It’s good to be home

As much as I loved visiting Grandma and spending time with her, it's great to be home with my family and in my own house. I always love coming home! Harry, Maia, and I celebrated with ice cream at Two Spoons and then I slipped away to our neighborhood tailgate market which just opened for the season (thanks Amanda for the tip!). I loaded up on fresh-picked rhubarb, asparagus, and spinach, as well as free-range eggs and a couple of herbs to plant in the garden. Dinner last night was an asparagus fritata and sauteed spinach. Yum. And today the plan is to make rhubarb pie! I haven't had one of those since childhood when we grew our own rhubarb. Although I've bought a small rhubarb plant for my garden this year, I won't be able to begin harvesting until next year. In the meantime, I'll buy as much as I can from the tailgate market because I love rhubarb. Besides pie, I want to try a recipe I have for rhubarb upside down cake. Any other great rhubarb recipes out there?

Visiting Grandma…

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I'm in Florida visiting my Grandma for a few days. It's another solo trip — probably my last one before the baby comes and travel becomes so much harder. I've been reading, enjoying the weather, playing a million word games, and working on my current knitting project. I'll be heading home tomorrow.

Coloring Easter Eggs with Bleeding Tissue Paper

Coloring Easter Eggs with Bleeding Tissue PaperHave you experimented with bleeding tissue paper yet? It’s interesting because you apply it as you would in a collage, yet the color from the tissue paper “bleeds” out onto the surface of the paper or egg or whatever, acting like a paint.

We recently tried coloring Easter eggs with bleeding tissue paper, which was lots of fun, with cool results.

I have two Easter egg projects here:

The first is an Easter egg mosaic on paper using the bleeding tissue paper.

In the second, we colored Easter eggs (real ones) with the bleeding tissue paper…. 

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The Toddler Art Group in FamilyFun Magazine

Toddler Art Group in FamilyFun Magazine

I’m in the current issue of FamilyFun

Toddler Art Group in FamilyFun Magazine

They interviewed me about the toddler art group for their 1-2-3 section (arts and crafts for one through three year olds). It’s basically a simple how-to for organizing art groups or playdates.

Toddler Art Group in FamilyFun Magazine

They also included a version of the fun sculpey nature prints we made last year.

The 1-2-3 section is included in subscription copies (not newsstand) for families with toddlers. Do any of you receive it? I never got this section when I subscribed but probably because I just sent in one of those fly-in (fall out!) postcards that asks for minimal personal information.

Sorry about the short post. I’m not thinking very straight right now and am heading for an early bedtime. Maia has an ear infection and I’ve been up since 3am. Time. For. Sleep.

Felting eggs for the nature table

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I told you I wanted to try some simple wool felting with Maia (it's on the list). I decided to go with SouleMama's felting instructions in The Creative Family because it sounded the most hands on and immediate, although I'd still like to try the other two I mentioned as well.

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She calls for a bowl of hot soapy water per person (1 tbsp dish soap per 2 cups water) and some raw carded wool. Maia was really excited about trying this and loved playing with the wool before I even brought out the soapy water. She had some trouble making it into balls that stayed together though and lost interest after a while.
The trick apparently is to wrap a strand of wool tightly around itself into a little ball, soak it in the soapy water, roll it around in your hands, wrap more wool tightly around the ball, soak it, roll it, etc, until you have a ball the size you want. Perhaps it would be better for someone slightly older than Maia. Although in retrospect, I probably shouldn't have limited the project by saying we were going to make balls and eggs.

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I made several little eggs and enjoyed the process. Maia mostly watched. We might try this again sometime. Or one of the other felting techniques.

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We added the eggs to the spring nature table, tucked inside a nest of the fluffy yellow wool.
Unfortunately the weather outdoors does not match this sunny spring corner of our house. We've had snow and freezing weather for the last couple of days! And here I thought I lived in the south! The garden is covered, my new cherry tree is wrapped up, and all my seedlings and plants have been brought inside. But soon it will be warm again and we will be puttering in the garden. I can't wait.

One sheet equals… A post on reducing waste and repurposing

I almost didn't write this post. It's been on my mind for a while now but I kept thinking it didn't really belong on this blog — off topic I guess. But here it is anyway. I'll try for a post about children's art tomorrow.

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Anyway, I've been doing a lot of repurposing lately. We needed a couple of small curtains and I've been wanting some new napkins. Both are easy sewing projects and I knew I had some sheets that didn't fit our beds, so I found a nice one with eyelet edging to use (I'm a sucker for old fashioned). From one sheet I was able to make two curtains and ten napkins with some fabric left over for something else — maybe some clothes for Maia's doll.

I have lots of other ideas for repurposing as well. I have some sweaters that I'd like to turn into felted bags, felted mittens, and cozy baby pants (like these cute green ones — scroll all the way down for the rear view) since this babe will be born in the fall. More sheets for who knows what… An old cotton mattress pad that I plan to turn into smaller baby changing pads and floor blankets. T-shirts for another art smock or two. I also want to use my existing fabric stash as much as possible rather than buying yet more fabric.

I love the idea of re-using what we have in creative ways. SouleMama's next book is on repurposing for the home and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy! I'm sure she has a million great ideas in there. For a sneak preview, you can see the bookmark project her publisher released for Mothering magazine's website.

I have various reasons for repurposing. The biggest one for me is probably economy. We don't have much money to spend on new things and so I make many of the things we can't necessarily buy and to make our budget stretch farther. However, I don't like feeling poor (did that enough as a kid), so I try to focus on the creative aspect of repurposing as well as the environmental aspect. Repurposing is fun, it can be a great creative outlet, and is much more sustainable than going to the store every time we want something new. My goal is to make a bigger effort at making our home and lifestyle more environmentally friendly this spring and summer while having as much fun as possible and saving as much money as possible. Again, I'm going to focus on the first two points to avoid feeling deprived because mind games like that work for me.

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I've started with the sheet project and have also decided to start using reusable rags instead of disposable paper towels. I've always had some rags tucked away in the back room which I use for cleaning projects sporadically, and I often use dish towels for wiping counters, but have used way more paper towels than I need to, both in the kitchen and in the studio. I'm going to attempt a paper-towel-free household, inspired by this post and this post from Rhonda at Down to Earth. I've started by cutting up a couple of old towels and clothing items into squares, sewing a zig-zag stitch around the unfinished edges to prevent fraying, and placing baskets of rags in the kitchen and the studio. Oh, and hiding the paper towels!

This post is getting super long so I think I'll stop here. Do you do any repurposing or cutting down on disposables? I'd love to hear your ideas!

A book and some painting

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Maia came home yesterday with a book she made at preschool. Apparently one of the teachers sits down with the kids one at a time in front of a typewriter and types while the child dictates his or her story.

This is the second such book she's made (I think I remember the first being a one liner, one pager story) and I love that they do this! It makes me want to get a typewriter, although I suppose we could find other ways to write stories at home — either on the computer or just writing by hand.

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The books have been bound simply with construction paper for the covers and staples holding it all together.

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And each time there's been a page at the end where it's obvious Maia's had a turn at the typewriter. Very cool. I wonder where I could get an old typewriter?

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By the way, what do you get with a house full of art materials but seriously lacking in cosmetics?

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I don't know where Maia got the idea to paint her nails (I don't think I've painted mine since college, although my color scheme was similar), but she's been doing it with her watercolors lately. And wanting to paint mine, too.

She's such a girl sometimes!

Today is my birthday

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And for the occasion, I thought I'd share a childhood photo. This is a picture taken of my sister, brother, and me (on the right) through a window at our little farm in Oregon.