Archive for the 'Crafting With the Urchins' Category

Trick or Treat

Padmé Amidala

Anakin Skywalker

I convinced the urchins to choose costumes that went together this year. First time ever! And the real reason was because my niece and nephew were also being Star Wars characters and the nerd in me needed this portrait to happen:

Skywalker Family Portrait

Princess Leia Organa, Padmé Amidala, Anakin Skywalker, and Luke Skywalker

I hope you and your family had a very Happy Halloween. You can see our previous Halloweens here:

If You Build It…..

Over the weekend we had a little party because….

Tristan 6th Birthday

And Mr. Soon-to-be-Six decided this year he wanted to have a lego birthday party. So that photo was the front of the invitation with the party details on the back. I’ve been keeping a Pinterest board to keep track of all the great ideas for lego parties on the web. When the kids arrived we had them work on some lego coloring sheets and dot-to-dots I printed from the lego site. I had a few different ones so they could do more than one while the other guests arrived.


After everyone arrived we had lunch. Tristan requested mini hamburgers (sliders) and those tiny hot dogs wrapped in bread (pigs in a blanket). We also had pirate’s booty and mini cheese crackers. I used a plastic green tablecloth from the party store and a runner of bubble wrap painted green to look like lego baseplate. The only other decoration on the table was the giant lego minifigure head. I had been wanting to get one and amazingly I found one at Target the day before the party, on sale even. In the sweets department we had an awesome lego cake that Papa made by making a really big sheet cake and topping it with six cupcakes to look like a giant yellow lego. Candy legos from the store were in a lego pick-a-brick container and we also had lego chocolates we made in a silicone mold.


After lunch we split the kids among three tables and had them start building. I had purchased bags of bulk legos from the lego store. First we asked them to build a house and awarded prizes — series 5 minifigures — to the best house at each table. Then we asked them to build boats and did the same thing with the prizes. After that we had them each build an animal and they got to keep the animal they built.

Lego Cake

Then it was time for Happy Birthday and cake! After everyone finished their cake we let them go back to building until their parents arrived to pick them up. As his friends left Tristan gave each of them a favor that consisted of a small lego building set — that I also got on sale — sugar cookies I made to look like legos packaged in a cute lego box, and two chocolate minifigures that Papa made using silicone molds. I found a lego font to use for the tags.


Trick or Treat

I think we’ve reached a point — and I don’t say this to brag — where no one believes the urchin costumes are homemade anymore. We got tons of comments last night about how great they were but I got the sense that most people thought we spent a lot of money on them. Then again, I spent the weekend chronicling on Facebook my costume progress so my friends knew I made them. Really though, what difference does it make anyway? The whole homemade costume requirement lives in my head, it’s not like it’s a real rule. Rambling aside, I present to you the 2011 Urchin Costume Collection, an Ewok and an Owl:

Wicket the Ewok
An Owl

I hope you and your family had a very Happy Halloween. You can see our previous Halloweens here:

May Day

121 :: 365

We made May Day cones and delivered them to some friends today. We used Martha Stewart’s directions. We made ours with six inch squares of printed vellum which held up very well. Instead of filling them with bouquets we bought a couple of 4-cell packs of sweet alyssum from the garden store and cut the cells apart, putting a cell in each cone. That way the flowers wouldn’t wilt by the time our friends found them on their doors. The last thing we did was print Happy May Day on a slip of paper and tape it like a flag to a toothpick. Then we pushed the toothpick into the soil. Happy May Day!

Teacher Gifts

18" and still falling

Friday was Tristan’s last day of preschool before the break. Katie was supposed to have her last day of school today. I say supposed to because on Saturday we watched the snowflakes come down and keep coming down until we had over 22 inches on the ground. Our county is largely rural and so the school system canceled classes for this week knowing that there was no way to get the schools and roads dug out in time. So, Tristan took gifts for his teachers on Friday and Katie’s teacher will get a New Year gift instead.

Dying the Yarn Dying the Yarn

As in years past the urchins dyed yarn in their teachers’ favorite colors. This year we used kool-aid — an awful lot of kool-aid to get the saturated colors we wanted — in a squirt bottle for the photo that we include on the tag and we also dyed the yarn in a pot as well. Tristan’s teachers like burgundy and red so we used black cherry and cherry kool-aid. Katie’s teacher likes blue so we used ice blue raspberry lemonade. Since Katie’s haven’t been delivered yet they may get overdyed to a darker blue before they do since I am not happy with the color they are presently.

Blue Mitt

I improvised the pattern. I’ve made a lot of mitts so I just needed to figure out how many stitches to cast on — 28 for those wondering — and could go from there. I knit 10 rows of ribbing, 5 rows stockinette, increased for the thumb gusset, separated for the thumb, 5 rows stockinette and 5 rows ribbing and then bound off. I picked up the thumb stitches and 4 stitches from the mitt, knit 2 rounds and then rib for 3 rounds and bound off. Easy peasey and all four mitts for Tristan’s teachers were made in one day with plenty of breaks. I’d say they require about 90 minutes per pair. Bulky yarn is the way to go for quick projects. I think his teachers were happy with their gifts and they both have tween-age children they could give these to if they don’t think they’ll wear them all much. The urchins love making them, that’s for sure. I think we’ll be doing some more dying soon.

Teacher Mitts

Santa Lucia

When Katie was three or four years old we read a book about Saint Lucia day and Katie was wide-eyed. When she was four years old we made a set of Saint Lucia clothespin dolls. Last year we decided Katie was big enough to bring buns to us in bed — I get up and help her get ready then go back to bed — and this year we added a crown.

Santa Lucia Crown

I first saw the idea in Living Crafts magazine — love this magazine by the way — and considered seeing if someone could make us one but never got my act together. So this one was made by me at the last minute but was so worth it when Katie realized she would be wearing a crown this year. The crown is made of wool felt with machine appliqued embellishments with a cotton strap in the back. We’re not Scandinavian, Italian, or Catholic so celebrating Saint Lucy is not part of our cultural or religious tradition. However, the darkness of these days as we near the solstice is something we want to recognize and the idea of a child reminding us of the coming light of Christmas is magical. So, our tradition has evolved to this, a little girl with candles and a crown helping us remember what this season is all about.

Santa Lucia

Pirate Party


Back before Thanksgiving someone in our house turned four. It might be hard to believe but it’s true. He asked that we celebrate with a pirate party so Captain Tristan invited his mateys aboard the dread ship Compass Rose for some looting and pillaging and all around treasure hunting. Every time his birthday rolls around Tristan requests the same fare — hotdogs, goldfish crackers, marshmallows, and candy — and I figure who am I to argue with the captain? So we taped butcher paper to the table and drew a great big treasure map. We had the pearl islands — where there were bowls of marshmallow — and the fish islands — bowls of goldfish crackers — and Frank’s place — hotdogs — and a spot in the ocean where there is good fishing — swedish fish — and most importantly Treasure Island where Captain Tristan is reported to have hidden his treasure — the cake was here. Somehow I didn’t get a photo of the table so use your imagination.

Toss the Treasure

We played two games, toss the treasure and pin the treasure chest on the X. We made a treasure chest out of a wood crate and some cardboard. We used cheap plastic coins from the party store to toss — each child got 5 coins to toss — and also decorated the chest with dress-up necklaces and rings. For the pther game we made a treasure map from a photo paper cutoff and I burnt the edges. Each child was blindfolded and spun around three times before they attempted to put the treasure chest on the X. The urchins are notorious for cheating at all versions of pin the tail on the donkey and Tristan’s marker did end up right on the X. Pirate captains like to win you know.

Captain Tristan

For decorations the guests had to walk a plank onto our porch to get into the house — this was huge hit with the kids — and we had a ship’s wheel just inside the door cut from a sheet of cardboard — you can see a bit of it in the treasure toss. We hung pennant banners made from scrapbooking paper and ribbon. The maps and a few pirate toys rounded out the decor I put out. Katie thought we were missing something so she added this sign, quite possibly my favorite thing from the party.

Look Out for the Sharks

Follow My Lead

Katie has been working on her first quarter project for school. The assignment is to make an Autumn Collage consisting of anything she sees outside that is indicative of the changing seasons. Papa laughed when he learned the project details since he said it seemed that it was tailor-made for our first-grader. I actually, had a different reaction. I kind of felt like, why are they having them do this? It just seemed so basic and obvious. I mean don’t all first-graders already know all about this? It’s all my urchins want to talk about.

In the Woods

Then when Melissa was here we were talking about some of the crazy stuff Katie says and does — and how Katie and Melissa’s son were totally cut from the same cloth — and where it comes from. And somehow that conversation and a walk in the woods with my mom and my urchins gave me some insight. Lots of kids don’t take walks in the woods. They don’t have a “clubhouse” under a willow tree. They don’t have a nature table overflowing with feathers, acorns, leaves, bark, and turtle shells. They aren’t looking for that heron, and the prickle ball tree, and the cat-tails, and that place where the lizard hides on their walk to school. In fact they probably don’t walk to school at all even though they likely live within a mile of the building.

The Woods

And you know what I realized, I’m doing a good job. And if you are a reader of this blog, I’m guessing that you are doing a good job too. I spend a lot of time agonizing over how I could have been a better mother in this or that situation. It turns out though, the times I lose my temper, or forget the right gym shoes, or don’t read three chapters before bed just fall by the wayside and what remains is those walks in the woods, those times when we’re digging in the garden. My girl knows the difference between an oak and a maple. She knows that you can eat johnny-jump-ups and rose petals. She knows about the moon, the stars, the seasons.

Budding Naturalist

And I used to think that it wasn’t such a big deal, but now I realize it is. It turns out that as we wander through their childhoods these urchins of mine are following me and paying attention to what attracts my attention along the path. They notice. It was like a little lightbulb went on in my heart when I saw that all the time we take to show them how wonderfully beautiful, and amazing, and awe inspiring the world is has been worth it. So, the first-quarter project really was no big deal for Katie — Mommy, do you think I can label each leaf with the tree name and also what animals eat the nuts? — but it turns out it was kind of a big deal for me.


Sorry for being absent from this space. The reason, to be honest, is because the crumminess continues. I like to keep things here pretty and happy and everything I have to report is starting to feel like a bad country song complete with my dog dying. Why is life like that sometimes? Still, there is a lot of crafty stuff to report including some finished sewing, knitting, and a burgeoning vegetable garden.

In the Tent

We went camping for the first time with the kids last weekend and had a wonderful time until we had to abandon camp early because Katie developed a serious fever – can you hear the guitar and banjo tuning up? Stefan had a race on Sunday morning so we had planned to be there two nights but we still enjoyed the one night we did stay. One thing I realized is that I need to be way better organized next time. Do you guys have any great tips?


The other thing I need is better bedding. Friday night I woke up shivering. It’s July! Who knew I would need more than one blanket. The urchins were snuggled in the middle so they were nice and cozy, plus Katie at least was under the picnic quilt. And that got me thinking, what we need are camping quilts. But you better believe I’m not buying new fabric, this will be a scrappy affair. I’m thinking color-study log cabins like Blair‘s and Amy‘s. I love log cabins and I’ve already convinced Katie that sorting my scraps by color will be fun while she convalesces. There goes that country music again….

A Few Ideas for Daddy’s Day

Thought I’d pop in and remind you all about some cute Father’s Day crafts we’ve done in past years to give you some ideas for this weekend.

flickr photos

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