Monday, October 29, 2012

Who's Ready For Halloween?

Not me!

I am knee deep in falcon feathers as we speak. Here's a little update on the progress of Ben's costume before I get back to it.

To facilitate a correct sizing and tailoring of the costume, I traced the outline of Ben's body on kraft paper, then drew out my idea of the costume over it. This gave me a great idea of what size each part of the costume should be. It's also a great reference for measurements -- from neck to finger tips, shoulder to waist, etc.

Jenny: Halloween Prep

Jenny: Halloween Prep

I cut a muslin in the shape of a half moon poncho and will be sewing my feather layers onto it. I cut all the "feathers" from eco-felt yesterday and I'm ready to roll with stitching the layers today. I told Ben at school drop-off this morning I was hoping to have his costume finished by the time I picked him up. Challenge on!

Jenny: Halloween Prep

Jenny: Halloween Prep

Jenny: Halloween Prep

Wish me luck! Ben has a Halloween party at school on Wednesday so the costume needs to be completely finished by end of day tomorrow. I will post about the finished costume later this week. I can't wait to see it myself! How are your kiddos' costumes coming along?

Meanwhile, we've been keeping busy with various Halloween fun and prep -- carving pumpkins, eating jack-o-lantern cookies, decorating the house with fake spiders, etc. Fun stuff.

Jenny: Halloween Prep

Jenny: Halloween Prep

Jenny: Halloween Prep

Jenny: Halloween Prep

Jenny: Halloween Prep

Jenny: Halloween Prep

While the excitement of Halloween is certainly front and center at the moment, my thoughts are with Lee and your family, Angel. I wish we were closer so I could give you guys a big hug in person. My thoughts are with our friends on the East Coast as well. May Hurricane Sandy be gentler than expected and may you all stay safe!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tiny Stitches Can Turn Into So Much More...

Oh, how I have dreaded writing this post. I've known since March I would share what has been going on behind the scenes at my home at some point, but with an intensely private husband and uncertainty about the course things would take, it just hasn't seemed like the right time -- until now. So many months of missed posts, half-finished projects and lapsed connections while I have been focusing on my family and immediate sphere.

This last March, my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. I won't get into too many details, besides to say that treatment has allowed him to have many more months doing the things he enjoys than we originally thought he'd have. That time included a lot of fishing with his friends and family, hunting and camping with long time companions, and family gatherings. My husband's family (my family!) is so close, everyone has come together and pitched in every ounce of extra time and energy they could. The love and support and the meaningful conversations that have come out of this experience has been overwhelming and wonderful all at once. To watch someone I love face their own mortality with such honesty and authenticity has been humbling to say the least.

Sadly, the time for treatment has come to an end and we are all trying to figure out how to say goodbye to this person we love so much, that we will miss so much. The last few weeks I have found myself "holding down the fort" at home while Lee is helping care for his mom and dad, with lots of nervous energy I could not channel.

This morning was no different, and as I gathered things for us to decorate the hospice room with, I had a rare moment of creative clarity and quickly grabbed some very special supplies and my sewing machine.


All summer long I picked the blossoms of the lavender, chamomile and calendula from the garden. It was a meditative task for me each morning, the garden has helped all of us stay grounded during the ups and downs of the last year. It never seemed like it would add up to much, it was literally a tiny handful each morning. I bagged up the dried herbs as they collected and set them aside for "later". I wanted to send some of these flowers to the hospital because of their special energy and incredible scent, but wasn't sure how to present them.


Another great love of my FIL's is Lee's Volkswagen Bus, he drove it for quite a few years for hunting and fishing trips until finally we got it back and parked it in our backyard. I walked past my scrap bin this morning and my last tiny little scrap of Heather Ross's VW bus fabric was peeking out of the mess. Right next to it was a Tula Pink print with jumping fish. I had cut that fabric out for a never-started advent calendar last holiday season, and the shape was very close to an eye pillow shape. I had the idea to make a quick (and I mean QUICK) eye pillow/scented pillow in these meaningful fabrics for him to have close by. I mixed the herbs with some organic rice, said a little blessing over the bowl and filled up the fabric form.



If nothing else, surely the scent and the whimsical and meaningful fabric print will be a comfort to everyone visiting. Or at least that's what I hope.

I will be eternally grateful to my father-in-law for taking me on this end of life journey. There has been surprising beauty and deep connections forged, and I am so grateful for that as well. If you look in the side bar you can see a book called Last Rights and I have found it to be incredibly helpful along the way.

Do any of you have family members or a friend in hospice care right now? I have enough materials to make five more of these little pillows, and if you email me at the Stumbles and Stitches address to connect I will send one out to your loved one right away. Please do send some positive energy our way, and thank you for letting me share this very personal part of my family's life with you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Make It Up: Penpal Comic Book

We are on Buzzmills today with a guest post for the Make It Up series!

Make It Up is all about the stories our kids tell -- and that we tell with them -- along with the crafts and projects we create to accompany the stories. We thought the penpal project Angel and I have been working on with our boys would be the perfect thing to share!


Ben and Ian are now penpals, sending each other mail from Seattle to Nashville and back. Along with letters, they are working on a comic book. Go read our post HERE, and come back next week to see the following installment in The Adventures of Ben and Ian!

Make It Up: Penpal Comic Book

While you're on Buzzmills, make sure to check out all the other super posts in the Make It Up series, along with Jane's never ending fabulous and inspiring projects.

Thanks for having us, Jane!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bok, bok!

(Bok, bok is chicken-speak for "hello", did you know that?)

Chicken curtain

Greetings! I feel the creative energy flowing again now that the garden is on a gentle decline and I find myself inside more often (with idle hands). I wanted to make something last week but felt overwhelmed. A very, very hastily made curtain for the kitchen window in a quarter yard of an old Robert Kaufman print was the perfect instant gratification project.

Chicken curtain

The hems? Uneven. The channel at the top that the curtain rod goes through? It is also uneven so getting that curtain rod in was a real pain in the a$$. But it felt great to start and finish something, perfect or not.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Grandfather's Trunk

Hi Angel!

I hope you're well and enjoying October. After a record dry spell over late summer, Seattle is once again rainy as of this week. Rainy, gloomy, dark and depressing -- blah! We've been lucky to get a few rays of sunlight peeking through the clouds, during which I rushed and took TONS of photos of new items for my shop. (More on that soon!)

Before the weather turned to wet, I took advantage of a nice weekend to work on a project I've had on my to-do list for ages: revamping my grandfather's trunk.

Jenny: Trunk Revamp

This wicker trunk used to belong to my grandfather, and according to my mom's recollections, it was given to him for his military service in the late 1940's in France. I remember this trunk well, it lived in our pantry room when we were kids. It was a yucky brown and had some black numbers and letters printed on it (my mom thinks it was for identification purposes in the military).


When Ben was born, my mom designed his nursery (see above, and more here) and made this trunk part of the toy storage. She cleaned it up by painting it white, and made a soft blue lining for it.

We took the trunk with us when we moved to Seattle a few years ago, and it has since lived in our entry staircase where it has housed grocery bags and outdoor toys.

Jenny: Wicker Trunk Revamp

How's that for a back story?

I've been wanting to revamp this trunk since we moved. I knew I wanted to make it much darker and veer far away from the shabby chic look. I also wanted to include something symbolic that would tie it to my grandfather somehow.

First step: I bought a couple of cans of a dark grey spray paint (with a tinge of green) and got to work outside on a sunny day. The name of the paint is Cobalt in glossy by Valspar, great quality!

Though I should make a disclaimer here: I hate spray paint. It is terrible for the environment and stinks. Can you tell from my wrinkly nose how much I hate the smell of it? Yuck! But, I don't know how the heck to paint wicker other than spraying it. It took only a couple of coats to get into all the nooks and crannies, and the trunk was fresh and new!

Jenny: Wicker Trunk Revamp

Jenny: Wicker Trunk Revamp

Second step: I decided to stencil my grandfather's birth year (1929) and his initials (JPL) on the trunk. It would be a little cryptic for anyone else, but for our family, it would hold meaning when we saw it.

For this part of the revamp, I picked a modern font (Candara) and printed each letter and number as large as it would go on a 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of cardstock. I then cut out the black to create a stencil. I taped all the letters / numbers together and surrounded the large stencil with scrap paper to keep the paint off the trunk.

Jenny: Wicker Trunk Revamp

Jenny: Wicker Trunk Revamp

Jenny: Wicker Trunk Revamp

Back outside, I used an old can of white spray paint to stencil the letters on the trunk. It was a little tricky to center the letters on the sides of the trunk, I couldn't quite see what I was doing, but it turned out okay.

Jenny: Wicker Trunk Revamp

At first, I was really bummed out about the fuzzy edges of the stenciled letters -- though that is the inevitable result of painting wicker since there are no flat edges. But then Kevin told me that military crates are usually spray painted so this tied in to the symbolism. Okay then.

Jenny: Wicker Trunk Revamp

I am so much happier with this trunk now. I think it makes a much bolder statement as you come up the stairs into our apartment! I can't believe it took me so long to get rolling with this project. It ended up taking just a couple of hours total (with some extra time in between coats to let the paint dry). Super easy!

Jenny: Wicker Trunk Revamp

Jenny: Wicker Trunk Revamp

What do you think of this little revamp project? How do you feel about using spray paint? I sure love a satisfying make-over project. How about you?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

October Sponsors: What's New!

Happy Sunday!

Please welcome back our lovely sponsors for October: Felt on the Fly, Sew Well Maide, Drygoods Design Online and Fat Quarter Shop!

Here's the latest tidbits of fun from these fabulous businesses. We hope you'll check out what they have to offer and consider them for your holiday shopping!

fat quarter shop

Fat Quarter Shop just released their first book: Simply Fat Quarters, featuring 10 quilt patterns using fat quarters! And of course, Fat Quarter Shop is the perfect place to shop for beautiful fabrics with which to make these quilts.

You can find Fat Quarter Shop online here: Shop -- Blog -- Facebook -- Twitter -- Pinterest

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halloween Prep: Peregrine Falcon

Halloween is a-comin' and we're getting ready over here!

Henry's costume is easy: he saw the dinosaur costume that my mom had made for Ben 3 years ago and latched on to it like a lifeboat. He's been telling everyone he will be a "dino" and practicing his roar. Works for me!

Ben never fails to surprise me with his ideas and vision. Remember the Rainbow Lizard, last year? This year, he decided he wants to be a falcon for Halloween. Not just any falcon, oh no. A Peregrine Falcon. All right. So we started doing a little research this past weekend, determining colors and structure of the falcon's body and how that would translate to a costume.

Do you know the website Arkive? It is incredible! In their own words: "Explore 15,000 of the world’s endangered species. With over 100,000 photos and videos, discover what these animals, plants and fungi look like, what makes them special and why we should protect them." The peregrine falcon page provided a wealth of information.

Photos borrowed from

Then Ben and I got to work on sketching the costume.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Artful Halloween: Book Review and Giveaway

Hello there!

It's already October 10, how is that even possible? I thought I was getting started early on Halloween costumes this year, but I have a feeling I'll be scrambling once again, ha! I'll be sharing our costume progress so far tomorrow. In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about a new Halloween book that Lark Crafts sent me for review.

Artful Halloween: Review and Giveaway

Artful Halloween: 31 Frightfully Elegant Projects by Susan Wasinger is pretty awesome as far as holiday craft books go. Lark Crafts has proven to do an excellent job in the holiday category, with gems like Fa La La La Felt and Pretty in Patchwork: Holidays. Fresh off the presses, Artful Halloween belongs in the same basket, featuring a beautiful layout and a solid offering of craft projects that are creative, aesthetic and more importantly, not cheesy (which matters a lot to me, when holiday decorating is concerned!).

Artful Halloween: Review and Giveaway

I already loved Susan Wasinger's work in her books Eco-Craft and Sewn By Hand (also published by Lark). Artful Halloween will surely become my go-to craft resource for October in years to come. Wasinger offers a variety of spooky projects to decorate outside as well as inside the home, along with ten pumpkin-decorating ideas! Some projects are very quick, some are a bit more involved, and most use craft supplies you already have on-hand or can easily find at your local craft store. Love that!

But instead of gushing on and on, let me show you a few examples of why I think this Halloween book kicks butt. And keep scrolling down to see a project I made from the book as well as a giveaway!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Around here for Fall break:

We're on Fall break around here this week, Ian's already had a three playdates and a sleepover! A trip to the downtown library! It's only Tuesday and he's bored! I desperately need to clean and organize the house without resorting to excessive screen time! (Help!)

Enter in Alphabet Glue, Volume 9, to the rescue! The moment Annie released it I purchased it, intrigued by the mini book project and thinking about the multiple playdate/babysitting dates we have during the break. The project creates a larger, three page book that holds up to twelve mini books (the book is 8.5 by 11, the mini books are about 1.5 by 2.5 and they're inserted into colorful cardboard pockets).

Check out what Ian and a friend have been working on this morning!




Monday, October 8, 2012

Make It Up: Stories and Stuff (by Kids and Their Parents)

Happy Monday!

We're excited to be participating in a wonderful series organized by Jane of Buzzmills called Make It Up: Stories and Stuff (by kids and their parents)! The point of this event is to encourage story telling within families, with the added fun of making something with or for your child to go along with it.

If you and your kids enjoy creating and telling stories, and inventing a world to go with them, this is a series for you! Angel and I have a little something in the works with our boys and we will be sharing it on October 23. You can see the rest of the fabulous line-up below, and how to participate yourself.

Make it up

Make It Up schedule:

10/15  -- Jane
10/16  -- Mari of Inspired by Family Magazine
10/17  -- Carla of Small and Friendly  
10/18  -- Kim of Little Stories
10/19  -- Stacy of Kids, Stuff, World 
10/22  -- Brad (Jane's husband)
10/23  -- Angel and Jenny of Stumbles & Stitches 
10/24  -- Celina of Petit a Petit & family and Let's Do Sew
10/25  -- Laura of Craftstorming  
10/26 -- Linky party opens
10/29 -- winner announced and wrap up

You can read more about Make It Up here and get some inspiration tips here. And here are a few more details from Jane, plus a button you can grab for your blog.

On the 26th I will open a little linky so YOU can share your stories and creations!  I want everyone to be able to join in the fun and share their stories, whether they have a blog or not.  So, if you don't have a blog, post your picture either in the Buzzmills Flickr Group or in your own Flickr account, give us an idea of what your story is in the description and link to that.  

Won't it be fun and inspiring to see what everyone else comes up with?!

After you've all shared your stories over the weekend, I have a little giveaway to offer on Monday (10/29) which I will pick at random.  It's the new book Show Me A Story: 40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children’s Storytelling.  This book is filled with so many great ways to help create stories in your family.  Check out a little sneak peak of the book here!

This is going to be fun so please join in, sit down with your families and Make it Up!  

Please grab a button and share! :)  Thanks! 


<div align="center"><a href="" title="buzzmills"><img src="" alt="buzzmills" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Thank you Jane for inviting us to participate, we're excited! Story-making and -telling with kids is so much fun. They are so incredibly creative. I bet this series is going to be super inspiring.

Who else is excited to Make It Up? I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with.

In case you didn't see it last week, Jane guest-posted on Stumbles & Stitches with some amazing botanical sun-prints as part of our Inspired by Nature series. You can see her post here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Inspired By Nature: Garden Sun Prints, a Guest Post by Buzzmills

Welcome to Jane from the consistently inspiring blog Buzzmills!

I first took notice of Jane's work when she entered our Feather Your Nest sew along contest last year (and won Judges' choice!). She produced quite a few unique, resourceful and beautiful projects! She presented a few topic options for a guest post for our Inspired By Nature series, and I selfishly picked this one because I want to use some photosensitive paper we have in our craft cabinet! Can't wait to try this, don't Jane's prints look amazing?


* * *

There has been a blank spot on our bedroom wall since we moved in. We have struggled with just what to put in the space. Nothing too expensive, nothing that will make it feel too cluttered.


And then one day... Someone was giving away a package of sun print paper on Freecycle. Well, why not? I'll take it! I thought it would be a super fun project to do with the kids. Do you remember doing sun prints as a kid?

I let Violet and Henry pick what they wanted to put on their papers. It was fun to see them wandering around looking for just the right items.



And then we waited, curious about the outcome...


The kids thought it was pretty awesome!


It turns out that I thought it was pretty awesome too! I loved the cool blue of the paper. And the pictures have a slightly modern feel while also feeling a bit "old school" as well! So I hoarded the leftover pieces of paper ;) and made my own using flowers and herbs from our garden.



It took me a while, but eventually I made it to Ikea and bought some inexpensive frames for my new art. And so, I filled the blank space in our room.


The four pictures hanging this way mimic a window and really help to open up our small room.


The blue looks great against the pale gray of our room and with the yellow and gray of our bed and embroidery hoops on the opposite wall.





Now I have "fresh" flowers from our garden in our room every day!

And the kids have some new "nature" to add to their hallway upstairs!

Hallway pictures

Of course, there is still a bit of a blank space above the mirror to fill... In time in time... It always has to be a little bit in progress or else you wouldn't have anything to do, right?

Oh, and one more thing, before I go... Speaking of nature and art... I thought I'd share where I decided to put my Feather your Nest print from Jenny!

Feather your nest wall

(Sorry these hallway pictures are not so great, there is almost zero light there, but it does look great in person!)

A perfect fit, don't you think?

Thanks for having me Jenny and Angel!

* * *

Thank YOU so much for sharing this project with us, Jane! We can't wait to try it ourselves. It looks fabulous.

What do you guys think of these botanical sun prints? Aren't you antsy to go pick up some photosensitive paper to try it out?

Stumbles & Stitches: Inspired by Nature

For more posts in our Inspired by Nature series, click the image above. If you have a guest post to contribute, we'd love to hear from you! Shoot us an email at stumblesstitches AT ymail DOT com.


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