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!

Coming Home

It’s been a bit quiet on the blog. Lots going on here though, as seen on instagram. The day we returned from our trip, I feel and sprained my wrist very badly. It’s not fractured, but I was incredible pain for a couple of weeks. Naturally, I did not sit back and let it heal like I ought to, oh no. I decided that the garden beds needed to be dug up and anti-mole wire installed. That even if I could not lift 3 cf bags of soil, I needed to get 18 cf placed in one bed. I also needed to take an old bed frame to the thrift store (after loading it by myself). I also needed to start painting that old green trim white! You can see where I’m heading with this…

So, here we are, weeks later, and I’m just starting to feel better – although I still have pain in my wrist when I type, chop veggies, and drive.  But it’s slowly healing…and I’m trying to rest, but there’s so much I want to do! I had a whole week to myself after the kids went back to school, and before I had to head back.

I added pockets to an old dress for the perfect garden dress!
The new and improved garden bed, with the anti-mole wire.
Shirring! OMG – SO MUCH FUN!
Made a lovely Washi Dress
Waited impatiently for the storm to roll in…
Made yet another perfect weekend dress

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And this little guy in the last picture, well, he’s my new partner in crime. He deserves his own post, but for now, this is Simon.

Hope your end of summer has been just as much fun as mine, minus the hurt wrist!



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.

Sewing Together

For Mother’s Day, I wanted a little time to myself to sew something for me. Something new. I had seen on SouleMama the Gathered Skirt for All Ages from PurlsSoho, and reallky liked the BIG pockets. I had some great Lotta Jansdotter fabric I knew would be nice for this project.

I quickly cut out my fabric and got to work. I managed to sew most of the skirt before the kids went to take naps (or quiet time, in Sophia’s case). She didn’t want to have quiet time (big surprise), and instead came out to ask what I was doing, and could she sew a skirt too? How could I say no? I put my skirt aside, and she picked out her fabric. Pink and flowers.

We measured together and cut out the pieces. Then we got to work together. She sat on my lap and helped push the fabric through the sewing machine. She learned that we need to be careful near the needle. She didn’t like the ironing part, but left that for me to do.

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When we were almost finished, she lost interest in sewing (we were at the elastic threading part) and simply began asking me when it would be done. Soon, dear. Soon.

And just as Gabe was getting up from his nap, she had her skirt. It was a little long, but it had pockets for storing her treasures. She could twirl in it. It made her happy. She asked when we could sew together again. Soon, I replied. Soon.

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The best gift I received for mother’s day was her joy in doing something I love – sewing. It didn’t matter that I didn’t finish my skirt. I got some sweet time with my little girl.


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A Rainbow Sally Dress

Our friends have a little girl C, who turned five this past weekend. Her party theme was rainbows…which got me thinking of something I could quickly sew up for her. I wanted to make a dress for her last year for her birthday, but just didn’t have time. I was just as busy this year, but I found time in twenty minute intervals all week before work to sew a little bit each day. Can I just say how much more relaxed I was when I started my day? I may be onto something there.

I turned to my good old standby: the Sally Dress. I have made this dress several times now, and don’t even need the directions out anymore.  Simple, clean lines, and fun to sew – with variations for the sleeves. This time I made a sleeveless version. C is a bit petite, so I worried about making the dress too big. I found some great rainbow colored fabric at JoAnn’s.

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It was a little big, but she loved it! Everyone should have a rainbow dress in their wardrobe, I think.

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!






One more crazy, intense week to survive before I can get back to the things I really want to do this Spring. Spend time with my kids. Play in the garden. Sew. Weave. Pull weeds. Lay in my hammock.

What’s been keeping me busy? Well, on top of my regular work, we’re hosting an Open House for the Tucson Festival of Books. This book festival is probably the largest in the country in terms of attendance by now. We’re staying away from the craziness of the Main event, but opening our doors and hosting booths outside to engage with folks. Our focus this year is Children’s literacy, so we’re going to have story telling, face painting, and so many hands-on activities. And I am organizing it all. To say it’s been a little intense is like saying the East has a little snowstorm this winter.

So, for now, here’s what we were able to do this weekend.

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