Monday, September 24, 2012


It's time. These kids need to start helping out more around here! Since we started our home schooling year, I've been feeling pretty behind when it comes to house work. So I've been mulling over some chore chart ideas and it finally came to me this morning. Most of the ideas I have seen involve complicated spreadsheets, charts, envelope systems, or generally time-consuming and elaborate scrapbooking-style projects. I'm not into any of those things. I just needed something easy and the solution occurred to me when I found my baggie of large popsicle sticks behind a cabinet today.

Similar to our "Prayer Pail", I wrote chores on the sticks (with the kids' help) with a different color of Sharpie for each child's jobs. For example, they each have a stick in their own color that says "make bed", but only Natalie has one that says "help empty dishwasher". You get the idea. Then I used a 4th color for jobs that anyone can do whenever they need done, like tidy the TV room, and also several sticks that just say "extra". We put the sticks in a cute green pail. Whenever one of the kids complete a chore, they move the correct stick over to their Mom Bucks jar. At the end of the day, I exchange the sticks for Mom Bucks.  (You can read about both our Prayer Pail and the Mom Bucks Store in this post).

Since the kids were involved in the creation of the system, they were pretty excited to do their chores today. When school was over, my house got cleaned and I didn't do it--how nice!! I know the novelty will wear off and they will not always be so motivated, but their colored sticks will need done every day and chores done with bad attitudes will not earn Mom Bucks! They love Mom Bucks. Seriously, they love Mom Bucks. When they do the extra/optional chores, they can opt for a couple M&M's or candy corns (I usually keep some small treats on hand). So there's our simple new system!

Sewing has been minimal for several days, but I hope to have a few things to show you soon. I also have some fun homeschooling ideas to share this week! We've been studying Madeline in our Five in a Row curriculum, so France and England have been on our brains. Fun stuff!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

music week!

After studying Lentil last week as part of our curriculum, we took this week to have a little music unit in our home school. It's been super fun so far so I thought I'd share some of the things I've found that we've enjoyed.

Surely you've heard of The Piano Guys, right?? They're SO COOL! This is one of their latest videos and we have watched it multiple times since yesterday. So creative and incredible. Natalie especially could watch them all day.

We've talked a lot about the different types of instruments and the kids are getting good at identifying strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. Yesterday we listened to some Lord of the Dance music, some Mariachi music, some polka, pointing out where on the map these genres originated, and today some Sousa marches and blues harmonica. We have a Mexican restaurant in town called Tequila's that has a live Mariachi band on Friday nights, so we are going to take the kids there for dinner on Friday. They can't wait!

Youtube is a home school gold mine, but surely you already know that if you home school. I find videos of all kinds on there, but it's been especially useful for music week. The kids really enjoy watching the music.

A book we love and have checked out several times from the library is I Know a Shy Fellow who Swallowed a Cello.
It's a funny story with lots of instruments and must be sung, not merely read ;)

Since we've been talking about sounds and vibrations, tomorrow we are going to try these "What's the buzz" toys from
Also on the schedule for the rest of music week is Fantasia 2000 (on hold for me at the library) and then we are going to try illustrating and animating some songs of our own. Should be fun! I'm open to more fun musical ideas!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

one skirt, many ways

I am SO happy with how my latest project turned out!! I have an Ann Taylor skirt that I picked up at a thrift store last year and just really love the fit of. So, when I got some yellow corduroy on clearance at Denver Fabrics, I set out looking for a pattern to copy that skirt. I wanted a skirt with a waistband and I wanted it straight, not a-line. I found it in New Look 6030. I love all the pocket variations on this pattern and that it has belt loops!

Since versatility is my wardrobe sewing goal lately, here's my new yellow skirt, worn 4 different ways:

After taking these photos, I kept finding more things in my closet that this skirt will go with! I took a bit of extra time in getting the fit perfect, so it is super comfortable to wear. I really love the ruffly pockets:
 I decided to add a lining after I had the shell complete. I tried it on and could see my undies right through it, so I grabbed this cute cotton pin stripe and lined it.
I have plans to make at least two more of these in the coming months, but with some of the different pocket options, so they'll look totally different. Can't wait!

I've been pretty inspired by a few sewing bloggers' posts on creating more practical sewn wardrobes. One is this post on Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing. I love the idea of creating pieces that mix and match with at least 3 other things in my wardrobe and that can go with some things I already made that I have nothing to wear with (the plaid jacket in the third photo above is a case in point).  Also, I'm loving this series of posts on A Fashionable Stitch. The gist is to sew more everyday clothes and things comfortable and cute, that can be worn around the house or anywhere. I don't know about you, but I need to feel cute in my clothes, even if no one sees me all day but my kids--it just helps me function at my best! I know some home schoolers love to stay in their p.j.'s all day occasionally, but I'm a mean mommy and make my kids get dressed for school--I even do the girls' hair, because how we look affects how others treat us and how we feel about ourselves, there's just no way around it!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Another Vogue winner!

I can't believe I only just recently started using Vogue patterns, because seriously, they're a cut above. When they go on sale for $3.99 at JoAnn's, I usually grab one, just to start building my collection. I bought Vogue 1152 awhile ago and finally got some fabric for it a few months ago.
Here's my result:
 I love all the great details on this dress! The front gathering and piping are unique and the sleeves are puffy, but not too puffy. I actually finished this a month ago, I just needed to get a cami to go underneath, which I finally did. The neckline is pretty low, so this was a necessity if I want to wear this anywhere other than a date with Casey. The hem, though, is one of my favorite parts!
I was nervous about that hem, cause nothing can ruin a dress like a wonky hem, but Vogue's instructions were amazing. I've never had a curvy hem turn out so well before!

We don't have much planned this weekend, which is unusual, actually, so I may get some more sewing in! I can't wait to show you the yellow corduroy skirt I've been working on!! Things take me a bit longer now that I only sew in the evenings, but the results are still so worth it. It's also making me think more carefully about prioritizing projects. Anyone else have Christmas sewing on the brain already? Just me? Okay, then.

Til next time!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I dunno

I bought Vogue 1315 right after the new Fall line came out and they went on sale at JoAnn's. Then I started keeping my eyes peeled for a good knit to make it up in! Last weekend when the clearance fabrics at JoAnn's went and extra 1/2 off, I took a quick look and found a Project Runway rayon knit, which I got for only $3.50 a yard (normally $12.99)! I snatched it up, even though I knew there wasn't quite as much as the pattern envelope suggested. I shortened the sleeves out of necessity because of my fabric shortage and here's how it turned out:
I was pretty excited about it while making it, but in the end, I'm just not sure it's me. It's an edgier look than my usual vintage, softer style, but that's not really the problem. I don't know that it flatters me very well. It's a little too blousey up top. I like it styled with the belt and boots, but I wish it were a more versatile piece, I guess. If I made it again, I would take in the side/underarm seam in a little so it fit closer on top. It will definitely get worn, but maybe not as often as I wanted, since I have to belt it.

What do you think? I'd appreciate some honest opinions!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Blogging without pressure

I know, it's been a week since I've blogged! No guilt though, I blog without obligation, ha!

School is in full swing and our homeschool is still going great! I will forever be grateful for the friend who turned me in Five in a Row's direction because it is exactly what I've been looking for.  Those two adorable guys, Ping and Lentil already hold a place in all our hearts :)

Fall wardrobe planning, buying and sewing is in full swing! The leaves on our trees are changing and the weather is supposed to be in the 80's the rest of the week and the 70's on the weekend!! Can't wait. Yesterday, on Labor Day, we hit three thrift stores that had 1/2 off everything sales and outfitted our kids for Fall. It was such an easy way to do it when all three children need a complete Fall wardrobe and we spent relatively little for a LOT of stuff!

But, as for me and my clothes, I've been sewing! I've made the girls a dress each, me two dresses and a cardigan and a bag, but have only managed to photograph two of those things.

I made the cardigan from McCall's 6559, which is the reason I bought the pattern. I had two knits set aside for this and I started with the one liked a bit less (although I like both a lot), hoping to like the end product enough to make it again. I definitely do!
 I love the length of this longer version (post-baby bellies cannot pull off "cropped" shirts of any kind, if ya know what I mean) and I like that I can tie it in front or in back, for a ballerina wrap effect. I would have arranged the front a bit differently in the below photo if I hadn't been to lazy too go inside and look in a mirror :) This cardigan will go with a lot of things and so will the next one, out of a gorgeous blue sweater knit!
 Can't leave out the real-life photo. Natalie is almost always hugging me these day, she seems to need an extra dose of affection, which I am happy to give, and Kelby, still preferring the clothes-less look, now has marker on his legs and two fading tattoos on his arms. The crazy face was his idea. Nice.
Any tips on how to get an especially stubborn son to stay in his room at bedtime would be more than welcome. Just don't give me something super unhelpful that only works on the most compliant of children, cause that ain't the situation here, hahaha!