Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin play

There's been a lot of playing with pumpkins around here lately. Here's an invitation to play that I set up last week on the coffee table (with our autumn table in the background):

Last year around this time, the kids were really into clay, and we were using it on a daily basis. So it was a natural extension to create pumpkin-and-clay faces. This year, they remembered, and moved the pumpkins to the studio to do it again:

This year, I was super inspired by this pumpkin head we found at the pumpkin patch:

See his red-pepper mouth and gourd eyes? They're nailed on! Genius! Kids can do that, and make a very satisfying jack-o-lantern (ok, maybe not the lantern part...) all by themselves. I couldn't wait to try it. I introduced the idea to the kids yesterday by showing them the picture and asking them to look closely at how the parts were held on. Then I set up labeled baskets for eyes, noses, and mouths, and we went on a treasure hunt through the studio, looking for parts that would lend themselves to nailing. They came up with some good ones! This morning, we began assembling our pumpkin heads:

(She nailed her pieces on, but I couldn't hold the nail and take photos at the same time!)

Here are some of the kids' creations:

(by a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 3-year-old).

It turned out to be a great way to decorate a pumpkin. I'd love to know if you give it a try!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Apples and Pumpkins

This weekend we went to two farms for apples and pumpkins. It was the quintessential fall day. I'm pretty sure hundreds of bloggers have told the story better, so I'm just going to rely on pictures to tell mine.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Brown birdie pants

Well, if I wait for the perfect photo of these pants, I'm never going to post about them. So let's go with these, and I'll do a better job photographing the next pair.

Please ignore the fact that her sweater's buttoned wrong, and that I hemmed them too long--sewing after bedtime--so we had to fold them up (still hoping to find a minute to fix that).

And I hope you'll trust me when I say they're way cuter in person!

What I like:

The goofy cute fabric. I went into Joann's one day on a mission for my mother, and couldn't walk past this sale fabric, perfect for my bird-loving Lucy (adorable little birds and peace signs). I love brown for little girls--perfect for playing in the dirt!

The pockets, made from the pockets of an old pair of corduroys that belonged to Lucy's beloved Tim (which makes them extra special to her). She likes big pockets on all her clothes, so she can have a place to stash her treasure (though I'm rethinking the wisdom of huge pockets on elastic-waist pants. Many treasures = falling-down pants!). I appliqued on some birds from the main fabric, in part to cover the old logo, but also because, when I described the pockets to Lucy, she asked if there would be birds on them (she's beginning to offer strong opinions on how things should be made).

The basic shape of the pants: wide and comfy, not too loose on her tiny-little behind.

What I don't like:

The low rise. I didn't expect them to sit quite so low. (I hate exposed bellies!) Next time, I'll add a bit more at the top.

I made these pants from a pattern in Emma Hardy's Making Children's Clothes. (Thanks, Julie!)

It was my first time tracing a pattern from a book with all those overlapping patterns, and it was a good starting place--just two pieces, no markings. The size was good, and the directions were easy and clear. I did, however, note an error in the description for how to make the elastic casing: you were to fold over 3/8", then 3/8" again, and somehow, that was supposed to leave room for 1/2" elastic. (I really hate that craft books nowadays are made so quickly that basic math mistakes like this slip right by!) That error, and my bigger casing to accommodate the elastic, might account for the too-short rise. Otherwise, I was very happy with the pattern, and will definitely be making more (the legs of those brown corduroys are destined to be the next pair).

I can't believe I finally sewed something again! I'm hoping I can keep up the momentum.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

And the stack grows higher: tips for library book sales

Ooh, it's my favorite time of year: book sale season! I've been to several good ones in the last month. But last night was the best; it was "friends' night" at my very-favorite library book sale.

Just get a look at this room! This is only half of the "non-readers" room, which also spills out onto a table in the hallway. Everything in here is 50 cents. And though the line to get in the sale was huge, when I entered this room, I was the only one in there.

Here's my stack. It's a very modest one this time! (I've bought so many books over the years, I'm getting pickier and pickier.) Here's my system:

-Head straight for the children's books. They're the best bargain around--cheaper than anything else, but you'll read them again and again and get both art and text--so the value is unbelievable!

-Bring several big huge tote bags. Put anything that looks at all appealing into the bag. Don't preview it yet, just put it in there and move on.

-Keep your book list in mind. I keep an Amazon wish list going of all the great children's books I've ever wanted, and seeing them there keeps covers, authors, and illustrators fresh in my mind, so I spot things easily.

-And yet, don't have a goal. The lady next to me was pawing through boxes, looking for "Thomas the Tank Engine" books, passing wonderful book after wonderful book! (I desperately wanted to offer advice!) Be open to the discovery of something new.

-When you're all finished looking, find a nice quiet corner to review your stacks. On closer inspection, I usually put back about a third to half of the books I picked up. I'm looking for great art, wonderful language, and, often, the innocence and beauty of vintage books (though modern ones find their way into my bag, too).

Here are a few of my favorite finds from last night's sale. (There's more over there on the right, in my librarything.)

As I described the books I'd found to Lucy, she said "the old science books are for you, Mama." Yup. She knows me well.

Are you finding any treasures this book-sale season?

Monday, October 10, 2011

One last bit of summer

The calendar might say October, but it was 85 degrees yesterday, so I decided we needed one more trip to the beach.

I'd recently realized that we could get to the beach and still have the all-important nap if we left the house at nap time and packed a picnic dinner. That meant Lucy could sleep in the car, and we'd arrive as she woke up, have a few hours to play, a picnic on the beach, a quick change into pjs, and then drive home at bedtime. So I'd searched online for the nearest nice-sounding beach, and found one in Connecticut, an hour and forty minutes away (had Google's directions not led us astray, but oh, well, it'll be fast next time).

It was perfect. A small beach in a quiet neighborhood of modest homes, no walk from the parking lot to the beach (and yet, you didn't feel like you were beside a road), a long stretch of beach to walk on past gorgeous unspoiled land, and millions and millions of treasures to find. Seriously, the slipper shells were a foot deep in places, and we packed our whole picnic basket full of them!

And the driftwood! Ooh, I was in driftwood heaven, dreaming of mobiles and Joel-esque creations.

Today, Lucy and I set up a bin of beach treasures for the children to explore tomorrow.

(And I finally realized that I could bring home all those stinky crab shells I like so much, as long as I set them up for exploration outdoors, rather than trying to put them on our nature table.)

It was the perfect getaway, one I can't wait to repeat.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In the works

There's something about fall that gets my creative juices flowing. I can hardly believe it, but I finally pulled out my sewing machine after months of it gathering dust. I was up late last night, working on a pair of pants for Lucy. She woke calling for me before I could finish, but I'm close! I have lots of other plans, too, if I can just find the time. Can't wait to share a finished product here again soon!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Simply Ten

It's been a ridiculously long absence. My life, my mood, my time, these past few months have not been conducive to blogging. But I'd rather not dwell there. I'm hoping that coming back here to share the beautiful little moments of life will help. What better way to begin than to join Soulemama for "simply ten good things?" Because there are always good things, if we only look.

So, here they are, simply ten good things:

1. a trip to Maine at just the right time to savor the last bit of summer
2. the thoughts and ideas and constant chatter of a brilliant two-year-old
3. apples, and the right tools to process them
4. the incredible variety of mushrooms in the woods right now
5. fingerpaint
6. good rain gear
7. a breeze and peek of sun after weeks of gray and rain
8. a sleeping baby in my arms
9. being able to call her my baby, though she's so clearly not
10. the incredible freedom of my new Fridays off, now dubbed "Mama-Lucy day."