Today was supposed to be Bo's last day of her first year of pre-school, but the poor girl has spent the morning throwing up. That means summer vacation starts now, although we won't be heading to the county pool anytime soon.
I'm sad that she'll miss the school picnic and any sort of last-day-of-school discussion (I have a feeling she's going to ask me every day for weeks whether or not she has school today). And, of course, I hate to see her dealing with the discomfort of being sick. As someone with a weak stomach and two and a half pregnancies plagued with morning sickness, I feel your pain, sweet pea.
There is something about caring for a sick child that really makes you feel like a mom, though. I think I'm going to sew myself a Girl Scouts-like sash and start attaching badges to it for various accomplishments in mommyhood, like "grocery store tantrum," "up-the-back-and-over-the-shoulders diaper blowout," and "inappropriate-but-funny comment made in public." Should I sell them on Etsy?
Anyhow, what we were supposed to bring Bo's teachers today as end-of-the-year gifts were these wine tote bags I sewed last night. The photos were taken before the barfing commenced.
FYI--yes, that is a half-empty bottle of wine in there. The plan was to stop at the store on the way to school for fresh bottles.
I'd originally planned to make the three teachers each an apron, but these took less time and fabric. Besides, what teacher doesn't need a bottle of wine after nine months with a bunch of preschoolers?
I followed this fantastic tutorial by Sewing Republic (found via Shabby Chick). The directions were super easy to understand. Next time, I think I'll make the strap a bit more narrow and the tote a bit more snug around the wine.
My apologies for my chronic absenteeism lately. In between the regular rigamarole, we've been spending every extra minute in the yard--getting the garden ready, raking up the leaves we were too lazy to pick up last fall, you know the routine.
The garden is ready for our over abundance of seeds and starts now, but Mother Nature isn't. We've been dipping below freezing a bit this week so I'm holding off until this weekend's expected heat wave. We're expanding our growing space a little this year and adding a few new crops, like raspberries and corn. Growing corn breaks my gardening rule No. 1: only grow things that cost way too much at the store. But I'm hoping it will look pretty cool. You know, all "if you build it, they will come."
Speaking of saving money, I've recently become one of those crazy ladies who clips coupons. Is anyone else part of that sisterhood? Fred Meyer had to pay me $0.81 yesterday to buy a package of lasagna noodles.
I did manage to sew an impromptu Emmeline apron this week for one of Bo's teachers, who is leaving the school to take a new job.
Sometimes I worry that I feel my girls' pain too deeply, as if it were my own. I'm concerned about what this will mean when they're teenagers and they come home sobbing about some boy who's gone and broken their hearts. Ugh. I can remember that ache like it was yesterday, and now that I'm a mom I think of how my poor parents must have felt.
But Bo is still only 3, so her biggest heartbreak right now is me only letting her have two marshmallows instead of three today.
Except for the pending departure of Miss Kathleen, or so I thought.
I love this woman. She's like our very own ray of sunshine every morning when she greets the kids (doesn't hurt that her hair is a flamingly beautiful shade of red).
Miss Kathleen is taking a job in which she will help homeless women and their children transition to permanent housing. OK, OK. I will hand her over for that extremely worthy cause. But still, I think I will miss her as much as Bo will.
When I explained the situation to Bo, I expected her to lose it. We'd just seen a homeless man earlier in the day, though, so the thought of not having a place to sleep or enough to eat was fresh in her mind. So instead of crying over the loss of her teacher, she literally jumped out from under her bed covers, and then jumped on her bed cheering, "Yea! She's going to help the man!"
So much for wallowing in self pity. I could learn a thing or two from this kid.
I wanted to make Miss Kathleen a goodbye gift, and an apron seemed appropriate.
She can use this side when she's feeling more serious ...
Or this side when she's missing the kids at school ...
And just so she won't forget Bo, I added a pocket Bo helped make to the playful side. I asked Bo to draw a picture of Miss Kathleen and then I traced and embroidered what she came up with, like we've done before.
Here's Joe Cool herself, taking it all in:
Does anyone else think she kind of looks like the little boy in the movie "Love Actually"? Don't tell her I said that.
Writing deadlines and crafty projects are piling up, so rather than waiting for me to sew another Annie dress (as I mentioned here), I asked my friend to let me photograph the red one I sewed for her daughter's birthday the other day.
So here's my loose interpretation of what Annie wears to her adoption party with Daddy Warbucks.
I didn't want to make it exactly like the one from the musical/movie because, well, I kinda think that one is goofy looking. This one is still goofy, but maybe a little bit more comfortable to wear.
The black and white flower was a last-minute trick to cover a last-minute snip I accidentally made along the ruffles.
And allow me to vow to never--NEVER--use 1/4-inch bias tape with jersey knit again. Thank you. It feels good to get that off my chest.
I followed Simplicity 6882, which I think will be even cuter with less a Annie-looking color scheme.
My friend tells me her daughter likes her costumes very much. Her daughter is one of those kids with a spunky little spark about her. Apparently she won't change into the red dress unless her mom--in the role of Miss Hannigan--has sufficiently punished her for not scrubbing the floors until they shine like the top of the Chrysler building. Cute, cute.
On a separate note, Jeanne from A Bushel and a Peck, left a comment on my last post about a giveaway she's offering. Check it out--top prize is a $100 gift certificate to her store and $100 to Anthropologie. Um, yeah. I'm all over that one.
Here's a little sampling of the goods in Jeanne's shop.
Ever since my days as a teacher, I've believed in the power of attacking subjects from different angles. If a kid develops a natural interest in butterflies, for example, sing songs about them, study the science behind them, draw pictures of them, make up stories about them, etc. In the classroom, you want to provide every opportunity for all different types of learners to engage. I imagine preschoolers can benefit from the same approach at home, so I try to do that with my kids now, too.
Except when Bo gets interested in something like poop. There will be no paintings of poop hanging on the clothesline in the kitchen.
While poop is always a favorite topic of discussion for Bo, the obsession du jour is the musical "Annie." The Broadway production was in town last weekend. We went, she loved it, and now I can't stop singing the songs.
A good friend of hers saw the musical, too, and according to her mom has always wanted to be an orphan. So for the little girl's fifth birthday, I sewed up two costumes--an orphan's work dress and the famous red-and-white number Annie wears at the end of the play.
I cannot believe I let the red dress out of the house today without taking a picture (the birthday party was this afternoon). But here are a few shots of the orphan dress--blurry because it's being worn by Bo while singing "It's a Hard Knock Life" (lots of floor scrubbing going on).
I need to make another version of each dress--for Bo to keep, of course--so I'll post photos of those one day soon. In the meantime, poor Annie is being attacked from all angles--art, acting, music, math ("Annie had one dog, but then she lost the dog ... how many dogs does she have left?" Just kidding. Bo burst out crying during that scene so I won't torture her with that little game.)
I didn't use a pattern here. Just sewed a basic lined jumper with a ruffle on the bottom and added an apron to the front, plus a few patches and pockets made from Klay's recent fabric donation. I meant to make bloomers, but I ran out of time. The dress is a little big on Bo because her friend is a couple of years older.
Yes, she's wearing lipstick here. C'mon. What orphan doesn't wear bright red lipstick??
Writing this blog has introduced me to so many amazing crafters around the world, but it also has connected me with creative folks in my own neck of the woods.
Carolyn is one of them. Our paths crossed before Penny Carnival was born, but it's fun to catch up with each other here. We're both journalists. We're both mothers of young girl(s). And we're both fans of the "moms who drink and swear" group on Facebook (tee hee hee).
So I always love to see what Carolyn and her daughter Joey are up to. A few months back, I posted a photo of a skirt Carolyn sewed for Joey following Oliver + S's free tutorial.
Lately, they've been working on these darling projects:
A puppet theater that hangs in a doorway in her house--
A non-felt pencil roll. So cute and such a great way to finish up smallish bits of leftover fabric. She put layers of flannel inside to give it some heft.
And these charming puppets--
I'm sure I don't need to tell you, but from left to right, that's Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Pooh, and Joey.
I recognize the artist's work from a masterpiece she drew on my chalkboard wall last time she came over to play.
Thanks, Carolyn, for sharing your beautiful work. Let's rendezvous at a fabric store sometime soon.
Speaking of young artists' handiwork, Bo's drawing style has been evolving over the last few months. She started by drawing faces--a circle head with two round eyes and a straight line across for a mouth. Now she adds an oval underneath for the body with two stick arms, two stick legs and an enormous bellybutton in the middle. I love it.
When she was just doing heads, I followed an Amanda Soule idea and embroidered one of her drawings for J as a Christmas gift. He uses it as a book marker now.
This morning, I finally was able to make a couple of pencil rolls for my nieces to go along with their Christmas presents (a mishmash of crafty supplies and kits and the book DIY Kids by Ellen and Julia Lupton). With the snow trapping us all week, I couldn't get to the fabric store for wool felt until yesterday. Then we got snowed in again this morning, so I seized the opportunity to sew, sew, sew.
Pencil roll No. 3 came about after Bo saw what I was doing. She hasn't quite grasped the whole "joy of giving" thing yet and was doing her best to convince me that her cousins' pencil rolls should be her own. So I agreed to make one for her, too--a zebra, at her request.
I used a zebra outline from the "stripes" episode of Kids Craft Weekly, minus the hind legs. My printer jammed halfway through, so I can had to make up the zebra's rear end. Nice tail, huh?
I have one more to make for a good friend's 4-year-old son. They're so easy and quick and fun to do. The idea comes from Amanda Soule's book The Creative Family, although I don't follow the directions closely anymore (which might explain some wonky parts here and there).
The zigzag stitch got a little out of control on this one, especially when Bo crawled under the table and sat on the sewing machine's pedal. Twice. Sorry cousin Coco. That's supposed to be a snail under a tree.
Why is this shot reminding me of cinnamon rolls? Have I not consumed enough butter over the last several weeks already??!
First of all, merry Christmas. What a beautiful holiday. I don't think any other is so deeply tied to tradition, whether it's a tradition celebrated around the world or just within one family. Fantastic.
Christmas Eves just keep getting better around here. Somewhere between age 13 and 30 you forget about the anticipation of the day. But now that I have kids and especially as they get closer to kidhood and further from babyhood, the feeling is back. I think I'm just as excited as Bo for Christmas morning, although I'm a wee bit concerned because several hours ago she announced that she no longer wants a dollhouse from Santa. Sorry kid. I think you'll like it anyway.
J and I have kind of a hard time with the Santa thing. It's important to us to always be honest with the girls, so going along with the story makes us feel a little uncomfortable. We made an agreement with each other to do it because we don't want to rob the girls of that part of the magic of Christmas, but as they get older and start asking questions, I'm guessing we won't be the parents who go to great lengths to hide the truth. That said, I was like a crazy woman trying to keep J quiet as we put presents under the tree. He is honestly the loudest person I know.
I've been so excited to show you all something but have had to button my lip because writing about it in more detail than I have would have revealed a gift we were giving my parents. They've seen it now, so ... ta dah!
Remember Susannah Rodgers, the artist behind Sitting Pretty Studio that I mentioned recently? We had her paint watercolor portraits of the girls to give to Nana and Papa. We are absolutely thrilled with how they turned out. She somehow captured the girls' spirits just by looking at photos of them. I'm truly in awe and know my parents will love having these in their home.
It was such fun getting to know Susannah over e-mail exchanges, too. That is the thing that continues to amaze me about the handmade movement--the connections I'm making with other people (let's face it--other women, mostly) around the world seems to be snowballing lately. I wish I could have everyone over for a giant potluck dinner.
According to a recent blog post from Susannah, it sounds like her daughter Bella is enjoying the rainbow dress I traded for part of the price of the paintings.
There is so much more to write about--the magical Christmas season we've had while trapped in our home due to three feet of snow on the ground ... the craft action that's been happening because of it ... the food, the pretty trees, the 8-foot-tall snowman standing guard in front of our house right now, the way the snow clings to the berry clusters on the mountain ash trees in the backyard ..
But I'm going to try to get some sleep before the Christmas morning frenzy begins.
I hope this post finds you happy, rested, warm and surrounded by the people you love. Again, merry Christmas.
We are snowbound here in Spokane, covered by 30 or so inches of snow. I haven't been out of the neighborhood since Wednesday morning, but I'm not complaining.
<Interruption. Magpie just found the volume control on the stereo and is BLASTING Mannheim Steamroller Christmas music.>
We've been playing in the snow, watching those classic Christmas shows (you know, Frosty and Rudolph and Santa), baking cookies and getting our craft on.
This morning, I finished sewing one of two painting smocks for the girls to go along with an art easel we bought them. Next up are some dolls--a big one for Magpie and small ones for Bo to use in her dollhouse. Here's the first of the smocks:
Here's the pattern I used, Simplicity 4384. It was one of my Value Village finds from a few months ago.
I didn't bother with all the sweet little details the pattern suggests. These things are going to be covered with paint Thursday by about 8:43 a.m.
After last week's cookie exchange, I swore I wasn't going to bake more cookies. I've pretty much been on a cookie diet (as in, I only eat cookies) since then. But Christmas isn't Christmas without "Italian cookies," a.k.a. "boobie cookies."
I'm trying to refer to them as "snowball cookies" with Bo, but when my sister and I were young we would make these just like the photo above but with a little nipple on top. Our old babysitter Amy (for whom this blog is named) still teases us about it. I won't blame you if you cancel your e-mail updates of the blog after reading this. I may be more twisted than you thought.
They are tasty, though, and if you'd like to make some boobie, er, snowball cookies of your own, here's a recipe from the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church cookbook (the church my mom grew up in in Bristol, R.I.). I would give you the recipe my mom has perfected over the years but:
a) I think she still secretly hopes to make millions off of it somehow, and
b) I can't find it.
Italian cookies (I've seen them online referred to as "angelonies" and other variations of that spelling)
5 cups flour
2 T baking powder (the recipe actually says "6 teaspoons." Don't you love church cookbooks?)
1 cup sugar
1/4 t salt
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 T anise extract OR lemon extract
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix dry ingredients. Make well in center. Pour eggs into well. Add milk, oil and extract. Mix to form a well-blended dough. (Or do what I did and throw all of those ingredients in bowl of standing mixer and turn mixer on.)
Place dough on lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth.
Break off pieces and shape as you wish, boobies or otherwise. (It doesn't say that in the church cookbook.)
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes.
When cool, frost with a milk/powdered sugar/extract glaze. If desired, shake colored sprinkles or chocolate jimmies on top.
What is everyone else baking lately? Maybe we should do a virtual cookie exchange. It will be less fattening for me.