March 19, 2017

Kids make more clothes for American Girl dolls


We rearranged some rooms in our apartment over the summer and created a project room. All the sewing, printing, and electronics supplies went there. The new room has a great view of the backyard and is a little isolated from the rest of the house, being up a back winding stairway on the third floor. This presents a bit more of a barrier to working on a project there vs. taking it out on the dining room table. But for a few months the kids were having a lot of fun hanging out up there by themselves listening to music and working on their own stuff.

I had helped them get started on some dresses for their American Girl dolls, I think in the spring of 2015. First we took some measurements from the dolls and drew up some basic patterns on paper. We taped these on the dolls and made some adjustments, then cut apart to transfer to fabric.



These were all hand sewn, since they were so small. Plus it is good to develop one's hand skills. Here is Violet doing her hem.


I helped Millie a lot since the sequined fabric she picked from the stash for her doll's dress is challenging to sew. She wanted it long sleeved, with lace trim.


She was pleased with how it came out.


Violet did almost all of hers on her own, with some advice at key points from me. She picked some scraps of vegetable print cotton I had used to make her and Millie some dresses a few years ago:


Here is Violet's dress she made.


She used the circle knitting jig to make some mittens and a scarf to match.


Edges are trimmed with hand stitched hug snug ribbon. She added a faux button strip and button on the front.


Closures are with hook and eyes on back.


She was also very pleased with how it turned out.


Inspired by the success of the dresses, they made a bunch of other quick outfits too using scraps of fabrics that interested them. Millie made Kit two little skirts.


Violet worked on a holiday present for Millie, which was almost a match for one of Millie's outfits at the time. Millie decorated a ball cap with a ghost on it as a project at a friend's birthday party, and she wears it around backwards all the time, for a while she was even sleeping in it.



And she loves leopard print on anything.



Violet made these out of felt and scraps; it really does look like something Millie would wear!





February 16, 2017

Sage Breakfast Sausage


Last time we made breakfast sausage I followed the recipe from Ruhlman and lacking a stuffer at the time, formed it into patties. It was pretty good, but a little salty, and the kids found it too "spicy". They LOVE to eat frozen breakfast sausages from Applegate. Now that we have a stuffer I wanted to try to make breakfast sausage the kids would like better, put into small casings.

February 1, 2017

Urban Micro-Orchard Year 3




2016 saw the third growing season for our espalier micro-orchard project. Some things are going easier than I thought, like training to the trellis, pruning, and grafting, while other unexpected challenges have emerged. Things are shaping up well, and I can see the way to a wonderful established planting. But it is going to be a longer and more winding path I had originally thought!

December 12, 2016

New bunny suit for Old Bunny


I've been continuing to make these bunnies as baby gifts these last few years, never actually catching up with how many I'd like to make. Meanwhile, Violet still keeps her bunny (the first I made, in 2010) as her favorite, and it has gotten pretty ragged looking. This bunny has been slept with thousands of times, and has soaked up an ocean of tears (plus some drool and a little blood). It has been on trips in suitcases, on planes, and in the car. The ears were near to falling off completely, and the rest of the outer fabric had degraded to a fragile spider web like layer. The ones I've been making since the first one have used a double layer of muslin for the outer shell to help with durability and to prevent wool fibers from escaping.


I proposed making her a new one, but she was adamant in her desire to not retire her old one. So we came up with a scheme for preserving the old bunny but protecting it from further decline while still keeping it in constant use. A bunny suit!

October 25, 2016

Cider 12 - Winter wheat from the orchard and a bicycle powered apple washer


Another great year of cidering at Five Islands, Maine with a good group of people, excellent weather, and delicious food.

A complementary writeup and different set of photos can be found at Ben's blog.

May 4, 2016

A Quick and Basic Frame Saw


I bought some rough cut green oak from a local supplier early this spring, for making into some plant trellises and a little perch on a maple tree for the kids. Feeling that this by itself was not enough of a challenge apparently, I decided to try to do a bit of carving on the tops of the posts to make these installations more interesting.

April 11, 2016

Tapping the Urban Maple, and Boiled Cider


Last year, I read about tapping trees that are NOT sugar maple at the blog of Anna Hess, and I resolved to tap the handful of trees on our small city lot. We have two Sycamore Maples and two Norway Maples. I had no idea what to expect, but I thought it would be fun to try. The easiest way I could come up with to test the waters was a piece of metal tube stuck in a hole, with a length of tubing run down to a container sitting on the ground.

April 7, 2016

Violet's Tiny Embroidered Buckwheat Hull Pillow


She has had this project going for a couple years now, but recently wrapped it up.

March 24, 2016

Garden Review 2015: Strawberries, and other Permaculture Plants


Perennials are coming along, most of them more slowly than I'd like. Some died. Strawberries were a huge success, others gave a couple fruits and berries. We planted some new edible vines and shrubs.

In other recent posts I have written up Apples, perennial greens & herbs, and alliums. But there are plenty of other plants I feel the need to write up!

March 15, 2016

The Children Assemble a Nixie Tube Clock


Violet had been wanting a clock in her room for a while, to know how late it was getting when she is up reading after bedtime, and also to be able to set an alarm to get up in the morning. We could have just purchased a cheap clock from any number of retail sources, but I thought it would be a good opportunity for a project.