a room of her own – the prequel

Some of you may already know that I am taking an AMAZING online art course called Pages and Paint with incredibly talented Sarah Ahearn Bellemare.  In the first week of the course we (students from all around the world), were charged with gathering supplies, creating a work space and creating an inspiration board.  Our job was then to photograph all three and post them to our private flicker group.  I’m finally getting around to photographing my space.  I still need to tidy it up a bit before I’ll let anyone see.

So until I get those photos up, I’ll share with you how this flurry of artsy activity in this house has sparked a whole lot of…well, artsy activity (not that we have a shortage of that here ; ).  Lil’S has decided that she too needs a space of her own to do her “work”.  She spent this morning and most of the afternoon gathering and arranging, choosing her furniture and her art pieces.  When she was satisfied she sat down and drew a picture of her sister who was playing nearby.  “Look mama” she said as she showed me her drawing.  “This is great.  I love my new space…but I’m gonna need something with drawers”.  Already she is planning an upgrade!

She sat at her desk and carefully chose which drawings and paintings she wanted to put up over her desk.  She fussed over the perfect placement of everything; which containers she would need…

I love how she added paper frames to her drawings!

A few of my faves from her “How to draw monsters and bugs” book…

The final result.  She wanted quite a few supplies within reach and so there ended up being paper and books under her desk and beside it in a basket.  Maybe she does need something with drawers after all!  PS.  I love that she drew on her chalk board “Scarlett’s work space”…just in case there was a question.


And now for the rest of her room.  The title is a bit inaccurate, as none of us actually have a room of our own.  This room was supposed to be my craft/art space but J’s treadmill didn’t fit where it was supposed to and so I lost my dream of a room of my own.  The girls use it as a playspace (which now include’s Scarlett’s work area).  Here is what the rest of the space looks like:

Here is our beloved craft supply closet.  (Also, why are Mrs. Iverson’s dolls always in some sort of compromised pose?)

The girls love it because of this fascinating old key.  They love to pretend to lock the closet (it doesn’t actually lock), take the key out of the lock, place it gently into their apron pockets, walk around aimlessly for a while, only to arrive back at the closet where they withdraw the key from said pocket and insert it into the lock, cautiously look around (lest someone should see what is held within this magical closet), turn the key and dramatically open the doors.  Repeat.

You are some of the lucky few to get a glimpse at…er, our craft supplies.

And then there is the “horse corner”.  What is it about girls and their horses?  The two riding horses were given to us by our dear friend Heather.  Her daughters had outgrown them and they were a happy addition to our home.  I made the harness you see on the white horse out of ribbon and metal washers.  I suppose I should get around to making one for the other horse sometime…maybe I’ll show you how if I do…

This is Mrs.Iverson’s kitchen.  She is quite serious about her “cooker-maker” duties here and in our real kitchen.  Here is a question: see that doll house to the left?  I would have killed for it as a child.  I thought my kids would love it.  They don’t.  They don’t play with it at all.  Maybe once in a blue moon.  Yet they won’t let me get rid of it.  They are little still so maybe I should hang on to it and they will hit a stage where they do want to play with it?  Thoughts?

These Alice in Wonderland pictures were from an oversized colouring book from Auntie Patty.  We love them…

There is a whole other corner of the room that I didn’t photograph.  It holds our old coffee table that is the perfect height for using clay and playdough, colouring and painting for Mrs. Iverson.  Beside that is another bookshelf with toys and musical instruments.  Clearly this shelf belongs to the Mrs.  Sometimes I see little scenes like this and totally crack up.

So there you go.  Another room shared for those of you who have been asking for more house stuff.  I promise to share my new space soon.  Until then!


A birdie for Wren

Oh dear.  It appears I am about to write another post that is not quite about Squam.  I’ll get to it, I really will.  Life is busy.  My mind a little preoccupied with the everyday happenings.  But Squam is there.

I arrived back home with gifts.

A ceramic candle holder for Cathy and Eric.  A thank you for looking after the girls while I was away.  A set of five finger puppets for Mrs. Iverson.  And for Lil’S, the embroidery sampler from my class with Rebecca Ringquist.

She LOVED it!  We set to work straight away.  Scarlett already knew that she wanted to make something for her cousin Wren’s upcoming birthday and now she had an idea.  It took a bit to get her to slow down enough to learn each stitch.  Mrs. Iverson took right to it and it seemed had already been taught how to embroider?  I showed them how to tie a know in the back of the work and Ivy turned over her piece and, ta-da, she deftly made a knot!!

Scarlett was particularly curious about the sulky solvy that I had used to transfer an image onto a piece of fabric I was embroidering.  I had some left over from my class with Rebecca so I let Lil’S use it.  Up to her room she went.  Down came one of the number flashcards on her wall.  The one with the wrens on it (be still my heart, this crafty and thoughtful girl of mine makes my heart ache sometimes).

You can see the flash card on the table in the picture above. She traced one of the wrens onto the sulky solvy with a Sharpie.  The embroidery hoop kept the solvy and the fabric in place and she started to embroider.  I’ll admit she did really well for a beginner.  But she really did want to fill in every last bit of space and that took some time.  So she would occasionally pass the hoop to me and ask me to fill some in for her.  She’d snatch it back after some time had passed though, worried that if she didn’t do more that she wouldn’t be able to say she made it.  A joint effort and so lovely:

While this joint project was being worked on by Lil’S I worked on a special addition to the gift myself.  Actually I had started it at Squam with a mind to make one for each of the girl cousins for Christmas this year.  Wren got hers early I suppose : )

We then had a brilliant idea to make this into a door hanging instead of two separate hoops to hang.  We ran a bright yellow ribbon (Wrennie’s favourite colour) behind the fabric in each hoop.  Viola!  What do you think?

Countdown to Solstice

…and a birthday…and Christmas…and the day we move…

“How many more days ’til ____?” is a question that is getting asked a lot these days.  Answers:  ” 19 days”, “15 days”, “7 days”, and “22 days” (at the time of writing this post).  Sometimes we respond with the more generic “soon honey”.

Because there is so much going on lately, so much to look forward to, to plan for and maybe to have a growing anxiety over, I decided we needed a fun way to count down to some important life events.  I saw this version of an advent calendar at Maya Made and knew I had to make one.

Then I realized we have a move, a birthday, Solstice and Christmas to get ready for and so the family and I made a “toned down” but perfectly lovely version last night in about 30 minutes.

I encourage you to click on the links to the Maya Made version.  If you have the time her version is so lovely.  If you are like me and are strapped for time because you decided to make it RIGHT NOW then do what I did: grab a cork board (that was wedged behind your craft table upstairs gathering dust), and old receiving blanket to cover the cork board (use staple gun to staple to the back), ric rac in whatever colours you have on hand, foam stickers in the shape of snowflakes and snowmen, a marker and paperclips.  Since you had no time to collect toilet paper rolls you’ll need to pull them out of unused toilet paper rolls and your toilet paper for the next month or so will look like this:

And finally, if you are like me you made this project after the 1st of December roll with it and start it on whatever day you made it on (or if you are like Scarlett make it retroactive to the 2nd since you love to draw the number two).  Our calendar doesn’t exactly countdown to Christmas (yet) either…we’ll need to buy more toilet paper rolls or beg for some from family and friends to finish the project.  The most fun will be filling these with delicious treats and then eating them…

Happy countdowning to all!

PS you also need a sewing machine to close the bottom of the toilet paper rolls.  If you don’t have one I’m sure tape or staples would work just fine.

Handmade Gifts: Alphabet magnets

If you are like me, you have drawers (and random bags and totes) full of your children’s art work.  We have more in common if you also find it hard to part with these masterpieces.  Here is one project that will help to use up that stash and it is guilt free (aka not using them to light the wood stove – not that I have EVER done that).

I was inspired to help Scarlett makes these alphabet magnets for Ivy’s solstice gift after reading a number of great blog posts. First Sarah Jane Studios gave inspiration for reusing children’s art (plans to make this for the family christmas gift exchange is already in the works),  then at Not Martha  I found a great how-to-make marble magnets tutorial and last but not least at Tiny Twist Creative the most perfect alphabet magnets!  This is exactly what I love about the blogosphere – tons of great ideas!

What you’ll need:

  • kids art (we used abstract watercolours just like at Tiny Twist Creative)
  • 1 inch magnets (we found ours at the local Home Hardware)
  • Clear garden rocks with a flat bottom (sourced at Michael’s but I have seen some at dollarstores…just not the big ones)
  • silicon glue (we had left over from making homemade snow globes last year)
  • a marker
  • 1 inch circle punch (again, Michael’s)
  • scissors
  • a cookie sheet for placing them on to dry…trust me if you just put them on the table the will all be drawn together and it will mess your not yet dry magnets up!)

Gather you art piece, circle punch and almost 6-year-old helper.  Set him or her to work punching out circles.

If you are less than 6 years old you may have to use your entire body weight to use the punch.  If you are older than six you may not have to do this but you still could if you felt like creating some drama as you work.

Once you have punched out one row use your scissors to cut the punched out circles off so you can start again.  Keep going until you have 26 circles.

Note: this photo does not contain 26 circles.

Next, take your marker and have your helper write the letters on the alphabet on the circles.  It helps if you make them a bit “fancy” for aesthetic appeal.

Now it is time to glue the circles onto the magnets and then the garden rocks onto the circles.  First lay down something to protect your work surface.

Put a small dab of the silicon glue on the magnet and place the circle on top.  Press down.  Next put a small dab onto of the paper circle and press the garden rock into place.  Put it on the cookie sheet to dry.  If you notice the glass rock slip a bit, just move it back into place.

Enjoy and remember to let me know if you make these!

Note: the 1-inch magnets can get kind of expensive so you can make these using smaller ones…the 1-inch magnets will hold up anything though so you might consider the splurge.

That’s a Wrap! Green Wrapping Paper Part II

Remember that Hollow Book I made a few weeks back?  I have to admit I felt a little bit guilty about ruining a perfectly good book.  As I cut out the center of the book I noticed the darling illustrations that appeared every few pages.  I had to do something with them…wrapping paper it is!  Sew unique if you ask me ; ).


Step 1:  Ruin a perfectly good book (accidentally ruined pages will work just as well as those ruined on purpose).

Step 2:  Cut the pages of the book to roughly the same size (if you make a hollow book first, this work is done for you).

Step 3:  Sew the pages together end to end with a straight stitch on your sewing machine. In the picture below you can see that I did some back stitching on either end as you would when you sew fabric.  This is totally unnecessary and I gave it up a few pages in.

Step 4:  Keep sewing end to end until the strip is long enough to wrap your present.

Step 5:  Now sew your strips together to look like this…a fairy tale paper quilt!

Step 6:  Make sure you’ve made enough of a “quilt” to cover your super awesome gift (ie: Elsa Beskow inspired dinner ware for a friend’s baby from Bella Luna Toys).

Step 7:  If you didn’t think of the size of your gift and just kept happily sewing (like me), no worries, just cut the quilted paper like you would any old wrapping paper.  Then wrap it up!

Step 8: Decorate your freshly upcycled gift.  If you don’t have ribbon, make your own (like I did) by cutting up that old worn-out  yet festively coloured t-shirt into strips…if you’re really adventurous, make a t-shirt strip pom pom for on top.  And if you are adventurous but lazy, don’t bother to cut around your pom pom because it looks fine just the way it is.

Step 9:  Admire your awesome gift as it sits under the tree.  Oh, and send me some pictures if you try this at home or a link to your blog if you share this tutorial.

Stay tuned for the t-shirt pom pom tutorial…

That’s a wrap! Green wrapping paper part I

I love the flurry of activity and all of the planning and making that goes along with the holidays.  With many of our holiday gifts purchased or made already it is time to start wrapping!  I picked up some stamps on sale at Michael’s ($1 each).  We set out some paint we already had on hand and rolled out a roll of craft paper…and we set to work.

The wrapping paper turned out way better than I imagined.  The girls were pretty happy with their work.

pastel forest

Peace on Earth

Ivy was not so into using the stamps per say…the results are still perfectly usable : )

Christmas du jour par Ivy

The beauty of an activity like this is that is it a craft, something practical, an activity you can do together, and it can be green if you use recycled paper to stamp.

Sunshine you can take home…

I think Ivy’s sunshine theme for her birthday is just the sweetest.  I mean, who wouldn’t want a little bit of sunshine on their birthday?  It is definitely a more creative idea than my go-to “fall themed” birthday plans (ie Hallowe’en, pumpkins, apples, coloured-leaves).

In fact I think a sunshine birthday is truly inspirational and wanted to find a way for our guests to take some sunshine goodness home with them.  I’ve always wanted to make homemade play dough but I’ve never taken the plunge.  It was actually a lot of fun to make and they do really look like little balls of sun!  I was inspired by this post at http://www.mommyfootprint.com.  You’ll find my tweaked recipe at the top of this post, by clicking here, or by looking in the sidebar on the right under “Tutorials”.  I found the picture in the post is quite small and hard to read but if you click on it it gets bigger and you no longer need the magnifying glass.

The recipe is super easy and can be whipped up in under 10 minutes with ingredients you’ll likely have on hand.  I think I’d like to try to colour it with turmeric or something next time to see what happens…maybe I’d mix the turmeric in with the dry ingredients? Hmmm.  Next time.

Nothing like sending guests home with a little something to brighten their day!