Archive for the ‘birthdays’ Category

There’s a ten-week challenge called The Summer of Color that’s on Twinkle Twinkle Like a Star. The Summer of Color encourages participants to focus on creating an item (or more) in a specific color each week.  Currently the challenge is on Week 3, but I wanted to start from the beginning and do all ten weeks. 

As I looked back on my pictures, I realized that I had already done two projects in the first week’s color (blue) during June. 

One was a blue bunting that will be for Olivia’s half birthday in July.  I had never made a bunting before, and wanted to see if I could make one.  I made two different versions – a red,white, and blue one for the Fourth of July; and the blue one pictured below.

What I like about making buntings is that it uses up scraps of fabric or reuses fabric that was for something else (e.g., bedsheet, shirt, pajamas).  At nine feet long, the bunting will add a decorative and festive touch to Olivia’s upcoming birthday celebration.
The other blue item I made was a tablecloth with puzzle pieces made from blue fabric. I selected about a dozen pieces of different fabric and cut out squares from each piece. Then, I ironed on the iron-on fabric adhesive to the back side of the fabic.
I traced 24 puzzle pieces from one of Olivia’s puzzle onto the adhesive backing and then cut out each puzzle piece.
I could have ironed this tablecloth before taking a picture of it.
Why create more work for myself?
It will be folded and then need to be ironed again
before Olivia’s 4-H demonstration in about a week.
Olivia placed each piece where she wanted them on the tablecloth (she is using it for a 4-H demonstration about making a jigsaw puzzle sandwich). I pinned and then ironed them in place. I asked her if she wanted me to machine stitch or hand embroider around each piece, but she liked the look of the tablecloth without the stitching.
The white fabric is some that I had on hand.  Again, it was a great way to use up some fabric and put it to good use. 

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I was looking at the Handbook of Nature Study website, and came across Outdoor Hour Challenge #10 –

Throughout this post, three different typefaces are used:
– Bold – are words from the Handbook of Nature Study website.
– Italics – are words from the book titled Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock.
– Regular – are my own words.

The website said, “Picnics don’t need to be fancy. Wrap up a sandwich in a cloth napkin, grab a piece of fruit, and some water and you are set. Venture outside even if it is only to your own yard to sit on a blanket and enjoy your lunch. Afterwards you can make time for a short period of nature study.”

So, that’s what we did today…on my 45th birthday. 

1. The challenge is to have a picnic. No need to go far or to even have a picnic table. Food always tastes better outside and if you don’t want to commit to a whole lunch, why not just a snack?

“…When the weather is warm, why not eat breakfast and lunch outside?
…Besides the benefit of an added hour or two of fresh air,
meals eaten outside are often delightful, and
there’s nothing like happiness to convert food and drink
into healthy blood and bodies.”
~~ Charlotte Mason, Outdoor Life, page 43

We ended up having a light dinner and dessert outside on the little deck.  The girls brought out pillows and blankets to sit on. 

Olivia and Sophia having dinner on the deck.

After dinner, we enjoyed French silk pie.  Sophia wanted to put candles on the pie.  They were lit in the home and mudroom, but slowly went out one by one by the time the pie got to me.  “You can still make a wish, and pretend to blow out the candles!”

Sophia bringing out the French silk pie.

Pretending to blow out the candles I said, “Oh, wow!  Look at that!  I got them all out! The best I’ve ever done!”
After you eat, sit and listen to the sounds of nature.

“Given the power of nature to calm and soothe us in our hurried lives,
it also would be interesting to study how a family’s connection to nature
influences the general quality of family relationships.
Speaking from personal experience,
my own family’s relationships have been nourished over the years
through shared experiences in nature-
from sharing our toddler’s wonder upon turning over a rock and
discovering a magnificent bug the size of a mouse,
to paddling our old canoe down a nearby creek
during the children’s school years,
to hiking the mountains.”
~~Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods
We listened to nature before we ate and at times while we were eating.  The birds were singing (especially the wrens who have a nest near the deck), the swallows were flying around the backyard and then under the eaves of the barn, and the wind was blowing lightly.  It was a beautiful night to have a picnic.

The pine tree next to the deck and back of the house.
It is now taller than the house.

We spent some time looking at the vegetable/herb garden, flower garden, strawberries, and clover – all of which are subjects of other nature studies that we have done/are in the process of doing during the upcoming day or so.

The first tiger lily of the season bloomed on the 29th of June…my birthday.

2. After your picnic, spend 10-15 minutes observing your surroundings. Add anything new to your list of items observed in your focus area that you are keeping in your nature journal. Make note of any additional research that needs to be done for things your child is interested in. Make a journal entry if you wish.

We didn’t spend time after the picnic outside because the mosquitos were getting progressively worse.  The girls get rather significant reactions to mosquito bites, so it was better to go inside at that point.

The girls are interested in the tiny toads that they have been finding.  At 1/4″ long, they are very small; in fact, the smallest we’ve ever seen here.

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One of the Etsy teams I’m on is EtsyKids.  Each month there is a challenge, and for June it is “Party!” It’s all about fun, sparkle, confetti, buntings, games, and cupcakes.  By going to Etsy and using the search code EKchallengejun11 you’ll see a wide variety of party items.  Here’s the LINK that will take you directly to all the items that were made.

I chose to make a Fourth of July bunting (also known as a garland) for the challenge.  I’ve seen quite a few on the internet and thought I’d try my hand at making one. 

4th of July Fabric Bunting
Available here:

In addition to the bunting for the challenge, I also made a blue one for Olivia to use for her upcoming half-birthday in July.

Two buntings: one for Olivia’s half birthday;
and one for the 4th of July.

Buntings are a great way to use up fabric on hand or reuse fabric.  I’ve seen some buntings that are single sided and cut with a pinking shears.  However, they can only be viewed from one side.  I chose to sew two pieces of fabric together for each flag, so the bunting looks nice from each side.

Because the sides are finished, the bunting can be machine-washed and ironed. The fabric won’t fray since there are no raw edges.

When making or purchasing a bunting, most people choose by favorite color or pattern; coordinate with their home design; or match with their party/special event theme.  Custom buntings can be made (either by oneself or by hiring someone who can sew).  Imagine a bunting for a child’s birthday or graduation made from her/his clothes throughout the years.  What a special – and meaningful – decoration to celebrate a milestone. 

Buntings are reusable, eco-friendly decorations – both for festive celebrations as well as everyday decor for walls, windows, or rooms.  Rather than using decorations that are disposable and end up in a landfill, using decorations that can be used year after year is good for the environment…and is something that children (and parents) look forward to bringing out and using each year.   

What are some handmade decorations that you’ve made…or that you remember your parents using when you were a child?

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Easter was on Sunday, April 24th.  The girls did some activities at home before Easter to celebrate the holiday.  One of the things they look forward to doing each year is coloring eggs. 
Olivia’s hard-boiled eggs sitting in cups of dye.
Sophia and Olivia each dyed six eggs.

The girls also made Resurrection Buns.  They each had eight triangles of crescent roll dough.  They rolled a marshmallow in dairy-free butter and then in sugar/cinnamon mix.  Next, they wrapped the dough around the marshmallow and made sure there were no holes.  They baked them and when they came out of the oven, the marshmallow had melted leaving a gooey mess of melted marshmallow, butter, cinnamon, and sugar. 

The Resurrection Buns have no nutritional value and are very unhealthy.  Yet, they tie in with the Easter story…that’s the justification for making and enjoying them!

Sophia making her batch of Resurrection buns.

A new thing we made this year were Italian Easter Egg Baskets.  They are called Pupa Cu L’ova and basically they are dough wrapped around a dyed, hard-boiled egg.

Olivia with the baked (but undecorated) Pupa Cu L’ova.

After the dough-basket is cool, it is frosted and decorated with sprinkles.

The idea came from a recent issue of Living Crafts magazine.  They didn’t have a name for it in the magazine, only an explanation that the magazine editor’s daughter received one of these pastries from her teacher at her Waldorf school. 

Sophia’s and Olivia’s Italian Easter Egg Baskets.
They want to do them again next year.

For breakfast, one of the recipes I tried this year was from a past issue of Family Fun magazine.  Basically, it is making scrambled eggs and putting them in hash-brown baskets/nests that were baked in the oven. 

After breakfast, the girls sang in the children’s choir.  They both did a nice job singing.

We went over my parents’ home to have Easter dinner and to celebrate my mom’s 81st birthday which falls directly on Easter this year.  In her 81 years, she said that this was the first time that Easter was ever on her birthday.  “It’s been on the 23rd, but never on the 24th,” she said.

Olivia holding the Easter lamb cake that she helped make and decorate.
For many years now, she has wanted to help make this cake.

Having Easter lunch at my mom and dad’s home.
We all brought food so that my mom
didn’t have to do any cooking.

We enjoyed dessert, the children played outside on the deck, and then headed down to the dock to play in the lake.  They played games outside and had fun spending time together.

Inside, my mom opened birthday gifts and she handed out Easter baskets that she made for each of the children. 

My mom opening a present from my dad.
My dad wasn’t able to get a card and gifts this year
since he no longer can drive (due to Alzheimer’s Disease).
So my sister and I got some gifts for him to give to my mom. 
Needless to say, she was very surprised and teary as she opened each gift.

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As I think back on the past week, I am grateful for…
:: Being able to make a birthday cake that made Olivia very happy.
:: The opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes of Underwater World and learn more about sea life.
:: Spending an enjoyable day helping my parents.
:: Receiving a phone call from a cousin who I hadn’t talked with for quite a while.
:: Health professional and therapists who are helping my dad and Olivia.
:: Hearing Sophia play the piano.
:: Watching the flock of cardinals visit the feeder.
:: Seeing a beautiful yellow moon setting one morning.

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{this moment} – A Thursday ritual (inspired by soulemama). A photo – or two, in this case – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments.

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

*** *** ***

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– To have some extra time to get caught up on projects I’ve wanted to do – personal and for my shop.

– A friend of the family who listed and offered support.

– Healthcare professionals who provide a meaningful and supportive place for my dad to attend twice a week.

– Hearing enthusiasm and happiness in my dad’s voice after attending the day care program (Tuesday was his first day).

– Spending time with my daughters learning about ocean life (part of homeschool science lessons) and some very interesting fish that live in the deep sea.

– Having enough food to make meals for the entire week.

– Enjoying a variety of books from the library.

– Spending time with my parents on my dad’s birthday.

– Being able to help my mom get errands done that she’s wanted to do.

– Finding a colorful and fragrant bouquet of flowers to give to my dad on his birthday; and seeing how excited they were to have fresh flowers on their table.

– Finding a picture of my grandma, my uncles, and mom from 1982.

– Seeing the snow sparkle.

– Seeing the variety of birds at the feeders – especially the flock of cardinals whose color is so vivid against the white snow.

– Watching a tiny vole peek out of the snow under the birdfeeder and collect seeds that had fallen.

– Seeing the squirrel navigate through snow tunnels in the front yard, and watching it pop up in different places.

– Having the skill to sew quilts and pillows.

– Warm, hand-crocheted blankets that I made from wool from my sheep or that my Grandma Olive made before I was born.

– Daughters who enjoy spending outdoors during the winter – exploring the pastures, sledding, making snow forts, and ice skating.

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