Friday, January 29, 2010

One World One Heart

Another blogger, A Whimsical Bohemian, started a world-wide event called "One World One Heart." It's an interesting concept - to connect people who blog to one another. It's a way to connect with others throughout the world...especially with those you may not have otherwise have met unless they were a part of this event.

You can visit close to 800 blogs and sign up to win something on each one. Click here to do that:


But more than that, you can get a glimpse into the world of almost 800 people. Perhaps you'll learn something new. See something inspiring. Do something different. Who knows. It's up to you to discover what's out there.

So, I invite you to take a look around my blog. Follow my blog if you find it interesting. Then leave a comment below. On February 15th, I'll use to choose a number that corresponds to a comment below. That person will win an origami window star that I made:

Leave a comment below now...and make sure to include your email or a way for me to track back easily to let you know if you won.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Valentine's Day Tea Towel

This is a hand-embroidered tea towel that I made. The bird and heart were from a free pattern on the internet. The lettering was from a font I had on my computer (it's called Curlz MT).

This tea towel was made for a swap on Swap-Bot. I'm going to make another version for my kitchen since my daughters liked the color and design so much.

Have some more complex designs that I want to embroider as well. With the cold weather here for the next couple of days (temperatures below zero at night and single digits during the day), it looks like I'll be spending more time indoors.

Embroidery is a nice way to pass the time and create something pretty and useful for the home.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Girls in Snow Fort

Girls in Snow Fort
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann

Last week it rained quite a bit. Slowly, the snow fort "melted." However, because there was so much rain the snow became heavy and saturated - perfect for building snow blocks.

Took 2 buckets and filled them with snow. Pressed down each one with the other bucket. Added 2 layers to the girls' snowfort. They filled the holes in with snow.

Would have liked to build it even higher, but my back started to hurt (I have degenerative disk disease). Hopefully the snow stays packable so the girls and I can build the fort higher and with windows!

This is a view of the snow fort prior to adding the snowblocks:

I remember growing up and building a snowfort with my dad, sister, and brother in the backyard when I was about Olivia's age.

Later (in upper-elementary school) I remember building snowforts in the drifts that would come up off the lake. Mom would have hot chocolate and homemade cookies dry mittens ready so we could go out and play more.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Eco-Friendly Gift Bags

One of the Etsy teams that I'm on is The Daily Sweets. The group was formed when it accepted Chrissy of 's challenge to create an item a day beginning April 15th, 2008, to May 15th, 2008 with the of improving activity in shops.

At the end of the challenge, the group decided to continue. While each person may not always list an item a day, the goal is to create every day.

So, keeping this challenge in mind, I took a few vintage children's books I had and transformed them into gift bags with my sewing machine. This particular set of bags is from a book about Aesop's Fables.

I hand-cut the top of the bags, and used a paper cutter to trim the edges evenly. I machine sewed along 3 edges to create the bags.

After listing the bags in my shop on Etsy, two (out of 3) sets were immediately sold. Then I received a request for a custom order of 45 bags from a customer in Australia! Needless to say, I was happy with the positive response to this new product.

Between these bags made from vintage children's books and the fabric gift bags that I also offer in my shop, I plan to continue making eco-friendly items that creatively reuse items that may be destined for landfills...and reduce the impact we have on the environment.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sophia Grinding Wheat Berries

Sophia is flaking the wheat berries in the agriculture class I teach. Another mom is holding the flaking machine in place so it doesn't move as much (the thing that holds it in place doesn't fit correctly on the table).

We just finished reading "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In the book, Mrs. Wilder described how the family had to constantly grind wheat in their coffee grinder in order to make bread. The bread is what sustained the family when the train and supplies no longer could make it through to their town.

The flaking machine gave the girls a much better appreciation for the hard work that would have been needed to make flour...and the little amount of flour that is produced for the work that is involved.

They also were able to see an electric flour grinder and how wheat berries are grounded into flour. Now the girls want to grind flour at home. It sure would be a much healthier alternative to what's available in the store!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Journal Quilt

This is a journal quilt that is about 9" x 12". It is made from fabric that I used to make Sophia and Olivia's First Communion dresses and matching purses.

Each month, I plan to do a journal quilt. For my January 2010 journal quilt, I thought about the highlights of the month so far.

What came to mind immediately were these things:
- Both of my daughters made their First Communion on January 10th. I sewed and hand-beaded the girls’ dresses along with my mom’s assistance in helping put in the zippers, gathering the skirts around the waistband, and showing me how to put in sleeves.

- Having lots of snow and winter snowstorms.

- Building a rather large snow fort (with 3 rooms) in the backyard with my daughters (we add to it almost every day).

- Looking at the stars at night with my daughters after we do nightly chores for the miniature horse and pony. The constellation Orion is clearly visible in the eastern sky – and it is another constellation that the girls now can recognize in the sky.

The techniques I used in my journal quilt were patchwork, hand-embroidery and embellishment (hand-sewing beads onto the quilt).

On the plain cotton fabric in the first and last rows of the quilt, I hand-embroidered snowflakes to represent all the snow we’ve received and the snow fort we’ve been building.

In the third row, I hand embroidered 7 stars to represent the constellation Orion (2 for his shoulders/top of his body, 3 for his belt, and 2 at the bottom to represent the bottom of his body).

After that was done, I had each of the girls lay one of their hands onto the quilt. I traced it with a fabric pen (the blue ink that washes out with water).

I then put batting and another piece of white cotton fabric behind that; and pinned it together. With a sewing machine, I sewed around the outline of the hands.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Frosted Pine Needles

Thought this was so pretty. It's one of the pine trees in the front yard.

It was a rather warm morning (in the upper 20s/low 30s), and everything was covered with this beautiful frost.

The girls and I spent a long time walking around the pastures, front yard, and backyard taking a look at all the things covered in crystals. It was a nice way to begin the day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sampler Village Box Filled with Samples!

I signed up to be a part of the Sampler Village. Starting in March, I'm going to be sending the Sampler Village 30 samples from my Etsy shop. These items will go into a box along with other samples from Etsy shops.

Each month, anyone can buy a box of samples from the Sampler Village and receive a box packed full of samples.

This was in the January Sampler Village box. It's a great way to see a variety of items from Etsy shops. Many of the items I would use.

For those I wouldn't use, I can pass them on as little gifts for the holidays and/or tuck them in with orders from my own shop (I like to include a little gift with orders, and cross-promote other Etsy shops).

For more information about Sampler Village and/or to order a box, please click on the box on the right hand side of this blog.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Melting Birthday Candles

This should teach me a lesson about waiting to make a birthday cake at the end of the day.

Should have done it earlier rather than waiting until dinner time (I had to take the girls to the homeschool co-op and was gone most of the day).

Anyway...the cake was still warm and in its pan. Put the candles in the cake and they started melting.

It was pretty sad...had hoped these tall rainbow candles would celebrate such an important milestone - Olivia's 7th birthday.

However, I think this is one of those things that the girls will remember for a long time and I'll probably hear memories about Olivia's 7th birthday for years to come. ("Hey, Mom, remember Olivia's 7th birthday when the candles melted before she had a chance to blow them all out?")

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Skating...or Homeschool Phy Ed

This is Olivia's second time on skates and she couldn't be happier. She loves skating.

One of the things that I like about homeschooling is that I can take the girls to the skating rink in the middle of the day when it is completely empty and they can practice skating.

It's a nice break in the middle of the day, and it's a great way for them to exercise and get their phy ed in for the day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

E is for Elephant

This is a hand-embroidered artist trading card (ATC) that I made for my youngest daughter, Olivia.

It's going into an alphabet book that is made up of ATCs (there are two ATCs per letter - one that I made and one that someone else made that I traded for).

It is the standard 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", and made from felt and embroidery floss. The entire front of the card is done in the back-stitch; and the card is blanket-stitched to a felt backing.

I'm going to make another version (without the E) for my shop - Harvest Moon by Hand - where there are other hand-embroidered ACEOs that I've made and are available.

When Olivia is done with the ABC book, she will place it in her "Memory Box" (another word for a "Hope Chest"). Already she is collecting favorite clothes that she wore when she was a toddler and child; Christmas ornaments that were given to her or that she purchase with money she earned; items that were given to her from China (where she was born); and favorite books that she "wants to pass on to her children."

She also has items she has made that she is using that will later go in her "Memory Box" - her first quilt that she made at 6 1/2 years old (and that she won a blue ribbon for at the county fair); and a hand-drawn picture she embroidered and made into a pillow (she won the grand champion ribbon for the pillow at the county fair last year).

As her sewing and embroidery skills continue to develop, she'll make some special items for her future kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. All of these items - along with the memories of making them - she will take with her when she's an adult and ready to make her first house into a home.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Winter Nature Table

Winter Nature Table
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
Olivia helped set up the winter nature table. It's a combination of handmade items that I've made, others have made (e.g., Soft Earth Art in New Zealand made the pretty display in the back with the two wool figures), items I've purchased at the local Waldorf school, and natural items that the girls and I have found on nature walks.

I like that the elements are natural - the dolls are made from felt, cotton fabric, and sheep wool (depending on which one you're looking at).

Olivia (and sometimes Sophia) will play with the different components on the table, creating stories that change each time they visit the table.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Olivia All Bundled Up

I think it's important that the girls play outside each day (if the weather permits it).

It's above zero degrees, so Olivia is excited about playing outside. She's pretty toasty in there with the big snowsuit, handmade scarf, and hat.

She and Sophia are taking down icicles off the house to use with their snow fort.

Olivia always asks if she has "rosy cheeks" when she comes inside from playing outside or working with the horses.

Sophia enjoying an icicle while she and Olivia are playing.