Friday, September 25, 2009

don't freak out, k?

Today is September 25th. There are only three months until Christmas. Okay, for most of you that's no big deal, but for the year-of-handmade-gifts types....breathe deeply, get your list in order, and start sewing-knitting-crocheting--creating! Just don't freak out. There's no time for that. xo ANG

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

beware of the caterpillar!

While we were playing in our backyard yesterday Miss O came across a strange caterpillar. Thanks to reading many bug books, she knew that if it looked too weird and dangerous for a bird to eat then it's best not to touch it. Boy was she right! This, my friends, is a Saddleback Slug Caterpillar. Bizarre is the best description. A tiny little guy, only about an inch long, but with some serious spikes and a crazy markings. Also, instead of 16 legs like a regular caterpillar this creature had the under body like a slug...although his sides are lined with sections of spikes. After reading up on this here Saddleback we discovered that touching it would result in many spikes coming out into our skin and stinging worse than a bee...with the pain lasting for several days also accompanied by nausea. Yikes! Plus, anyone with sensitive skin would have a more severe reaction. Double yikes! I thank God that neither of my girls nor Tim and I touched this caterpillar. In all of my years I have never seen one of these, but when I was telling a friend about it she had seen one as well. They are active during the day and can be seen as late as November, so like I said, beware of the caterpillar!
Then in the early evening as I was taking my laundry off of the clothesline I saw this super fast crawling, feathery, tiger-striped caterpillar trucking across my driveway. This was the only descent shot I could get because he just wasn't slowing down for anything. After doing a little more research I found out that it was a Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillar. Although bright and dangerous looking, he was safe to touch, although the girls refrained as a precaution. The bright fluffy coat he is sporting was just a warning for the birds. Evidently if a bird eats a caterpillar that's been feasting on milkweed it will die of a little birdie heart attack if it doesn't quickly regurgitate the milkweed stuffed meal.
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Fascinating creatures, no? And right in our own backyard. If that's not a lesson in science, I don't know what is! So while you're out and about keep your eyes pealed because you never know what wondrous creature you may happen upon. And you know what? I plan on wearing my gardening gloves all the time while working in the garden...ya know, just to be safe :o) xo ANG

Sunday, September 20, 2009

shark tooth smack down!

Just one more thing about the beach, okay? We always look for shark teeth, ya know, the black petrified teeth. I usually don't find many...if I find any at all. I just don't have what it takes to find them easily...patience, time, focus...whatever. This time though, things were different. Now, I didn't find many small teeth, Tim found lots, but I found two big ones. One of which is the mother of all shark teeth. Here are the small teeth...the normal ones from this trip.
But here are the two that I found. Oh yeah, baby! Now those are some shark teeth! Low tide was very good to me this time.
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Seriously, the mother of all shark teeth! Okay, enough about the beach. I don't want to bore you. I'll try to post something crafty soon. Happy Sunday. xo ANG

Friday, September 18, 2009

now that's what i call a vacation!

We are back in good ol' Virginia. I tell you though, there is nothing like the beach. We, once again, went down to Carolina Beach, NC. We decided against a whole week this time which worked out just great. Every day was absolutely perfect. This was the first time in a long time that a vacation in September actually had nice, warm, summery weather. Not cool and fall like at all this time. I had every intention of posting each day with a little snippet of the day's events but, honestly, I was too tired. We spent hours on the beach each day, we went for hikes in the state park, we hung out on the pier, we lingered over dinners on the lanai watching the surfers trying to catch a few more waves before heading home for the night. We just really savored every moment.
Here are a few pictures of my girls enjoying the beach. The close-up pictures turned out great but they look like big kids, especially miss O. Sheesh! She'll be seven in January, but does she have to look like a 10 year old?
There were lots and lots of seagulls and pelicans around. Lots of sandpipers and other ocean birdies. They are comical little creatures that would rather run really fast instead of flying in order to escape the children that can't resist chasing them around.
This collage is just some random shots that capture the essence of our relaxation at the beach. Sea oats at sunset, warm and toasty flip flops, a super tall, beautifully symmetrical palm tree, oleanders peeking through the pool fence, and Tim's perfect sandcastle for his sweet girls.
Our shortened hike on the SugarLoaf trail in the state park was beautiful. Shortened? Oh yes. We had spent the entire morning playing on the beach in the sun, then after lunch and a short nap it was off to the park. The trail was gorgeous. The quietness, the smell of the pines, the beauty...all shortened because the girls were exhausted and not up for an almost 3 mile walk. With a fresh start it would have been a piece of cake. Maybe next year.

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Oh, then there's the Fort Fisher Aquarium. Always great! Yes, always comedian that girl of mine. The fish were amazing, the octopus awesome, the touch tank so cool, the little frog was cute and cuddly looking,and the turtle...oh the loggerhead turtle, captivating. We actually saw this little guy last September shortly after hatching and now he's a year old and clearly a beautiful creation.
When leaving the aquarium there is a great trail with flowers and local plants and animals. And tons of butterflies!
Here's some shots of serious wave enjoyment and even more serious shell collecting. The girls used their dresses to hold their shells just as I use my apron to gather tomatoes in the garden...adorable, no?
Okay, this is the last personal favorites. A sunrise shot from each morning and my girls taking in all of the beachy goodness.

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Now, does that look like a vacation or what? It was the perfect way to squeeze out the last greatness of summer before the coolness settles in for fall. On our drive back to Virginia we did see some leaves changing color. A few more weeks of summer heat would be great. I'm just sayin.' xo ANG

Sunday, September 13, 2009

just call me frances

...because I need to lighten up.
That first deep breath of salty air..the ocean spray on my face..the sand between my toes..the little hands that shove sandy shells into my pockets as we stroll down the beach...all of it, it just relaxes me. I just love the beach. Now, the weird affect on my curly hair and the rotten egg smell of the water in the house, those things I could live without, but they're certainly not deal breakers. Ever since we lived on Moloka'i and were surrounded by nothing but ocean...I just love it. I'd love to live at the beach again. The rhythmic sound of the waves soothes my busy mind at the end of a very long day.
Our trip down to the beach was, for the most part, uneventful. Sleeping, singing, I spying, and a video, and boom, we were here. We arrived at 10:45 am. I know, early. It was intentional so we could have the majority of the day to enjoy. How'd we get here so early? Oh, well, we left at 5:30 am. Crazy, but it worked. We had a great beach filled day. I am super duper tired though, but it was worth it to have the whole wonderfully warm and sunny day to enjoy.
Now, about living at the beach. I'd love it but I've been thinking differently. Hear me out. I've been envisioning farm living for quite some time now. Chickens for eggs, goats for milk, cheese, and yarn, lots of garden space for canning, herbs, and flowers. A homestead of sorts. A girl can dream, right? But then when we arrived and my lungs were filled with the salty air and I thought....hmmmm, chickens and goats like sand, right? The longer warm season would be good for them, no? And gardening? There are raised beds and a longer growing season. And flowers...oh, tropical flowers.
Okay, I'm tired so I'll ponder upon this while I sleep tonight...the combining of homestead living...and the beach.
If you're going to dream....dream big!
xo ANG

Friday, September 11, 2009

summer stuff

While fiddling around on my blog today I came across this post that was never actually posted. Weird. Anyway, I thought it was still worth sharing for the sake of summer...because it is fleeting. So our big project was the yard. We spent the better half of summer clearing out and sprucing up the back yard so that we could make room for this playground. It is great fun. Swinging. Sliding. Climbing. Make-believing. The stuff of summer.
Then there are these gifts that I made and never shared with you. There are a lot of birthdays in July in my family so as things progressed in my year of handmade gifts I made a trio of Japanese Knot Bags and crocheted cotton washcloths. The bags, of course, are reversible. One side shows the prints...all from my stash, and the reverse is a lovely cream muslin. I do love these little bags. One day I'll make one for myself. Maybe.

One more very summery and wonderful thing. The world's best bubble! Are you kidding me? Amazing, no? While at my sister's house, the coolest aunt ever, she let my girls blow bubbles in the house! Yes, there was a glass topped coffee table, carpeting, leather furniture. No, she was totally cool with it. It made me cringe and want to hurl but she said it was okay so I just looked away. Then, when the big wands came out, they moved to the deck. It is the bubble against which all other bubble will always be compared. Seriously.
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So, how was that for summery goodness? Delightful, right? Now, just so you know, the Clothesline gang will be heading to the shore for a few days. Pray for sun and shells and sweet memories. I'll try to keep you posted while we're gone. I've got my vacation list and I'm checking it twice. Yarn-check. New magazine to read-check. Embroidery hoop and floss-check. What? I get to have fun too, right? I've got clothes, swim suits, beach towels, sunscreen, gluten free snacks, coloring books and crayons, running shoes, flip's all covered. No worries. Just ready to relax and soak up the last rays of summer because fall is elbowing her way in a little early. xo ANG

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

day trip:: part three

This is the final post about our hike up to Johnson farm. It's time to see the inside of the house. The main room had a bed, the sewing machine, the quilt that could be raised up to the ceiling when it wasn't being worked on (genius), a fire place, a wood stove, some clothes hanging on pegs, and a shotgun or two hanging above the doors. The kitchen was small but packed with everything needed for baking and cooking.
The kid's rooms were upstairs. The boys had one room. Very simple with some carved wooden toys, a wash basin, and a chamber pot. The girls room had several little beds, a trunk of yarn and reeds for basket weaving, a tiny wood stove, a wash basin, an actual tub for bathing, and of course, a chamber pot. That was fun to explain to the girls. They thought it was weird and were immediately grateful for indoor plumbing...something that we take for granted way to often.

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Here are the toys that were upstairs. I don't know about you but corn cob dolls don't look too fun to play with...I'm just sayin'. My girls thought they were cute but didn't want to trade in any of their soft, human-like dolls for a corn cob. So again, a greater appreciation for the things we have.
So there you have it, a glimpse into our day trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I really enjoyed it and so did Tim and the girls. The hike out was not so adventurous, although we did see another deer. The atmosphere of hiking along side a creek that was lined with blooming wild flowers was dampened only slightly by a certain four-year-old who was getting a big, painful blister on her heal because she insisted on wearing shoes that were too small for her ever growing feet. I suppose next time she'll wear the shoes that I choose for her.
Happy Friday! xo ANG

Monday, September 7, 2009

day trip::part two

So we made our way out of the woods and into a beautiful clearing. Ahhhh, the homestead...just look at that beautiful view. Johnson farm is simple and lovely.

Around the grounds we came across a super large cooking pot. Now that would make a lot of brunswick stew...mmmmmm.

We also investigated the smokehouse. It reminded me of Little House in the Big Woods. Boy, oh boy, we are spoiled these days aren't we?

An old rusty tractor/combine sat in the yard beside the log cabin-ish barn. The pictures that I got of the barn's interior didn't come out very clear but it was amazing. There was also an old plow. Again, spoiled, we are. The amount of work that went into every aspect of life is just overwhelming.

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In the front yard there were some fun things for the kids...and grown-ups to pass the time. We found a game of ring toss. The rings were made of rope and dipped in wax, I think. Fun! There was also a game of lawn darts. The darts were made of corn cobs (minus the corn) with feathers in the end. Now that was fun. The feathers were attached just perfectly so that when you threw the lawn dart it spiraled through the air. Oh and there was a hoop tied to a stick that was the target. Some skill was required to master that one...again, fun.
Then, on the side porch there was an old wash tub full of wood chunks and some sanded down smooth branches on which to balance the pieces. So simple, yet very enjoyable because none of the pieces were evenly cut so it took lots of concentration.

The girls took turns building this tower and here is the final block being placed before it came crashing down!

This last picture is one of my favorites. Attached to the corner post of the fence that surrounded the house was this great big bell. No doubt, the dinner bell.
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So there you have it. The tour around the Johnson farm homestead. Next up...the inside. Happy Wednesday. xoANG

Sunday, September 6, 2009

day trip::part one

A couple of weeks ago we went on a day trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's so beautiful there. Cool, fresh air...gorgeous scenery...just what we needed. While we were there we decided to go on a little hike into the woods that led to an old farm...Johnson farm. Tim and I had gone to see this farm years ago and I really liked it then, but now, well now, I love it. It really captures the beauty and simplicity of life. Oh sure, I do enjoy modern conveniences like running water, indoor plumbing, even electricity, but farm living is in my blood. Anyway, the hike was about a mile through the woods. It was beautifully shady and cool. Here are a few shots that capture the essence of the trail.
At the very start we came to this sweet little bridge crossing the creek right before the trail head. The girls love those little bridges and so do I. It's often times the best place to find a nice little frog or to watch tiny little fish darting around.

Then as we got a little ways into the woods we came across this wonderful flower. There were several, of course, but they were growing along the edge of the path. I'm not sure what kind of flower it is, I haven't looked it up yet. It's pretty though....and tough looking with all those spikes!

Next up...a very curious deer. It walked right on the path towards us. It didn't flinch when the girls tried to stifle their excitement, it just sauntered off the path then stopped to graze and study us like we were the fascinating creatures. Very cool.

And then there's this. A rock, a boulder really. It was huge. I would have gotten a picture of one of the girls beside it for perspective but there was no way they were going to get near that big giant butt rock. The giggling was uncontrollable.
The hike in was great and there's so much to share about the farm and it's surroundings. I do hope you'll come again for part two. xoANG
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Friday, September 4, 2009

oh my!

My reversible sewing machine cover tutorial was featured on One Pretty Thing today! I love it there. Ideas and inspiration abound and I'm so excited to be a part of it! Go ahead over there, you won't regret it.

it's friday...we made it

This was our first official week of school. Second grade for my big girl and kindergarten for my baby...sheesh, time sure does fly! I made lesson plans, gathered manipulatives, prepared activites, formulated a daily schedule, researched craft ideas, and checked out books. Now that it's Friday and I look back over the week to see how much I accomplished, well, I didn't get it all done. However, I think we accomplished a lot. There are always a few kinks that need to get worked out, but for the most part I am pleased...and not as overwhelmed as I thought I would be. The girls adjusted well to the more structured schedule, there was still plenty of time for playing each day, and I even managed to squeeze in some pilates. (no pun intended:o) I do have to fight for my mat though because the girls like to join in and they try to steal my mat. Hmmm, I feel a sewing project formulating in my brain. I digress. So we started off the first day of school by giving the girls a schultute (school cone) filled with new school supplies and treats. I read about this German tradition and it sounded like a great way to foster excitement for the start of a new school year. It's a tradition that I'd like to continue each year because it was just as fun for me as it as it was for them. The school cones that I made were not as big as the German ones, but they were just as great. Also, the original schultutes were actual cone shapes. I was using recycled materials so I decided to make mine like a triangular pyramid. It worked out great. More on that in another post. So these are the school, pyramids, covered in fabric, lined with fabric and trimmed with eyelet. Yes, more stash busting.
And here are my bright eyed girls first thing in the morning on the first day of school. What a surprise to get a present for school!

New hair bows, butterfly tattoos (for science), ginormous smartees, some tiny notebooks, and a few little trinkets. Fun stuff, I tell you.

So as the week played out we accomplished our daily Bible lessons, math, and language arts. Then the plan was to do two days of science and two days of history/geography but that didn't quite work. We did three days of science and one day of history. So it seems that we may just alternate weeks so we can really focus on each subject. Anyway this week was the life cycle of a butterfly. Oh sure, a lot of that process is common knowledge and potentially boring. Fortunately I was prepared for that and made sure I had some great books that would expand their knowledge of caterpillars and butterflies. They learned so much and had such fun. What a great way to start! Here's a picture of a few books we used along with some information and crafting that we did.

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Today, we did a few little things to wrap up the week then we went to our weekly co-op day. It was a fun way to round out the week. Happy weekend to you! xo ANG

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

tutorial::reversible sewing machine cover

Remember that crazy good bargain of a sewing machine that I got at a yard sale? It works like a dream. The best $7 I ever spent. So it's been sitting out...ahem, on the dining room table where I accomplish my sewing projects, and when it's not in use it tends to collect dust. Okay, so everything is pretty much dusty in here but I thought if I made a cover for it at least that would keep it clean and it would look cute. I found a few tutorials out there but they were for more of a flap cover with Velcro straps around the sides. Don't get me wrong, they were cute and simple to make but with small kids and a cat and, ya know, dust I wanted to cover the whole shebang so I could put the pedal and cord in there, too and have it all nice and tidy. So I decided to make my own cover, but then I thought it should be reversible because I like choices. I went through my stash and in one nap time I had it done.
You'll need two fabrics--fabric A and fabric B, interfacing (if you want it), a measuring tape, scissors or rotary cutter, some pins, a pencil or water erasable pen, and a little time with no distractions OR a lot of time if you have small ones that are awake and demand your attention. :o) (For this whole project I used a 5/8" seam allowance)

Step ONE:: Measure your sewing machine from the center of one side to the center of the other side. (mine measured 21 1/2 inches)Step TWO:: measure your sewing machine from front to back over the tallest part (mine measured 26 inches
Step THREE:: Add one inch to each measurement then cut out both fabrics and one interfacing. (I cut my fabric to be 22 1/2 " x 27") It's a bummer that a fat quarter won't work, but it is a good stash buster project. Step FOUR:: If you're going to use interfacing now is the time to iron it to the wrong side of fabric A. If you choose not to use interfacing then go to step five.
Step FIVE:: Fold fabric A in half with right side sides together (my folded fabric was 22 1/2" x 13 1/3") and sew down the two sides. Repeat for fabric B.
Step SIX:: Using a ruler and water soluble marker, measure a 2 1/2" square from the seam to the top edge of the fabric on both corners of both fabric A and fabric B. (The widest part of my machine is about 5 inches but if yours is narrower then make your square to cut out a little smaller.) Cut out the square.
Step SEVEN:: Pinch seams together and pin. Go ahead and do all four corners then sew each one. Doing this will create the box corners that you'll need.
Step EIGHT:: Open up fabric A so that the wrong side is facing out (with the boxed corners and interfacing it should stand up) then open up fabric B so the right side is facing out and place it inside of fabric A. (so now, the right sides are together) Line up the side seams and pin all the way around making sure to leave a 4" space for turning at the end. Don't worry, that gap will get sewn in the top stitching.
Step NINE:: Sew around the entire edge...but leave open that 4" space.

Step TEN:: Okay, now for the turning. Reach into that 4" opening and pull fabric A through which will in turn pull fabric B so that both right sides are showing. Now tuck fabric B back down into fabric A and line up the corners. Press all seams and be sure to press the seam allowance of that 4" opening so that it's even with the rest of the seam.
Step ELEVEN:: Top stitch around the entire edge being sure to catch the seam allowance of that opening...and viola! You're done!

Here's my cover...side A.
And the reverse...side B. Does that fabric look familiar? My cat seems to like it.
I did not use interfacing. But if I make another cover I will so that it will have a more firm look to it. Of course, you could use this tutorial to make a cover for other things too...just measure twice and cut once.