One last winter project

We are starting to go a little stir crazy around here. The winter chill has lost it's edge, the snow is starting to melt, the promise of spring is in the air. But there is still snow on the ground. While the children are chanting "come on spring!" the adults all know we have a good 2 weeks before we really make any progress towards warmer weather. So instead of wishing these last few moments of winter away, I decided it was about time to wrap up my last of the winter projects.

A few weeks ago I talked about the snow sleeves that I had made for the children, and how they needed home made mittens to fit over the bulky sleeves. So last week I finished up the last of the mittens.
To make the pattern, I just had one of the kid try on a sleeve, then I traced around their sleeved hand, giving myself about 3/4 of an inch for seam allowance and general wiggle room. For each mitten I cut out two top pieces and two bottom pieces (so they would be double lined), sewed the top pieces together, and then the bottom pieces. Then for Louisa's I stitched her hearts on the top, and glued/stitched Alex's stars on (the circle is stitched, but the star is glued with fabric glue). Then I pinned the tops and bottoms (wrong sides together), stitched, and flipped them right side out. They were done just in time for another 6 inches of white powder to fall out of the sky...


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Earlier this week we had a lovely little ice storm that covered the woods surrounding my house in a layer of ice. At the time of the storm I was annoyed because it ruined a fun shopping day that I had planned with a friend, but I couldn't stay mad at the ice for very long.
As soon as the sun came out and the woods glittered like diamonds I was over my pity party and humbled by the glorious display. For a moment I was the luckiest girl on the planet, entranced by all the sparkle and glitter. I did get a few photos, but they don't really do the display any justice. Nevertheless, here's a tour of my ice kingdom...
The road in front of my house looking west
looking up at one of many trees in my yard...
looking west into Walter's horse pasture

the trees right above my mailbox


What Mama makes - journals... day 2

So yesterday I showed you some of the fruit of my middle of the night brainstorm. Well guess what! There's more! The other style of journal cover I dreamed up is a little more like the traditional book cover - the kind I used to make from brown paper sacks to cover my text books in high school. Do the kids still do that?
Anyway, I wanted to use fleece, so I dug through my scraps and found a purple one big enough for the job (I really wanted blue or green, but whatever). I measured it the same way I used to measure my paper book covers 15 years ago, making it a half inch wider on top and bottom. When I went to make the finished edges on top and bottom I put the stitches in about 1/8 of an inch from the edge of my fold so they would fall close to the edge of my book, instead of higher up on the panel where I thought they'd be really obvious (aka ugly).
When I was pretty sure my cover was a suitable size, I centered it on my journal and started planning my embellishments. I free hand cut the "e" out of felt (if you don't trust your free handing skills, use your computer to print out a large letter in the size and font that you want and pin that to your fabric) then I rooted around in my crafty stash and came up with the plastic flower and button. (On a side note, the "e" was a strategic move on my part to keep my daughters from swiping the journal for themselves). Since I haven't permanently secured the cover yet, I took it off and sewed my "e" on with fun colorful thread (that shows my quirky mistakes really well now that I'm looking at it - oh well), then I hand sewed the button on over the flower. (The flower had a pre-punched hole in the center that made the hand sewing a snap.)
When my embellishments were all secured I returned the cover to the journal and hand stitched the sides closed. Here's another hint - fleece is another stretchy material, so go ahead and pull the cover really really tight before stitching for optimum tidiness.
Predictably, my daughters were rather psyched about this style of journal cover, which means I might be off the hook for not making them the tee - shirt journals I had planned to make yesterday...


What Mama makes - journals... day 1

I've been day dreaming about making some altered journals for a while now, and had a surge of inspiration in the middle of the night the other night. What if I used a repurposed tee-shirt to cover a store bought journal... (after all, we all know that anything you dream up when your half asleep is totally do-able right?)
But I was totally determined to find out if it was possible, so the first thing the next morning I set right to work (after I caught some more zz's that is!) I pulled out the hand-me-down bag and found a little girl shirt that was too little and a spiral bound journal with a thick chipboard cover. I did a little measuring and figured out that I could use the front of the shirt for the front cover and the back of the shirt for the back cover. So I took the cover off the book, cut my fabric to fit, and sewed a little sleeve for the front and back covers. To do this, I stitched up the side and bottom of each piece (wrong sides together) and flipped it right side out, then inserted the cover, and topstitched the open end shut. Here's a hint - tee-shirt fabric has a little bit of stretch to it, so go ahead and sew your cover about 1/16 of an inch too small. That way it won't be all loosey-goosey and wonkey.
Now to put it all back together again, we need to punch holes for the binding to go back through. I used a crop-a-dile to punch holes through the fabric, I imagine the sharp point of a pair of scissors would do the same thing in a pinch. Here's another helpful hint that I figured out after I'd finished the first panel. If you add a strip of scotch tape to the part where you'll be punching your holes, the fabric doesn't ravel as much and you end up with a tidier hole. Put the tape on your fabric sleeve before you flip it right side out and top stitch it, you'll be able to feel where it is with your fingers. Then just find the holes with your finger tips and make your cuts there.
Put the cover back on your journal and it's done!
I'm planning on using this one to keep my gardening stuff organized - but my daughters have both ordered one, so it looks like I'll be off to the dollar store to find more of these little books after the weather clears up a little.


What Mama makes - snow sleeves

It's been an issue since I was a kid. That gap between your mitten and your coat. Worst. Thing. Ever. It's a magnet for snow and cold. Sure you can keep tucking your mitten into your coat, but what normal 7 -8 year old wants to stop playing to do that? Not mine.
So what to we do? I have been dreaming about these snow sleeves for years now, but never really got around to making them. This was the year. They were super simple to make. I took 2 rectangles of fleece (left over from one of Grandma's crafty projects) and sewed them together, wrong sides together. Then I sewed the edges together (making a long tube), flipped it inside out, and cut and sewed a notch for the thumb. Since I didn't have a pattern, it took me a while to get the sizing right for the thumb.
I originally intended for these to be worn under store bought gloves, but sadly with 2 layers of fleece, those gloves won't fit over top. So I made some mittens that do. On a not so cold day, (or when one of the specially made mittens is missing) my kids will use those little knit stretchy gloves and put them on underneath their sleeves.

These have become a winter staple in our wardrobe. I'll be making a pair for myself here shortly.
On a side note, if you wanted to make some quick ones you might think about cutting the end off of a long sock or an old shirt sleeve and finishing the edges for a lighter weight version...


Shh! Don't tell anyone...

There are some crafts that I just never thought I'd get into. Needlework is one of them. Talk about tedious, and when you're done you end up with something an old lady would make. No thanks.
But I have a secret. This winter I've actually become addicted to needlework. Yes, it can be tedious, but it also doesn't require brain power, (which is a good thing at the end of the day when my brain is worn out). It's a perfect quiet activity to keep my fingers busy while I'm watching tv, or listening to the kids work on their schoolwork.
And as for being a craft for old ladies? Not so much. I'm such a doodler, this is just a new medium for my doodling. Yes, my friends there are many projects around here that would benefit from a little Mama doodling.


beating the snow blahs - part 3... snow paint

Our snow is starting to melt around here, but fortunately we had enough for one more day of snow investigations. Today we focused our efforts on snow paint. In honor of Valentines Day, we got out some nontoxic water based tempera paint and some food coloring and set out to figure out our preferred methods of painting.
First we tried out the spray bottle. I put a little bit of red food coloring in a spray bottle, and filled it with water. All three kids tried it, and they were sort of indifferent to it. Mama says, good for covering large areas of snow with color, bad for detail work. So use it to paint your snow fort.
Next we got out the paint brushes. I used the thick preschool brushes, which were easier for their mittened fingers to hold on to... First we experimented with food coloring, which was sort of a dud because it was too water-y and dripped everywhere. Next we tried out watered down tempera paint. We used 2 parts water: 1 part paint. I figured watered down paint would still transfer the color without wasting a ton of paint. The kids liked this style of paint much better, it was still a little drippy, but not as drippy as the food coloring. They particularly enjoyed writing their names in the snow. I can see them using this style of painting to add detail work to snowmen and snow forts down the road.
On a side note, after all was said and done, I'm sort of regretting choosing red as our color of preference. My yard vaguely resembles a war zone that saw many casualties. So if you come over to my house, it's not blood. I promise.


beating the snow blahs - part 2... snow candy

In the story of Little House on the Prairie with Laura Ingalls Wilder they talk about making maple candy with snow. So this snow-bound Mama with cabin fever decided to try it out. The only problem is that we didn't have pure maple syrup and I wasn't about to drag all my children to the store just to get it. So we improvise. We dug through the kitchen cabinets and found a few items that may or may not do what we want.
Our first little experiment was with Meijer brand Lite Maple Syrup (the kind that doesn't actually have real maple syrup listed in the ingredients - but is still yummy). We heated it until it boiled, the poured it over a tub full of snow, then stuck it outside in a snow pile in my subarctic yard for a few minutes. The result: a gummy substance that still needed a spoon to be eaten. But not bad.

Next we tried a simple fruit syrup using raspberries we picked last summer. We followed the same procedure, but left it outside longer. We ended up with a rather yummy fruit slushy. The partially mushed up berries that all stayed on top were the yummiest part.

Our final experiment was with Meijer Gold Blueberry Syrup (the kind that actually does have real blueberries). Following the same procedure we did with the other two types of syrup, we finally got the result I was looking for. A taffy like substance that my kids could actually pick up. We particularly enjoyed this one. I shoved my stiring spoon that was covered with hot syrup into the snow, and the kids enjoyed picking the blueberry taffy off of it. I can see cutting up fruit, dunking it in hot syrup and throwing it in a bucket of snow for a yummy snack. But that's another experiment for another day.


Sarcasm and Holiness are not friends

How a quick, thoughtless comment can do a world of destruction... click here to read the rest of this article I had published through Yahoo's Associated Content...


beating the snow blahs - part 1

As it does every year around this time, the novelty of snow is wearing off a little bit in our house. We've made snow angels, snowmen, snowforts, been sledding, on snow hikes, had snowball fights... if it involves snow, we've done it. Several times. We're all going a little stir crazy waiting for things to green up outside a little. But since we currently have 17 inches on the ground, I'm thinking it'll be awhile before anything green shows up.
This is the time of year that Mama has to get a little creative with the snow in order to keep things interesting. I have a list of activities in the back of my brain that I revisit year after year, changing one little element so that it doesn't seem like the we're doing the same exact activities we did last year.
So the first thing we're doing is snow sculptures. We start with a bowlful of snow for each kid(and a towel for a work mat), and after that it's kind of up to them. Last year we got out a bunch of little stuff that they'd never think to take outside. We used marbles, toothpicks, pipe cleaners, plastic silverware and so forth to make some rather elaborate miniature snowmen. This year we went with the play doh toys and worked our way up to kitchen utensils. At last check they were preparing a delectable feast of snow noodles and cookies.

I'll bet those snow cookies are low in calories and relatively carb free. Wonder if I could sell the recipe to Weight Watchers..........


Snow Adventures

Friday I had an unexpected break in my plans, so I decided to take the kids on a snow hike. We try to take one every year, but I wasn't sure we'd get around to it this year. We had a good 10 inches on the ground (which is kind of a lot around here), so I was sure the woods were filled with wintery treasures, and hidden adventures.

I bundled the kids up and took them to the park that's around the corner from our house. I sort of tricked them by promising that we could play on the mountains of snow that had surely been created as the snow plows that had cleared the parking lots. But I knew full well that we'd find more than just a 6 foot mountain of snow to climb on. We attempted a trail hike, but tromping through snow that deep isn't really that fun, (if only we'd had skis) so our hike was predictably short. But our outing wasn't a total loss, we also found some wicked icicles on the playground equipment, made a decent sized snow fort (on top of the snow mountains in the parking lot), had an epic snowball fight, and found a natural snow cave under a pile of fallen tree logs.


Morning prayer

I'm a slow to wake up kind of a girl, and usually spend at least 5 minutes in a semi-awake state laying in bed praying over my day before I even open my eyes. Although the words change on a daily basis, the themes do not. I thought you might enjoy hearing what is in my heart each morning.

Dear sweet Jesus
Thank you for another day here on earth (though I'd rather be with you in Heaven!) I know there is a reason why You need me to be here today, so I'll pretend that I don't mind being stuck here a little bit longer.
I pray that You would guide my day, and keep me in the center of Your will. Show me what You want me to do, and don't laugh at me when I mess up. (Becuase I'm pretty sure I won't make it through breakfast.)
Be at the center of my interactions with my friends and family. Help me to be the mother/wife/friend that You want me to be. Use me to bless someone else's day.
Help me to not be focused on tangible things, because I know that nothing in this world will last. Help me to look past my ugly living room furniture, the dent in my car, and the huge mess my children will surely make. Help me to not be discouraged when things don't turn out the way I expect them to. This day is not about me and my personal agenda, it's about You using me to make a difference on my little corner of the world. I trust that by my (trying to) stay in Your will this day will go exactly according to Your plan. We all know that Your plan is better than mine.
Provide for and protect us and... (insert the name of every person I can think of, which usually includes a list of missionaries which varies in length depending on whether I feel like getting up or staying snuggled in my bed)


so what do you pray for in those early moments of your day?



We heard word of this storm over the weekend, before it hit California. A two wave storm that would drop 14-16 inches, blowing and drifting, and an inch of ice. It was enough to send our little community into a tizzy of preparations.
Not us, mind you. One of the beautiful things about my life is that the kids and I don't have to go anywhere in order to function normally. Work and school all happens in this little hub that we call home. So while we have a constant pile of wet mittens and socks by the door, we hunker down and prepare for the worst, knowing we'll probably get a fraction of what is predicted.
So yesterday, while we were waiting for the second round to hit, we decided to have an impromptu play date with some friends who had the day off from school. Despite the frigid temps and biting wind, Alex and Jake built a snowfort. We moms on the otherhand, watched from the warm kitchen and kept the boys (and a few random girls that occasionally stepped out to assist them) supplied with hot chocolate. A very important job indeed.


The Scrap to the MAXimum creative event

(it's supposed to scroll through the slides by itself, but if it doesn't just click on it and it'll give you arrows)


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