Archive for April, 2010

Box Day

Sophia on Box Day
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann

The girls and I had just unpacked all the books and curriculum for next year. Sophia’s items are in front of her, and Olivia’s are next to her against the wall.

(The brown paper is what came in the boxes for packaging. We hadn’t cleaned the living room yet.)

They can’t wait to get started with homeschooling for next year. They’ll have to wait though. They wrap up this year’s curriculum in about 2 weeks.

Then, we take a break during late-May and June to do projects for the county fair in July as well as doing more hands-on projects around the home and in the garden.

We start homeschooling using the Sonlight curriculum by the beginning of July…though it’s integrated with projects for the fair, continued activities outside, and summer programs/swimming lessons/camps.


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Shadow Watching a Dove

He’s inside. The dove is outside. They’re separated by a window. So close…yet so far away.

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Pumpkin Buns
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann

These rolls are made with canned pumpkin which gives them a rich, deep-orange color. The filling is butter, sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. The icing is from confectioners’ sugar and dairy-free milk.

They were absolutely delicious…especially right out of the oven. The recipe came from a Family Circle magazine.

Made these for a 52 Weeks of Baking swap on Swap-Bot. Am trying about 3 new recipes per week (even though the swap is for 1 recipe).

My goal is to try recipes that I have from a variety of sources, but haven’t yet made. If they turn out well, I’m typing the recipe and taking a picture of what the food looks like.

Eventually, I should have quite a few recipes and pictures – along with comments from the girls about what they thought about the food, and lessons I learned that week.

All these components will go into cookbooks that I’ll make for Sophia and Olivia. Not sure if I’ll give them the cookbooks for Christmas or wait until they are older. Still have time to think about this.

Here’s the recipe for the Pumpkin Buns:


1 envelope (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup (1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted (I used dairy-free butter)
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (I used dairy-free butter)
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons milk (I used dairy-free milk)


Sprinkle yeast over warm water in large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Beat in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, the eggs, butter, and pumpkin.

Gradually add 5 cups of flour and salt, scraping side of bowl until soft dough forms. Turn out on a floured surface and knead remaining ½ cup flour into dough, adding more if sticky. (Note: I did add quite a bit more flour because it was quite sticky.) Knead for 10 minutes, until smooth. Dough will be soft.

Grease a bowl; add dough. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until doubled, about 1 ¼ hours.

Coat 2 13”x9” pans with non-stick cooking spray. Make filling: mix butter, granulated and brown sugars, and cinnamon in a bowl.

Punch dough down. Roll out into a big rectangle until it is about ¼” thick. Spread with the filling. Starting on one long side, roll up jelly-roll fashion. Pinch seam to close.

Cut the log crosswise into 24 generous 1” pieces. (I had about 36 pieces). Arrange half of the rolls, cut side down, in each prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until bunds double in size, about 30 to 45 minutes. (You can refrigerate one pan overnight or cover plastic with foil and freeze at this point. Thaw in fridge overnight, then thaw on counter while preheating the oven.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover pans and bake buns until they are golden brown and bubbly, 28 to 33 minutes (thawed buns, 36 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack; let cool 10 minutes.

Glaze: blend confectioners’ sugar and milk. Drizzle over buns (about 1/3 cup per pan). Serve warm.

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While Sophia and I were setting up the electromagnet experiment, Olivia created this circuit on her own.

Both the girls have enjoyed the unit on electricity.

I use Sonlight’s science curriculum (the 1+2 level) which has a lot of interesting experiments in it.

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This was made for my mom’s 80th birthday. There are handprints with each family member. All the hands are blanket-stitched by hand onto the white, cotton fabric.

The person’s name is hand-embroidered by her/his hand.

On the blue flannel squares are qualities that describe my mom (one per square). All family members over the age of 7 years old were asked to describe my mom.

I took the most popular character qualities and put those at the top and worked my way down to the bottom of the quilt.

The quilt backing is fleece and it is filled with fiberfill so it can be washed easily (versus a sheep wool filling which I normally use for quilting).

The quilt is tied with hand-dyed yarn from South Africa. It is in shades of blue and green.

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Crocheted Dishcloth
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann

One of the teams I belong to on Etsy had a monthly challenge of learning a new skill. For February, it was learning to crochet.

Finally got around to taking a picture of a dishcloth I made using a new stitch. I enjoyed learning something new.

The dishcloth is made from cotton yarn. Although it is all-natural, I think a softer yarn (e.g., bamboo) would have been a bit more comfortable to use for washing one’s face. This would be good to use for scrubbing hands or washing dishes.

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Pillowcase Dress
Originally uploaded by
Pictures by Ann

This is the pillowcase dress that I made for Little Dresses for Africa.

I used a pillowcase, bias tape, and a floral fabric to create the dress. It is about a size 7 with adjustable ties at the shoulder. The instructions that I used for making the pillowcase dress are HERE. Little Dresses for Africa also has a tutorial with pictures HERE.

This was made to donate to Little Dresses for Africa which in turn distributes them to girls who are orphans in Africa. Many of them have lost their parents to AIDS and are on their own. They have one outfit…maybe two.

The pillowcase dress is an outfit that they receive to show them that someone cares about them.

I was inspired to make this dress because I had read about the project through a link on Twitter. There was a homeschool family who was making the dresses as one of their community service projects. After reading about Little Dresses for Africa as well as the need, I knew it was something that I wanted to do.

So, for about a month now, I’ve been working on the Little Dresses for Africa project. My goal for this project is threefold:
(1) to make a dress (or more) myself,
(2) to teach my daughters to each make a dress and donate them, and
(3) to teach a class at the homeschool co-op for upper-elementary, junior, and senior high students so they have an opportunity to make the dresses as well.

On Friday, April 9th, I made the dress. It ended up taking a bit longer than I anticipated, but I wanted to make the dress one that a little girl would enjoy wearing. The size of the dress is a 7. My 7 year old daughter wears a size 5, but could fit into it. I had her help me by trying on the dress and determining where to place the pockets.

So, as I was sewing on the bias tape, pockets, and trim at the bottom of the dress, I thought about a girl in Africa who would be receiving the dress. She would be about my daughter’s size…perhaps even around her age. I tried to imagine the difficulties already present in her young life…and how we often take for granted the simple things in our lives.

I took my time with making the dress because I want this little girl to know that someone does care and wants her to be comfortable and have something she can wear.

I added 2 pockets to the dress so the girl who receives it can put her hands in her pockets, collect natural things she finds on a walk, or carry a little toy or items around her home or village.

On the bottom of the dress, I added about a 2” trim of fabric that coordinates with the pockets.

I stitched and doubled stitched areas that I thought may receive more wear and tear. I want the dress to last for some time and not come apart since I’m not sure what sewing supplies the girl would have to mend her dress.

After I was done making the dress, I had my daughter try it on. She had a HUGE smile on her face, despite the fact that it was not her dress. I’m hoping that this is the same type of smile that the little girl who receives the dress I made will have on her face!

My youngest daughter said that she can’t wait to make a dress so it can go to another little girl. So, that’s the last part of my goal with this project: to help my daughters make dresses for Little Dresses for Africa.

In writing my thoughts, I go back to one thing that I read on another website about a group of women who made dresses for Little Dresses for Africa:

[In doing this project we are] “honoring a special group of moms… who can no longer hold their daughters or provide them clothes. Most died from AIDS or other illnesses and their children were left as orphans.

“We honor those precious moms by putting our hands to work and creating beautiful dresses for their little girls. We may not have changed the world, but for those little girls when they pull those dresses over their tiny heads – their worlds will change.”

I’m hoping that the dress I made as well as the ones I’ve guided other children and teens to make do make a difference.

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