As I just wrote on my other blog, I need a T-shirt that says that.
I'm back from 5 fun-filled hours teaching eager crafters (most of whom were darling little kids) how to make stuff out of secondhand materials at the North Idaho Fair.
Take a look at some of their creations:
The one this kindergarten teacher made was one of my favorites:
How cute is this little monkey?
He sewed a pillow instead of a flower. And charmed my socks off in the meantime.
This is how the booth looked:
I displayed some of my crafty stuff to show folks how they could repurpose old objects.
And, yes, that's Amanda Soule's new book Handmade Home sitting in that wire basket. I bought it two days ago but haven't had a second to look inside yet.
You can see more crafty photos from the booth here.
My only regret about the fair is that it fell on the night before the first day of preschool and I feel like I haven't properly ritualized the whole going-back-to-school thing with Bo. I think we'll have to get up extra early and go out for some pancakes to make up for it.
There's so much I could say right now about how inspired I was by the crafty kiddos at the fair, many of whom had never used a needle and thread before, and their ability to turn old sheets into beautiful objects.
I'm gearing up to runthat make-and-take craft booth at the North Idaho Fair tomorrow. Basically that means my hands ache from cutting, cutting, cutting fabric and my head aches from trying to remember everything I need to bring.
The easiest of the three crafts we'll be doing is the triangle/pennant/birthday/circus banner/garland (or whatever you want to call it), so I'm hoping the littlest kids will enjoy this one. Plus, I think the finished product comes out pretty well. Definitely something you could hang above a child's bed or use at a birthday party. Big impact. Minimal effort.
Just to prove how easy it is, here's Bo (age 4) putting one together this morning.
And then quite thrilled by her results:
She insisted on draping it across the rooster, as if there isn't enough going on in that corner already.
Some of these steps might need to be done ahead of time by you, depending on the child's age.
By the way, all the fabrics you see here (and the cord!) were found at thrift shops. Most were originally sheets or shirts and were purchased for a fraction of what yardage costs at a fabric store. You could probably even cut up some of your own old clothes for this project.
You will need: fabric, pinking shears, glue (Elmer's is fine), a disappearing-ink pen or chalk, cardstock or an empty cereal box, and either string, twine, bias tape or yarn.
1. Cut out a triangle template from a cereal box or cardstock. Mine is 7 inches across the top and 9 1/2 inches down the sides.
2. Fold a piece of fabric so that it's overlapped by 9 1/2 inches. Place the triangle template's 7-inch side on the fold. Trace around the triangle with the disappearing-ink pen or chalk. Cut along the lines. You should have just cut a diamond shape (once you unfold the fabric).
3. Repeat several times, depending on how long you want the garland to be.
4. Cut your cord (or twine or yarn or bias tape or string) as long as you would like the garland to be.
5. Place the diamonds where you want them along the cord with about two inches between each diamond.
6. Sandwich the cord inside the diamonds, folding the diamonds so that you form a triangle again. The "right sides" of the fabric should face out.
7. Unfold each diamond one at a time and place glue inside, along the three sides of one of the triangles. Press down to seal the triangles shut.
8. Repeat the steps until all triangles are glued to the cord.
9. Allow to dry, then hang wherever you want to add a bit of festivity.
With it being back-to-school season, I thought I'd post a reminder of a tutorial I wrote for making reusable sandwich baggies last year.
A publisher came across my tutorial recently and wants to include it (plus a few of my others) in a 2011 calendar, which is pretty exciting for me. I wanted to spruce up my photos since the originals were taken on a dark December night in my basement, so here's a better shot for you of the finished product.
Yes, the snaps are from the remains of the girls' old baby clothes. I know it looks a little wonky, but the point of the project is that you can probably make these from old stuff you have lying around the house. And of course they're reusable, so that makes them double green. Or would that be "dark green"?Hmm ... a new phrase ... Go (dark) green!
I'm such a geek.
These are quick and easy to make so I couldn't help but experiment with another design:
Yesterday I mentioned our garden but didn't include any photos, so here's a visual of where things stand (and sprawl) today:
The first of the butternut squash:
I might have gone overboard with those this year, but the squash ravioli will be enjoyed all winter long.
They're not supposed to be balls. They're just growing that way. Could this be an overcrowding issue? Anyone? Anyone?
A baby patty pan squash:
This poor little pumpkin is growing in between the slats of our fence. I was about to set it free but then I thought it might be interesting for the girls to see what happens.
Our garden is on the verge of exploding. So far, we've been able to eat what it grows but I think within the next week it'll start outpacing us and J's co-workers will mysteriously find zucchini and patty-pan squash sitting on their desks in the morning.
Enter this recipe for ratatouille from The Leftoverist (A.K.A. Sarah, a friend of mine from high school who I've mentioned here before). I've got it roasting in the oven right now. The smell of the basil is killing me (in a good way)--not to mention the smell of tomatoes that's lingering on my fingers.
I'm convinced that Sarah needs to write a cookbook. Her photos alone are stunning, not to mention the artwork her sister Naomi has done for the blog.
Now, if I were to write a cookbook, it would be this big:
In other words, itty bitty.
This little booklet is one of the make-and-take crafts I'll be teaching at the county fair I mentioned last week. I'm running a booth as part of my gig for the local newspaper as a blogger for its "Down to Earth" Web site.
Everything will be made from secondhand materials, so I've been hitting every thrift store and garage sale in town over the last few weeks collecting supplies. Even the hole puncher we'll be using to make these books was a 99-cent find from The Classy Rack (don't you love it when thrift shops get clever with their names?).
I figure this little booklet, which is bound with a twig and some twine (or yarn or strong string--whatever you have handy), could be used for grocery-shopping or to-do lists. If I were really great at entertaining house guests, I would print out the recipes of the food I made for them while they were staying with me, bind the recipes together this way and then give the book to my friends as a departure gift. As it is, my last house guests were lucky to get clean sheets and take-out pizza.
If you can find a use for this little booklet, please enjoy this tutorial:
1. Choose a front and back cover for your booklet. The paper should be cardstock-like, so consider using cereal boxes, softback book covers, old calendar pages, etc. In the pictures here, I used the front and back cover of a small coloring book from 1967.
2. Choose some filler paper. I like to mix blank pages with pages from old books, dictionaries or graphing paper.
3. Find a twig, pencil, chopstick or other short stick and a piece of strong string or twine that's about 15 inches long. (The length of your string will depend on how tall the book is that you're making.)
4. You will also need a hole puncher, scissors and either a clothespin or paper clip.
5. Arrange the papers in your hand like a book, sandwiching the lightweight paper inside the heavier cardstock. Tap the stack on the table so that the edges of the left side are even and hold everything together with your paper clip or clothespin.
6. If the papers aren't already all the same size and shape, trim around everything so all the pages (including the front and back cover) are the same size.
7. Punch two holes on the left side of the stack, a few inches apart.
8. Lay the stick on the right side of the holes.
9. Poke one end of the string through the top hole of the book, pulling it through so that about half the length of the string is sticking out the front of the book. Wrap the string around the stick once or twice, then poke the string back through the hole toward the back of the book. Pull so the loop around the stick is snug.
10. Repeat that step with the bottom hole.
11. Pull tightly and tie the ends of the string together in a double knot on the back side of the book.
12. Trim the ends of the string. Or don't. Whatever.
The stick binding isn't practical for, say, a journal or anything else you'd be opening often and writing in at length. But it's kind of a cute, earthy way to present something special, like maybe a wedding program (grrr ... there I go again re-doing my wedding seven years later).
While I have your attention, I just have to put a plug in for some amazing Spokane talent. Last night, J and I attended a fundraiser for a food co-op that's opening soon here. For an extremely reasonable price, we were treated to some top-notch entertainment, including book readings by 2006 National Book Award finalist Jess Walter and columnist Cheryl-Anne Millsap, both of whom are fantastic people as well as talented writers.
And then pianists Brad Greene and Kaylee Cole took our breath away. You can hear some of Brad's music on his site and Kaylee's here. I know we're all busy people, but if you get a sec give them a listen.
Farm girl MaryJaneButters had a blog post the other day about how to organize an old-fashioned ice cream social. You guys know I'm a sucker for anything that builds community, so you know that kind of thing is right up my alley. But what kept lingering in my head after reading the post? Duh. A craving for ice cream.
The girls and I solved that tonight with a trip to The Scoop, a local shop that makes its own cold stuff. We always have to opt for "the kind that doesn't hurt our tummies," as Bo always tells the workers, so our order was 3 grape sorbets on sugar cones. Delish.
Fingers work just as well, apparently:
I knew we needed to linger a while because J was home sleeping (we're working our way through a case of the icks), so I brought along our felt pencil rolls and some paper.
We parked ourselves at a kid-sized wooden picnic table (easier for some of us to maneuver than others) and colored away.
Bo wanted to hang the signs on the shop's bike rack just to remind folks that they sell ice cream inside, but alas we had no tape ...
... She thought maybe curling the paper onto the bike rack would work. When it didn't, she moved on to twirling around in her rainbow dress on the lawn.
By the way, that beauty is NOT my bike. Too bad, huh?
We were there for so long that Bo built up the courage to ask two other sisters if they wanted to play with her. She's not shy, but she gets nervous about that sort of thing. The girls were thrilled and they played for all of 30 seconds until their mom announced it was time to go. I could just tell she wasn't one of those moms who likes to socialize, and that's fine, but I felt bad for Bo.
The pencil rolls got me thinking about Amanda Soule and how her new book is coming out tomorrow. I should have pre-ordered--I would have had it by now--but the anticipation of going into a bookstore and flipping through the pages for the first time is fun, too.
Not that I have any time to follow her projects quite yet. I'm still swamped with writing deadlines and other responsibilities, including filling a few orders for book slings in my Etsy shop. By the way, I officially have a cottage license to make and sell Emmeline aprons now! I'm going to stock the shop with some once I get a chance, but for now I have a listing there for custom ones.
Are you ever so tired your stomach hurts? Ugh. Can't blame it on the sorbet, so it must be time to sleep.
Good golly. I can't believe more than two weeks have passed since I last posted something here. I think that's a record. Not a Michael Phelps sort of record (as in, yea! good for him!). A Takeru Kobayashi sort of record (as in, UGH!).
We got back to town last night after two weeks of laughing and eating waaaaay too much food with the Italian side of the family across the state. It was a great trip, but we all were happy to sleep in our own beds last night.
Before I had kids, I had a healthy case of wanderlust. I wasn't a frequent flier by any means, but I've been to Costa Rica and Italy and I tended to move every couple of years. If I wasn't hopping cities (Portland, Ore., Boston, Mass., Spokane), I was moving to a different apartment across town. I loved change.
I still do, but ever since the babies came along I've had little desire to travel far and wide. Now I crave routine and simplicity and it might be to a fault.
The kids do great when we travel. Even on the six-hour drive home yesterday, they were fantastic, with Bo making up stories about princesses and her dead dog Cronkite (r.i.p., sweet doggie) in my car and Magpie reciting every word she knows in J's car (J had to work so he couldn't stay as long as we did).
The first couple of nights in a new bed are always a bit rocky, but any battles at bedtime are usually more my fault than theirs (i.e., trying to get them down at our regular times rather than easing up a bit).
Going away is always worth it, but our itinerary here at home today reinforced my love of our quiet little lifestyle in Spokane.
On our agenda today:
-Run through the sprinkler (I felt a bit guilty after just visiting a town with watering restrictions, but it's super hot here right now so it was either crank up the A/C and stay inside or hose off the kids on the lawn).
-Hang wet clothes on the clothesline. The girls can't get enough of this.
-Do "magic" tricks, i.e., put a wine cork under a cup, shuffle the cup around with two other cups, make the kids guess which cup holds the cork. More endless fun.
-Make edible play dough (1 part honey, two parts peanut butter, 3 parts powdered sugar), cut out cookie shapes, bake it at 200 for a long time. This last one is doing nothing for my attempts at weight loss (I'm eyeing the leftover "cookies" across the kitchen right now), but as you can see the girls were captivated:
I didn't get a good shot of this, but is there anything better than seeing your child wearing your Nana's old aprons?
The day wasn't perfect. At one point, I had to put Bo's toys in time out. ALL of her toys. Seriously. But setting boundaries is just part of our routine, too. Besides, it took her all of 30 seconds to turn a washcloth, a baby blanket and her little sister into toys that weren't off limits. I don't know what that says about my attempt at discipline, but by that point I sort of forgot why she was in trouble.
Lots of crafting is on the horizon. I've sold a couple more book slings, so I'll be putting those together this week. And more inquiries are coming in!
Meg McElwee over at Sew Liberatedhas approved me to make and sell her Emmeline aprons, so I'm going to fill my Etsy shop with those as soon as I get through some other deadlines. Thanks again for everyone's encouragement on that!
And later in August I'm running a "make-and-take" craft booth at a local county fair (it's part of my role with the newspaper's Down to Earth blog). I'll be sure to share the four projects I'm doing with folks here.