Princess Elly

Happy Halloween!

Elly was indeed a princess.

The tiara was short-lived though. During the day, she ran without anything on her head.

At night, she wore a fleece purple hat that matched her sweater quite well. As you may recall, this was Elly’s flower girl dress turned inside out.

I assured her that her headgear wouldn’t matter. Everyone would know she was a princess.

And they did.

The haul Elly got from our neighbors was astounding. After an hour, Elly was having to stuff the candy in, crushing the candy and chips below.

She woke up this morning singing the ABC song and asking to go trick or treating again.


Sandy and the Pin Oak Tree

Hurricane Sandy swept through the Northeast causing much destruction.

Thankfully, we were spared.

Not but a block away on York Street, trees were down along with a power line.

Our lights flickered many times but the longest we lost power was for a few short seconds.

The worst that happened was our pin oak tree littered our yard with broken branches. Some of the branches were quite large and made a dreadful noise when they hit the roof, but no damage was incurred.

It is good. It would have broken my heart to lose the pin oak tree. It’s an extension of the house.

Sure it makes a mess every time a heavy wind blows through. It also makes a mess every Spring when the strings of pollen fall to the ground. Then, in Fall, it drops what seems like a million leaves. I am constantly cleaning up after it.

Yet, in Summer, it earns its weight in gold. To be able to walk out of the kitchen door in the oppressive heat and be immediately enveloped in an umbrella of shade is amazing. I live under the shade of the pin oak all summer long.

My father-in-law as well as my chimney sweeper recommended that I cut the tree down. It’s too close to the house. If it fell, it would destroy our home. I don’t believe I had anything nice to say in return.

I’d rather move than cut the tree down. It’s one of the things that made me fall in love with this house along with the corner hutches and the arched doorways.

My heart goes out to those who were not spared by Sandy.

Sunday Snapshots (of painted pumpkins)

Yesterday, Elly and I painted the two pumpkins she had picked out last week.

After drawing a happy face on the first pumpkin, Elly drew a line from the eye to the top of the pumpkin and announced that it was a pirate. Dan was so proud.

The paint is already flaking off because I insisted that we use Crayola washable paint rather than acrylic paint. Acrylic paint would have stuck better to the pumpkins, but it also would have stuck a bit too well to Elly and to my clothes. Elly tends to paint aggressively when she gets into a zone. Paint starts flying.

There is still the big pumpkin to decorate. Since we are stuck indoors thanks to Hurricane Sandy, we’ll have oodles of time to draw a face on it and carve it out. It’s a family affair because Dan is responsible for cleaning the guts of the pumpkin out.

Update: Elly loved helping Daddy carve the pumpkin though she refused to help clean out the seeds. She didn’t want to get her hands dirty. Ha!

Strands of Yarn

A few months ago at a yard sale, I bought 4 bags of yarn.

On the way home, I thought of all the projects I could use the little odd balls of yarn in, starting with another skirt for Elly.

As is often my habit, I took my loot over to my neighbor’s house to show her my good fortune. As I pulled it out of the bags, my heart sunk. Something was dreadfully wrong.

These bags weren’t filled with little balls of yarn. The yarn had been meticulously cut into strands measuring a yard long. It must have taken hours to cut it up. Why would anybody do such a thing? More importantly, what was I going to do with a bunch of yarn strands?

My neighbor was equally bewildered. Yet, she said there was nothing to be done for it. If I wanted to use the yarn, I would have to tie it back together. Unfortunately, anything I knit with the yarn would have a thousand knots in it.

She was right, but I didn’t love the idea. So, I did nothing for a month with the hope that I would come up with a better plan.

Watching Elly play with the fabric boa I made her for last Christmas gave me the inspiration I needed.

I had used this tutorial to make it. It was lovely because it required no sewing. I just tied strips of fabric to a foundation strip of fabric measuring the length of the boa.

Now what little girl doesn’t need a drawer full of boas? Hopefully, I’ll finish this one in time for Christmas as well.

The funny thing is the yarn strands have to be cut even shorter. It works best when they are about a foot long. Since some of the yarn is slippery, I double knot them onto the foundation yarn, which is nothing but 4 strips of thick t-shirt yarn measuring 60 inches in length. Elly loves using scissors so she is our big helper.

2 Ways to Hem Jeans

There are probably more than two ways to hem jeans, but the two methods I used in hemming the stack here are the simple turn under hem and the reapplication of the original hem.
Here they are side by side.

The jeans on the right were hemmed by just cutting off the excess and turning the raw edge under twice. I chose this method on these jeans because the original hem was worn down and frayed, since it had been walked upon for a few months or maybe years.

A closer look

The jeans on the left have the original hem sewn back on. It took me more time to do it this way and it was a bit harder on my machine because there were more layers of denim to sew through, but as you can see, it looks tremendously better. You’d have to look hard (or be a seamstress) to notice the jeans were hemmed at all.

A closer look

The Pretty Poppy has a wonderful pictorial tutorial on how to save the original hem on jeans. The only step I added was to trim the side seam allowances in order to remove the extra bulk rather than trim around the seam and unfold it. I opted for this technique since thankfully the seams on these jeans were not welted. I also ignored her advice to turn the thread tension to the highest setting. It simply wasn’t necessary or advisable. Depending on the weight of the denim, I kept the tension between a 4 and a 7. However, her advice to use the proper needle is spot on. A needle designed to sew through jean fabric is best. There is no way a universal needle would have stood up to the abuse of sewing through at least 5 layers of denim fabric.

I still have 1 pair of jeans left to hem. Despite buying petite, the jeans are about 3 inches too long. Oh, the joys of being short.

Making a House a Home with Pictures

This wall has always been our picture wall from the day we moved into this house.

You can see it here in the first picture Elly took on my old point and shoot camera.

Yet, for the past 4 years, it hadn’t been updated.

Even worse, there were no pictures of Elly in the house aside from one tabletop frame. There are close to a thousand pictures of Elly in my online Picasa photo gallery, but none had been printed and placed in a frame.

So, this past month, I have been updating baby pictures of my godsons with more recent pictures as well as adding more pictures of family.

Elly’s picture got the star treatment it deserved.

It’s a 16 by 20 poster print. The picture is one of my favorites: Elly playing tug-o-war with Jake.

I even framed my favorite piece of her artwork.

The whole house feels brighter and happier.

Making Cards with Elly

The foam sponges from Alex Toys are Elly’s favorite way to paint right now.

I had purchased these sponges a few months ago, but for a while Elly wasn’t in a mood to paint or draw. She seems to go in stages. Right now, we are in a painting stage. We’ve painted every day this week.

Earlier this week, Elly sponge painted on construction paper. My favorite piece is hanging in her bedroom.

Yesterday, I pulled some blank cards out and let Elly sponge paint them.

The design comes out so nice because of the way Elly prefers to apply the paint to the sponge. Originally, I had taught her to just press the sponge into the bowl of washable paint we use.

(Oh yes, we use washable paint by Crayola. Despite wearing an apron, the paint gets everywhere. It is partly because Elly likes to paint herself when she tires of painting on paper.)

Yet, Elly would often get frustrated with how difficult it was to get paint over the entire sponge. She wanted the end result to look like a dinosaur or a cat. So, I taught her how to apply the paint to the sponge with a paintbrush. She’ll paint one sponge after another. The joy seems to be in the painting and not in the stamping.

New Washer Machine

When we purchased this house 7 years ago, it came with all the appliances we needed. Yet, we fully understood that over the next few years we would have to replace each and every one. They were all older than the hills.

The dishwasher was the first to go. It died in the first year. Technically, it still ran but it didn’t actually clean all the dishes. I lasted 1 month without a dishwasher and it was pure torture.

Last month, I noticed that our washer machine was leaking.

So I started a search for a new washer rather than wait for it to completely die and have to head to the nearby laundromat before a new one could be found. There were only 2 features I wanted a new washer to have: large capacity and a spin cycle. The latter helped narrow the field down. So many new washers, such as all the Whirlpool models, didn’t have a spin only cycle. I was surprised  Surely, I’m not the only person who hand washes her wool sweaters and fancy dresses and uses the spin cycle to get rid of all the excess water.

While visiting Boscovs, I found exactly what I wanted, a GE Energy Star Washer.

It was a GE model just like our current 30+-year-old washer. Obviously, I trusted the brand. It also had the 2 features I wanted. It was large and it had a spin only cycle. Plus, it was on sale.

It took a week for Boscovs to deliver it because it was on backorder. On Saturday, they brought my new washer and took away the old one. I giggled the first time I ran a load in it. It’s huge!

I won’t have to do laundry as often. Woo!

Fun at the Playground

Since school started back up, the local playgrounds have been quiet. Elly misses running around with other little children her age or older.

Still she finds ways to have fun.

Slides are great no matter which direction you are going on them.

Swings are even better when you are upside down.

Spinning anywhere is fun.