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Ever since I made THIS ruffle-sleeve Blanc tee almost exactly a year ago, I’ve wanted one in black. In December 2019, I placed an online order from LA Finch Fabrics that included this gorgeous black double-brushed poly, and I specifically wanted to make this top. Of course, I didn’t get to it right away, but it never left my to-make list!

And finally, here it is! I used exactly the same pattern pieces that I’d made for the original ruffle-sleeved top.

It’s everything I wanted it to be. So, so comfortable, yet at bit of flair with the ruffle sleeves. It can be dressed up or down, and I specifically made it to go with these skorts that I love to wear on hot summer days!

And to go with my new Blank Slate Garnet shorts, here is the Blank Slate Hathaway tank! (affiliate links used where available, at no cost to you, but I may earn a small commission!)

This is a woven top pattern with V-neck or round neck options that will be a staple in a summer wardrobe!

The neckline and armholes are bound with bias binding (purchased or you can make your own), and there’s even a little pocket to add to the front. The pattern comes with detailed instructions to adjust the pattern for a perfect fit in the size, bust, and length. It is very straightforward (it doesn’t even have darts!), which makes it the perfect piece to show off a special fabric.

And that’s exactly what I did with this one. This crepe is from a dress my mom made for me when I was about 15. I loved the fabric so much that I’ve hung onto that dress all these years and finally made something else from it!

Look at this cute new shorts pattern just released by Blank Slate Patterns! (affiliate links used where available, at no cost to you, but I may earn a small commission!)

The pattern features button-up sides…

And of course, everyone’s favorite: pockets!

I made my version from denim and used a fun green cotton batik as the facing of the waistband.

On this inside-out view, you can see that the shorts are hemmed with bias binding, and I chose a green to coordinate with my facing. The pattern offers options to have the binding on the inside like I did, or use it as an accent on the outside. (You can’t see them, but my pocket facings are also made from the green cotton batik.)

On the outside, I added some green topstitching to hint at the inside details.

My son is one of the best people I know at leaving sweet notes for those he loves. And so, as his kindergarten year comes to a close, I asked him to make a card for his teacher. This spring, he has gotten really excited to make pop-up cards, and so it was his idea to make a pop-up card with a space theme for his teacher.

My only contributions to the project were to stamp a sheet of images from the Paper Smooches “Space Cadet” set and make the black card base. My son did the rest: he colored the images and cut them out himself, and he also punched yellow stars to sprinkle throughout the space background.

He positioned the images as a scene on the pop-up background, and there were some details that I especially loved:

In the top corner, he added one of the astronauts taking a spacewalk from the rocket ship. I love that he added “NASA” in tiny letters on the astronaut’s space suit– he has been saying all year that he wants to be a NASA engineer when he grows up.

At the bottom corner, he added two telescopes on the earth to peer out into the depths of space.

He hand-wrote his sentiment (that he made up himself) at the bottom in white pen.

I am really proud of the careful and love-filled work that he put into this card for his teacher. With his permission, I’m entering it into the Paper Smooches “Anything Goes” challenge for the latter half of June 2020!

One of the highlights of doing school-at-home with my kids has been their their art lessons.  School-at-home definitely has been hard, and I have been thankful for assignments like these that my kids look forward to each week.

On this particular week, they were to create something inspired by spring, and they were given freedom to use whatever media they wished.  Their art teacher provided a number of links to videos of different artists with different styles and techniques to help inspire them.  I decided that we should spread out ALL our different media (watercolors, washable acrylics, oil pastels, crayons, colored pencils, etc.) on our back deck under the umbrella on our table.  I gave each of them a piece of watercolor paper and told them that we’d work over the course of a few days– on the first day, we’d create a base layer, and then add layers and details on additional days.  In fact, it looked like so much fun that I decided to join in. 

In the fall, I’d visited my daughter’s school and was able to observe her art class.  In that art class, they were creating landscapes inspired by those of the contemporary artist Claire West.  It was the first time I’d seen Claire West’s work, and I was smitten.  The colors, the scenes– they were just joyful, and I wished that I was creating along with the class. Well, here was my chance.  Each day while the kids were working on their pieces for their assignment, I added to my landscape. 

It was a sweet time of being together and creating something.  The weather was lovely, and this time outside making art was so peaceful.  When I look at my painting, it just plain makes me happy.    This painting is watercolor, oil pastel, and acrylic paint on watercolor paper.  Nothing fancy, mostly kid art supplies.  

Now we had some seedlings growing, and not much of a plan to do anything with them. But it’s always been a dream of mine to have a successful garden.

If you’ve followed this blog for a long time, you might recall that the garden plot that we have here in our current location (MD) has not been very successful. I think that there are some major problems with the soil, and add in a veritable menagerie of local wildlife (we have deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes (yes, I know they’re not herbivores, but they’re still around), groundhogs, and who knows what else!) that persists in eating the garden produce just before I harvest it, and the fact that last summer I was dealing with ankle issues, and it has all added up to a disappointing track record for this garden.

So this year, I have a new game plan.

I think.

At least, we’re going to try it.

I have decided that I prefer container gardening, after trying in-ground gardening here and in upstate NY. This year, I’m going back to container gardening, and we’re testing out a few things to protect the garden from deer, especially.

After an extensive discussion with Husband, we have decided to reconfigure the garden plot and change our fencing strategy. The old plot (you can see it here at the beginning of last weekend, with the chickenwire fence removed and weeds mowed down) was 8′ wide by 15′ long.

After mowing around it for years, Husband decided that he would vastly prefer it to go all the way up to the corner of the house (the right side of this photo) to close that gap.

We decided to remove the chickenwire fencing we’d been using and use some black plastic fencing material that we already had on hand to create a low fence that would be easier to maintain (the weed-whacker would get tangled in the chickenwire and so the weeds were unpleasantly bushy at the corners and along the sides of the old garden. Husband cut it lengthwise because we wanted it low enough for us to step over it.

We had thought that we had enough of this black material to completely fence in the “new” 8’x20′ plot, but we didn’t. So we made the garden narrower– the footprint is now 4’x20′.

Since I was only planning to have a small number of containers, this isn’t a problem, and if this configuration turns out to work well, we can adjust in the future. (This is basically becoming a test year– will these measures to prevent wildlife from eating our garden be enough to make it worth having a garden?)

After lying fallow for a year, there were a lot of weeds to clear. I attempted to use our tiller tool, but it was getting so tangled that I just attacked it by hand.

Once the weeds were cleared in the new garden footprint, Husband began installing our little fence. He dug a trench so that we could bury the bottom 5″ or so. There are also taller supports for our deer fence (more information on that coming up below).

We put down Vigoro Weed Control Fabric over the entire plot, tucking it into the trench Husband had dug for the low fence. We are hoping that it is effective, especially since we won’t be cutting holes into it to plant in-ground. I will be putting mulch in, as well, but I haven’t bought it yet! (That’s a project for this weekend!)

My container set up is pretty modest this year. I had three terra-cotta pots that have survived since my original 2007 garden, as well as some other large pots that I’ve acquired over the years. I filled them with potting soil and started planting. The first priority was getting my tomatoes out into the containers, and I also brought our pot of carrots into the garden enclosure. Any extra soil would be used to plant cucumbers from seed. Using potting soil completely circumvents the issues that we seem to have with the in-ground soil in this garden plot. (P.S. I’ll be adding stakes and trellises for the tomatoes and cucumbers after I add the mulch.)

In the end, (after a lot of reconfiguring the order of my containers, haha!) we have six containers. On the left, there are two pots with two different cucumber varieties, planted from leftover seeds I’d stashed away from old gardens (Ferry-Morse Tendergreen and Burpee Pepino/Salad Slicer). Next come three tomato containers: a smaller square pot of Tiny Tim and two large terra cotta pots with the Best Boy seedlings. To the right of them, I placed the pot with our carrots.

Finally, we installed the deer fence. After talking to some neighbors and doing some research online, I found a University of Maryland Extension blog post that confirmed that the idea of fishline or similar cord strung between supports could actually work to protect the plants from nosy deer. Husband found some bright orange twisted mason line that we’re using to test the idea. Husband lashed some of my tall tomato stakes to the shorter metal stakes that support the black fencing so that we would just reuse what we have on hand already. Then, we strung the cord as tightly as we could between them. If you look closely, you might be able to make it out in the photos below:


I like this solution for keeping away the deer (well, if it works!) because it’s visually non-invasive and also inexpensive. We left a gap at the end closest to the inner corner of the house so that I can climb in and out over the black fencing. We’re hoping that this gap is close enough to the house and the basement window well (and also narrow enough) that the deer won’t use it as a private entrance into the garden!

I’m looking forward to the upcoming warm weather to see how my plants grow in their new home– and I’ll be getting some mulch soon, too!

It all started because I felt the itch to see something growing. A bit of stress relief for me, and an activity for the kids as pandemic news was starting to skyrocket.

I had recently found a tiny packet of carrot seeds among some papers in my kitchen, and I thought it would be fun to plant them in a pot that we had outside.

And then, about a week later in mid-March, my kids’ school closed.

At that time, we had no idea that school would be closed for the rest of the academic year, and that our school system wouldn’t start any sort of distance learning for a LOT of weeks. But I wanted to do some fun but still “learning” activities in the meantime, so one of the first things we did was dig out some more old seeds and plant them in some seed-starting soil I had on hand.

We planted some lettuce seed that I had leftover from my second garden ever (way back in Illinois, on the balcony), as well as parsley seeds and a few different tomato varieties from packets leftover from various years.

At this point, I had no real plans for these seeds, just some vague ideas that maybe this year, without ankle troubles to hinder me, we might be able to use our garden plot again.

I had warned my kids that the seeds were pretty old (and they hadn’t been stored perfectly and had been through a couple of interstate moves), and so we couldn’t be sure if they would actually sprout. I think that made it even more exciting when they did sprout!

Of the lettuces and the parsley, only the arugula seeds in the mesclun mix sprouted. It took an extra long time for the tomatoes to germinate, and I had given up on them, but in the end, we had two Best Boy tomatoes and a few Tiny Tim tomatoes– what a happy surprise!

I had also given up on the carrot seeds outside (the theme of this whole garden is seeds that are at least 5 years old!), but we were thrilled to see them sprout and watch them start growing.

Now that we actually had some seedlings growing, I needed to actually decide what we were going to do with them! But that’s for my next garden 2020 post!

These photos and this story are so special to me.  I can’t really explain why, but this particular trip to the aquarium that I took with my two littles in 2017 has stood out as one of the most treasured days I have with them.  It wasn’t our first trip, and it wasn’t our last, but there was something extra magical about this day.

I’ve had the photos printed for quite some time now, and I was waiting for just the right papers and just the right inspiration to come along, and thankfully it did!  I used Pinkfresh Studio’s “My Favorite Story” collection for this page, and I made this layout specifically for a couple of iNSD challenges: Scrapbook and Cards Today scraplift (this page is inspired by the layout by Nathalie DeSousa on page 47 of the Spring 2020 issue, who also issued the scraplift challenge! I didn’t realize that until I started writing this post!); the Pinkfresh Studio Challenge #4 to use a grid, and the Pinkfresh Studio Challenge #8 to use a cut file.

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Here’s a view of each page separately:

a layout about my favorite trip to the aquarium with V & Ba layout about my favorite trip to the aquarium with V & B

When I started working on this layout, I was moving my photos around to determine an arrangement, and also trying to decide what papers I would use.  When I got out the Pinkfresh “My Favorite Story” papers, the multicolor stripe just leaped out at me as being absolutely perfect, and that was the starting point of the entire color scheme.  I had the pale blue textured cardstock in my stash from long, long ago, and everything just came together from there.

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I had written journaling a few days after our day at the aquarium (even then I’d felt the magic of that day), and when I started working with it for this page, I realized that there was A LOT.  I decided to print it on a sheet of vellum so that the colorful stripes would still show, and the subtlety added to the etherial quality I was going for with this design.  When I was printing it, I intended for it to be black, but apparently my printer is running out of ink! It was a happy accident that it printed in a blue/teal color (I cannot explain why, but I’m glad!).

The sentiments on the embellishments in this collection were so perfect for the feelings I wanted to convey from the day, so I sprinkled them liberally throughout my grid of 2″x2″ photos on the right hand side.

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I hadn’t expected to use florals on this layout, but they ended up being the perfect addition to the empty spaces between the photos in my grid.  I also decided to use some delicate leaf die cuts to embellish the large featured photo, and I brought them onto the right hand page for balance.

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The title was the hardest part for me, and it was actually the very last thing that I added to the page, once I figured out what it would be.

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I am so very pleased with how this layout turned out!  It is one of my all-time favorite memories, and I’m so glad that I could capture it with the perfect papers and embellishments.

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Supplies:
patterned paper: Pinkfresh Studio “My Favorite Story” Looking for Sunshine and Best Chapter
cardstock: Bazzill Starmist and American Crafts textured white
alphas: Pinkfresh Studio “My Favorite Story” puffy alpha stickers, GeoDesign stick on letters
embellishments: Pinkfresh Studio “My Favorite Story” ephemera, chipboard flair, floral ephemera
cut file: Pinkfresh Studio “Botanical Branch Trio” (from Facebook page)
tools: Silhouette Cameo 3, Nicapa cutting mat, Scotch ATG
other: vellum, craft foam
journaling font: Garamond italic

 

 

This is the second layout I’ve made for iNSD challenges this year.  I’m combining Shimelle’s challenge from Paige Evans’ Facebook group (use a Paige Evans cut file, Paige Evans products, and Shimelle products on one page) with Crafty Jen Schow’s Use it or Lose it Facebook challenge to use lots of layers.

I knew I wanted to do another layout for my Disney 2016 album, so I looked to see what photos were printed and ready, and this pair of photos caught my eye.  On the night we were in Hollywood Studios, we stayed by ourselves later than the rest of our group and saw the Star Wars fireworks, which were really fantastic.

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This particular starry cut file by Paige Evans was perfect for the page– the stars are a nod to Star Wars, and I placed them to give the idea of fireworks.  I reduced the size of the cut file a bit, cut it from the rose gold glitter paper from the Head in the Clouds project pad, then backed the stars with vellum.

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Around the photos, I added lots of tiny little paper layers to make a frame–thanks to the Crafty Use It or Lose It challenge– until I saw that challenge I was at a bit of a loss as to what I was going to do!I added the journaling in a big empty area of the lefthand photo.

The title is NOT grammatically correct, I know, but I wanted the “Truly Grateful” puffy letter phrase  to tie in with the cute Paige Evans die cut that says “wonderful you,” so I sacrificed grammar for the look of the thing 😉

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At the very last minute, I decided the layout looked unbalanced and needed something more, so I tore down a bit of the upper left edge of the layout.  And then I panicked, because it looked so odd to my eye (it’s the first time I’ve ever tried this, though I’ve admired it on others’ pages)!  I added more layers behind the torn area and then to make everything tie together, I roughed-up the edges of the paper layers around the photos.

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Of course as usual, there are wood veneer and enamel dots…and a hidden Mickey!

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Supplies:
patterned paper: Shimelle Starshine,” My Mind’s Eye “So Sophie” 
glitter paper: Shimelle “Head in the Clouds”
embellishments: Paige Evans “Truly Grateful” puffy word stickers, Paige Evans “Oh My Heart” die cuts, Shimelle “Starshine” die cuts, Studio Calico wood veneer, vellum, enamel dots
cut file: Paige Evans PE-stars-background4
tools: Silhouette Cameo 3, Nicapa cutting mat, Fiskars star punch

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On this May the Fourth, let me give you a little sneak peek of my R2-D2 Disneybound– part of my #epicdressproject wardrobe.

We were supposed to be in Disney World for a week in the latter half of April, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that didn’t happen.  The Disney resorts all around the world are closed (still), and traveling is not happening.  We are under a stay-at-home order, and so those circumstances obviously affected this project.

I have continued to work on it, after all, I have the fabric and supplies, and making things is a kind of stress-relief for me.  I was attempting to try and finish all of my projects by our original departure date, but that didn’t quite happen.  Obviously there are extenuating circumstances.  Aside from the general shift in mood, there are some things that I needed to prioritize.  I made and donated a large number of masks, my children are home and I need to do school with them… you get the picture.

Now that it’s the beginning of May, I thought it would be a good time to just give a quick update of where my projects are at.  I had six outfits planned, and I’ll give an update in the order in which I started them.  You can see fabric peeks on Instagram (I posted each time I cut out a garment) and also in THIS blog post.

  • Belle ‘bound: the dress needs a hem, and I also need to complete the yoke (which obviously needs to be finished to hem it).  The yoke is waiting on buttons: I ordered special buttons from Joann, but they shipped me the wrong ones, and so now I need to figure out how to deal with that issue.  (I do NOT recommend Joann.)
  • R2-D2 ‘bound skirt: Finished!
  • Magical green/stars (Tinker Bell?  Magical Pandora? bound): As I started constructing the bodice, I realized that my main fabric was too heavy to also be a comfortable lining.  This was just when the whole pandemic thing really started to hit (I think it was the night that it was announced that our schools were closing), and I have not been able to go out and shop for a matching lining fabric.  The dress is cut out and is sitting in a partially-sewn state.
  • Peter Pan dress: This dress simply needs to be hemmed and I need to sew on the decorative (non-functional) buttons.  I haven’t searched my button stash to see if I have any on hand, but I’m pretty sure I have something that will work.  It’s so close!
  • Snow White ‘bound blouse: Finished!  I am so pleased with how this one came out.
  • R2-D2 ‘bound top: Finished!  I love this top, too!  (sneak peek at the top of this post: pattern is the Blank Slate Abrazo tee (<–affiliate link), to which I added circular ruffles at the sleeve hems).  I bought a great belt (<–affiliate link) to complete the look, so this whole outfit is finished!
  • Minnie Mouse ‘bound: This dress really could be finished.  All I need to do is fit the straps, hand-stitch the lining, and then give it a hem.  I think I was disappointed that the straps don’t fit better, and that combined with the disappointment of our trip being postponed for quite a while just killed my motivation.
  • Snow White ‘bound skirt: I prewashed the fabric!  Ha.  This one really won’t take long– I just need to DO IT!

I’m going to try and finish this wardrobe by the end of May (pending the acquisition of supplies like buttons and lining fabric).  I think that is a perfectly reasonable goal, and I hope that I can make it!

I realized that a silver lining of our trip being postponed means that I have a better chance of finishing my Disney 2016 scrapbook project before we go again, so I’m going to be working on that as much as I can… the Disney magic won’t stop!