A Gift From Grandma Ona

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I was preparing to fold laundry the other day, and I like to put down a quilt so my laundry isn’t picking up the crumbs Dexter tosses around like confetti. After I spread out my quilt, I realized it was the perfect opportunity to photograph and showcase it!

I have several quilts, but this quilt from my Grandma Ona and another from my Grandma Lucille are currently my favorites, and I use one or the other every single day.

About a year and a half ago, my Grandma Ona led Deborah (my sister), Michelle (my sister-in-law), and me to a room in her house and let us each choose quilts from her stash. I really loved this one, black and red squares always make me think of Alice in Wonderland, so I was really excited when I ended up with it.

After having a chance to explore the fabrics in the quilts (which I do over and over again), I’m just really struck by the beauty of the fabric pairings and the lessons of resourcefulness I find in various blocks. It doesn’t really show up in my pictures, but there are no less than 3 shades of red fabric making up this grid. In the past, I would panic and fret if my fabrics didn’t quite match. But my grandmother probably didn’t even flinch when faced with making do with what she had. It just makes me love the quilt more, and realize why my grandmas are so awesome. And it is a great lesson to internalize and put into practice.

Here are my favorite combos in the quilt:
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Below is an album of the 20 individual blocks if you’d like to explore them!

Work-In-Progress: Crocheted Lion Pillow

One of the things we plan to give Dexter for his 2nd birthday is his very own pillow! This may not be so exciting to some of you, but he loves pillows and we haven’t let him sleep with one yet. I figured we’d just find something at Target when the time came, but then I saw this pillow on Anna Maria Horner’s site and it is perfect for Dexter’s room!

anna maria horner pillow                  A special thanks to Anna Maria Horner for permission to use her photo!

We decorated with the NoJo Jungle Tales set. The colors could not have matched any better, and thankfully I was able to find almost the exact same colors at Hobby Lobby.

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I’ll probably try to make my face match the one on Dexter’s comforter, and I’ll probably add a few rows to the mane. I doubt I will add ears, but that’s something I’m not even going to think about until there’s an actual pillow!

I have less than 3 months now, and I also plan to make him a felt playhouse, inspired by Homemade by Jill and a few others. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Definitely. These may  turn into Christmas presents!

Dexter wasn’t feeling well the day I took these pictures. Kind of makes me wish he already had his pillow 😦

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Teaching Colors: Rainbow Bean (or Rice) Bags

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We’ve been doing pre-preschool for a few weeks now. I’ve been using the Brightly Beaming Toddler curriculum. It’s a very laid back plan for 1 year olds. There’s no theme (which I actually miss…), you just work small lessons into your daily routine.

This week’s indoor activity is Bean Bag Catch. You have bean bags for the 6 basic colors (Dexter must have nicked my green in the picture above… just noticed I’m one short!) and as you toss a bag, you call out its color.

It’s a great idea to have bean bags available for your preschooler! They are a great teaching tool. These can not only be used to teach colors, they can be used for counting, working on motor skills (tossing into containers), and lots of other fun games for groups (hot potato, bean bag hunt, etc).

So I made some! They’re so easy, I think it took me 45 minutes max! Here’s how to make your own:

What you need:

-Beans or rice for filling (I used plain brown rice)

-Fabric in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple (I cut my strips to 4.5”x8.5”)

-Scissors

-Thread (I used basic black)

-Needle or sewing machine (machine is going to be waaaay faster)

-Funnel (optional: if you don’t have one, it’s ok, it will just take a little longer to fill the bags)

Step 1: Cut your 4.5”x8.5” strips.

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Step 2: Fold the strips, right sides together, and sew about 1/4” from the edge. Make sure you leave an opening to turn the bags! I started sewing about 1.5” away from the end so I wouldn’t forget! When sewing, reinforce the ends so the stitches don’t start coming undone!

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Step 3: Your child is going to get bored… entertain him 🙂 Dexter LOVES playing with dry rice. Moving it from container to container is a great way to work on those fine motor skills. Just keep an eye out so none ends up shoved in an ear or a nose! I always give him just a little so that it will be ok if he eats a piece or two. But normally he doesn’t try, I think he figured out pretty fast that dry rice isn’t really yummy.

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Step 4: Clip thee threads, then turn the bags through the opening.

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Step 5: Fill the bags! Here’s another time for your toddler to help! Dex only got about 4 grains into the bag, but it was great to give him something to do!

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It was going to be time consuming to stuff rice into a 1.5” hole, and I was so excited to remember that I had funnels, conveniently in both a mommy and a baby size!

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Fill to about 3/4 full. You want the bags to be loose… we’re not making softballs here! You also want to leave enough room so it will be easy for you to sew across the top to close the bag.

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Step 6: Fold in the fabric at the opening and sew across, making sure to reinforce the ends.

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Dexter was so excited to play with our new rice bags, even more so after he found out that they served a purpose. He’s been trying to tell me colors ever since 🙂

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These can be made using scraps around your house, and they’re a great (quick and cheap!!) gift idea for anyone with a preschooler. The only word of caution is to always supervise young children when they’re playing with anything full of choking hazards! Regularly look over your bags to make sure the fabric and seams are holding up well. And remember, it’s always more fun to play together anyway!

Mammoth Bag (Jennifer’s Craft-It-Forward Prize!)

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This year I participated in a Craft-It-Forward chain on Facebook. Basically, you copy and paste the details, and whomever replies receives a craft from you, made in 2010 and sent by the end of 2010. In turn, they must also copy and paste the status and send a craft to whomever replies! On and on… 🙂

I had 2 repliers, Jennifer and Kristen! I just completed Jennifer’s craft not 1 hour ago. I decided to have my girls create a wish-list so I could tailor their prizes to them. A few of Jennifer’s favorites were green, purple, and elephants, and she also mentioned she’d like a large tote bag to haul around her son’s stuff.

Well, wish granted! Meet… the Mammoth Bag!

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Named not only for the elephant appliqué, but for the fact that it’s unreasonably large 🙂 I made this pattern once before and I forgot how huge it actually is.

Dexter really liked the button eye.

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Someone did not like being put inside the bag. I can assure you, however, that this bag will, in fact, hold a whole toddler.

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Dolly Donations

I stumbled across a cool opportunity to touch young lives through crafting! Dolly Donations collects handmade dolls for children who have nearly nothing. Here’s a brief mission statement from Sarah, the founder:

“My mission is to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate, especially orphaned children around the world ……. to provide them with a source of comfort …… to send them love, one dolly at a time!”

I love this idea. There are so many ways that children need help, and I have dolls who need homes! I can’t wait to participate (I just missed a drive that closed 3 days ago, but they hope to do another before Christmas) and I’m hoping to encourage others to join in! You don’t have to be great at sewing and Sarah provides free patterns and tutorials. (Make sure to read the FAQ section and the Mission Statement. They definitely accept dolls that are different from the provided pattern, but they request that you send multiples so that doll doesn’t seem like the “special” doll. Also, the request dolls and not animals or monsters etc because studies have shown that children respond better to dolls, providing comfort to the child.)

The free pattern is designed to use up scrap fabric, so that’s perfect for you stash busters out there!!

Progress Report: Pink/Blue Owl Quilt

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I’m both excited and frustrated… I’m extremely happy because I completed all 12 of my squares!!! But I ran across lots of problems. Namely that I apparently cut my sashing strips too short, boo, and I can’t find my scrap material to add to the strips, extra boo. And by the end, I was having a lot of sewing trouble and I’m going to have to rip some seams. A break was called for.

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I am LOVING the way it’s looking with the sashing. I can’t wait til I work out the kinks. I added a little plain chocolate brown to the length , hopefully it won’t be too distracting. I’ll have to do this on every wide strip and at the end of all the border pieces.

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It’s really coming together! The tree on the back will be the next challenge 🙂