen to live just far enough into the country that I was fairly certain trick- or-treating was not going to happen in our neighborhood (“what? done after 3 houses? I guess we have hiked three miles…”). Luckily my brother and Sis-in-law graciously offered to share their neighborhood and they even fed us dinner before hand to build up the energy reserves for a thorough candy acquisition operation. Helps that their neighborhood is one of those where people give out full-size candy bars and a few couples even had a tent and were serving up hot dogs and hot chocolate! We know where we will be next year!

Unfortunately, when we kicked off the festivities with pumpkin carving, Neil wasn’t here. He is traveling back to Vegas for one week every month. Small price to pay for having him home 100% the rest of the time, but I’m pretty certain if his boss makes him travel over my birthday again, I’m going to refuse to drive Neil to the airport. Ever. This year was the first that both big kids did their pumpkins completely solo. Babies…Growing up…Sniff. And as an aside, as soon as the pumpkins started to cave in and get soft, Mei (our dairy cow) yummed them up for dinner. No waste on this farm!

Little Man is a fairly steady customer when it comes to costume requests. He knows months in advance what he will be and he sticks to it. This year he knew he was going to be “Steve” from Minecraft. About a month out, that changed to “a red dragon.” That was fine by me and it led to one of my favorite costume triumphs to date. Hi. I’m Lindsey, and I work in felt.

A study in contrasts. Layna, kind of out of no where informed me that she wanted to be a ghost (“Boo!”) and stuck with that for 2 months. Naomi went through this process: vampire witch, Princess Leia (until I semi insisted on a turtle neck dress…authenticity people!), mermaid, Pocahontas, and at last…Zarina the pirate fairy. I had a ton of fun with her costume too and learned how to shir. This made for a super comfy bodice that actually looked right. Plus she had a costume for Ren Faire! Win!

True to three year old form, Corra changed her mind daily for about 3 months. We were reading a magazine in which some kids went as pigs, and I reminded her we had the pig beanie (a white elephant gift from the work Christmas party years ago). She was sold, and double sold when I told her we would use Naomi’s old dance stuff to complete the ensemble. Win again! Also the full dragon costume. Yay for internet tutorials that made wings much simpler than what I was envisioning. How did people do things before the internet?

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Candy was acquired, fun was had, and life was good.

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The next night we had a Dia de los Muertos party for school, and later some friends came to dinner to help with decorating the cookies and eating the sugar skulls. These cookie cutters are giving my Ninja-Bread-Men cutters some stiff competition for my favorite baking thing.

Amazon also came through with these skull candy molds. So cool.

This was one of our better years for Halloween. For school the next day we did candy graphing and pumpkin measuring for math, and Halloween MadLibs for writing. This month we read “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (the real one, and it was awesome!) and a book called “Little Witch“. It’s going to be tough to top this one, but challenge accepted for next year!

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Rear Tine Tiller

You know those license plate frames or bumper stickers that say, “My other car is a…” (Nimbus 2000 for Harry Potter fans, fishing boat for anglers, etc)? I need one that says, “My other vehicle is a rear tine tiller.”

Usually I ruminate about blog posts for a while and in the whirlwind of my current life there has been no end of material to write about. A very clever post about projects starting (complete with pictures of all the projects) was almost done, just waiting for an early kid bedtime for me to type it up. That is until a guy from our church loaned us a tiller and we got to work on what will be my 1300 square foot garden and a berry patch almost that big.

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Doesn’t look like much, but I’m in love. It may sound weird, but I love vacuuming. It is far and away my favorite household chore, and tilling with this bad boy is even better. We had so much fun trying to not die and cut up the dirt at the same time (the husband guy did manage to figure out how to move forward with the wheels actually on the ground and that was much easier) and my little man is very put out that he isn’t big enough to work this thing.

We have made good progress and I can’t even tell you how excited I am that this is happening. All of it, the whole farm thing is real and it’s happening. The other day I was reflecting and I got choked up because it feels so good to be here doing all the things that we are doing.

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And Converse are totally legit foot wear for operating heavy duty blades inches from your feet. At least I didn’t wear flip flops like some sexy men I know…ahem.

Other things that were going to be in the project post that got hijacked by a tiller:

We got 30 chicks (down to 28 because two didn’t make it) and they are breeds we’ve never owned. Some of them will be absolutely beautiful. Whatever, chickens can totally be beautiful. Discussing the merits of various coop designs is how me and my hubby spend our evenings. We’re exciting like that.

So. Rural south. If you wanted to have a yard sale and you put your stuff in your front yard it would be an epic fail because very few people would drive by your place and buy said stuff. People here are smart and figured all that out. What they do is set up shop on some cleared land at the major cross roads between towns. Today me and the kids were on the way to the post office (By to the way, I’m a huge fan of small towns but especially small town post offices!) and a guy had two porch swings set out. The swing that was supposed to be on our porch when we moved in was not, so I have been looking for one. Online was quite a bit pricier than what this guy was asking plus impulse buying it today saved me shipping time! Supporting local craftsmen for the win! Just needed to paint it white…

My men have been busy. Neil is going to be building all sorts of stuff (shed, chicken coop, greenhouse) but he’s the most excited about his new work desk made out of iron pipe and a cut down door. Picture of the finished product to follow. And little man bought himself a corn snake. Originally it was named “Slinky” but then his dad told him that if you say “Keeslin” over and over again you end up saying “slinky” (try it!) and so he changed the snakes name to “Keeslin,” or how ever we are spelling it.

These two have been hanging out on the porch on the couch that is destined for a thrift store (we just need a way to get it there) and helping me stomp leaves for my future compost pile. Turns out, perfecting the art of rotting trash and mixing poop for my garden is another favorite pastime of mine. I’m classy, what can I say.

My oldest little girl has been busy loving on her popcorn trees. These trees in our front yard make me giddy, and they’ve only just started into spring.

I love it here.

 

 

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Internet and almost 5

The internet is like the ultimate magic trick. I post these pictures:

and what you see is the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, the woman cut in half, the happy product of family love for an upcoming celebration. What you don’t see, thanks to the internet, are the mirrors and rigged set up. What you don’t see are the toddler sized fistfuls that were gouged out of the cake while it cooled on the stove and I foolishly took my eyes off of it for 3 seconds. What you don’t see are the finger smudges on the perfect white fondant or my little helpers jockeying for position who almost pushed the cake off the table. You don’t see me biting my tongue off so I won’t scream at these adorable eager faces, “Please leave the kitchen! Birthday cakes are not about fun or about you! They are about me having one chance to show off and to create something and take a perfect picture! Birthday cakes are the mark of my success as a mother, so back off!”  No, No. Like any self-respecting magician I twirl my handkerchief and flourish my wand and it looks awesome.

Because text is a terrible medium for conveying tone and meaning, the above may read as cynical and a wee bit desperate. I promise it’s not…Ok fine. There is a smidge of cynicism and desperation but nothing a 3 hour nap won’t cure. Honestly, I’m grateful that when I look  back at these pictures, I’ll remember how much I rocked throwing this together last minute in the middle of packing my life. No plan, just colored drops beckoning from the Joann’s self. I’ll remember how she danced around the table and how carefully she placed each drop that I gave her on its pink frosting spot.

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I’ll remember this face and how she blew out each candle individually, but what a triumph for the girl with no diaphragm strength to speak of. She bounced in her chair, literally, because she was too excited to sit still. She clapped her hands and shouted, “Yay!” with her gravely voice.

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Opening presents is a total family affair at your house too, right? We will remember the process and the birthday parade, even if we forget the presents.

Smoke and Mirrors (read internet blogging) has a place. It allows me to capture the stuff that is worth remembering and letting the terrible day I was having fade into its proper place. Genuine and real, but trying to let the icky stuff go. Sigh.

So speaking of remembering…trains of thought collided in my brain one evening and resulted in the coolest art project/useful craft/cathartic way for me to say good bye to my childhood (it was quite the collision). We collected pictures of letters, numbers, and random things from our favorite places all over the city. I’m going to laminate them and put magnets on the back to make a perpetual calendar for the new house.

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There are not many words for how happy this makes me.  “Goodbye” suddenly has purpose and beauty.

 

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Sara and Sally

It was late October when I asked the kids what they were thinking about asking Santa to bring them for Christmas. Little man gave Santa a few options but he really wanted a Lego Minecraft set (which he got and has loved). Little girl, without hesitation, said, “I want Santa’s elves to hand make me a fairy doll but it has to be a mom fairy doll and a baby doll with a cradle (she really meant a carriage) and the mom has to have arms long enough to wrap around the baby and hold her like this and her dress has to be pink on top and blue on the bottom and her hair should be buttons like in a bun but string would be ok too.” And that didn’t change right up to the day she opened the box with her very own “Elvin Crafted” fairy doll with baby and carriage.

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They were named Sara and Sally, respectively.

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I could not for the life of me figure out how I was going to do a carriage. Luckily, there is a huge trend right now of Fairy Gardens. Couple this trend with Etsy and you get holiday bliss for the mom of one very particularly precise five year old. After a quick search I found a wire carriage and when it got to me I whipped up a matching pillow and blanket.

When Naomi told me this is what she wanted, my first thought was, “Ok cool! I have the internet, I can make anything!” By the way, that confidence that borders on naïve arrogance comes directly from my mom. I was raised by a woman who’s rallying battle cry was, “Sure, I think I can make that.” And she could. And she did. And she does. And so I assume that I can too.

I found these tutorials:

http://www.blog.handmadehome.me/2013/10/how-to-sew-tilda-angel-doll-detailed.html

http://www.tantehilde.be/wrdprss/?page_id=80

and away I went.

Well. Turns out doll making is a fine art and should be respected. I totally screwed up the first one and had to try again. A lady I know who works at my local Joann craft store found me the most perfect wing material. I butchered that and had to go to my plan b material. I lost one of the sides of the wings and had to start over. Shhh! Don’t tell Naomi they are totally lopsided and asymmetrical. Sigh. Here is what she looks like sans skirt (the skirt actually turned out nicely…once again sergers are God’s gift to the crafty), and here is her hair from the back. For the record, if I ever become a fairy, I want hot magenta and lime green dreadlocks just like Sally.

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Yarn is going to be my crazy old lady obsession some day. Stored in huge brightly colored bins, I’ll take it down and call it “My Precious.” But seriously this yarn was exactly what I imagined and gave me the strength to continue after the first horrible attempt at a body.

Anyways, I made up the pattern for Sara (the baby) and I think she turned out ok. Not my favorite and if I hadn’t sworn off doll making forever, I know what I’d want to do differently. It did give me a huge feeling of accomplishment and the fact that Corra loves her maybe even more than Naomi gives me warm fuzzies. Garyn keeps saying how talented a craftsman Santa’s elf must be {Wink, Wink!}. He really enjoyed being in on “The Secret” this year and is a sweet boy to compliment his mom and keep the magic alive for his little sister.

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Age of Chivalry

That’s the name of our local Renaissance Faire, which we recently attended. I’ve decided that for me, going to Ren Faire is the adult equivalent to “I want to run away and join the circus.” There is a part of me that wonders (with just a touch of wistfulness) what would it be like if that is what you did…traveled from one Ren Faire or historical reenactment to another doing cool stuff like  weaving trim on a inkle loom whilst wearing a gorgeous period costume and talking to everyone in a cool accent? Le Sigh. I wasn’t even planning on going, but when I finished the kids Halloween costumes ahead of schedule and a friend mentioned that they were going, I reconsidered. I’m all about a Halloween costume getting as much use as possible and going with a friend made the whole thing seem less overwhelming. Throw in a borrowed double stroller, free admission, the prospect of a meat pie and I couldn’t wait. [Warning: Ren Faires are highly photogenic events. Please excuse the ridiculous amounts of pictures in this post and just know that I pared down considerably.]

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Halloween costume preview. Also I’ve decided that the Faire was the most amazing place for my children. Not only are you encouraged to talk to anyone and everyone…most of the people who are dressed up, are at the Faire for the sole purpose of talking to inquisitive kids! It was such a nice change of pace…to be saying, “Go say hi! Ask the scary looking pirate where his ship is! Curtsy to the queen before launching into a 5 minute monologue about your fairy costume and how you are going to wear it on your upcoming trip to the Feywild!”

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Adventurers all. Plus a dragon.

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Ok. During the jousting, both of my little girls ’bout lost their minds. Corra was bouncing and giggling and pointing like mad at all the horses and she couldn’t get enough. Layna spent the whole time burying her head in my shoulder, screaming, and demanding that I keep my hands over her ears. That one doesn’t do loud noise. While we were standing well away from the arena a very nice Wild clan member with some very creative piercings tried to make her smile. Layna was distracted but didn’t quite know what to make of the wolf on the girls head or the white and black body paint. Huzzah for Ren Faire!

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It was so cool to bring the big kids as they are now old enough to care about the historical crafts and other stuff that people demonstrate. They came home and wanted me to print out more Celtic designs for them to paint. Now I just need to learn how to spin hair into yarn on an old fashioned spinning wheel! Oh, it will happen.

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Layna was digging the homemade crane and Naomi was in heaven being fussed over by a royal court.

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After a yummy (if not period accurate) lunch we were able to continue on. The meat pie was delicious.

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Friends were made everywhere (now I get to explain to Naomi why she can’t wear the green feather that her friend let her keep to church today). My little fairy and warrior monk (he’ll be a warrior monk mouse for Halloween) were very popular with everyone. I love the Renaissance Faire and it only is going to get easier to take the munchkins as the little girls get older. Who knows? Maybe someday Layna will be ok with “We Will Rock You” over a loud speaker? Maybe. Although next year I’m totally dressing up…better get on making a peasant shirt to go under the bodice I made in high school for my first Ren Faire.

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craftiness and a tribute

I’m not a purse kind of girl. But one day a few years ago at Target, there was the most perfect purse/diaper bag ever. And it was $5. Done and Done. That bag lasted me through 3 babies and was wholly dedicated to the role of “stuff schelpper.” Despite some stains and torn linings, and some gaping rips towards the end, I loved my bag. However, it was time to say good bye and pass the torch to a new baby and mommy detritus carrier.  Back to Target I went and they have some pretty great bags. But, here are  some things you should know about me though. I’m kind of cheap. And I have a cabinet full of material waiting for that perfect project. So the bags I saw were definitely not $30 great and the material was calling to me from the cabinet. Who am I to say no to pleading fabric?

I went to the internet and found some really cool ideas and free patterns (my inner tightwad rejoiced). This one was the winner:  http://destashification.com/2011/08/28/boho-sling-bag-tutorial/

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Slouchy hobo bags are the worst pictures models ever. But on the plus side they make great cat snuggle pillows.

Overall it wasn’t bad to put it together. The pattern was simple and the online tutorial is very well done and easy to follow. I learned some new things and really am pleased with how it turned out, especially since it took maybe 2-1/2 hours total work. Not to mention me and the kids can beat the snot out of it and when it dies, I’ll make a new one.

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