One of Those Days

pretty weed in my yard
 Today was supposed to be a nice productive day. A nature hike down a new trail we discovered, which would be some much needed exercise for mommy, and some quick errands to grab new school supplies. The start of a new, more routine, story time and with it, a new book or two. Figuring out a schedule that will get each kid to their sporting events and practices on time. A discussion with the kids about expectations, theirs and mine, for the next few months (in my mind an exciting conversation about what they're interested in learning about). And, with whatever time might be left over, some work in the garden filling in the holes left by the ending of our cucumbers, zucchini and squash.

Pumpkin love :) this ones a peanut pumpkin
 Instead, I scratched the van and my brother-in-law's truck pulling out of the drive. The hike was a mosquito infested nightmare that ended shortly after it began. The van is acting weird, I hope it's not the transmission again. The kids are moody and grumpy and don't even want to sit still, let alone discuss interesting topics to study for the next few months. And I'm moody and grumpy because nothing is going the way I want it to today.

fairy tale pumpkin, my favorite
 I'm thinking it's time to just scrap the day, crawl back in bed and start over. Maybe call it a beach day and embrace the last few bits of summer? And there's always the garden, it wont pick a fight with me or it's siblings and I'm pretty sure any damage I do to it I can fix without the help of a mechanic.

Treasures From Grandma's House

I recently inherited some wonderful little treasures that belonged to my grandma. She passed away a long time ago, when I was in college. I don't think I would have appreciated them if I'd received them back then.

So interesting
So excited to start this one. Our first and favorite read aloud chapter book was "The Wizard of Oz"
Funny, interesting, can't wait to dive in and see how things change (or how they don't)
Her luggage, with her initials still on it :)

Kitchen Table Makeover

The "new" table
Before we moved, our kitchen table was in pretty bad shape. I would do everything I could to hide the mess that it had become and I cringed every evening when I tried to scrape off the mess from the day. Table cloths could only do so much and never stayed put anyway.

Kitchen table before
It is a nice sturdy table from a discount furniture store but, it is basically laminated plywood, so sanding and refinishing was out of the question. And the finish was peeling off in messy flakes creating grooves and gouges in the surface, so we couldn't just paint it either, at least not the top.

Kitchen chairs prepped for paint
Buying a new table was not even close to being in the budget anytime soon, but I just could not take it any longer. I decided we had to do something. I had seen my hubby and brother-in-law build a counter top for a kitchen remodel, and wondered if it would be possible to use the same technique to recover our table top.

Oooh so nice, no flaking finish
 As it turns we could! I sanded and painted the chairs and legs of the table while my sweet man glued the laminate counter top material right over that ugly tabletop. He added a piece of wood to make a nice edge all around, cut the laminate to fit, and used the router to spiffy it up.

No marker yet has defeated this tabletop
 Now we have a table that comes clean easily and looks so much better. And when the time comes for a new one, this will be an excellent craft table, because nothing the kids put on this table sticks.

Cursive Writing Homeschool Style

Some recent family events have me remembering my grandparents long past, worrying about my one still with us and trying to think of ways to include my kids own grandparents a little more in our everyday lives.

We are very lucky to have both sets of grandparents living close by, but when life gets busy and schedules are hectic, or I just can't seem to get the laundry done or the house picked up, it can be hard to make regular visits. Lately though, I'm just a little more aware of the importance of carving out time just for grandmas and pop pops.

So when my girls told me they were interested in continuing handwriting lessons, like they had when they were in school, I knew just who to call. My mom has the most amazing handwriting, well I think so anyway, while my own handwriting is, well, lets just say that if you have a little lefty and she breaks her arm in first grade, don't let the teachers convince you to just have her learn her letters with her right hand.

The girls are loving the extra time with Meema, the boy too, when he decides to join them, and they are learning to write beautifully. And, of course lessons with Meema are more than just sitting and writing. There is pleasant conversation and the usual spoiling with treats that grandma's do so well. And even if the younger kids choose not to join in the writing exercises they are never completely left out.

I'm pretty sure we'll have no trouble coming up with more reasons to visit the kids grandparents on both sides. And oh what a wealth of experience and talent there is to tap into for our homeschooling needs. Quality bonding time, memories to cherish and learning valuable skills all the while, I love it. Of course, having more people share the work of teaching these little ones is a nice bonus for me too ;)

Adjustable Waistband Tutorial

Finally! I have that little sewing tutorial ready for you. I think the greatest invention in kids clothing just might be the adjustable waistband. Nothing seems to fit my kids right without them, and even if they did, chances are, it wouldn't fit the next kid when it comes time to pass it on. Unfortunately not everyone has realized the wonderful benefits to this amazing new trend and every once in a while we run into regular old snap and zip pants.

So, late one night while I contemplated what to do with a really cute, hardly worn skirt from a sweet cousin, that did not fit anyone, I decided to add a little elastic. The skirt turned out really nice so, I thought I'd share what I did with you. This method works great for making adjustable waistbands or just adding regular elastic for a better fit.

You'll need
  • Fabric scissors.
  • Wide, soft, washable ribbon (bonus points if it matches the garment).
  • Elastic, button hole for adjustable waist (we scavenge elastic from outgrown pants that are too stained or ripped up to be handed down or donated, i.e. the boy's pants, but it's also sold at most fabric/craft stores like Joann's).
  • Buttons (make sue they fit the buttonholes in the elastic).
  • Matching thread
  • And of course the garment to be fitted.

 Cut the ribbon so it will reach from one side seam to the other plus about 1/2 inch on each side (so 1 in. extra).

Tuck the extra 1/2 inch under then, roll that under a second time for a clean hem on the inside for the elastic to slide along, see picture below.

Baste to hold the fold. This should shorten the ribbon enough to fit the button right on the side seam. If you don't want your elastic adjustable just fold the ribbon under once, so it reaches just over each side seam.

Pin the ribbon in place. Start half an inch from the side seam to leave room for the button, or at the seam if your waistband will not be adjustable.

If you are using a slippery, silky ribbon, be sure to use plenty of pins to avoid slipping. Now, just sew across both sides of the ribbon leaving the ends at the side seams open. If you pinned well you should be able to put the ribbon face down on the machine and stitch right over the existing topstitch.

If your ribbon is narrower than the waistband of the garment center it between the top and bottom and follow inside the original topstitch about 1/4 inch or so. In this instance, the finished look will be like the picture below, the original stitch is the top (pink), the one attaching the ribbon is the bottom (brown).

For the adjustable waistband, add your buttons right at the side seams. Use that seam to hide your button thread. If there are no side seams, like these shorts, you should be able to slide the needle in and out of only one layer of fabric by pinching it where you're attaching the button, so the thread wont show through the right side of the garment.

Thread the elastic and button into place, or, if making non adjustable elastic waist, sew elastic and ribbon to the pants using the side seam as a guide to hide your stitch.

Your done, and look how fancy that ribbon inside looks. Of course, you'll use matching thread and it'll look even better. 

A Simple Gift

A photo my niece admired the day I took it (while she was picking a beautiful bouquet in my yard).

Another photo, of Meema's roses, to complete the set.

A couple of nice frames,

A pretty, and personal, gift for a 10 year old with a newly made over room. Flowers she knows, photos with memories attached, art to compliment her new decor. Simple. Perfect. 

It also helps that she's a big fan of homemade gifts and her aunt's photos ;)

My Computer is Back

Ahhh, that's better. It's so nice to have my computer up and running like new. What a crazy few weeks we've had here. Computer issues, car trouble, big car trouble, like, 2 transmissions on the same morning car trouble. Really!? How does that even happen? Luckily the truck was under warranty still so, hubby is back to work in style but, me, not so much. Still, amidst all the hassles and set backs we are truly enjoying our hot and humid Michigan summer with friends, old and new, and family and lots and lots of water.