Sunday, July 31, 2016

M6594 and moe crocheted toy bags (tiger bags)

I spent much of yesterday going through and washing lengths of cloth out of my remnants box.  This is M6594 by McCalls, peasant dress with pants pattern.  It is the third time I've used the pattern - as it is time-consuming and also takes lots of elastic and fabric in general.

I had a hard time finding something I wanted to make it out of - not enough of a fabric, too bright and loud etc...finally mixed and matched these two light colored prints and came out pretty good.

The one on the right hand side was my project today.
Where a dress with regular facings usually takes me about an hour to make, not counting the zipper - this one takes about three hours for some reason -- mostly because I'm not used to dragging all that elastic through.

A crocheted toy bag to help contain some of this giant collection below... at least they aren't tumbling down off of shelves and such.  The white crochet net I made a few years back is providing some backup ... but I probably need to make a third one out of the orange yarn I have to really make sure it is all contained.   Good thing is - they aren't sitting in cardboard boxes where things can lurk at the bottom, and she can see through the bags to dig for one she wants.

Friday, July 29, 2016

School clothes

This is the 'handmade' contribution to her school clothes.  It is to be worn over pants.
I think it would be better with a white shirt underneath :)

I went to sewing yesterday and found that my skills needed refreshing.  The first jumper (not shown) had several errors in it and I ended up making it a buttonback for wearing at home.  Esme pointed out something she liked online and I tried to see what was in my box that was near that coloring without having the white top that it did.  This isn't all that close, but it ha the flavor - something slightly formal and timeless.  It has a zipper back and is slightly loose around the middle, which is good - because she is growing.

This was the dress she liked online.

We went to the store early today and bought school clothes and filled her supply list.  She chose a long animal print dress with an orange skirt that I wouldn't have thought of originally - but it looked good on her and she was really happy with it.  She even found a headband to match it.  Then we added a few more tshirts, two pairs of leggings and two pairs of dark jeans and all the new underthings she was going to be needing.  I didn't spend a LOT, but it was a good chunk.  She has a blue peasant style shirt coming site to store too, that I caught online.  And she has about six or seven things I bought over the summer that are already hanging up and ready.

So - we're getting ready to go!
New clothes.  Lunchbox tests.  Getting to bed on time and getting up early.  
Now if the bus stop would tell me when her pickup time is!
Next Thursday we're 'in the car and on the road'... as Esme called getting ready for school earlier this year 'getting in the car'.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Trying out the lunchbox packing for Esme - getting my list together of things to have on hand for making such things etc...  Also checking with the bus garage to make sure they are on things - still in testing mode, they said... We haven't received or found a supply list yet for this year, but I hope to stop by the school tomorrow morning as they said the classes would be posted on the door this week. 

We are planning on buying clothing for her this weekend and I start my vacation tomorrow. 

We are about 3/4 of the way through Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone as our bedtime book.
I'm halfway through the third Outlander book on my Kindle.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Textile medium stencilled shirt

Playing with my textile medium and acrylic paints.  The octopus shirts we made a few years ago are still holding up.  I cut out the tree and bird out of cardstock and used them as stencils... had to add the other details to cover up both the mud splatters that were originally on the shirt and a few paint drips I made when starting the stencil.

Not bad... thinking about doing a few more and another tea towel if I can think of a good pattern.
//Some of the gold highlights washed out, even after heat setting... but it still looks pretty cool - as if it is old and not 'new'.  The bird stayed clear but some of the gold 'moon' around it washed out here and there.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

the bits of blue and orange fur

We took Grandma into town today, did some shopping, let Esme have a good run around in the indoor park.  Now she has been outside in the sprinkler, fed chickens and is spending a long time in a cool bathtub.  Over 90 out.... not so bad of a 'sport'.  I've asked her to help me sort through her books in her room... and later plan on clearing out shelves and combining toy containers to free some up for other things.  I put her 'sports equipment' like the soccer ball and baseball and tennis stuff all in one big container - so we will be able to grab what she needs quicker than in the past. Making progress.  I'm working on recipe ideas for her lunchbox, as well as mine.  Cleaning up a few more areas, the wire rack for food boxes on our table, the wire rack for shoes in the bath... etc etc.  I bought Esme's shoes for school.  So, little things are making progress.

 A study of 'orange on orange on orange'
Pumpkin and her kitten Caramel


I put this shawl downstairs in Esme's room for using at night when I am reading with her .. sometimes I need one and diving under her blanket seems a bit much and I don't want to climb back upstairs to get one.  It is a blue 'fur' yarn and then when that ran out, I started in with a blue acrylic I had a lot of.  I'm starting another one based on something I saw on Ravelry with drop stitches.. but not sure how I'll go with it yet -- I began with the scraps from the rug and other items I was working on.  I promised myself another crochet bag for Esme's stuffed toys too - the first one is proving more useful than not.

The other night I made some creamy Italian garlic salad dressing and it was strong but good.  I wrote down a number of recipes and put it in a notebook down in the kitchen.  We got one ear of corn, more tomatoes and some okra out of the garden.  I might try to bake a little breaded okra tonight in the toaster oven for myself. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

bits and dressing

Esme killed her games tablet this morning - accidentally dropped it (again).. and it didn't come back this time.  She is in mourning, of a sort.  I told her she could get a new game this morning if she could modulate her voice and follow directions really well for about three days.. and she had.  And then she does that just before I wake up in the morning.  Well.  She cried for about a half hour and then moved back to her computer game.  It's not the end of the world but she isn't getting another one for a while.  $$, and we have to get her school things still.

On a side note I've been playing with salad dressing from scratch.
Extra virgin olive oil.
Dijon brown mustard
Cider or red wine vinegar
(maybe some lemon juice in a future one)....

I have this bad habit of buying a dressing, putting it in the back of the fridge after using it three times, and then believing it has gone bad and not touching it until it truly has gone bad and wants to eat me instead.  Trying to break that habit by making it from scratch in small quantities when I need it.  It has worked pretty well this week.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Esme's testing and meeting

The meeting was fairly quiet - there were probably a lot of things I could have or should have said... but I didn't. because it gets intimidating faced with a group of people who will be in control of how good or bad the year can be.  I did say that Esme would be a challenge.. but I should have said she is a really good kid.  But did I have to say that?  She is!  She is an intense, loving, funny kid who really has a firm sense of herself but also has no idea yet why she can't be herself with other adults the way she is with us ... We understand she will have disagreements, need to talk about things, need to be put in her place for the time being about things (like bedtime at home) etc... but it doesn't affect our feeling that she is a good kid... just sometimes an exasperating one.  But that is human.  And when you start telling someone to control their natural emotions (I don't mean running and screaming, I mean common conversational emotions we all have) and act like a quiet robot all day long... then we cause deeper problems for the future.

I know.  Sometimes I still have to tell myself to loosen up, say what I mean instead of nothing and sometimes stand up for myself by saying No, or saying I really do want something that others aren't interested in at that time.  And I'm happier when I acknowledge these things.  Things build up otherwise.

On to Esme's testing.
She scored at or above grade level in everything except timed reading passages, timed math calculation, spelling and written expression.  At the same time an untimed test that measures 'quality of written content' scored her extremely high - but did not take off points for wrong spelling, punctuation or grammar as the other test she scored low did.  This is 'textbook' I was told (not by them, but by the speech and language group I belong to) for a child who started out with an expressive language delay.  Those are the areas related to word retrieval, order and 'expressive production'... which takes her a bit longer than other children her age.  It will likely be a 'weak point' to be worked on all the way up through college.  It is similar to a type of dyslexia, but not in relating what word is being read -- what word/symbol/math fact is being extracted from the many that relate to what is being seen/heard.

Her actual reading, actual math problem solving and application of knowledge scored far above age.    When she is not under pressure and has something laid out in front of her that is not spelling or writing, she knows her stuff and shows it.   They stated her actual knowledge and ability to apply it is superior to her age level - while pointing out the weaknesses in language related areas.

Overall the test placed her at a mean grade equivalent of fourth grade, and a year ahead.  But, the spelling and writing definitely do show she needs to start in third grade.  Those will affect her progress in tasks that will be important in other grades.  She wants to go into third grade - she has high hopes of meeting the same children she was with in first grade and becoming fast friends again....*Mama jitters*

They mentioned some about a small town, people talking about choices etc... She is eight.  We pulled her out of that bad environment with what I have been told was a very badly matched teacher... we pulled her before the bullying and erratic discipline behavior turned into something that would cause long lasting effects.  The most important fact to me as a Mom was her language skills were still poor when it came to time and describing situations with other people.  The teacher was resistant to explain her reasoning for the constant detentions and when she did - they made very little sense or - worse - were noticeably insensitive to Esme's language difficulty.  So - it cut down the stress and anxiety for all parties for me to teach her from home.  It took Esme several months to calm down and get less anxious about 'school' related things after that.  I still feel we made the right choice at the time but wished our resources had been greater in this area to have a better alternative for social groups and teams to participate with during the homeschooling years.

Her spoken language has improved greatly.  We have no trouble talking about what happened today vs. yesterday anymore - if something DID happen or DIDN'T happen.  She does still sometimes twist instructions all around and miss the entire point of something.. but *sigh* well.....  Her vocabulary is greatly expanded - the test showed that.  I told her she could return when I thought she was ready.  She's ready to try.  It won't be a piece of cake - but we're ready to take on the challenge again.

She is excited - a bit worried.  I'm trying not to be worried to death... but that is my personality especially when it comes to her.  They said the class placement info will be up next week.  I need to call the bus garage and get us on the route, and then shop for her materials in the weeks remaining.

They said they'd give her their all to make a good adjustment back.
I'm trying to do that too, and not be too critical until I see if anything has changed for the better.

Monday, July 18, 2016


We're scheduled to meet the principal for the re-entry meeting tomorrow morning.  I'm hoping it goes well.  We've arranged for Esme to stay at her Grandma's so we can get  there on time and she can have fun with Grandma in a sleepover.  She told us she hopes it all comes out well and good luck.  Ironic.  I am a little worried, yes.  I came home and cleaned up our entryway of outside tools and garden pots and etc.. and then went and cleaned the door in the downstairs hallway that has glass panes.  Both areas look much nicer and neater now.  Little bit at a time, one area after another...

Esme quote: Mom, I know you like this cleaning and this (lavendar pine sol) is kind of nice, but have you thought at all what the dogs think about this?  Do you think they like this smell?  There are eight of them and we should think about them.

Next : I do have a large pile of books to go through we just don't have any place to put them.  And Esme's room needs a sorting of baby books and a giveaway on those... I hate to throw out books of any kind, but she needs the room as well.  And then we have another area in our bath that has old shoes and boots in a wire basket I will tackle next.

Other : I picked up the folder for my Magpie book again yesterday and reworked it over again and added another chapter.  I want to work the Watch Brigade story into that too - to make the characters all part of the same family... but I'm not sure yet how to do it.  And, I still haven't let anyone else read it, although I have told the storyline to Grandma and to G's mom trying to work out some things.  It still needs more ....purpose - drive, reasons for the story.  It is so dreamlike too, it makes it even harder to pull off that 'why do I want to read this and not something else?'.  But, nine printer pages in small type and about five chapter breaks... ideas for illustrations, and places to expand.  Not bad for something I started last December and haven't worked on much.  And I still really like several things in it.  It has potential.

Saturday, July 16, 2016


It's been more than a week and I'm still getting a littler further each day with the house cleaning... organizing et al.  I had read an article that said a disorganized or messy environment raises a level of stress hormone in your body even when you don't 'feel' particularly stressed.  Cleaning up will reduce that level and seeing the progress you have made can also be a mood elevator.  Sounds a bit 'out there' and domestic but I thought it was a good energy sink for this stress about school.. and the exercise can't hurt, either.

I have to admit I have been feeling more like I can 'kick a** and take names' the more I get done.. and it is starting to overflow to getting things done at work, too.  I'm working on some useful little habits for maintenance, as well - sweeping the floor a bit in the morning and at night, washing down the countertops, generally keeping a three level 'list of what's next' in my head so I can complete the closest one to me the next time the idea hits...

We rearranged all the computer stuff upstairs to make the desk cleaner and give Esme and I more space between our computers.  That looks much better -and she wasn't using that desk in her room anymore - so that gives her more space in her room, too.   My new ring came in the mail yesterday and it fits nicely and is quite pretty.  It is a silver Celtic braid design, noticeably heavier and harder to get off of my finger than the thin gold band I had worn off and on for the past nine years..  I cleaned up the counterspace below some, but we use all of these things almost every day so there aren't many more things I can put away.  It does look neater than it did.

I'm into the third book of the Outlander series.  There is cornbread and poached pears (with honey, brown sugar and butter) in the oven (shown above) for dinner.  Esme said it was 'kind of good' and she did eat it over time.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


I've been getting more done... tackled a few more areas of the house for cleaning.  Just trying to get a little bit done here and there.  I was proud of getting a new top put on Esme's old toy table.  I used vinyl covering over a piece of brown matboard and it covered up the old scratched and ripped top really well.  It looks like a new table and it can be cleaned easily.  I also got this painting hung on the wall that I really love - we had the poster frame elsewhere and I just turned the poster in it to the back.  I put a coat of dark cobalt blue paint on the little stool we keep in our kitchen and mopped the entire floor with the Libman Wonder Mop.. which is a cool seven dollar toy.  It's starting to look really nice downstairs - although I have to tackle the counterspace next.

This is a painting I made in February, 2001, more than fifteen years ago.
The weirdest thing is this painting almost looks the same turned upside down..
And I didn't notice it until the other day when I carried it upstairs and kept wondering what was wrong - this didn't look quite like the same painting I remembered.. even though it had been a long time... then I noticed the signature and righted it and was shocked at the way some of the fish 'work' right side and upside down.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cornbread and mirror

We got up this morning and went to the flea market, and Esme sold some of her things.  We only stayed a few hours, as I was getting a headache.  It didn't let up much at home, either.  I made some cornbread (from a box). I had been thinking about cornbread crumbs mashed down into butter with a fork for about a week ... it finally got me and I bought some the other day.  Esme and I brought some tomatoes up to Grandma, and she borrowed me several magazines. 

After a bit with the headache still not letting up I started working on cleaning and painting this mirror.  Mark got it for free a few years ago with our dressers, and it has sat in a corner on the floor near this exact spot for all that time.  It was originally brown wood all the way around, scratched and really needed a cleaning.

 I had decided a few months ago I would probably paint it and also that it would end up red... I just needed to find the right day to tackle it.  It took two coats of paint on everything.

It turned out pretty good!
Much, much better than the way it was, and actually useful now.
Bit by bit I'll keep working on things I can continue to make and fix up for the house.

It is 11:30, Esme has long since read her chapter with me and been tucked into bed, and I've still been cleaning for a bit.  The headache is finally gone... worked through it.  The laundry room and the bathroom are nicer for it.  The kitchen got a little bit of it, but there are things to do later.  Still... I really thought, as I scrubbed at a corner of the floor by the bathtub... I'm not just working through the headache, I'm worrying about Esme's school starting in a few weeks and sort of using up that energy elsewhere to keep from expanding on that worry too much.  I do that - I always have, it is a habit I learned from my mother.  At least it is getting some good results and I'm not just fretting idly.   

Monday, July 11, 2016


Esme went for her second trip to the dentist today - all good, no more for six months.  Yay!  Other than the normal running around for groceries we're glad to be home and rest up.  Esme is focused on her dragon game. Same as last time - she was sleepy and a bit woozy for a few hours afterward and then she was up and roaring, spinning in the kitchen and saying how she really really wanted to play Minecraft with me and it was the end of the world that Daddy was using his computer for something else.  Back to normal for her.

 I'm still reading the second book of Outlander series, going slowly...  and knitting some dishcloths.  There are other projects maybe I should be doing... hmm.

Little bits:
At the supermarket Esme picked up a twenty pound bag of beans and tried to give it to me.  She didn't even have to struggle to pick it up, although putting it back was a little trouble as it was sliding it into the shelf without knocking any others down.  I boggled for just a moment, as it weighs more than a quarter of her weight - they weighed her at the dentist!  No, we didn't buy the beans.  She does come by the strength naturally... I pick up things half my weight in my department at work....and it is about the equivalent of me hauling bags of salt or concrete around.  However, I don't do those with anywhere near that amount of ease.

Mark said we're teaching her to either be a lawyer or a smart aleck.. but the smart aleck comes naturally so she didn't really have a chance on that one.  She was arguing some technicality of a discussion with him earlier.... as she often does.

We hope to be able to rest tomorrow too... which may mean a bit more cleaning up and organizing for me.  We'll see.  Esme wanted to sell at the flea market but it intends to rain I think...  I finally ordered a ring a little smaller (I hope) to replace or add to the one I wear that is too big.  I am always worried it will slip off my hand and go flying.  I'm not really a jewelry person but I took some time looking for something I really wanted to wear, in hopes that it would fit better... and did find something really inexpensive that I liked  so it is worth the try.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Woven bag with knitted strap

This is the weaving project I took off the loom earlier this week.  I think it has been on there f or a few months, almost six?  Anyway... I hadn't progressed much further with it and it was time to move on - so I did what I could with it.  It turned out pretty nice!  I would have liked it to be just a tad bigger.. but... well.  I knitted the strap in a seed stitch style and sewed it on with yarn through the back just below where the flap turned over.  I put two buttons on it.. one for when it is 'full' and one for when it just has the kindle in it.

It fits the essentials - the Kindle, my phone case and my keys.

Saturday, July 09, 2016


 The 'archaeologist' says there was an ocean here six million years ago - she has found shells, but no dinosaurs.  She'd been out there for over an hour.  I sent her in for a bath!

We're currently reading 'Harry Cat's Pet Puppy' by George Selden for our bedtime book.  Monday is her second appointment at the pediatric dentist.   We've also been getting a few things ready for her to have a flea market day and make some money off some of her 'baby' toys.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Productive and dreamcatcher

Esme has been asking me to make a 'dreamcatcher sort of thing' for her out of this piece of bark and her feather collection for a while - tonight Mark drilled the bark and we added some shells and a little silver charm someone at work gave me for her... it turned out neat!

Today: I had a dentist appointment early in the afternoon, and after we got home I was able to get some things done around the house.  I took the weaving off my loom and started to make it into a bag for my Kindle.  I have to knit the strap yet.  I;m thinking if I can make an inner pocket in it to hold my phone it can almost replace the big purse I'm currently carrying....but because I've been carrying the big purse I have things in it now that I would never normally carry, like a bottle of ibuprofen, a sewing kit, a ziploc with an assortment of tea.. how did that stuff happen?  It will probably be a 'day bag' sort of thing not for carrying to work but for days out to the library etc.

I started sweeping and cleaning the house in the middle of all of that - I didn't have enough courage to tackle my sewing area early on (where I was knitting the strap and a bit dismayed by the piles o stuff)... so I started downstairs.  After getting into cleaning the fridge and several other really yucky jobs that needed doing, I finally came upstairs and made a new pincushion, cleaned up the sewing area SOME... and then  got Esme involved in making decisions about the dream catcher.  We hung it up in her room and she likes it.

I have tomorrow off, too -- maybe Brigadoon coming in the mail and a few other projects to try to get to.  Laundry.. don't forget laundry.  I'm reading the Outlander series and am in the second book.  OY, let's just say I wasn't quite ready for these books but OK, I'm reading through.

I still need to take the loom entirely down tomorrow too... so I can reclaim that space.  The embroidered name tags came for Esme's lunchbag and backpack.. and I can try to get the one on the lunchbag tomorrow... maybe?

Monday, July 04, 2016

notes and dragons and tigers

We are starting to get some tomatoes from the garden.  I've been trying to get everyone on an earlier schedule seeing as school is coming up in a month.  Not a lot else going on - no plans for the fourth or such, as I work tonight.  Esme did want to go for a sleepover with Grandma.

I crocheted a little pair of dragon slippers for Esme to wear with her costume.  She has been adding parts to it ever since she traded one of her toys with her friend for this wing and tail set.  I made the dragon hat a few years ago for Halloween.  She says it looks like a 'dargon' from the Dark Water series.

I made this tiger bag for Esme out of some leftover pink yarn.  It is also crocheted.  It was meant for her to put a bunch of toys in but so far only the tigers have made it in.  It didn't take long to make but it wasn't as large as I thought it might be, either... not sure if I'll make another one although I have some purple yarn for it. 


Good shot :)

 Mark's photo of the rays of sunlight through the fog at dawn earlier this week.

Friday, July 01, 2016

test bits

Esme went in for her school placement test today - to return to public school from homeschooling.    They said she did well - and her test took twice as long as they had initially planned, which they said was a good sign.  We will get the results next week after the teacher scores them and talks to the principal about it.

So, we've got that done.. onward and upward, right?