Mermaid Tails

We have a bit of a mermaid obsession lately, and so we decided to make mermaid tails to turn all of our favorite toys into mermaids... and merpoodles.

I just cut out two tail shapes and sewed them together with elastic in the waist. I definitely would have benefitted from working out a template first - since I made a few a bit too small, and the tails get really skinny at the end. I'm thinking of taking another shot at it, so if anyone wants a template and instructions let me know!

5 Homeschool-y Printables

I'm thinking ahead for school this fall, and wanted to share some of the printables I made for myself for last year. You can download each free printable pdf by clicking on the links below and then selecting download when you see the preview.

1. My Weekly Lesson Records are sorta boring, but a practical resource. One of the biggest things I learned last year is that I rarely ever stick to my lesson plans, and that's okay. I map out what we need to accomplish for the year and divide it by weeks in a word document. When we get off track, I scribble and draw arrows all over that paper. When the week is finished, I record what we actually did here on these templates that I save in my folder. That way, I don't have to feel bad about scribbling, and my record at the end of the year is nice and tidy. I preferred printing 2 weeks/page on 9 pages front and back for 36 weeks. Grab the planners here:  2 weeks/page and 1 week/page

2. The girls wanted to earn money, so we developed this Chore and Allowance Chart. I tried to keep all of the earnings in 10's as a way to further reinforce the math the kindergartener is learning. She helps tally it up at the end of the week. We slip these in a plastic sleeve and use dry erase markers so we can reuse them each week. There are two per page: grab it here.

3. This was a fun idea I got from another homeschooling mom. When the kids clean up their space, I leave these House Fairy Reward Cards for them to find later. I try not to warn them ahead of time - its just a fun reward for cleaning up their mess. They trade it in for a chocolate from Daddy's office. The pdf is just black and white, and I printed mine on pink construction paper (which is my favorite new trick for printing with color and not using up my ink!) Download it.

4. Isn't it awesome when the reading skills suddenly click and your little one takes off! I made these Book and Chapter Reading Charts for my new reader earlier this year. Whenever she read a book on her own, she x'ed a circle. When she got to 50 books, we went out for ice cream. I really thought the 50 books would take longer, so when she finished in a week I started her on chapter books. These charts really motivated her, and now she's read all of my old American Girl books! Get them: "I read 50 Books" chart and "I read 50 chapters!" chart.

5. Finally, I printed these Talk Nicely Cards. If I spend a lot of time correcting the kids ("Can you say that again nicely?", "What do you say?", etc.) I start to get a bit discouraged. So to lighten it up a bit, I made these cars, and when they are having trouble saying what they need to say nicely, I ask them to go look for the right card for the situation.  I'll admit, this only worked well for the older child who can read, and it is really the younger toddler who needs to work on talking nicely. I added some symbols to help her out, but we don't use them very much. Print 4 per page and cut them out

I'm finding home schooling to be very fun, but also very consuming, and it seems I spend more of my efforts there now than at other creative pursuits. You can find more of my homeschool and church school printables here also. I kind of don't know what direction I'll be going in my own work this year, but that's kind of exciting, too. We'll see!



Congratulations to Victoria who won the book giveaway! I had so much fun connecting with all of you - thank you for participating and linking up and sharing.


Book Give Away!

Tomorrow is the last day to sign up for the book give-away and link up. Thanks so much for your participation so far! I'll announce the winner on Monday.


Flip Doll Pattern Hop Round Up

Today is the last day of the Pattern Hop - but not to worry! If you haven't made the rounds yet, you can hit all five today for five chances to win a copy of Flip Dolls and Other Toys that Zip, Stack, Hide, Grab and Go. The link up and most of the Book Give-aways last through next week. Here's a quick run down:


Spoonflower Easter Basket cover

A quick break from the blog hop to show a bit of sewing I've been up to this week. Although, my projects seem to involve less sewing and more drawing these days. :)

In our church, we bring baskets of food to church to bless for Easter (or Pascha). I didn't finish my basket cover in time - in fact, my spoonflower package arrived on Bright Monday! But, I took red eggs to a gathering on Wednesday, so I decided to hem up the cloth and take it then.

I printed it on a fat quarter of cotton voile, although tea towels are usually printed on their linen-cotton canvas. I thought the cotton voile felt more like a handkerchief, and being a bit fancier, I'd be less likely to use it for dish washing and save it for Pascha. I'm very pleased with how it turned out! The print is available now on Spoonflower.



The Flip Doll hop continues. Don't miss Erin's super cute Batman yesterday and Mollie's butterfly today!

And don't forget to sign up for the Book Give-away on my chameleon post below!


Flip Dolls Pattern Hop: Melos the Chameleon, A Flip Doll Story and Book Give-away!

The Flip Doll Pattern Hop is hopping! You can WIN A COPY OF MY BOOK below (scroll all the way down, and use the rafflecopter thingy), but first:

A Flip Doll story

Melos is a stuffed chameleon, and he is a sad fellow. 
He sits by the window looking at all the new leaves and bulbs sprouting in the Spring, 
and he longs to lose himself among the shades of green as real chameleons do.

But he is stuffed with wool, and not fit for the outdoors.
Alas and alack.

"What shall I do?" he asks his friend the crocodile. 
"Don't let it get you down," she smiles, "Look around. It's lovely. Make yourself at home here."

Melos looks around. 
"She's right," he thinks to himself. "It's a lovely home.
I may not be fit for climbing trees and crawling through dewy grass.
But my fuzzy wool is perfect fit for snuggling into this folky ogee upholstery." 

And so that's what he did. 

And he was right at home.

"You look lovely, dear. I'm glad you're here," Crocodile tells him.

Melos is glad, too. 

 The end.

It's easy to modify the basic shape of the flip doll so that you can create whatever character tickles your fancy. The book includes a section explaining how that works. I had a brainstorming session, with a table full of kids, trying to think of new something that changes into something else - and someone thought of the chameleon! What a great idea! Then I remembered my leftover upholstery fabric and Melos was born.

I based his body shape on the dragon from George and the Dragon, with a few modifications. I gave him skinny little arms and legs, and made the tail the shared body part instead of the legs. These were pretty simple changes. You can download my template for the chameleon here, and instructions for assembling the flip dolls and modify the pattern to create your own characters is included in the book. Give it a shot!

Leave a comment (and be sure to provide your email address through rafflecopter) for a chance to win a copy of my book Flip Dolls and Other Toys that Zip, Stack, Hide, Grab and Go from my awesome publisher. You can earn extra entries for sharing on facebook, pinterest, or twitter. And be sure to check out all the other Flip Doll Pattern Hop stops to see more cute dolls, and more chances to win!

Did you make a flip doll, too? Add yours to the link-up below or keep scrolling down to enter the giveaway through Rafflecopter.

Flip Dolls Pattern Hop and Link Up!

Happy Bright Week!

The Flip Dolls Pattern Hop starts today! Join us each day this week as we see a new flip doll made from the patterns in my book Flip Dolls and Other Toys that Zip, Stack, Hide, Grab and Go. Each blog will be offering a free book to one lucky reader, so be sure to check out all five. I can't wait for you to see the lovely dolls made by each of these bloggers. You can see my new chameleon right here (or maybe you won't see him, eh?) as I kick off the pattern hop, and be sure to sign up for the giveaway! The rest of the schedule is as follows:

Chameleon Flip Doll at WeWilsons


Batman Flip Doll at Our Family Four

Butterfly Flip Doll with hexagon wings at Wild Olive  

Super cute Super Hero at Pink Cheeks Studios

A smiling Butterfly Flip Doll at Happy Brown House


If you're sewing from the book, be sure to grab the full size printable templates from Lark's website, and if you haven't gotten a book yet, check out each of these blogs for a chance to win a copy!

Want to show off your flip doll, too? We'd love to see! Add your link below by clicking on the blue "Add your link" button below before May 4th.


Flip Dolls Pattern Hop

Psst! Join us in April for the Flip Dolls Pattern Hop. Four lovely bloggers and I will be making Flip Dolls using the patterns in my book, which includes tips for making your own characters with my pattern. I'll be making a new variation of the flip doll, and I can't wait to see what else (or who else!) turns up. 

Want to participate? I'll add a linky widget on April 21, so you can link to your own flip dolls. So get sewing! Take some pictures of your doll, post them on your blog/Flickr/wherever, then add the link after April 21. Can't wait to see what you're doing, too!

If you haven't got your copy yet, my publisher is offering a book giveaway on each blog, too. So come sew with us, win a book, and enjoy some clever flip dolls with me!


Make a Weeble Toy

I made these weeble eggs recently. I'd been thinking about trying it for awhile, but I was just sure it would turn out to be harder than I thought - that I would realize you'd need some sort of special shaped metal bearing or something.

But nope. It turns out these are super easy. :)

Give it a try! Here goes:

Find some easter eggs. [The kind with the little bit of plastic keeping the top and bottom together are nice because they will help you keep your drawing lined up neatly after opening. But any kind will do.]

Use a hot glue gun or crazy glue to secure a marble to the bottom inside of the egg. [Be sure the marble is centered on the bottom. If its off center your weeble will lean, like my lion below...]

Use a sharpie to draw on your weeble. [You could probably do something more complicated like paint or glitter-y pens - but the bright color of the eggs contrasted with the black sharpie looks pretty sweet to me, so you might as well keep it simple.]

Aaaaaaaand... WOBBLE!


Toy Portraits and Photo Albums

The girls have taken to making family portraits of their toys. Technically, I was the photographer, but at their insistance, and they helped pose the toys. Once we print the pictures on paper, they like to cut them out and glue them to a different sheet of paper and label them "Cat Family Photo" and the like. 

Seems to be quite a human quality - to make families, to collect, photograph, organize and label things. To try to organize facts and understand things. 

Meanwhile, I've printed more shutterfly photo books for our last few years. Its super satisfying to have those digital images manifested in hand. The kids love flipping through them and hearing stories about things they've forgotten. Love it! If you print your own, be sure to google for shutterfly coupons first! They've got great ones out there most of the time if you look.


The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Unit

We finished reading the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in early December, and I'm realizing now that sharing all the details of our school projects is like adding a chore on top of the work. So I doubt I'll share very many of our study units - but here's a bit of what we did for our introduction to Narnia.

1. We listened to about two chapters each day. Chapters 1 and 2 are here, to find the rest go to the main page of Under the Grapevine.

2. I found some free Lapbook stuff here:

3. There's a fancier lapbook you can buy here with more writing pages for older kids:

It turns out, I'm not really into lapbooks. Maybe its the age of my kids, but it seems like too much cutting for me, and not enough stuff for them. Plus, I don't like all the clip art people use, and I ended up printing some of the original illustrations from the book and pasting them over the clip art - which was just more unnecessary work (for me, not the kids!). Still we like a lot of the ideas and activities other people come up with, so we use them as starting points. We ended up assembling most of our work into a folder instead.

4. Cool map of narnia to print: http://folk.uio.no/solveii/NarniaMap.jpg

5. Really excellent traditional turkish delight recipe (not too many ingredients) with a video: http://titlisbusykitchen.com/archives/turkish-delight

I just felt like we HAD to make turkish delight. To talk about foods from other times and places, to get our hands dirty, to try this thing I'd never had. I was prepared for it to be not awesome, so I think I was pleasantly satisfied.

I bought rose water online because it seems to be the most traditional form, and probably what Edmund had, but I'd like to try it again with a cinnamon version because my kids are more likely to eat that. I really did like the turkish delight, and we all loved making it. It was a really cool process. It got dry and gooey (do those go together) after  a few days, and so we ended up throwing most of it out. So maybe make a half recipe next time? Or share with friends?

On to Prince Caspian!
...well, maybe in a few months. :)


Kittens: Soupa and Moupes

I've been eyeing this kitty pattern from Make Your Own Toys by Sue Havens for a few years. I don't really use patterns very often since most of the time I just like to make it up as I go. Invariably, using someone else's pattern always leads me to do something in a way I wouldn't have planned myself. I think that's probably a pretty good thing. Sue's book is full of really cute animals in a simple and sort of classic rag-doll style. She encourages reusing fabrics, which I love. These are made from an orangey-gold sweater.

So these kittens I've named Soupa and Moupes, although the girls have rejected these names for something more practical, like Kitty.


Spoonflower Swatches and Felt Figures

I love my felt boards! We use these occasionally for play and school, and I realize now I haven't shared half the stuff we use them for. I'll try to remember to share more!

For Christmas, I thought I'd take advantage of Spoonflower to make some My Little Pony felt figures. Because, we need some Twilight Sparkle in our grassy meadow, folks.

Here's a super easy way to turn your custom prints (or any print you find at the store) into felt figures.

1. Print an 8" spoonflower swatch filled with figures. 

2. Cut a piece of sticky felt down to 8" square. Peel the back off and stick your swatch on. 

3. Cut out your figures!

4. If you cut figures from fabric larger than an 8"swatch, cut them out loosely first and try to fit them as closely together on the sticky felt as you can so you waste less.

The cutting takes time, but the custom figures are a hit!