December 31, 2010

Slippers for a Princess (or a Ballerina)

When Briton opened his slippers on the Solstice, Evelyn immediately looked up and said "Can I have some?" I hadn't really thought much about making slippers for her. While the rest of us seem to spend a lot of time in slippers or thick socks, Evie has always opted for one of her (many) colorful pairs of tights, both during the day and the night. It offers a chance for another wardrobe change when she takes off her "clothes" and puts on "pajamas". The next day she asked if they were done yet, and the next, and the next, until I decided I better get moving.

I'd eventually like to knit her a pair, I have a pattern for something similar to my slippers but need to order some heavy pink felting yarn (our local shop didn't seem to have anything bulky enough) and as the boots took me eons to finish, I wanted something for her in the meantime. This all happened about the same time that I wandered into my favorite local shop and picked up Heather Ross's Weekend Sewing, a book that has been on my list for a while but which I hadn't actually opened. Among other fantastic projects that I'd love to work on (Kimono Dress!) were the Guest Slippers. Just the thing for my ballerina loving girl.

The pattern in the book is for adults so I used a pair of Evie's ballet slippers to gauge the length and then generally followed the directions. The only changes made were to leave off the hanging loops (since there is no chance that they would ever ever be hung up) and to have only a teeny bit of the rick rack peeking through the seam because I worried that she would find it scratchy. In fact, I'll probably leave it out all together next time (and there will be more pairs, I can already tell, we'll need color options after all. I would highly recommend this book, the directions were clear and the projects are all fun and useful, at least from my point of view. As I said, the book contains patterns so if you want to make these then your best chance is to pick up a copy but this was the general gist of construction.
Using the ballet slippers I traced the basic shape of them flattened and cut 4 from each of two pieces of fabric (in the book you cut on a fold but I was using scraps so cut four, adding a little extra for seam allowance). Once the toe and heel seams were sewn together, I layered the pieces together. Inside piece (turned right side out), rick rack, then outside piece (turned wrong side out) and stitched around the inner edge of the slippers. This was a little tricky because they were so small, the didn't fit around my machine, even with the front piece removed, so the pins caught a little in the process and it was a little slip going. But we got there.
That done about an inch of elastic sewn in at the heel, the slippers went right side out and the soles were pinned in and hand stitched on. First the insoles and then the bottom of the shoe, both traced from her foot. I used scrap wool from her coat which I felted in the machine first to make it thicker.
I finished them mid day yesterday and she hasn't taken them off since, although she is supposed to be getting dressed so that we can go out as I type, so at some point they will have to come off. Unless she decides to wear them under her boots, which hey, isn't a bad idea at all.

December 29, 2010

A Sewing Kind of Day

The week before Christmas I was talking to a dear friend at a party when she made the comment "you're job is so cool!" It was a reminder that I needed. The party came at the end of a long day of working on projects for various columns when I really wanted to be working on Christmas gifts and I had been feeling stressed and a little frustrated about squeezing all the things I had to do in with those that I really wanted to do. I hadn't gotten to sew "just because" for what seemed like forever, I'd spent far too much time tweaking a tutorial that just wouldn't come out right and I had been very, very happy to shut off my computer for the day and walk away from "work". But when she said that it literally made me stop and think, she's right. I wouldn't want to be doing any other job out there. Even with the needle pricks, the paper cuts, the ripping out of yet another seam and the occasional bad day. So I'm feeling very lucky these days to do what I do.
Today, for example, is a very good day. A sewing kind of day. I woke up this morning before the kids (Not hard during the holidays since they've been staying up late hanging with their Grandma who is visiting and then sleeping in waaaaayyy late) and worked on the beginnings of some slippers for Evie (before I realized I was out of elastic and couldn't get very far on them without it, oops) then switched to a sample of a treasure bag inspired by this post that I'm going to be teaching to four little boys this afternoon. I have four different sewing projects sitting on my table, two for Evie, two for me (for me! I haven't made something for myself for so long it's ridiculous!) and then I get to prep for my class, for which I'm really excited. I love teaching kids to sew, and boys, well, having taught both my little boy and my big boy to sew (who, by the way, MADE me pajama's for Christmas. And they fit! And I didn't help at all! Crazy!) I'm guessing I'm in for some hilarity.

Every year, as December draws to a close I seem to think "If you had told me a year ago that we would be here, I wouldn't believe it" and it's doubly true of this year. I wouldn't have guessed that I would be working again and if I had I never would have through that "work" would basically be my two hobbies, crafting and writing, all balled up into one. We've had a lot of rough times this year, sadness, stress, but also so many things to be grateful for. It makes me wonder what next year will bring. And where we'll be twelve months from now. But since every year brings takes us around another unexpected bend, I don't think I'll even try to guess. I'll just go along for the ride. I hope your end of year reflections are leaving you feeling similarly uplifted. And if not, if your year has been more than a little tough, here's to a better next year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you.

Now back to the sewing machine I go.

December 28, 2010

New Toys

I'm feeling very spoiled these days because I got two much desired toys for Christmas, one from my mom and one from Will's. One was that food processor that I've been complaining about (aren't you glad that I can't whinge about that anymore? And you bet I've used it already, Christmas afternoon, scalloped potatoes, so much better when you don't have to slice four pounds of russets by hand. Whoop! I'm in love.
The other was a Silhouette cutter. Up until now I've been sort of suspicious of all the craft cutters out there. The whole idea of having to have cartridges took me back to my student teaching days with the die cutting machine that never quite worked the way I needed it to. But this is a whole different kettle of fish. it's like a laser cutter, but without the laser. And it's so much fun. Seriously I'm having to restrain myself from just cutting things at random because I can. (Snowflakes for the window? Why sure! And I wont even get a hand cramp from holding the Xacto blade too long!) I even tried to talk will into cutting out the little emblem on his business card, just to see how it would work. And I'm itching to get some heat transfer paper so that I can make some fun t-shirts for the kids, and myself. And the dog. Ok, maybe not the dog. But you get the idea.

For now I'm trying to learn the program that came with it and playing with the different blades and images that came with it and thinking up some fun winter projects to keep the kids and I busy while it's 17 degrees and really freaking windy out there. Anyone have one of these? What's the coolest project you've done with them?

December 27, 2010

One Thing

It's a little bit strange, to look down at my workbasket, tucked under my desk where it has been (when it wasn't following me around the house) for the past few months, stuffed to the gills with things to be made. It's almost empty. A scrap of fabric from dresses for the doll, Will's slipper socks that, sadly, need to be re-knit. I planned on his long feet but forgot to add a little width for his wide ankles and alas, they are too tights. And that's it. There are other knitting projects that need to be finished. I gave up on trying to get Evelyn's sweater done when I realized i needed yet another skein of yarn and didn't have time to go get it and instead knit her (and then a boy version for her brother when he loved hers) the elf hat from More Last Minute Knitted Gifts for a solstice gift. I have a hat in progress for myself as well but now nothing is pressing. Nothing has to be done by this day or that event. And I can't decide if it feels refreshing or desolate. Both at the same time I expect.
There are still lots of projects, as there always are. Work to be done, bathrooms to be finished (the bead board is up!) classes to teach, a new sewing pattern on my desk, siding on the mudroom to decide on because wow would it be nice to have a mudroom right about now but what I really want to do this week is read. Last night I curled up in bed with a book for the first time in I don't know how long. Over the past few months I've done most of my reading (what I can squeeze in, that is) on my phone. And I love that. I really do. It means that I can read anywhere without having to wonder if I have my book with me. It's certainly made my purse a lot lighter since I used to have at least one book in there all the time, just in case. But I miss books. I've been so flat out busy for the past six months that I almost didn't notice that I barely read anymore. Once upon a time I thought I would keel over if I didn't get a good chuck of reading time in every single day. And Pinkalicious for the thousandth time didn't count.

And now I consider myself lucky if I can eek enough here and there moments with my Kindle App to finish my book club book each month. So this week my One Thing is going to be something a little different, an early New Year's Resolution. I'm not usually a big resolution girl, but this year I have a few, and this one, reading more, is starting now. Today.

How about you? Are you feeling lost without Christmas preparations? Are you making New Year's Resolutions yet?What are you up to in this last week of the year?

One Thing
A Monday habit. Share the one thing that you want to do this week, just for you. Tell us what you are working on in the comments and link back to your blog so we can see all the fun things you do!

So, what will you be up to this week?

December 21, 2010

The Solstice Cake is a-Baking

And we are almost ready (just a few rows left to knit if I can distract the recipiant for a half an hour!) The first time we had a Solstice Cake, we were living in Ireland where, no matter what you believe in terms of religion, the shortest day of the year was significant. That far north it's far more noticeable just how short the days get in December, and having that behind you, knowing that brighter (but still rainy) days are ahead, is a welcome relief. Our first cake was bought from our local bakery, a wonderful place that was totally responsible for the fact that I lost no weight while we lived there despite our almost two year stint without a car. EVERYTHING was good. EVERYTHING was tempting. You could pack on a few pounds just passing the purple painted door. So when they offered Carrot Yule Logs, of course we had to try one. Why carrot? I have no idea. Weirdly they sell carrot roll cakes in the freezer section of the grocery store here so it must be a thing. In any case, we were hooked and other than a few odd years when I've tried something else, carrot yule log is a must.
This year, with the help of my trusty assistants, I'm trying out this recipe (oh please let there be a food processor under the tree, 3 cups of grated carrots were not going to happen and the dreaded mini chopper was not very efficient). Although, to be honest, Briton didn't assist much other than filling me in on a new theory involving a time when Dinosaurs and Dragon's coexisted on this earth. Sadly the Dragons felt the Dinosaurs were encroaching on their half of the planet and so sent a giant ball of dragon fire, i.e. a meteor, to kill off the Dinosaurs. Which is good to know, you know, in case I'm ever on Jeopardy.
Tonight we'll eat cake, light candles and pass around some of our homemade gifts and the rest of the week will be taken up in the swirl of Christmas so I'm planning on signing off until Monday. Have a wonderful, restful, joyful Holiday everyone.


December 20, 2010

One Thing

Five Days. Oh Dear. I'm usually closer to ready at this point. In fact, I'm usually done at this point other than some cookie baking and delivering to putter through in these last days. But this homemade gifts goal, well, whew, it's taking longer than I had thought. This year my eyes were too big for my fingers I think as I still have three knitted gifts to finish knitting, one sewing projects and two sets of slippers that still need bottoms sewn on. And four of those items need to be finished before tomorrow night when we do our Solstice Celebration. The funny thing is that I'm not stressed about it. It just means that there will be a lot of knitting and sewing and cozying up in my warm office where the heater vents seem to be the most efficient in the house. And that sounds a little divine.
Evelyn and I spent Thursday and Friday morning making English Toffee and Peppermint Bark to jar up out as gifts while Briton wandered around the neighborhood with his friends, sledding and staging snowball fights and who knows what else, returning home only reluctantly for food. Miss "I don't eat anything with any color or flavor in it" decided that she could make an exception for peppermint candies and I think she may have eaten more than she crushed for the candies. She also "Tested" the chocolate for the toffee while I was outside trying to coax Briton in for some lunch. Because, hey, what if it wasn't as good melted as it was solid?
There are still a few cookie type items to make and a glorious Christmas Eve Dinner to plan with some of our best friends. So even though this week is looking pretty busy, it's also looking pretty fun. Plus, it's going to snow again....
How about you? What is on your to-do list in these last days before Christmas? Something fun I hope!

One Thing
A Monday habit. Share the one thing that you want to do this week, just for you. Tell us what you are working on in the comments and link back to your blog so we can see all the fun things you do!

So, what will you be up to this week?

December 16, 2010


We woke up to the snow falling.
It meant that we didn't need to rush for the bus. And we didn't need to get something cooked for the teacher's luncheon and we didn't need to run out and do errands. Because we couldn't. And that's just fine by me. Instead there has been a little cleaning and a lot of snow play. Daddy is picking up some chocolate chips at the market (if there are any left!) so we can make toffee brittle this afternoon.
I love snow days. Sure, after the bizzillionth day of it in a row, it gets a little old, but the first snow day of a year is always wonderful. Soup on the stove, kids shrieking outside with glee, logs crackling in the fire.
The bathroom will not get done this week. But who cares? It's snowing outside. There is a basket full of yarn and last projects to finish sitting on the couch and a little girl who is ready for a break from the cold and wants to watch The Sound of Music. There is eggnog and fruitcake in the fridge, peanut butter and bread in the lockers, and that particular light coming in the window that only happens when the snow if falling. I think this might be my idea of heaven...

December 15, 2010

Soup and Scrabble

This week has been, to say the least, a little hectic. And it's only Wednesday. Which made this moment, this quiet evening meal, all the more welcome. Soup, mugs of tea and a game of Bannanagrams, which we called Scrabble because Briton knows that Will and I are currently obsessed with playing scrabble against each other on our phones. (S0 far, we are 1 and 1, but I'm ahead in game 3.)
I've always liked the idea of Taco Tuesday but somehow it has never worked for us. Partly because my kids are strange and don't seem to like tacos of any kind. (I know, who doesn't like tacos?). But the idea is appealing. Knowing that you are going to have the same thing that night and that it will be fun and no one will complain or not eat. We often do pizza movie night on Friday, but it's not an always kind of thing. But I'm thinking that Soup and Scrabble might be a keeper. At least while the cold weather lasts. Maybe in the summer we can do Salads and Scrabble or Barbecue and Bannanagrams.
Do you have any set meal nights in your house? I used to balk at the idea of having the same thing once a week, but now that we are all busy, and probably not getting any less so, it's appealing both for it;s ease and for the comfort in knowing its there. What do you do?

December 13, 2010

Oh The Bathroom

So, Bathroom update.... well, it's...going. Does that sound ambivalent? Ok, I'll be more specific. The ugly blue tile is off the walls. The ugly and stained black and white tile is off the floor. The horrible cabinet is out and has been revealed to be the source for the nasty wet public toilet smell. As it turns out, there was a heater vent under the cabinet and someone decided not only to build over it, but not to seal out the water that might seep under the cabinet over time. So: heat+moisture+ two small children. Yep, totally gross. But now it's gone and things are smelling much better in there.
I was wildly optimistic about how much we would get done last weekend. Too many late (but fun!) nights compiled with the fact that it took most of Sunday just to get enough of the floor tile we needed (which wasn't much, 20 sheets, but you wouldn't believe how much work that was) meant that all we had done going into tonight was the demo. But now the paint is on the wall and the floor tile is in, waiting for grout which I may attempt to do this afternoon. But probably not. Because I may have slightly over-committed myself this week with school events and I should probably get some of the three food donations that I promised for various functions in the next few days cooked and get ready for the two school events that are scheduled for today. So maybe the grout isn't looking like it's going to get done. Looking back, this might not have been the best week to rip out the bathroom. Oh well. If I say I might, I feel better. At least for now. The plan (ha ha ha) is to go pick up the bead-board after the school concert tonight and install it on Wednesday evening once the grout has set. Fingers crossed...

One Thing

Well, progress has been made on the various knitting, sewing and crafting projects to give, but I can't say that I would call any of them done. Evelyn and I did make a start on food related gifts over the weekend while the boys were out basketballing on Saturday morning. Specifically we made a test batch of this chai concentrate (yum! My new morning favorite!) and tried out this cashew brittle recipe. Both were winners and both will have a place in our holiday baskets for friends.

Because we have lots of school activities this week AND a bathroom that is stripped down to the walls, needed to be put back together (Tiffany blue walls and all!) I'm going to set my goals small this week and just hope to finish a few little projects that need to go into my last to-be-mailed Christmas box. But next week...oh I have plans for next week. baking, baking and more baking! (Eek! And Christmas Cards...)
How about you? What are you up to this week?

One Thing
A Monday habit. Share the one thing that you want to do this week, just for you. Tell us what you are working on in the comments and link back to your blog so we can see all the fun things you do!

So, what will you be up to this week?

December 9, 2010

Quick Sew

I'm not really a clotheshorse. Sometimes I wish I was. I like clothes, but I've never been the type to have a bunch of clothes, the latest or otherwise. In fact, I'm pretty excited that right now I have two separate pairs of jeans that I like. Usually I have a few pairs and I hate all but one. Or sometimes even all of them, so two is pretty good. I do, generally, try to dress with some sense of style, or I should say my style, since I'm not sure that it's actually style, but it's what I like. Not that I don't have days where yoga pants and a t-shirt are as good as it gets. I mean, I am a writer who works at home, working in your pajamas is practically required. But most of the time, I try, a little.
I think part of my lack of clothes-ness is that, other than my few years as a teacher, I've never had that life where you get up and get dressed up for work. And even when I was a teacher, well, it was the late 1990's/early 2000's. There was a lot of tan. And denim (but not the embroidered with little apple's an A+'s, don't worry) And then I was a mom and I needed things that were highly washable. But when Briton was about two, I made two big decisions about me and clothes.

The first was that I was going to stop buying crap. No more Target T's that lasted through one wash before falling apart. On my limited budget that meant that I might only have a few shirts instead of a bunch, but I liked that they lasted and that they looked nice. And for the most part I've kept with that (expect now and then, like yesterday, when I bought a cheap t-shirt at Old Navy only to find that it already has a hole in it. Grrrrr....)

The other one was that accessories were the name of the game. Because then my few (nicer) shirts and pants looked more interesting. I'm not any kind of fashion guru, far from it, but I like accessories. Well, really, I like scarves and flowers and the occasional bracelet.

My flower love has been well documented in the past but I don't think I've ever revealed my dark little secret about scarves. I, am a scarfaholic (I just heard that term and though, Yes! I'm not the only one! Don't touch my scarves! Mine!) I looove scarves.

One of the only things I dislike about living in Virginia is that there are months on end where it's just too hot to wear them. And I really do miss them during the late spring and summer. So every fall (way too early and when it's still to hot and I'm sweating wearing them but still carry on) I'm a little over excited to dig out my scarves.

So what is all of this leading up to? Well, it's just a long way of saying, I made a scarf.
I was at a friends Ladies Who Craft night the other day and in walked a lovely gal with the greatest loop scarf. I'll be totally honest, I stared. I was in love. I NEEDED one. But like an idiot, I didn't ask where she got it or even if I could look at it. Of course not, because that would have been smart.

However, in the back of my mind I was thinking, "that's pretty basic, that I could make, if only I had some wool." And then when I was at the fabric store the next day (not because I was looking for wool. OK, not just because I was looking for wool) there it was, the perfect wool suiting, on sale.

It was a sign.

Here's the rundown on how I made it. Because it's pretty darn simple. And warm and lovely and...just go make one.

You'll need 1/3 of a yard of 54 inch wide wool suiting. It needs to be wide enough that you can drape it over your shoulders if you need a little warmth but not so wide that it's bulky when you wear it as a scarf, and 1/3 of a yard was just right for me. You can go wider or narrower if you want.
Cut the edges so that they are even and serge the long (cut) sides. Or, if you are like me and you don't have a serger due to a flood in your basement, use an overcast stitch on your machine (that's a zigzag or zigzag-like stitch right on the edge, you probably have an overcast foot in the box of stuff that came with your sewing machine which you've never tried because what the heck are all those things?)
Once both sides are done, lay the selvage edges right sides together and sew a 1/2 inch seam. Press the seam open and top stitch on either side. Because I kind of liked the furry selvage and the seam sits at my neck, I didn't mind it being visible. But if you don't want it to be seen or you have raw edges on the ends, you could also sew a french seam (Sew the ends with the wrong side together, trim with pinking shears, press to one side, then sew again with the right sides together, encasing the raw edges, was that too confusing? Here is a link to a good photo tutorial)

And that's it. Done. Ten minutes at most. Hummm....maybe I need one in another color....

It's That Time of Year Again (Demo Time)

I knew we couldn't stay away for long. We always say, "this is enough! Time to stop!" and then, well, something starts bugging us and before long, out comes the sledge hammer again.
This time it's the downstairs bathroom. We have said all along that it should be the last thing to be renovated because we use it to wash out paint brushes and scrub off the debris of construction so it is totally trashed. But Will has decided that it can't wait. And honestly, I don't think we will ever call this house "done" so we might as well.

But why, you ask, in the middle of the holidays? Oh, well, you know. We're nuts. I did, shortly after moving in here, paint the walls and trim and cabinet so that it was at least a little nicer than it had been, but the tile is old, the sink is old (not in a good, cute retro way either, in a badly made in the 1980's way) and the floor is in bad shape. But if those things were the only problem, we'd probably just keep what's there for at least another year before tackling it. But that's not the real problem. Or the real reason that it's now go time.

For as long as we have lived here and no matter how hard/often we clean, that bathroom smells like a train station public toilet. Yeah, ick, right? I can go in there and disinfect every surface in the room and it still smells wonky. We tried replacing the toilet but that hasn't helped. The only thing that seems to alleviate the problem a little is to keep the window open, and right now it's 17 degrees outside. So, no.

Now, part of this is that the bathroom has no exhaust and so no real air flow, but we suspect that there is something going on with the plumbing under the tile, which means that the tile needs to go. And if the tile on the floor needs to be replaced, well, then the cabinet has to come out. And if the cabinet comes out then the wall tile comes down and you see where I'm going with this. TBO. Total Bathroom Overhaul.

The good news is that it's a very, very small room. Smaller now than when we moved in due to the locker insertion/wall move. And as it's only a powder room we don't have to deal with things like bathtubs and waterproof wallboard. This is just going to be some tile, paint and a new sink. Which, yes, is more daunting than I make it sound. But the thought of having a stink free, Tiffany blue (I think) bathroom at the end makes it worth jumping in. Besides, it's not like we're doing anything else right now, right?

Let the dust fly!

December 7, 2010

Dear Santa

My kids wrote their Santa Letters this week. And right off the bat, the hilarious thing is the difference in their length. Briton's list has 27 items on it. They range from #2 Harry Potter Clue to #12 My own baby flying reindeer with a red nose/a baby flying reindeer that Rudolf had to #24 - No one in the Grimm family be a misfit (uh...are we misfits? Maybe...)
Evelyn has one. A doll. Which she drew with pink hair and pink eyebrows. But the list just says "doll".

So check on the pink hair and humm on the eyebrows. Can't decide if I should go back and re-do those.

I love that they write letters. I love LOVE that Briton still writes letters,and that he includes things like #12 to see you in person and #22 my family to be happy and united (spelled unidid, not a bad try) and together forever. The fact that at eight he still so strongly believes makes me want to cry and smile and hug him like crazy all at the same time.

He is at a terrifying age. Terrifying for me, at least. Yes I know there will be more terrifying times to come. Like when he learns to drive. But that moment when you stop believing, it is, in a small way, the end of childhood. Or at least the beginning of the end. There are times when I think the hardest part of parenthood is the fact that they grow up. And even though we want them to be healthy and strong and happy adults, it kind of sucks that they can't stay little forever. Am I right?

If I'm lucky, he'll be like me, too afraid that if he decided Santa is not real that the gifts will stop coming. I went on far longer than any of my friends. And he may, but I also can't help thinking that this may be the last Christmas where Santa is Santa for both of my kids, which makes my heart ache a little. I know that, being the fantastic brother that he is, (he loaded up his sister's toothbrush again today, so funny) he will work hard to keep it going for her. But it won't be his magic anymore.

How long did your kids believe? Did you try to keep it going or did you tell them when they asked?

December 6, 2010

One Thing

I just looked at my calender for the week and realized that I have something going on, somewhere to be, something to do, every single night this week. All week. Even the weekends. Must be December! Really, my One Thing this week should be just to keep myself sane, but the truth is I kinda love this time of year, with all the parties and activities and things to do and see, so instead I'm going to give myself some project deadlines. Gifts to finish so they can be mailed off by the weekend. Which is really just an excuse to knit and sew during my free time :).
I am 3/4 of the way through a pair of mittens and have another pair to go (they are really, really quick and I love the yarn, so soft it's crazy!)
One Mobius scarf down, one to go (also quick and so pretty!)

And one sewing project that my boy has cooked up that needs to get done (but I wont say what it is yet because Poppa might read this!)

That might be stretching it a little, but after the coat, it seems like small beans.
Yes the coat! It's done! Well, almost. The only things left are a final pressing and the buttons. Due to the fact that someone forced the window down on our car (looking for who knows what? They Might Be Giant's CDs? Stale Goldfish? Come on people, there is nothing there to steal!! Stop breaking into our car!) and broke the little clips that hold the window up which meant that Will spent Saturday with the door disassembled in pieces, I didn't get to go to the fabric store to find the perfect buttons. And while I have buttons a-plenty, it's a pretty simple coat and I think it needs some special buttons to spice it up.

So in lieu of buttons she has been wearing it with a big flower pin to hold it closed, which is fine by her. It's warm and soft and was actually not difficult at all to sew, just time consuming. Although the lining fabric was a nightmare, I'm still covered with pink fuzz from cut edges that frayed like mad. I broke out the walking foot on my sewing machine which I have never used before but now love (perfect for thick fabric and multiple layers) and I also (I'm a dork!) discovered that having multiple sewing machines comes in handy when you want to top stitch in a different color that the one you are putting something together with. Yep, duel machines. One with gray thread, one with pink. (The multiple machines are for my classes, which, BTW, if you are a Charlottesville resident and you have a girl at the Village school, I'm teaching an after-school class there starting in January! Email me!)
Sadly, not photo of her wearing it as she came down with a first year of school always sick with something virus yesterday and has been dozing on the couch ever since. Poor thing.

So what about you? What are you up to this week?

One Thing
A Monday habit. Share the one thing that you want to do this week, just for you. Tell us what you are working on in the comments and link back to your blog so we can see all the fun things you do!
So, what will you be up to this week?

December 3, 2010


There are times, of course, when my children drive me batty. I'd be surprised if there is a parent out there who doesn't feel that way now and again. But every day, every day, I am reminded what wonderful, hilarious and sweet kids I have. Sometimes I can hardly believe that I'm so lucky.
Yesterday was just a normal day really, alarm goes off, press snooze, alarm goes off again, drag myself out of bed, wake Briton up (Evie pops out of her bed like a jack in the box as soon as I walk in the room so I don't really "wake" her up) get everyone dressed, beds made... Briton headed downstairs before Evie and I to help his dad make breakfast and pack lunch. And by help I mean that he likes to make suggesstions that he knows I wouldn't approve of but that Will, in a pre-coffee stupor, might just go for. When I took Evie in to brush her teeth there was her little (pink, what else) toothbrush, waiting for her on the side of the sink with the toothpaste already on the bristles. And it's stupid but I almost cried, it was so sweet. Later when I asked him about it he shrugged and said "She has a hard time getting the toothpaste out of the tube."

It's moments like that, silly, strange moments, that make me so happy I'm a mom, that I'm their mom.

Oh, and also when we asked Evie what she did today and her reply began with,

"Well, there were these three little pigs. And little red riding hood. And a big wolf. Oh, and a little rabbit too. And a GIANT! And one pig was a farmer....

Happy Friday everyone. Hug your kiddos.

December 2, 2010

The Other Tree

When I was a kid, I really wanted a tree in my room. Really, really wanted one. I didn't care if it was big or small, I just wanted one of my very own. I think I asked every year until I was ten and my parents always told me that it was a fire hazard, which it was, because I would have left the lights on all the time and never watered it and probably would have tried to push it around the room with me as I played.
Now that I'm a parent, I see their logic. But when Briton asked if he could have a tree in his room, I knew exactly how he felt. And since these days lights are much safer and fake trees are available practically everywhere (I saw one for sale in the produce section of the grocery store, which seemed a little odd, but whatever) we picked up a teeny, teenier even than our tree, fake tree to set up in their room. They chose colored lights and colorful bulbs and a bright red star, did all the decorating themselves, throwing in a few silly bands to liven things up, and chose a spot for it.
Next to the Sphinx, inside the train track and between the water hole and the volcano. Of course. Because, duh mom, the sphinx needs a tree too.

December 1, 2010

The Wee Tree

Every year Will and I flip back and forth over what size tree we want. Since we have pretty much always lived in small houses, we have often chosen smaller trees. Table top size trees have made several appearances, especially when the kids were little. Out of reach meant that we didn't have to worry as much about the ornaments and little fingers that might get them. But then again, oh I love a big beautiful tree. There is just something magical about them. Some day I'd like to live in a big old Victorian with a bay window just made for a huge Christmas tree. But until then, we go back and forth between a practical little tree and a too big for the house but lovely large tree. This year, after remembering how crowded last December was and how quickly our tree dried out to dust because it was up against a heater vent, we went small. And since we were doing a small tree and we need some more shrubs in the yard, we bought a potted tree with the hopes that it will make it through the month inside and then through the rest of the winter on the deck so we can plant it. Finger's crossed.
It's a little bit of a Charlie Brown tree. But as Will told Briton, if we didn't take it, it might not have been bought and no one would have loved it. Plus, as long as it sits in the corner so the big gap in the back is hidden, it's basically tree shaped. And just right for our little house.
This is not our first attempt with a potted tree. When we lived in Dublin, Briton and I met Will after work and walked to a tree lot he had found at lunch where we picked out a little potted tree that would fit in our (very very very small - 300 square feet!) apartment. Then we tried to carry it home. And what had been a decent walk at 5 pm turned out to be a long, cold and very very wet walk home in the winter darkness at 6:30. It didn't help that Will was wheeling his bike and I was trying to carry a very tired two-year-old Briton. After about a mile of switching what hand and hip the tree perched on, trading bikes for boys between us and even attempting to balance the tree on the seat of the bike to lighten our load. We decided to try something radical. The idea was that we would temporarily un-pot the tree so that Will could put it over his shoulder and ride home (one handed) while Briton and I took the pot and most of the soil home in a cab, if we could find a cab on a random residential street in the middle of rush hour.

Eventually we did find a cab and un-potted the tree, only to find that it was not, in fact, a potted tree. It was just a tree that they had jammed into a pot with rocks covered in potting soil. Little sneaks! If we hadn't, at that point, been freezing and starving and exhausted, I would have marched back to the tree yard and told the guy off. But as it was, I climbed into the cab with the pot on my lap and Briton dozing in the seat next to us and went home. And ten minutes after we arrived (and had our favorite Indian food on the way) We spotted Will riding down the street, decked out in rain gear and holding a four foot tall tree over his shoulder like a giant sack of potatoes, or maybe presents, although he didn't have nearly enough padding to be a Santa.
Bringing home this year's tree wasn't nearly as fraught. Although it did require some convincing of Briton who wanted a much smaller (and frankly wonkier) tree because he thought we could put it in their room (more on that later). But eventually he was talked into it and after a few days of acclimating in the mudroom, its settled into it's above-the-heater-vent spot and has been decorated with our favorite ornaments. And now, it feels like Christmas.