Wednesday, April 28, 2010


A friend of Caitrin's from ballet turned thirteen a couple of weeks ago and we just had to make her a gift. Thirteen is a very special birthday and this is a special young lady. We made this little ballerina doll bag with a fabric yo-yo for a bun - we thought it was perfect because Caitrin's friend collects dolls.

It was inspired by the Boy Acrobat project in Omiyage, by Kumido Sudo. As you can see, we made some hairpins for her to use as well, but they don't fit inside the bag. Oh dear. We love them anyway.

Here is another hairpin we made for this lovely young lady with silk ribbon. The picture isn't as good since my camera and I weren't playing nicely. (I'm sure it was entirely my fault. Camera, I hope you are listening.)

A word about silk ribbon... Yes, it is expensive and it does fray a bit at the edges, but it takes fabric dye in a manner unlike any other material. The depth and luminosity of color in hand-dyed silk ribbon is incredible and just a small piece can make a project sing. The ribbons I used for these hairpins were from a trip to M & J Trimming in New York City a couple of years ago. They have an extensive online store - check them out!

And, since I just cannot stand to waste fabric, we used the last few scraps we had leftover from our Fabrilicious Eggs, Flower Coasters, and Yo-Yo-Pillow to make these pincushions.

The pattern comes from Anna Maria Horner's book, "Seams to Me" . They were easy to make. (I used very heavy-weight interfacing rather than posterboard for to mount the bottom circle to make for easier finishing.)

Have a great week!

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Thursday, April 22, 2010


Some people have a living room, but we have a schoolwork/office/sewing room and today it looks like complete chaos. Still, it is my favorite room because it has fantastic light and is used for so many things. Although it is only about 10% of the house it is where we spend 90% of our time. Can you tell?
Today it reflects the state of my mind...

Sewing things piled up in a corner.

Kids' computers.

Our son's "Office" i.e. the floor. (Caitrin and I are usually at the table but Eamon scoffs at traditional forms of seating.)

Even the ironing board made an appearance. (Catch a glimpse of my next free pattern, "Twirly Skirt", ready for pressing.)

Our daughter and I are traveling to Raleigh this weekend for the State Science Olympiad and I want to finish some things before leaving - wishful thinking, but we all must have goals, however unrealistic.

Hope everyone enjoys the weekend!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Springtime Coasters

I'm so excited to present my newest free pattern - Springtime Coasters! This project is especially fun because the largest required cuts of fabric are 5" squares (fourteen 5" squares, to be exact, to make four coasters), so you can use all your colorful scraps!

Tie it up with a ribbon for a lovely hostess gift... or Mother's Day gift. (Mom, if you are reading this, this doesn't NECESSARILY refer to your gift - so you will have to wait and see!)

While I'm at it, I'd like to share a recipe for Raspberry Lemonade, which we made especially for these photos, because it is so pretty and it's delicious too.

Rasberry Lemonade
This lemonade is very tart. Add more sugar if you prefer a sweet taste!

• 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
• 8 large lemons
• 2/4 cup sugar
• 8 cups water

  1. Pour frozen raspberries into the bottom of a big pitcher.
  2. Cut 6 of your lemons in half and squeeze out the juice with a lemon squeezer.
  3. Combine lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  4. Pour the lemon/sugar mixture into your pitcher. Add water and stir.
  5. Chill overnight or until cold.
  6. Slice the remaining lemons for garnish.
  7. Serve your beautiful raspberry lemonade over ice with a slice of lemon!

And now for some close-ups of the coasters. I chose to quilt around the flowers by hand, with really thick Pearl Cotton, but you can also do it by machine.

Happy sewing!

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Monday, April 12, 2010

The colors of Old Salem

This past week we visted Old Salem, a restored Moravian village right in the heart of Winston Salem, North Carolina. (It has a fabulous Decorative Arts Museum and Toy Museum as well.) The weather was beautiful and the colors were amazing. I thought I would share...

Top row: door knob, cookie cutters, flowering vines
Middle row: merchant's house, clock/portico, coffee-making equipment
Bottom row: more flowers, town water supply, yellow house that I loved!

Hope everyone is enjoying spring!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I was working on a set of springtime coasters (pattern to be posted here soon) using my leftover eggs fabrics when I looked down at my applique squares and thought, "These would make a great quilt!" I MUST CONFESS... I really, really covet a quilt like this - one with colorful squares set in really wide, solid sashing, like little jewels. I've never sewn anything like this. The wide sashing would look beautiful filled with traditional feather quilting - more beautiful quilting than I am capable of at this point. Or maybe a accented along their borders by hand quilting in pearl cotton? What do you think?

Our oldest got braces this week and I ALSO MUST CONFESS that I go into shock each time I look at her sweet face. It seems only yesterday she was toddling around holding her dolly and singing her ABCs. WHERE DID TIME GO?

And tonight my fantastic mother, who is visiting, and my spectacular children made my husband and I dinner - butternut squash ravioli with walnuts and spinach. They even made the ravioli from scratch. It was delicious! And so, of course, I MUST CONFESS that I love having a delicious and very fancy (we even had candles!) dinner made for us. How decadent!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Silliness

Here's some 9-year-old-boy Easter silliness for you...

Pictured above, "Ninja-Monkey-Easter-Bunny", by Eamon .

For more Easter silliness, here is a poem I wrote about our family. It would actually be more apt to describe the poem as the climax to the current topic of our "Word of the Week" series, which is a ridiculous imagined circus put on by family members.

What is "Word of the Week"? Well, since you are a captive audience, I'll tell you... As a home schooling mom, I've noticed that, due to texting and emails replacing much traditional writing, our vocabulary is severely underutilized. We expect kids to know there words for SATs and other standardized tests, but pay them no attention in our everyday lives. "Word of the Week" is my feeble attempt to make words more interesting to my children. It is easy and it works!

For all you moms and dads out there who are interested, here is how I go about it:
I subscribe to a "word of the day" service that provides me with an interesting vocabulary word each day, complete with a definition and example sentence. I use Merriam-Webster for this, but there are many different options out there. Each week I pick an particularly interesting word and modify the example sentence so that the subject matter involves my kids and the things that interest them. (The poem was just an extra addition.) I email them the result. These serial emails obviously have none of the markings of good literature and all the corniness of a soap opera, but I digress.

Before I post the poem, let me give you some background.

Setting: An imaginary town that we all live in.

Current Topic: A circus that our family in which our family stars

True-self - our 11-year-old ballet-obsessed daughter with the organizational powers of Dwight D. Eisenhower himself; she will organize anything and everything she comes across
Alter-Ego - police officer and circus producer
True-self - our 9 year-old-son; the family extravert whose current obsessions include: ninja monkeys, legos, Batman, Star Wars, and the electronic thesaurus
Alter-Ego - Town donut baker and ringmaster; also keeps the Batman villains who flit in and out of the story in check
True-self - mom of Eamon and Caitrin, teacher, designer, artist, and quilter
Alter-Ego - costume designer/seamstress for the circus
True-self - father of Caitrin and Eamon, fixer of all things, gardener, reader of a lot of economics-related information that I don't understand
Alter-Ego - ticket seller at the circus
True-self - my mom; a big cheerleader of my designs and energetic grandmother to Caitrin and Eamon
Alter-Ego - runs "Lolly's Lounge", a neighborhood hangout that serves only tomato soup and bittersweet chocolate pie - her favorite foods; also has an act in the circus with...
True-self AND Alter-Ego - my parents' dog who is too smart for his own (or their) good
True-self - my dad; also a big supporter of ours and grandfather to Eamon and Caitrin
Alter-Ego - circus fire eater who enjoys hanging out in "Lolly's Lounge", Chief Donut Taster for Eamon's donut store
True-self - my brilliant brother and computer programmer extraordinaire for Epic Games; he is a big fan of this saga and was really disappointed when it went from "Word of the Day" to "Word of the Week" - sorry J! He will appreciate this post.
Alter-Ego - a video-game enthusiast who frequently confuses reality with the fantasy settings of his video games; in an attempt to be a true "video-fashion-fugleman" he is currently dressed like Mario of Mario Cart; he and his friend Dude (see below) have their own "Strong Men Act" in the circus
True-self - Jason's wife and my sister-in-law; a great athlete and artist who designs cards for Recycled Paper; in real life she took Caitrin to trapeze school one afternoon!
Alter-Ego - a trapeze flying dynamo who does all sort of tricks up in the air with her son Ollie and his cousin Caitrin
True-self - Caitrin's and Eamon's almost one-year-old cousin who enjoys waving, attempting to walk, and playing with his dog's waterbowl ; this kid has great hair!
Alter-Ego - human cannonball extraordinaire and mascot for our circus
True-self - Some stranger who Lolly once shocked when she slammed down his hood at a gas station in North Carolina when she mistook his car for her own
Alter-Ego - Jason's best friend; also a "video fashion fugleman", he is currently dressed like Luigi of Mario Cart
Harley Quinn
True-self - Eamon's favorite Batman villainess
Alter-Ego - a pest whose misbehavior keeps us all busy; she fantasizes about taking over Pops' job as Chief Donut taster

To give you a peek into this demented fantasy world of ours, here is

"The Circus: A Grand Finale"
(Definitions follow below.)
To be sung to the tune of "The daring young man on the flying trapeze."

The arena is open, the inane is now packed,
Our circus is illustrious and that is fact,
Eamon magniloquently broadcasts the parade,
And our congeners stampede on in...

Reprobate Harley tootles around in her coupe.
Dude and Jason follow her in a big loop-de-loop.
Ollie ambulates as he holds Vicky's hand,
And he takes a few steps on his own...

Pops scooters down the aisle balancing donuts on his head.
Bailey and Lolly supine and "play dead".
They jump through hula hoops that Mom elevates,
While Dad blithesomely tallies proceeds...

No one would guess things have been haywire.
Pops pops donuts into his mouth and breaths out fire.
Bailey chucks a stick that Lolly retrieves,
And the fugleman show off their "guns".

Ollie blasts out of the cannon - he's our live petard!
Eamon catches him - yes, that really was hard.
But there is no time to dally - our baker has to patrol
That vexing villian car!

The brougham swerves through - it really is fast.
The knaves rush out - they are autonomous at last!
Our Eamon rounds them all up with his trusty lasso.
Martinet Cait promulgates their Miranda rights.

Ollie floats through the air with the greatest of ease,
Midst Caitrin and Vicky on the flying trapeze,
His flailing arms are waving, his hair - it doth please.
While Pops marches the miscreants away.

Caitrin's esemplastic powers produced a success
Mom's costumes transmogrify our stars - that we must confess.
Eamon's Panglossian announcements enhanced the effects .
Our troupers retire to the Lounge to CHILL-AX!

inane - a great, empty space; also, this is another word for ridiculous
illustrious - renown; highly distinguished
magniloquently - expressed in a lofty or grandiose style
congeners - a person or a thing belonging to the same kind/class as another, in this case a member of a family
reprobate - a depraved, wicked person
tootles - to move or proceed in a leisurely way
coupe - a little two-door car
ambulates - walks (remember the Latin verb "ambulare"?)
elevates - to hold up
supine - lying on back, afce upward
blithesomely - happily
tallies - counts
proceeds - profits
haywire - chaotic
chucks - toss or throw
fugleman - a person that heads a group, company, or political party
"guns" - slang for muscles
petard - a firework that explodes loudly
dally - to take one's time
vexing -irritating
brougham - a four-wheeled, boxlike, closed carriage for two or four persons, having the driver's perch outside
knaves - villains
autonomous - free
martinet -a strict disciplinarian
promulgates - to make known by open declaration
Miranda rights - the rights of which an arresting officer must advise the person being arrested
midst - between
flailing - to wave wildly
miscreants - - villains
esemplastic - having the ability to shape diverse elements or concepts into a unified whole
transmogrify - to change or alter greatly and often with grotesque or humorous effect
Panglossian - characterized by or given to extreme optimism
troupers - actors; members of a touring company
CHILL-AX - Eamon and Dad's word for "relax"

Happy Easter!

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