Ursala the Sea Witch

I like dressing up for Halloween. I especially love dressing as a villain. Lots of fun, if you ask me. This year I was debating between Ursala and Cruella DeVil…lots of fun make-up and costumes.

cruella ursalaI decided to go with Ursala. It would be a challenge to construct a dress with those octopus tentacles. I turned to pinterest – here’s my board.

I was inspired by the elegant dress and movable tentacles by trumanandamyweston.blogspot.com.  I bought six pool noodles, some leather and sequin fabric in black and purple, and three hula hoops to make the layers underneath the skirt, and grabbed some rope. I sewed eight tentacles (each one side with leather and sequins), stuff the pointed tips with some polyester filling, and put the noodles inside. They were lovely, just not bendable. A trip to the hardware store and eight two-foot pieces of copper tubing later, I had flexible tentacle I could shape any way I wanted. I had found a short strapless dress at the thrift store to use as my base for the outfit. I tied them to the three-tiered hula hoop skirt I made and, voila – tentacles! (This is how I kept my mind busy during my father’s surgery…)

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I then sewed a black satin circle skirt with a gather waist to cover the tentacles. I liked the look of the black satin skirt alone, but the material was different from the base dress…and it just didn’t have a bit of glamour I was looking for!

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I remembered a tulle skirt I had made last year and didn’t end up using. I put it over the top…and liked it. But when I cut the tulle into little strips to allow for additional movement – that’s when it worked!

Here’s the finished product, complete with make-up. I love it!


Happy Halloween!


We spent ten days in Julian. We didn’t plan to do anything – except play and spend time together. It was fantastic not to plan every day out in advance. The kids played in the kid’s club area, doing crafts all morning and playing outside in the bouncy house. After lunch, we’d swim and do other crafts at our cabin. The days just had a nice flow to them.

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We did visit Dudley’s bakery in Santa Ysabel, as well as the Academy of Hand Weaving. We also explored downtown Julian, but the favorite place by far there was Mom’s Pie. The kids had pie and ice cream – and were ready for more swimming afterwards. Julian also has a lovely little library, where the kids read lots of books. We ate lots of pizza from Romano’s Italian restaurant – where Sophia lost her second tooth. We even took a train ride and panned for gold! And a trip to Julian wouldn’t be complete without a visit or two to the local brewery!


I taught the kids how to weave. It was fun to see them learning to do something I really enjoy. Even Gabe weaved – I made him a nature loom and placed some string on it. He did weave for a short bit, but cast it aside for a handmade bow and arrow made out of twigs and string. And of course, there was sewing! I made a rope basket and dresses for the girls.

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My mom and niece were with us for a week. The kids had a great time together – and I really enjoyed having time alone with my mom. Jon joined us for a couple of days, and brought Lucy too.


Julian was just lovely. I hope the rest of our journey is as much fun and relaxing.

Building a Chickie Brooder

I wanted to share how we built out chicken brooder. First, I had Lucy’s old puppy crate. I knew it would good to reuse it, since it mostly lies in disuse behind the chicken coop. I wanted a base that I could move the chicken brooder around on without too much work – and  i wanted to be able to disassemble the entire thing when we were done with it for the season. I plan on getting three to four new chickens very year to keep egg production high. I need to figure out what to do with those ones who aren’t laying as well…and who they are exactly. Another time…

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To start, I bought 2 x 4 from the lumber store, where they cut it for me into two pieces of 2x4x24 and two pieces of 2x4x36 (the dimensions of the dog crate). I wanted the crate to rest on these 2x4s. I bought some plywood and had it cut to in 24×36 for the base that everything would rest on. For the bottom, it was cheaper to buy a pre-made wheel thing that people use to move furniture (I’m sure it has a more specific name) than to purchase individual wheels and attached it.  We also bought a number of wood screws and u-hooks to secure the crate to the base.

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Once we arrived home, I laid out the 2x4x24 and 2x4x36…and realized to fit all that on the base…I needed to cut off about one inch from the 2x4x24. Live and learn. Didn’t take too long to cut the extra bits off, and then screw them together to form a rectangle. I used l-brackets for added security. After attaching the base outline to the plywood base, I then attached the wheel thingy to the base. After that, I placed the crate on top and secure all around with the u-hooks. Pretty easy! 2015-03-19 12.53.48 2015-03-19 13.03.49

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We had bought our four baby chickens (maran and welsummer) earlier that day at the hardware store, with the understanding we could be back in a few short hours to pick them up after building the brooder. And we did just that.

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After a few days of having the messy baby chickens in my sewing room, and then the kitchen, I thought to add plexiglass to the sides to keep the pine chips inside the brooder. It didn’t help as much as moving them outside to the front porch, where the mess is much easier to clean up. And the chickens are fine with the heat lamp, even at night. I add a blanket to their coop at night to keep the chill off.

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These girls are growing! Soon, I’ll need to sort out an in-between the brooder and the main coop solution once they outgrow the brooder…


Spring Break

After my big event at work (which went well!), Sophia had the week off for Spring Break. Naturally, Gabe’s Spring Break is two weeks after hers.

Sophia had many plans about what we should do with our time. I had committed to teaching Monday morning at Gabe’s school, so she taught with me that morning. Afterwards, we went to the strawberry lemonade joint. Our new cistern was also installed!

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Tuesday, we went to see Cinderella with one of her friends from school. I went for the costumes, but it was well done. The actresses were amazing! I always love Helena Bonham Carter and Cate Blanchett, but Lily James and Sophie McShera (both of Downton Abbey) were excellent. Plus, the prince was Richard Madden from Game of Thrones. Go see it!

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Wednesday found us at my friend KC’s house, which was a lovely relaxing time. Her garden is really going strong! I was able to get quite a bit done on my weaving project.2015-03-18 15.21.35 2015-03-18 07.07.45

Thursday, after visiting the lumber store, I built a baby chicken coop or brooder. And we picked up four baby chickens! They don’t have names yet, but I’m leaning towards some literary names (Emma, Jane, Charlotte…see where I’m going?)  We’ll see how the names pan out.

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We had a few more friends over this weekend to play and visit with the chickens. We also put in the new spring garden. I found a strawberry growing, and ate it all by myself.  Jon had to work Saturday, something he’ll be doing almost every Saturday for the next month and a half.

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After cleaning out the pond Sunday morning, I was showing my brother and sister-in-law on skype the garden when we saw a SNAKE in the garden pond! It was trying to eat my frogs! My biggest concern was simply that it climbed over my anti-snake fence along the ocotillo fence and came in! It couldn’t get back out the way it came in and we couldn’t leave it in the garden. It was not venomous (gopher snake), but still not safe for the kids. We tried to get it out of the garden, but it just couldn’t get back over the fence. Sadly, we ended up having to kill it. I couldn’t reach my friend who husband could have come removed it for us. Things to think about when living in the desert.


I am so glad Spring is here. March weather is all over the place here, but it’s generally lovely. Just lovely. Hope your start to spring is going well!





Weekend Snapshot

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The weekend fly by when you only have one day off. It’s my busy season at work, and it’s so hard to explain to the kids why Mama has to go in, even though it’s Saturday. We’ve keep very busy with costume-making, fairy-house building, and general merriment with friends. The weather has been so lovely, it’s not fair to post pictures of just how lovely for those of you house-deep in snow.

We’ll have a proper chat soon, friends.

Hexagon Love Quilt

I finished my latest quilt over the kid’s winter break: my hexagon love quilt. It’s a mishmash of pinks, corals, and green prints. I actually cut all the hexagon pieces back before the kitchen remodel (cutting the hexagons is the most time consuming part of the project) , thinking I’d have time during that month to make this quilt. Turns out I can only manage a few major projects at a time…

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I pulled the pieces of this quilt out after Christmas and just began sewing. No real plans, except to make masses of hexagon “flowers”. I made six, and realized I needed a plan. I decided on four rows of three hexagon “flowers”, aiming for a twin sized quilt with a border. This quilt really came together fast. Maybe it was just the quiet, cosy afternoons when I had time to sew,  or the whole day I had to finish the quilt when the kids and Jon went to the museum and zoo, leaving me by myself for a delicious afternoon of quiet. But I enjoyed the time I had to make something so lovely.

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I made an apple cake from Falling Cloudberries (a holiday gift), which was pure torture, since I promised NOT to eat any until the kids came back from their adventure with their dad. I really could have use a bite of cake with my tea when sewing! I quilted the centers of the hexagon “flowers”. I made an extra hexagon “flower” and sewed it on the center of the backing, which was an old white flannel sheet I had laying around. I used my new Anna Maria Horner pearl cotton threads to highlight the little flower on the back. I used a blanket stitch – you can tell I don’t hand sew very often! I just need more practice. I received a number of embroidery projects from my husband for the holidays, so I should get some practice soon!

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This cosy and colorful quilt has a home right now on the back of the couch in the living room. Just in time for the colder, rainy weather headed our way. I made new pillow coverings for all the pillows in the same color family as the quilt. I’ve been lobbying to paint the living room a more vibrant orange color, so i thought it was only fair to sew in coordinating fabrics that will look fantastic with the color I feel for. Stay tuned to see if I get to paint the room!

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I must have gone a bit crazy when cutting the hexagons out, because I have a stack of them (see the picture at top) still left over. Want to sew your own hexagon quilt? Leave me a message with your email address, and I’ll send it to you. Sharing the hexagon love!



Memory Quilt for Gram

I sewed a number of holiday projects this year, but project I was most excited about was my mom’s Disneyland Memory Quilt. I got the idea for the quilt on our trip, and knew I won’t have much time to get it together unless I was quick about it. I printed pictures from our Disneyland trip on fabric paper and made a quick patchwork quilt around the pictures, with the t-shirt we had made for the trip in the center. To quilt the quilt, I mostly sewed around the squares. I highlighted each photo with a special stitch to make the photos poop a bit more. I don’t recommended removing the paper backing from the photos as the directions call for – it makes the edges frayed. Since the quilt isn’t washable (the photos would disappear!), I’m not worried about the paper backing disintegrating in the wash.

christmas morning (69) christmas morning (70) christmas morning (71) It turned out quite nice, I think. Turns out I didn’t get any pictures of the quilt before wrapping it up, so these images are from Christmas morning.

Cookie Bake

We decided against holding our annual Holiday Party this year. With our trip the first weekend of December, and Jon out of town the third weekend…it just seemed like we were going to try to cram too much in. So instead, we decided to hold a morning Holiday Cookie Decorating party on the second weekend of December. I made batches of sugar cookies, and we just let the kids loose!

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Sewing When I can

I haven’t posted much about the sewing I’ve done the past month or so, only because it’s been a bit sporadic that I’ve actually had time to sew. I needed to make a princess dress for Miss Katie Belle, who turned 3 years old last month. She sat down beside me at our Halloween party and was very specific in her dress requirements. It had to be two shades of purple, and lots of sparkles. Sophia and I visited the fabric store one day when she was off school last month, and off we went. We even found some pretty purple sparkly ribbon to add as details on the dress.


I used my go-to princess dress pattern – the Sally Dress. I love the simplicity of this pattern, not to mention the ease of sewing! I’ve made a number of dresses out of this pattern by now. For Katie Belle’s dress, I added sleeves, and left of the pockets. The pretty ribbon was a nice touch around the neckline.

I needed to make sure the length was correct, so Gabe was my model. Luckily, he’s a good sport!

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Katie Belle sure loved her purple princess dress!


I’ve also been hard at work on a couple of quilts. Here’s the latest one, with the preliminary quilting done. Now to add the fancy stitches and a binding.

IMG_20141210_183607I have many holiday sewing projects planned. I just hope to have time to get them finished before Christmas!