Sunday, November 25, 2012

The non-road trip

We were able to visit my sister, brother-in-law and nephew for Thanksgiving. We actually went last weekend and visited early. Our hope was to use some time my parents had in their timeshare company to rent a place for all of us to get out of town but it didn't work that way. But before we knew that we weren't going to have a road trip I had already started on the road trip bags knowing that there was going to be a lack of toys where we were going.

The bags were made from a free tutorial here. E's is the one in blue and was made exactly as the tutorial directs, N's is the light one and I squared the bottom rather than rounding it. I'm not sure that I can tell much of a difference between the two when they are sitting. The cords I think could be shorter and the tubing that the cords go through have to be bigger than what is called for in the pattern. I made them bigger and they were still pretty snug to thread the ties through.

I have been wanting to make a few handmade quite activities for N to be able to play with on her own when I need a minute (or five) to myself. Thanks to the wonder of Pinterest I found this, I love that she did it as an exchange with other mom's and I think that it would be a great way to do Christmas if you knew enough parent's who were game. I didn't do everything that she had listed but I did a few.

A rice I-syp bag: which N loves, even if it is just to carry around. I walked around JoAnn's looking for small stuff and ended up with some shaped buttons, small wood shapes, ABC letter beads spelling out her name, some small bells, and some of those Japanese shaped erasers (a pig and a pair of shoes if you are really interested).

The button worm: at least that's what we're calling it. She hasn't really gotten how to thread it yet but she does currently enjoy sticking her fingers through the cut holes when the felt squares are taken off the ribbon.

Velcro sticks: a note of warning, if you buy the pre-colored sticks at JoAnn's and your child sucks on them, the coloring will come off and dye your child's mouth/face/hands etc. On the up side N doesn't really chew on them any more since the incident with the one red one that made me freak out. She does love ripping them apart whenever I try to make a shape with them.

The bead bottle: by far N's favorite, and probably my least favorite. It's a mess, pony beads will go everywhere. On the up side, she does love putting them in, in the bottle, in her pants, in the play kitchen, in the trash, pretty much anywhere they can be put, she'll put them.

The miscellaneous extras. You really can't go wrong with giving a toddler a whistle and a kazoo, at least if you want them to stay occupied you can't go wrong. If you want to have a conversation with another adult it might not be the route of distractions that you want to take. N mostly likes the silly putty container more than the putty itself.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Time is speeding up, as it always seems to do this time of year. With a toddler in the house I have gotten better at strategically planning ahead and how to make the most of my time. So far it seems to be working for the handmade present stack that I've been working away at for the past couple of months. Yep, that's what a toddler will do to you, make you start Christmas presents in August.

This isn't quite a Christmas present, it's N's advent calendar. Which in it's own perverse twist needed to be done well before Christmas time. I have really clear and fond memories of our advent calendars growing up. We always got to pick out one of the molded chocolate ones. You know, they sell them at grocery stores and as a kid you get excited, because, hey it's chocolate everyday. But as you get older you realize that the little brown shapes are more wax than anything resembling actual, good, chocolate. I wanted N to have that same excitement every morning leading up to Christmas.

I fell in love with Elizabeth Hartman's version a few years ago and knew that I wanted to make one. Last winter, after Christmas, I stocked up on the fabric since it was so cheap. This would be a great scrap project because you really don't need much of the patterns at all. I think that the next time I make it I would probably try to use a charm pack. I finished the top months ago but I was building up the courage to do the quilting. With December looming I finally got busy last weekend. The quilting was actually quite quick and a lot easier than I had imagined - it is just squiggles after all.

All in all I'm happy with how it came out. The pockets are big enough for treats and little presents (hello Target $1 bins!) but the whole calendar doesn't take up a ton of space on a wall. It probably would even fit nicely on a door. Here's hoping the rest of my present stack finishes up as quickly and easily!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A little crazy

We are in the process of buying our house. It has been a long process. Not particularly difficult, just a lot of paperwork, legal-ese, and frustratingly long waits. We were suppose to close on the first, November first, however that has come and gone and we are not in home ownership land yet. Needless to say, some of my free time (read: crafting time) has been over taken by calling a lawyer, or a bank, or an insurance company, or someone else.

I have managed to work on a couple of little things. This one I don't feel like I can really take the majority of the credit for. The quilt top was done by my great-great aunt. My mom pulled it out when we were visiting a couple months ago and said casually something along the lines of how wouldn't it be nice if I could finish it for my sister. Point taken.

The top is an odd size, but it's bound for my sister's couch so sizing isn't something I had to be worried about. The "batting" of the quilt is old chicken feed bags, they were so great I almost wished I didn't have to cover them up with backing. Plus the hand embroidery made a lovely pattern all it's own on the batting.

My sister was also visiting my parents while we were, so she and I were able to pick out backing and binding fabric together. She chose some Kona cotton in Grass and I love how it turned out. The front can be a little dark on it's own but the green helps lighten it up a bit. Finished at just the right time since we're going to visit them in Wisconsin a just a couple of weeks. It will be perfect for snuggling with her on the couch and drinking some tea while we plan the Thanksgiving meal.