Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent time again!

Wow - it seems like just a few days ago I was cutting out all those little doors!  It's a good thing there are printable Advent calendars for people like me who are characteristically late.

Lizi's Advent calendar this year is a free printable sent to us by Classical Academic Press - a Latin word a day to translate!  How fun is that?

Lydia's is this calendar, from the Etsy shop Calobee.  And it's on sale!

The Toymaker also has a cute one on her Christmas page, if you're looking for a free one.

There's still time - fire up that printer and get a sharp knife and a glue stick!  (watch your fingers!!)

Friday, November 26, 2010

you can have the mall...

...because there's not a Black Friday deal out there big enough to make me roll out of my nice, warm bed in the wee hours of the morning to go fist-fight some other shopper for it.

I am still doing some Christmas gift prep today, but mine looks more like this:
Much more pleasant, to my way of thinking.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. :)

And hey, if you need some Christmas gift crafting ideas, I have a few free patterns/tutorials over here on the right... maybe scroll down a bit...   ------->

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas gift quandry

Lydia loves the television show Team UmiZoomi. It is adorable, and she's learned a lot of math from watching it.

The problem? She wants a set of dolls that look like Team UmiZoomi for Christmas, and there are none to be found. I've not been able to find a single toy with that theme.

So I guess I'll have to make them myself. Just in case someone else is in a similar pickle, I thought I'd share what I've found. (Note: I am not suggesting that anyone make Team UmiZoomi toys to sell, lest the wrath of Nickelodeon fall upon you! I am talking about making dolls for your own child or other family member, here.)

For Milli and Geo, there are several options. Bit of Whimsy's Doodle Girl and Buddy Boy could be adapted. A couple of the free patterns on Runo's website could also be adapted, especially the mini doll. (Don't let the clothes fool you - look at the pattern!)

If you crochet, you might try this pattern by K and J dolls, leaving off the petals, wings, etc and just using the basic doll body. Or Owlishly has several patterns that could work, like this one - just leave off the ears? (While you're in their shops, look around at all the other cuteness too!)

As for Bot, I guess we're on our own...

See the finished Milli doll here!

And finished Geo and Bot!

Here's a thought about a Bot pattern - Bit of Whimsy's B-movie monster has the basic shape, just move the eyes, add a belly screen, and change the hands and feet.

Update:  I am so flattered by the requests I have received to make sets of Team UmiZoomi dolls.  Even though it breaks my heart, I turn down these requests due to copyright issues, CPSIA red tape, and lack of time.  My purpose in writing these posts was to gather information, so that we parents could try and fill the gap Nickelodeon has left for us.  I continually refer people to the first and second posts in this series for sewing and crochet pattern ideas.  Hope that helps!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

tasty science

We've been doing some simple science experiments with Lydia this school year - just enough to pique her interest in the subject, since she's only in kindergarten. Today we went outside to focus the power of the sun with a magnifying glass and zap some stuff.

You can't see the smoke in the photo, but the leaf burned pretty well.
Then we moved on to melting chocolate chips. We also discussed the possibility of making s'mores with the sun and a magnifying glass.
Then the sun went behind a cloud, so we just ate the rest. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

eyes on the east

I'm home tonight with a kidlet who's under the weather. But on the upside, she's not feeling like bouncing around a whole lot, which is perfect for watching for meteors. She's too sick to go out in the cold, but we went to big sister's room for the perfect east-facing window. We didn't see much - even a sick 5-year-old can only pay attention so long, and it's a bit early; clouds will roll in later and keep us from seeing the best of it. But it was a nice diversion anyway.

If you feel like skywatching tonight, here's some more information on the Leonid meteor shower.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


It's been hard to know how to categorize Lizi's craft show experience over the weekend. The best I've been able to express it is that the craft show did not do well; but within those circumstances, Lizi did very well. She didn't make a lot of money, but there were other vendors there who made nothing at all. The experience was good, and she did a fine job; hopefully the next time she tries something like this, her efforts will be better rewarded.

And being more of a bystander this time allowed me some time to think about this whole handcrafting movement, if we can call it that.
  • I was reminded that just because a thing can be made, it does not necessarily follow that it should be made. I saw so many examples, but here's one: You can make a potholder out of cheap acrylic yarn, if you want it to melt the first time you pick up a hot pan with it.
  • Don't even try to compete with Wal-Mart. Make something they don't have, or make it so over-the-top better that there's no question of its value.
  • And I think I saw more clearly than ever that one mistake I've made is thinking that my customers were people like me. The problem with that is that personally, I go around and look at other booths thinking "I could make that, if I wanted or needed one." Trying to sell to someone like myself has led me to underprice my items, almost apologetically. I'm not sure exactly who I should try to sell to, but now I know that it's not me. ;)
So what can we glean from these random thoughts? Crafters, if you're going to try to sell at all, have enough love for your craft to use the very best of your talents; have enough respect for your talent to use good materials; and believe in your product enough to price it for what it's worth.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


One of the things that has kept us busy the last couple of months is getting ready for a craft show. "But I thought you weren't selling right now, Kim?" you say. And you would be right. It's not MY craft show. It's Lizi's. She's getting ready for her very first, on-her-own craft show booth. Today we set up a table in the basement, sort of a practice run, to see how it all looked and what sort of display pieces we would need.

See these bracelets? Early this year she learned how to make one, then another, and another, and she was hooked. See that striped one in the middle? I don't even know how to do that. It's called a candy stripe, it's all knots, and you wouldn't believe how much time it takes. See the braided ones on either side? That's a box braid. I don't know how to do that either. The green and white spiral one on the right, there? I think she made that one up, or at least seriously adapted it. Same with the green and pink, second from the left. Cool, huh?
I really have been impressed with the way she's learned how to do this all on her own, through the internet and books. I'm fairly adept at many crafts, but she's learned to follow charts and graphs that I would have no idea of where to even start. And she's proud and happy that she's found her "thing," too. She's really worked hard, not only learning the craft but getting ready for this event. She counted 222 bracelets today.

Nice looking table. There's never a guarantee when it comes to craft shows, but I hope she does well.

Friday, November 5, 2010

long winter's nap

Tonight will be this fall's first frost, so I've been busy making preparations in the garden today. It seems that we went straight from hot summer to cold winter this year, with only about a week of nice fall weather in between. It was sleeting not far from here today, which is unusual in November.

So the strawberry patch got a nice blanket of hay:

Of course, Bilbo thinks it's his bed. "Thanks, this is nice" he says. That's okay, he can stay there a while. Sadly, our little kitten Frodo died a few days ago, and we all miss him terribly. So we've tried to be extra nice to Bilbo so he won't seem so lonely. (But when he starts asking me to deliver his canned food to his hay-bed in the garden, we'll have to have a talk.)

Here's the last of the vegetables. My peppers always start doing well right when it's time for a frost. I covered the pepper and tomato plants that still had tiny fruit, but I don't look for them to do much at this point.

The little patch of marigolds has been such a happy sight this year - I'll miss them.

On a happier note, though, I planted a fall crop of snow peas, and they are coming up nice and strong.

Sleep tight, little garden. Dream of lots of strawberries and tomatoes and peppers next year. :)