It was a frosty morning today.  Low of 25 degrees last night, and I had to bundle up in my winter coat, hat, scarf and gloves when I walked the dogs this morning.  Time to put away the Halloween decorations and start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas!  I’ve actually been thinking about Christmas for quite awhile, but I’ve mostly been doing thinking and not a lot of doing.  Time to put things into gear!  In the meantime, I need to put the garden and yard to bed, and plant some bulbs before the ground gets too hard.

I dug up my carrot crop the other day.  I planted my seeds about 3-4 weeks too late, so they are all very tiny.  But, they are so sweet and yummy.  I roasted a bunch for dinner the other night, and will probably do it again tomorrow.  I’m definitely making sure that I plant them on time next year.  Hubby built a special deep square foot box for them (4′ x 4′) which is what put us behind this year.  No excuses next year!

And before I start talking about Christmas….if you missed it last year, this Montessori practical life buttoning felt turkey was a huge hit with all the kids in my son’s Montessori school (age 3-6 classes) last year.  Think about making one for your own little one!  It was really quite easy.

When I made the second and third ones, I switched to a zig zag stitch as I went around the outside of the turkey body and the feathers, and it looked a lot better.  The face is hand-embroidered.

Also, if you are really thinking ahead, I thought I would share my wool felt advent calendar that I made two years ago.  I just *love* it!  It was so worth all the time that it took to make each individual pocket.  If you start now, you can still be done by December 1st!

The chickadee pocket is one of my favorites.

Halloween Flags

Halloween flags

Inspired by a recent post on the Twig & Toadstool blog, J (who is now 6yo) and I made these flags yesterday before dinner.  It was a quick project, and probably took about 45 minutes.  The pattern is a download from the Toymaker website.  There are four flag patterns to choose from – owl, pumpkin, cat and skull.  Like Twig & Toadstool, we went for rainbow paper instead of spooky/Halloween paper.  J chose two of each design, and picked which color paper each would go on.

Then, he cut out the straight border lines on the top and side, as well as the scallop bottom.  I did the inside cuts with an x-acto knife.  Then we used a glue stick to attach some shiny tissue paper to the back.  To hang the banner, I folded the top down about 1/2 inch towards the back, and ran a length of baker’s twine through, and then taped the folded part down.  Since I hung it in the window, and you can’t see the back, it’s not important that the back look as nice as the front.  Then, we have these odd draw pull knobs on our window molding from where the previous owners had a valance hung.  So, I tied the baker’s twine to a few of the knobs and voila!

You can’t really tell in the pictures because of the morning sun casting a shadow, but the paper is bright blue, green, purple and yellow.

I love it!

Adding a new picture which shows the colors of the flags.  Such a fun and easy project!  I need to think about how to adapt the concept for Christmas.

“Not my gumdrop buttons….”

Gingerbread boy ornament

Gingerbread boy ornament

I recently ran across this pattern/tutorial on Elsie Marley’s site for a half-eaten gingerbread boy ornament, and I had to make it!  He’s so adorable!  It’s an interesting technique to sew the front cut piece onto a rectangular back piece, and then cut the back piece into the correct shape after sewing.  Worked very well.  My only hint on making this would be to stuff it a little bit when you are halfway around instead of waiting until the end.  I had a hard time getting stuffing into the far arm and leg, and it would have been easier if I had stuffed as I went along.  I also used a backstitch to embroider the year on the back of the piece.  I can’t wait to hang him on my tree when we put it up in a few weeks!

Gingerbread boy has already been a hit with J

Already being played with by J

Montessori holiday buttoning activity – Turkey-Lurkey

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Laura over at My Montessori Journey posted the cutest felt turkey last year that she made into a practical life buttoning activity for her class.  Well, I saw it last year and marked it, but then it got lost in my legions of crafting bookmarks.  Well, thankfully she recently re-posted it and J’s teacher saw it and forwarded it to me!  I worked on it last night while watching HP Order of the Phoenix (have to brush up before the DVD release of Half-Blood Prince next month – already on pre-order, yes, I’m one of those people), and then finished it up this morning before taking J to school.  We were a few minutes late, but I think his teacher forgave us when she saw the turkey!  And we were thankfully there in time for J to respond with a chipper “Bonjour!” when she called his name at circle, although he was still at his cubby putting on his inside shoes.

It’s made of wool and wool-blend felt that I had in my stash.  I hand-sewed on the facial features with a basic running stitch and just used whatever buttons I had on hand that were approximately the same size (so the kids could put the feathers on in any order).  I made it with two layers of felt for the turkey body, and the feathers.  So I sewed those together with my machine.  It would have been nice to hand sew those, but that would have taken considerably longer and this is just as durable and nice.  Especially considering it’s an activity that will only be out on the shelf for a few weeks a year.  The feet are just one piece of felt, and I made sure to go over them twice with my sewing machine just to make sure they wouldn’t get loose.  Hmm….I probably should have used brown thread in my machine.  Oh well!

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It turned out great and I really can’t emphasize enough the difference it makes when you use wool and wool-blend felts.  It’s so much nicer than using acrylic felt.  It just has a better textural quality, both in terms of working with the materials, and using them.  100% wool felt is pretty expensive, but the wool felt blends that you can buy at places like Prairie Point Junction and Felt-o-Rama are also quite nice.  The green and red feathers are actually scraps from my advent calendar from last year.  I keep every minute bit of wool felt scraps, LOL!  The black eyes are some tiny scraps of recycled wool sweater (felted in my washing machine).

Felt advent calendar

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Last year, I went crazy with this awesome hand embroidered/appliqued advent calendar.  I’m so excited to pull it out this year.  It starts on December 1, so if you want to make one, you’d better start now!  You can see my posts related to the advent calendar from last year, here.  Or you can see close-ups of each individual pocket on Flickr, here.

I’m currently working on my list of things that I’m going to put into the pockets.  The items generally fell into three categories.

1) Small toys/candy/items that fit into the pocket.

2) Notes that told the kids that we’d be doing something special that day, “Go pick out our Christmas tree!”

3) Notes that took the kids on a scavenger hunt through the house for an item that was too large to fit into the pocket.

I’ll keep you updated on my list!  My first step is pulling out my list from last year and starting from there.

Halloween Houses and Random Crafting

Pumpkins carved by the boys

Pumpkins carved by the boys

Well, October has not been a good blogging month.  I have been busy crafting (and working like a dog at the paid job), just not blogging about it.  And I was able to get together with my girlfriends this weekend for our annual Girl’s Weekend!  Fun!  We went to the White Mountains of NH and it was gorgeous and perfect weather.  A bit chilly, but it is mid-October after all.

I also had my monthly crafty night with my local friends last weekend and got to work on some things.  I made some mummies for the Halloween Houses, and also some ghosts!  I dusted off the scroll saw and made the ghosts from the hubby’s scrap pile.  The first ghost I made from pine, so I decided to paint him with some acrylic paint.  The second ghost I made from some gorgeous curly maple, so I kept him unpainted, and just used a beeswax polish on him.  Love them!  I also did an inaugural run on the wood burner, and burned in the ghosts’ features.

Wooden ghosts

Wooden ghosts

The mummies are just “men” people turnings and I wrapped little strips of an old white sheet around and used some Aileen’s craft glue.  Before I glued on the strips of fabric though, I painted them white with some acrylic paint, and used a thin brush to make some tiny eyes.  I got the idea originally from looking at the little gnome mummies that were posted on Wee Folk Art last year.



And since I had the wood burner out, I pulled out a penguin that I made many months ago on the scroll saw for my youngest.  I hadn’t finished him because I wanted to wood burn the lines in before painting with the watercolors, in an effort to keep the watercolor paint from bleeding into the different areas.  I thought he turned out very well!  Stocking stuffer!

Wooden penguin

Wooden penguin

I have also been working on a little embroidery.  The “pink house” tutorial that Melissa posted on Sew Mama Sew a few months ago.  I love her stuff, and was so excited that she posted a tutorial!

My "pink" house embroidery

My "pink" house embroidery

And then all the other stuff of fall, like pumpkin carving, apple picking and cider making, soccer games, football in the yard, watching football on the TV (Go Blue!), and starting to anticipate winter.  I was watching the Patriots play in Foxborough tonight and it was snowing!  Eek!  Just rain here….so far.

Our new favorite backyard game -- "tackle soccer"

Our new favorite backyard game -- "tackle soccer"

Oh,……and did I forget to mention the super-cute wet-felted wool acorns??  More on those later…

Wet felted wool acorns

Wet felted wool acorns

Halloween Houses, Part 1

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Houses painted inside and out

Houses painted inside and out

Step 1 is completed.  The houses are all painted (standard, black acrylic paint) inside and out, and are now dry.  I did help the boys out and touched up their houses after they had gone to bed.  But, now what, you ask???

The boys are very excited about decorating their houses!  You should have heard them in the car on the way home from school.  They were listing off all the little characters that they could make to live in the houses.  Ghosts, skeletons, headless horsemen, mummies, zombies, Frankenstein, witches, etc.  They have very grandiose plans!  I guess we’ll see how it all turns out.  So far, I’m thinking the following:

1) Cover the inside of some of the window with black crepe paper.  DH had the great idea to buy a flickering battery-powered tea light for inside.  Ooh, spooky!  And then board up some of the windows with popsicle sticks.

2) Thought I would make a few  little pumpkins, maybe find some mini hay bales, etc., to decorate the outside.

3) Mummies! Similar to the ones on Wee Folk Art.

4) Spooky poseable skeleton guys and walking ghosts a la The Small Object.

5) I’m going to try to make a witch out of a clothespin doll.  We’ll see.  I had the idea to make a little witch’s broom using a fallen stick and some raffia or something.  Who knows?

6) I think I might be able to cobble together a Frankenstein likeness with a little wooden gnome guy, painted green with maybe a brown tunic/pants made out of felt.

7) Oh and I want to do something to the roof.  Sarah at The Small Object put black glitter glass on the roof which looked super-cool.  But, I might just try regular black glitter if I can find it locally somewhere.

8) And I think I might Kool-Aid dye some silk scarves in browns and dark greens to function as the base for the houses (or maybe use tea/coffee for the brown ones since brown Kool-Aid is hard to find here, however I have heard of a brown Kool-Aid flavor in Mexico).  The boys want to make spooky trees too, and we’ll need to figure out some spider webs to throw in there.  (And sort of as an aside, check out this thread on Mothering where someone dyed wool yarn with black beans!  Super cool colors.)