Smashing


I’m writing this on Will’s laptop, which currently has a dead battery, since my laptop currently has a dead storage device.  Hopefully we can get that sorted out in the next month… We’ve been hanging out with family the last few weeks and Julius and Patricia have been having a ball.  This is the first time Patricia has been with her cousins while she is old enough to play with them and she was very excited.  Other people the same size as Julius?!  Ari and Finn were very cute and included her in their little games.

Julius had a grand time running around the house with Ari and Finn.  They dubbed themselves “the giggle gooses” (I call Julius and Patricia my silly gooses) and ran around the house shouting all sorts of silly things.  At one point before bed Julius came up to me and we had the following conversation:

Julius: “I love Finn, he’s my best friend.  He’s my grandson.”

Me: “You mean cousin?”

Julius: “Yeah.”

I guess he is trying to figure out the meaning of the word grandson through guess and check.  Well I’m running out of my backlog of projects during our world tour, so this one is a blast from the past.  For Valentine’s day this year I made Julius a mini “smash heart”.  The smash heart I made at the same time as the hot cocoa bomb and filled it with sprinkles and m&ms.  I added a tiny hammer and some fancy packaging that I made from some recycled wrapping paper to make things adorable.  Julius hasn’t used the tiny hammer but he carried the box around for weeks… so I guess it was worth making.

Mini Smash Heart

For the Smash Heart

What you’ll need:

  • Sprinkle mix of your choice
  • m&m minis
  • 6 oz of chocolate
  • white chocolate
  1. Temper chocolate.
  2. When chocolate is in temper, pour a teaspoon full in each cavity and use a silicone brush to gently drag the chocolate up the sides of the mold.  Level the top of the mold using a cake spatula.
  3. Put chocolate into the freezer for 2 minutes to set.  Make sure to maintain temperature of melted chocolate while you wait.
  4. Repeat steps 2&3 2 more times until you have a layer of chocolate about 1/8″ thick.
  5. Gently remove chocolates from the mold.
  6. Each heart will require two heart halves.  Fill one heart half with sprinkles and m&ms.
  7. Warm a skillet until warm but not hot to the touch. With gloves, take top unfilled half of heart and place on the plate to melt the bottom edge.
  8. Place heart on top of the half with sprinkles and mini m&ms, pushing down gently to adhere. Make sure no sprinkles or m&ms are poking out.
  9. Temper some white chocolate.
  10. Place white chocolate in a pastry bag and snip off a very tiny amount so you have a hole about 1 mm wide.
  11. Decoratively drizzle white chocolate back and forth over the heart.
  12. Immediately sprinkle some sprinkles over the white chocolate.

For the Box

You’ll need:

  • The cricut template here (I’ll have to get this when my laptop is back)
  • cutting tool
  • scoring tool
  • wrapping paper
  • cellophane (I used a piece of food grade vacuum seal bag)
  • tape glider
  1. With paper face down on cricut mat and material set to paper, follow the instructions to cut the box top and box bottom.
  2. Fold inward along all the score lines, with the exception of the 4 end tabs, fold those out.
  3. For the top of the box, cut a small square of cellophane to fit into the lid of the box.  Just outside the heart and inside the center folds add 4 lines of tape.  Add cellophane to the top of the box on top of tape and press.
  4. Place tape on the end tab of one of the side flaps with side tabs.  Fold the side flap up then fold down in half and adhere the end tab to the bottom inside face of the box.  Repeat for opposite side flap.
  5. Place tape on all the side tabs. 
  6. Fold a side flap without side tabs up. Adhere adjacent side tab to the inside of the flap. Press in place.  Repeat for other side.  Place tape on the end tab, fold in half to the inside of the box and adhere the tab to the bottom of the box.
  7. Repeat step 6&7 for other flap.
  8. Repeat steps 1,2,4,5,6,7 for bottom box.

For the Mallet

You’ll need:

  • 1/4″ dowel
  • 1″ dowel
  • wood glue
  1. Cut the 1/4″ dowel to 4″ for the mallet handle.
  2. Cut the 1″ dowel to 1.5″ for the mallet head.
  3. Drill through the center of the 1″ dowel 2/3 of the way through.
  4. Sand edges of the two pieces of wood.
  5. Add a tiny drop of wood glue inside the hole you drilled and insert the handle into the head.  Let dry.

Julius smashing his candy heart

What’s inside?

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Dino Footprints

Back when I was on maternity leave and trying to do some theme weeks for Julius I discovered that one of the state parks in Massachusetts is called Dinosaur Footprints.  I’ve never been to it, but it sounded awesome!  I decided to make one of our weeks dinosaur themed.  In addition to taking out dinosaur books from the library we did lots of dinosaur activities.  We made a paper plate dinosaur craft, dug dinosaurs out of our kinetic sand, made dinosaur footprint cookies, and finally had a picnic at Dinosaur Footprints park.  I think it was rather successful week.  (Actually it spanned Easter so it was technically two weeks…)

Checking out the information on the dino footprints.

There are two footprints in this photo! The one on the left is the size of Julius, the one on the right is tiny!

Footprint photo

Roar!

For the footprint cookies, I wanted to make those jam thumbprint cookies with a dinosaur footprint instead of a thumbprint.  I was craving chocolate though so I wanted to use chocolate instead of jam for the thumbprint.  Luckily I didn’t even have to invent the recipe.  I used this complete recipe as is – it is completely fabulous.  The shortbread is amazing on it’s own and the ganache takes it up to spectacular.  My only changes to the recipe were to chill the dough for 30 minutes before baking, repress the footprint indent in the cookies after baking, and let the ganache set for A LONG TIME before pouring.  It took like an hour to set up, so this is not something you can whip together instantly.  My sister-in-law made the cookies for her dino week and confirmed my changes.  She also mentioned it was a bit tricky for Finn to press the footprints, so I think it might be easier for a 3.25 year old than a 2.75 year old…

Nom nom nom.

Chocolate Ganache Footprint Cookies

What you’ll need:

  1. Have your child give the dinosaur a bath, and clean the dinosaur thoroughly with dish soap.

    Washing the dinosaur

  2. Dry off the dinosaur.

    Giving the dinosaur a snuggly towel dry

  3. Roll dough by tablespoon into a ball and place on a cookie sheet.  Have the child flatten gently with their hand.

    Pressing the footprint into the cookie.

  4. Have child gently press the dinosaur’s foot into the flattened cookie about 3/4 way through the dough.  Take care to avoid pressing through to the cookie sheet, or cookie will break.

    Finished cookies ready to go in the fridge

  5. Chill dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  6. While dough is chilling, make the ganache.
  7. Bake cookies at 375 F for 8 to 10 minutes until done but still light in color.
  8. Re-press the dinosaur foot into the original indent (which will have puffed up slightly while cooking)

    Baked cookies, after being repressed

  9. Remove to cooling rack.

    Cookies after they’ve been re-pressed.

  10. While cookies are cooling, see if ganache has set – you want it to be a tiny bit liquidy so it will set flat in the footprint.  Carefully pour ganache into the footprint.

    Filling the cookies

  11. Let cookies set overnight until ganache has hardened.

    Dinosaur eyeing the goods.

 

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Bottlecaps

Well Julius and Patricia once again get the best kiddo award.  We took a long road trip this past weekend and they were real troopers.  I had low expectations for the trip, but they far surpassed them!  Let’s hope they can pull it off a few more times… but that might be a lot to ask of the little guys.

We’ve been having some renovations (understatement) going on for the past several months (read: 3 contractors at the exact same time, working on completely different projects).  This means I’ve had to pack up my craft room, my kitchen equipment, and my tool shop leaving very little in the way of blogging material.  I have lots of ideas stacking up on the backburner but I’ve had no time to execute.  I just can’t wait until I get my creative space back to usable!  Instead I’ll have to treat you to one of the projects from the archive.  This one is a bit of a recycle craft.

We have so many bottlecaps that we’ve saved over the years, that I’ve been trying to think of what to do with them.  Julius has no problem thinking of ideas; he loves to play with bottlecaps.  He sorts them, makes them into tiny boats, pretends they are people and just plain scatters them everywhere.  I haven’t come up with much to do with them, except making some tiny candles!  I thought they’d be a perfect addition to a relaxing bubble bath, so I made up a bunch of them for my spa ladies’ night.  Julius helped me perfect the recipe and even time how long they burned (he begged me to burn all of them after we made them).  It was pretty neat to watch them burn down, and the cotton string worked really well.

Micro Candles

  • 3oz beeswax, grated
  • 50 drops essential oils 
  • 25 bottle caps
  • 1 yard cotton kitchen twine – burns for 30 to 40 min
  1. Cut cotton twine into 25 1″ pieces.
  2. Place beeswax in a double boiler, heat until beeswax melts.
  3. Remove beeswax from heat and add in 50 drops of essential oil of your choice.

    Adding essential oils.
    This picture is so old… Julius is still sucking his fingers!! My big guy hasnt done that in months!!

  4. Dip end of cotton twine into beeswax, and place beeswax onto center of bottlecap to secure.  Let dry.
  5. Repeat step 4 for other 24 bottlecaps.
  6. If wax has started to harden, gently heat it again.  (Be careful not to get any wax on your burners, beeswax is extremely flammable!)
  7. Carefully pour the wax into each bottlecap, filling to the top.  Let dry.
  8. Repeat step 7 for other 24 bottlecaps.

Micro candles will burn for 30 to 40 minutes.  (Julius and I timed them)

Monitoring our candle burn

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Never Felt Better

My baby girl is 8 months old already!  I can’t believe it.  She crawls all over the place, and pulls herself up to standing constantly.  She’s even started moving between objects while standing, transferring from couch to coffee table to Dany’s crate etc.  Will is terrified she is going to walk any day now.

Julius is doing really great with his letter recognition.  He can tell you what different letters in books are, and what they sound like.  He is really close to being able to read I think.  I need to get some beginner reader books for him!

As for me, I’ve taken up a new hobby – needle felting!  I have described this recently as the equivalent of making sculpey animals, only out of wool.  Who knew that poking a pile of fiber over and over again with a barbed needle could produce such amazing things!  Here’s a few of my little creations – it all started with the little gnome in the center.  My library held a free virtual felting class a few months ago that included all the supplies for the little guy you see there.  I was so excited to sign up for a spot – it was one of the few organized activities I did while on my maternity leave (or really before I was vaccinated).

They key to felting is poking the needle semi randomly, while turning your shape.  If you randomly poke more in one single area, that spot will start to flatten out and then eventually indent.  The more you poke, the firmer your felted creations will become.  After I’d made a bunch of animals, I decided to make some essential oil diffusers for the car.  You just need to add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the wool balls, and then clip to your vent.  When the air blows you’ll get wafts of essential oil aroma.

Wool Diffuser

What you’ll need:

  • 3 different colors of wool roving .1 oz each
  • felting needle and foam
  • kitchen twine
  • tapestry needle
  • tiny clothespin (mine was only 1″ long, but you could go larger)
  1. Take one color of wool and split it in half, to form two long strips.  Wrap the strip tightly around the handle of the needle.
  2. Slide the wool off the needle, and wrap the other strip of wool around the first, perpendicular to how you wrapped around the needle. You’ll have a blockish looking shape.
  3. Start poking the block all around the center doing one full rotation.  Turn the block and rotate so you are poking around the sides the contain the un-poked ends.
  4. Continue poking and rotating along the plane formed by corners opposite from each other.
  5. Continue poking and rotating along all axes until the wool has reduced in size by 1/3 and is ball like in shape.

    (Sorry I switched roving colors here)

  6. Repeat for the other two colors.
  7. When 3 balls are complete and roughly the same size, thread your tapestry needle with the kitchen twine
  8. Tie a knot in the end of the twine, leaving a tail of about 1.5″.
  9. Thread the three balls onto the kitchen twine (if you can’t get the kitchen twine through use something thinner like embroidery thread)
  10. Tie a knot 1″ above the last ball, then thread on the clothespin.  Tie another knot above the clothespin to secure it, and leave a tail 1/2″ – 1″ long as desired.
  11. Fray the ends of the tails of twine.
  12. Add a few drops of essential oil to each ball.  Clip onto your air vents and turn the air on slightly to let circulate.

 

 

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The Fridge Saga

Have you ever noticed that Will and I have a lot of sagas?  If you search this blog for “saga” you’ll come up with 4 different sagas… and those are only the ones I deemed comedic enough to post about.  Maybe we’re too melodramatic.  Well… another saga has made the list.  Get ready for the great refrigerator saga of 2020 (though this saga spans multiple years).  (Hint: you may want to scroll down to the craft so you can make yourself a beverage before you settle in to read this one.)

Well… let me start off by saying that our house is about 25 years old, and the previous owners left us with all original appliances.  We didn’t mind because those things are workhorses!  Unfortunately even workhorses get sent to the glue factory eventually (wow morbid! Animal farm much?)  3 years ago, I replaced an internal coil on our oven and managed to keep it in business, 2 years ago our washer and then dryer kicked the bucket (read: the drum on the washer actually rusted out and fell out the bottom of the washer).  The dishwasher died in April of 2020 and the refrigerator died in August of 2020. We honestly didn’t realize the fridge was dying; we just thought the new bread we got didn’t freeze solid in the freezer, which we considered a bonus.  Eventually we discovered that other items in the freezer weren’t frozen and we decided to order a new fridge.

Well… our house has this stupid built in cabinet around our fridge that is TINY.  It is a narrow, and short.  So short in fact that there is only one standard size fridge that really fits it – made by Whirlpool.  I ordered that fridge from my favorite local appliance store, and got a call back with a warning that the fridge was out of stock and there were 400 people on the waitlist for that fridge.  Wow.  He thought it would be around November before we could get the fridge. Yikes.  He was super helpful though and found us another model that would fit that they had in stock.  Great.  So we cleaned out the old fridge and they came to deliver the new one.  The delivery person luckily thought to measure – and for some reason this fridge was 1/2″ too tall.  I don’t know if it was me or the salesperson who messed up, but we were both annoyed.  We decided to just wait for the other fridge in November since there really were no other fridges that fit.

Our other fridge by this point was basically dead – we thought it was limping along but one day I thought to put a thermometer in the fridge and it clocked in at 55.  Terrifying.  I was pregnant with Patricia and kept having nightmares about listeria (as if I needed any more things to add to my nightmares).  So in a stroke of genius I called around home depots to see if they had anything in stock.  The only fridges they had available were apartment sized fridges so we ended up with this 10.1cu ft model.

Let me tell you, it is tiny.  7.4 cu feet of fridge space is not much for a family of 3… soon to be 4.  Going from a 22 cu ft model with 17 cu feet of fridge space to less than half of that space was challenging.  I think the only thing that made it work was the full size freezer we have in the basement.  So… skip ahead to November, and I don’t hear anything about the new Whirlpool fridge.  I call before Thanksgiving and they have heard nothing from Whirlpool – none of the 400 fridges on backorder have come in.  We have a minimalist Thanksgiving so we can fit it all in our tiny fridge.

I continue calling monthly to see if our fridge is in.  It is not in.  In February we get a call from the appliance store to say that they received a notice from Whirlpool that the model of fridge we have on backorder is no longer being manufactured at this time due to covid.  They expect to resume manufacturing in the future.  He asks if we want to stay on the waitlist and I say sure.  I stop calling monthly.  June rolls around and we get a call from the appliance store – by some crazy miracle our fridge is in!  Unfortunately he called us the day after Tesla started our house, and we were not allowed to have anyone else on site so we had to postpone delivery.  After Tesla rescheduled a couple times we finally postpone delivery the end of June.  The appliance folks call back and we finally reschedule to July on my birthday.

By this point our oven had died too (more on that maybe in another post).  So both get delivered without a hitch.  As the delivery people are leaving, I notice the fridge door isn’t closing properly with that satisfying suction feel.  The delivery person takes a look and notices that the door is not actually sealing – there is a 1/2″ gap around the seam of the refrigerator.  He thinks it is probably just the gasket.  The appliance store calls us and lets us know that they have asked their repair department to take a look, but that they are crazy backed up.  They also let us know that they told the repair department to prioritize us since we’ve been waiting for this fridge since the civil war.

We hear nothing that day from the repair department, so at 4:30pm Will calls.  They are very sympathetic and get us on the schedule for 7am the following day.  The repair person shows up and fiddles around with the door for about 15 minutes.  Will asks, “can it be fixed?”  He shakes his head sadly.  Apparently the internal hinge that mounts the door was installed crooked.  The appliance company calls me back again, trying to offer me more solutions and clearly feeling very bad about this fridge.  That’s where the saga ends.  We have a useless fridge sitting in our kitchen as well as our tiny Magic Chef fridge, which I have become very fond of despite its small stature.  Well that’s mostly where it ends – I did call a couple cabinet companies and I think maybe we have to replace our cabinets to get a bigger fridge.

Let me tell you, meal planning gets way harder when you have to figure out how to fit a week worth of groceries in a tiny fridge.  You can’t have leftovers, ever.  They just don’t fit.  On top of that, we were too scared to do take out (I mean we were even having our groceries delivered).  This meant that we cooked 3 meals a day every single day from March 2020 until we got vaccinated in May 2020.  It was ridiculous.  When we got vaccinated, Will and I started doing take out, and we’ve been doing it a bit too often.  I’d say we have been eating out at least 8 meals a week.  EIGHT MEALS.  That is a ridiculous amount of take out.  We still don’t like to go into the restaurants if we can avoid it (though we have made the exception for Indian food several times) so we usually do curbside pick up.  I’m completely sick of take out, but Will and Julius aren’t.  Actually I think the dead give away that we have overdone the take out was the conversation we had with Julius on Friday.

Me: Julius, we’re having grilled [vegetarian] sausages or hot dogs for dinner.  Would you like a hot dog or a sausage?

Julius: I don’t want that for dinner, I want curbside pick up!!!

Later we figured out that curbside pickup meant quesadillas from Moe’s which Julius loves.  He did eat a half sausage and half hot dog with cole slaw though, so I consider that meal a win.

Now, let’s calm your nerves with some tea!  I made these shaped tea bags for my virtual spa ladies’ night, but I think they would be great for mother’s day or another special occasion.  I made them all on the sewing machine, which took far less time and allowed me to make 30 of them in a relatively short amount of time.  I think if you were to sew them by hand they were actually look a lot better and you could make more intricate shapes.  I intend to try this at some point in the future…

Designer Tea Bags

What you’ll need:

  1. Place two coffee filters on top of one another.  Iron them flat (cotton), make sure to move the iron frequently to keep from burning.
  2. Thread your machine with organic thread and a bobbin with organic thread.  Insert fine needle.
  3. Free-hand stitch a heart onto your filters, starting at the side of the heart.  Leave a 1″ gap.
  4. Insert funnel into the gap, and fill with 1 tsp of tea.
  5. Return heart to sewing machine and stitch over the gap to close it, back stitching at beginning and end to secure.
  6. Trim around the heart stitching, leaving a 1/4″ border.
  7. Using a cricut (or a scissor) cut out little hearts from the pink paper for your tea bag tag. 
  8. Thread your hand sewing needle with organic cotton thread.  Stitch through the stitching on one lobe of the heart, then knot.  Stitch through a lobe of the paper heart (or circle cut out from cricut) and knot, leaving the thread 2.5 inches long. Trim. 

 

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Little Things

Well, friends I am super excited.  We have a solar roof!!!  Some of you may know that we signed up (and put a deposit down) for a Tesla solar roof on day one of the announcement… which was before Julius was born… over 4 years ago.  We knew we were going to have to wait, so that is why we are super excited that we actually have one now!  Honestly, Will and I aren’t early adopters of pretty much anything, but we needed a new roof anyway (really needed a new roof after 4 years of waiting) and thought we might as well get a new roof while saving the planet.  The roof looks INCREDIBLE.  It looks exactly the same as the pictures but even BETTER.  I have to take a picture now that the construction equipment is gone, but here it is right after they finished it.      

The crew who installed it was awesome.  They worked on Saturday to finish it, and when they finished up they were so funny.  We were sitting on the screen porch and they walked by and said “Lexi… you have a solar roof”.  When I got all excited and started to walk outside to see the finished product they joked, “wait!  You can’t look at it yet – we need to wrap it all up and put a bow around it, then you tear it off.  Oh and there is a camera crew coming from the local paper for the ribbon cutting.”  I told them that they had to wait so I could run inside and put on make up.  Now we just have to wait for a couple inspections before they can power it on…

(By the way this article was definitely not funded by Tesla, since you know I don’t do sponsored articles on my blog.  That said, if you DO want a solar roof, solar panels or car, you should definitely use my referral link – you’ll get a $100 discount off the Tesla solar roof or Tesla solar panels and 1000 miles of free Supercharging when you buy a Tesla vehicle and I get a kick back too.)

On top of that exciting news, PATRICIA IS CRAWLING!  (Am I a bad mom for putting Tesla news first? Be honest.)  We knew it was going to be any day now since she’s been doing a sort of inch worm thing for a couple weeks but Julius always looked like he might crawl and he never did.  Since she started to become mobile we prepped Julius on keeping choking hazards away from Patricia.  Julius is constantly followed by choking hazards, be it the detritus of craft projects or food and toy related flotsam and jetsam.  It is terrifying.  He has gotten very cognizant of pointing out choking hazards to us.  On the first day Patricia crawled, she crawled right towards Will.  Julius tried to get Patricia to come to him next, but on the way towards her brother she was distracted by a pile of colorful meeples (that Julius likes to play with).  Julius recounted the story to me afterwards as, “Patricia crawled first to Dada, then to some choking hazards!”  Terrifying!

Well I’ve got a project that started before I had a second baby who put everything in her mouth!  You may remember for Julius’ birthday that we had a Winnie the Pooh themed party.  In lieu of candy, we filled his piñata with 100% fruit snacks and Winnie the Pooh figures that I made.  I loved some of the ones we saw on Etsy so I used a couple of them as examples.  My paint job hasn’t worn off yet, so I will use this method again to make more (when Patricia is past the choking hazard phase).

Painted Wooden Peg Dolls

What you’ll need:

  • unfinished wood peg dolls
  • acrylic paints in assorted colors
  • black sharpie paint marker
  • Mod Podge Clear gloss acrylic spray sealer
  1. Paint peg dolls with acrylic paint as desired.  Let dry completely
  2. Draw features with black Sharpie paint marker.  Let dry completely.
  3. Spray peg dolls with clear gloss sealer.  Let dry completely.
  4. Apply a second coat of sealer.  Let dry.

 

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Proud

Well I’m going to keep this one short and sweet because Mandar is in town!  We have got to pack in the in-person board games while we can!  It’s nice to play >2 player board games in person, so that’s what we’ll be doing later.

This month is Pride Month so we’ve been celebrating with some great books.  Our library has a great selection of books and my brother and sister-in-law’s library in Dallas has been doing some great virtual events, including Drag Queen Storytime.  Julius has been enjoying everything of course.  Of all the books we’ve read my favorites have been “Prince and Knight” and “What Riley Wore”.  Julius has brought up “Julian is a Mermaid” the most because his name is so close to that of the protagonist.  He then proceeds to be a mermaid.

Speaking of cute things Julius has said, I was really proud when I overheard Julius’ playtime the other day.  He was down at my office desk playing with my princess Leia action figures.  One of them has a removable skirt and cape.  I overheard Julius creating the following dialogue “yes, you can put on the skirt because girls wear dresses and sometimes boys”.

For Pride this year I wanted an actual decoration for my door to spread the love.  Since I don’t have a flagpole, that was out. I must confess that when I bought some of the supplies for the previous couple crafts I had Pride in mind.  I bought an extra roll of rainbow ribbon for my St. Patty’s Day banner, and an extra wreath form for the mobile.  This is super simple to whip together, the hardest part is getting the wreath form to fit under your sewing machine foot!

Rainbow Peace Sign

What you’ll need:

  • 2 yards of 1″ rainbow grossgrain ribbon
  • 16″ wooden wreath ring
  • needle and embroidery thread
  1. Take your gross grain ribbon and fold an inch of ribbon over the wreath ring, wrapping the wooden wreath form inside the ribbon.  Pin.
  2. Remove the presser foot on your sewing machine and pass the wreath under the foot.  Fit a zipper foot to the machine and stitch through the ribbon as close as possible to the wreath.
  3. Remove the wreath from the machine by again removing the presser foot and slipping the wreath ring out from under it.
  4. Stretch the ribbon out to the opposite end of the wreath, so the ribbon bisects the circle forming two hemispheres.  Fold the ribbon over the wreath ring as you did in step 1.  Trim so that the wrapped ribbon is only 1″ beyond the ring. Temporarily pin.
  5. Find the center of the bisecting ribbon and pin a second piece of ribbon at this point on the underside of the bisecting ribbon.  Pull the ribbon out towards the edge of the wreath form, so it forms one side of a peace sign.  Again wrap the ribbon over the wreath ring as you did in step 1.  Trim so it is only 1″ overlap and pin.  Adjust the pin in the center of the peace sign as necessary.
  6. Repeat step 5 for the other side of the peace sign.
  7. Remove the 3 pins on the bottom of the wreath form so that you are able to slide the pinned center of the ribbons under the sewing machine.  Stitch.
  8. Repin the 3 pins on the wreath form to form your peace sign again as in step 4,5,6.  Make sure everything in taunt.
  9. Remove the presser foot on your sewing machine and pass the wreath under the foot.  Fit a zipper foot to the machine and stitch through each ribbon as close as possible to the wreath.
  10. Pass a piece of thread through the top most loop. Tie and knot to form a hanger.
  11. Hang with pride!

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Poppies will put them to Sleep

Julius and Patricia are so darn cute.  Julius has been able to get hold of his emotions and has been having less melt downs.  He still has a few but he usually runs in the other room and does “snake breaths” and then runs back in smiling and hissing, all proud of himself.  He’s constantly asking Will and I “can you play with me”?  And he wants us to act out little adventures with his animals.  This morning he built his favorite little choking hazards animals two “street sweepers” and drove them around the room to “Rhode Island to get vaccinated because they went in the grocery store without a mask on and are sick now”.

A couple days ago Patricia hoisted herself up from a sitting position on the floor to standing, so she could stare into the bathtub while the water was filling.  I was completely amazed.  She is desperate to be mobile!  She hasn’t quite figured out crawling yet.  Will took a video of her doing this inch worm thing to move across the floor.  It works, but is not terribly efficient.  It is cute though.

We have started seeing people again.  I’m going to tell you right now, it is weird.  A couple people came back in town from far away, so in order to see them we had to get outside our cushy comfort zones.  It is really nice to see people again, though it makes me realize how rusty I am at interacting with people in person again.  Looking people in the eyes?  How weird.  You mean I can’t just stare at the video preview of myself while I tell my story?

So today is the last installment of Patricia’s bug mobile tutorial.  This fabric poppy would look even better if you used some kind of crumply stiff fabric… but the mobile was felt, so I stuck with felt.  I used a bunch of different crazy colors to match the Icelandic poppies on Patricia’s curtains and I’m glad I did.  It adds a happy rainbow of colors to the mobile.

Felt Icelandic Poppies

What You’ll Need:

  • felt in color of choice for petals
  • lime green felt
  • yellow felt
  • yellow embroidery thread
  • needle and thread to match petal color
  • stuffing
  • Pattern here
  1. Cut out center of poppy in green felt following pattern. Cut petals in color of your choice following the pattern.  Cut a 2″x1″ strip of yellow felt.
  2. Cut slits in strip of felt about 3/4″ long and 2mm apart.  This will be the stamena.
  3. Take green circle and sew a running stitch all around the edge leaving a long tail on your thread.  Stuff with a tiny piece of fluff and pull up fabric around it to form a pistil.  Tie tails of thread together.
  4. Take 3 strands of embroidery floss and stitch through the unfinished edge of fabric pistil, over the top, and back through the other side.  Pull taunt.  Repeat two or 3 more times, spacing out your threads so they look like spokes on a wheel.  Knot and trim.
  5. Lay your flower petal pieces on top of each other so they form an “x”.
  6. Place pistil in the center of the “x”.
  7. Stitch straight through the petals and pistil from back to front, loop over all the strand of embroidery thread and back down through the center again and through the petals.  Knot.
  8. Place the yellow stamena piece around the green pistil by forming a rough ring.  Overlap the two unfinished ends.
  9. Fold the petals up and stitch through one petal near the bottom, through the stamena, through the pistil, back through the stamena, and out through the opposite petal.
  10. Repeat step 9 going back through the other two petals. Knot.
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Love Bugs

Patricia is such a silly lady.  It’s funny to see her personality evolve.  Patricia has been eating solid foods like a champ.  We started her a few weeks ago, and already she’s glomming things down.  I am pretty sure Julius didn’t start eating solid foods in earnest until 9 or 10 months.  She is a MUCH messier eater than Julius is though.  Julius would let us feed him and would open his mouth for more, taking dainty bites.  Patricia grabs the spoon while you are feeding her, particularly the end of the spoon with the food, then forces it into her own mouth.  After that she gums the spoon for a while, then drops it and smears food all over her face.  She is STRONG, so once she has hold of that spoon it’s all over until she gives it up.

The other day I went to clean her up after smearing herself with food and I ran her hands under the running water.  She got so excited that she started pumping her legs while I held her.  Since she was so excited about the water I decided to give her a bath instead (and of course Julius wanted to come too).  As we were waiting for the tub to fill up, she was squealing with joy and trying to climb into the tub (did I mention that she is almost crawling)!  She was SO EXCITED!  I don’t know if Patricia’s actions are just more obvious than Julius’s were or we are now more accustomed to baby language, but it is so much easier to interpret what she wants than it was for us with Julius.  It might be a bit of both.

On the other side of things, Julius these days is a total ham.  (Actually who am I kidding, as a baby Julius was a total ham.)  He has started singing us silly songs that he has made up.  Like “today is waffle day” and “the muffin song”  (not to be confused with do you know the muffin man).  Some of the lyrics are over the top.  My absolute favorite song I wish I had video recorded.  It had an actual tune that I cannot now remember, but the lyrics are the real gems.  Here you go,

Everybody is a bagel 

Every single person is wearing a bagel costume

Every person is dressed like a shrimp

-Julius Colton

I can’t make this stuff up.  I can however make some silly bugs.  Let’s get to it.

Patricia’s bugs

You will need:

  • black embroidery thread
  • small amount of stuffing
  • needle and thread in matching colors of felt below
  • pattern here

for bee:

  • yellow, black, white felt

for dragonfly:

  • white and two different colors felt for body
  • light blue tulle

for butterfly:

  • two different colors of felt for wings and body

Cut out all pattern pieces as directed.  Do not add seam allowance.

Cut pattern pieces as directed.

For dragonfly:

  1. Take one of the colors of small circle and place the second color of small circle on top to slightly overlap.  Handstitch along the edge of the top circle segment that overlaps.
  2. Overlap another circle in alternating color, and stitch as in step 1. Repeat for 4th circle.
  3. Take a large circle and slightly overlap the large circle with the side of the bug with the contrasting color.  Stitch as in step 1.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 with the other half of the dragonfly.

    Back view of the finished dragonfly body pieces, next to a finished body.

  5. Using the embroidery thread, backstitch or split stitch a mouth onto one of the larger circles.  Make two eyes with french knots.
  6. Place the two halves of the dragonfly together and starting at the neck of the dragonfly, blanket stitch all the way around the dragonfly to the side below the neck, leaving an opening for stuffing.

    Stitch dragonfly halves together.

  7. Stuff dragonfly lightly, then finish stitching the rest of the head closed.
  8. Lay wings out with the top wing on the top, bottom on the bottom, slightly overlapping.  Repeat with tulle wings, overlapping the white wings.  Place body of dragonfly centered on top of the wings.
  9. Take the whole piece and flip it over, then stitch the wings to the body.

    Stitch wings to body.

For the Bee:

  1. Take one large circle and lay stripe in center of the large circle.  Stitch stripe to circle along the edges of the stripe.
  2. Overlap stinger on top of large circle below the stripe, so part of the stinger hangs off the circle.  Stitch stinger to circle at the top portion that overlaps.

    Finished body front and back.

  3. Place smaller circle on top of the body of the bee, slightly overlapping.  Stitch to body along the segment that overlaps.
  4. Repeat step 2 and 3 for the second large circle (you can also repeat step 1, but I didn’t bother).
  5. Using the embroidery thread, backstitch or split stitch a mouth onto the smaller circle connected to the striped bee body.  Make two eyes with french knots.  Instead of trimming the extra embroidery thread from the French knots, leave 2 inches of excess that will become your antennae.  Knot at top.

    French knot eye with antenna

  6. Place the two halves of the bee together and starting at the neck of the bee, blanket stitch all the way around the bee to the side below the neck, leaving an opening for stuffing.

    Stitching the bee halves together.

  7. Stuff bee lightly, then finish stitching the rest of the head closed.

    Stuff

  8. Lay wings out and place body of bee centered on top of the wings.
  9. Take the whole piece and flip it over, then stitch the wings to the body.

For the Butterfly:

  1. Place a wing detail on one part of the wing in the indicated spot.  Flip the wing and place the corresponding wing detail on the back of the wing so the two details sandwich the wing.
  2. Stitch through the wing detail, wing and opposite wing detail along the edges to attach the wing details.

    Stitch two green accent pieces on top of purple wing.

  3. Repeat for other 3 sets of details.
  4. Using the embroidery thread, backstitch or split stitch a mouth onto the head of one of the sets of butterfly bodies.  Make two eyes with french knots.  Instead of trimming the extra embroidery thread from the French knots, leave 1.5 inches of excess that will become your antennae.  Knot at top.
  5. Place the two halves of the butterfly body together and starting at the neck of the butterfly, blanket stitch all the way around the butterfly to the side below the neck, leaving an opening for stuffing.
  6. Stuff butterfly lightly, then finish stitching the rest of the head closed.
  7. Lay wings out and place body of butterfly centered on top of the wings.
  8. Take the whole piece and flip it over, then stitch the wings to the body.
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Bugs and Babies

Massachusetts lifted the mask mandate this past weekend which a lot of people are very excited about.  I’m not one of them since I still have two unvaccinated children and the chance of spread from a vaccinated person to an unvaccinated person is possible, albeit low.  That being said, it is not the vaccinated people spreading it that I’m concerned about.  I’m worried about the antivaxxers.  In the past, you could spot the people without masks from a mile off and keep your distance.  Julius makes a wide berth around adults without masks, and we do too.  Those people who couldn’t be bothered to wear masks during a global pandemic to protect others, probably are not listening to the science behind vaccines either.  Luckily many folks in MA are actually listening to science…

We are so lucky to live in one of the only countries that is wealthy enough to buy (multiple doses of) vaccines for all their citizens. While I don’t mind wearing my mask enough that I’m going to ditch it yet, I do mind the anxiety that the pandemic has caused.  It was amazing – as soon as I got that shot in my arm I felt that sense of dread lift.  I’m now even able to look back at the situation around us and reflect on it without panicking.  The reflection has brought me to a couple realizations.  The most uplifting insight is that the pandemic has brought about the mentality to “not put off until tomorrow what you can do today” (except cleaning – definitely still putting that off until tomorrow, or next week, or next month).  I mean just look at my random accomplishments!  I have finished projects I started when Julius was just born, mended items that have needed mending for years, started and finished dozens of projects and have reorganized half the house.  I’m pretty proud of myself.  I’m wondering how long that mentality is going to last when we start leaving the house and the piles of unfinished things blend into the background again…

So this post is dedicated to anti-procrastination!  The project I’m going to show you might be the epitome of anti-procrastination, or it might be some serious hardcore procrastination.  I’m not sure.  Before Julius was born I wanted to create a hot air balloon mobile for Julius and ended up buying one instead.  I love the mobile I bought him, so it all worked out.  For Patricia I again had dreams of making a mobile.  I envisioned a mobile with bees and flowers to match her room’s poppy theme.  I had a harder time finding one I liked this time around, so I had slightly more motivation to make one.  I wanted to finish one before Patricia moved from her bassinet into her crib so that she had something to stare at, but that (as expected) didn’t happen.  She outgrew her bassinet very quickly and by mid January we were sick of tiptoeing in and out of our room every night so not to wake her.  At this point though I was fully motivated.  I had a concept in my head that I sketched down and completed February 22nd.  I bought some supplies and spent many nights making tiny bugs and flowers out of felt to adorn her mobile.

When I had the bugs and flowers all ready, I spiked a fever and thought I had come down with covid from the one stranger that came into our house during the pandemic.  Will was also convinced I had covid so I ended up quarantined in my room until I got the results of my covid test.  Will and Julius left me food outside the room and I’d feed Patricia completely masked.  I was super scared and just stared at my phone waiting for the test results, which took two solid days (in the past they only took 12 hours).  Luckily my fever broke and the test came back negative, and that’s when I realized that it had probably had been mastitis the whole time.  At some point though, Will decided I could quarantine in the basement instead and I managed to finish stringing the mobile together instead of being bored out of my mind.  So mid-March I finally finished Patricia’s mobile and I’m so happy with how it came out!  I am pretty proud of myself that given a deadline I only missed the mark by 2 months, despite a toddler and infant and a fever.

Anyway, I’ll try to post the flowers and bugs in a future post, this is just how I strung the whole darn thing together.

Bugs and Flowers Mobile

What you’ll need:

  1. Cut a 2 foot length and three 2-yard pieces of crochet thread.  Knot the 2 foot length to form a loop then hang from a coat hanger.
  2. Thread your needle with on of the 2 yard pieces of thread. Pass the needle through the center of a pompom, through the loop, and back down through the center of the pom pom.  Remove the needle from the thread, and then pull the thread so the ends hang even. Repeat for the other two 2 yard pieces of thread.
  3. Hold the 12″ wide wreath ring about 6″ below the bottom of the knotted thread loop.
  4. Pass one end of a strand of crochet thread through the center of the 12″ ring, around the top and back down.  This should hold loosely using the friction of the thread on the ring (I’ll call this a friction knot for lack of a better term).
  5. Repeat step 4 with the opposite end of the strand of crochet thread.  Make sure the friction knot is directly across from the other one.
  6. Grab a new strand of crochet thread and repeat step 4 6 inches away from the previous friction knot.  Repeat step 5 for this thread.
  7. Repeat step 6 for the final thread.
  8. Adjust all threads so the hoop hangs parallel to the ground.
  9. Knot each thread onto the hoop so it will hold tightly.
  10. Cut two more 2 yard pieces of thread.
  11. Thread your needle with a piece of thread, then again pass it through the center of the pom pom, through the loop, and back down through the center of the pom pom as in step 2.  Even it out so the center of the thread sits at the pom pom.
  12. Repeat step 11 with the last piece of thread but instead of evening out the thread, instead knot just below the pom pom, pass one end of the needle and thread back up through the pom pom and trim so the end of the thread is hidden in the pom pom.  You should now have 3 threads hanging down the mobile unattached.
  13. Hold the 6″ ring about 5″ below the 12″ hoop.
  14. Pass one end of a strand of crochet thread through the center of the 6″ ring, around the top and back down.  Repeat for the other two threads, spacing the threads evenly around the 6″ ring.
  15. Knot each thread onto the hoop so it will hold tightly.
  16. Thread your needle with one of the central 3 threads.  Pass through two pompoms and into the top of an insect/flower.  Tie a loose knot to hold in place.
  17. Thread your needle with another central thread.  Pass through 1 pompom and into the back of an insect/flower. Tie a loose knot to hold in place.
  18. Repeat steps 16 and 17 for all insects and 3 flowers, alternating one pompom and 2 pompoms and alternating different insects and flowers.
  19. Using regular sewing thread stitch a poppy onto the 12″ and 6″ hoop where each thread meets the ring.
  20. Adjust the insect/flower height in the larger ring so when the inner ring spins it will not hit the insects.  My insects were around 10″ below the 12″ ring.
  21. Adjust the insect/flower height in the smaller ring so the insect/flowers don’t hit the outer insect/flowers when the rings turn.  These were about 10″ below the 6″ ring.
  22. Knot the insects/flowers, then thread the crochet thread back through the flower or insect and trim excess to hide the thread.
  23. Adjust the pom-poms on each thread so they are centered between the hoop and the insect/flower.

    Patricia checking out her mobile from above.

    Patricia admiring her mobile from below

    Patricia’s view

 

 

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