Friday, August 22, 2014

The Throwin' of a Pirate Party

I LOVE to throw parties. I have a philosophy: Go Big or Go Home. Kevin, my everlovin' introvert, can't understand it, but he assists me in all the ways he can. He gets into it too!

I like to have a theme for our birthday party. We just have one a year to celebrate all of us, all born in July and August. This year's theme was pirates.


To set the scene, send out invitations. Of course, you could always do a facebook invitation, or text it, but people love to get something in the mail. I typed out pirate speak on the computer, tore them, dyed them with tea, wrote translations on the back as an afterthought, just in case. 

We built some pirate ships using hay wagons. I made the bunting from felt. 




A friend sent me the link to Catch My Party and these free pirate printables. I don't really think "treat bags" are a necessity, but they needed something to put their treasure in after the treasure hunt, so...perfect! They got a couple of mini candy bars and treasure. (jewels and gold coins I purchased from Amazon.)



First we frolicked and face painted until enough people arrived to start the festivities.


 We started with Pin the Patch on the Pirate.


I had a talented friend draw a pirate.

 


On to the treasure hunt!
putting the map back together
For the treasure hunt, I drew a large map on a folded out paper shopping bag, labeling various areas around our yard, such as the Petrifying Playhouse, Tire Swing o' Terror and the Willow the Wisp. I asked Brielle to tear the map into 15-20 pieces. She got carried away and tore it into 42. We hid those pieces around the yard and the wee pirates had to search for them like an Easter egg hunt. Then we had to put the puzzle back together. I'm not sure if we didn't have all the pieces back or if it was because there were so many of them, because it was a challenge! I was impressed with their tenaciousness. We had wrapped a cardboard box in yellow paper and hidden it in a hollow tree. Then we marched back to the front yard and I threw all the treasure up in the air and they stuffed their bags. The big kids helped the littles get their share. 
 Then it was time for A Battle!

We had the dads be Captain Scallywag and Captain Salty Dog. We numbered off by twos and got the kids loaded up with water balloon bombs, water bomb splash bombs and water cannons.


 Once the ammo was mostly gone, it was time to walk the plank.
 Kevin rigged up the teeter-totter into an admirable plank.


me best matey and meself

 Then it was time for cake and ice cream!
 Brielle and Kevin had been working (sporadically) on this model ship since December. It was the perfect addition to our pirate cake.
All our soggy pirates.

 I made a three layer poke cake. 

It was delicious, but as it turns out, none of us like grape jello. I was trying to go for the colors of black, red and white. Next time I'll just stick with red.

One of the wee little pirates.
 After playing on the hay bales a while, we loaded everyone up for a 
 pirate ship hay ride.



Elivette and her little friend Andrew


After this we had homemade sloppy joe sandwiches and the delicious sides that everyone brought to share. All in all, I would say it was a jolly good time

.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Clothespin Pocket Apron Tutorial

Or more realistically, A What Not To Do Tutorial, otherwise known as a Comedy of Errors.

I use tutorials quite a bit in my career and am immensely grateful for them. I decided, since I have been planning to make this apron anyway, why not make a tutorial at the same time? Sure! Great idea!

First, have your husband take a couple of the kids to the vet and to buy a two row sweet corn planter. Then get the baby down for her nap. Have the biggest sister read to the little brother.

Gather your materials. You'll need

An iced coffee.


Depending on if you contrast fabrics or make it out of the same one, you'll need about a 1/2 of a yard of fabric. I used leftovers from other projects. A couple of fat quarters would be perfect for the apron, but you'll need a standard 45" width for the apron ties.

You'll also need several inches of double fold bias tape. I happened to have some that came in my sewing machine table drawer from when I bought it at an auction several years ago, so that was handy. I have never used store bought bias tape before this project. This should be fun! 

So 
what you really want is your fabric to be about 12 inches long in the end. You need a few inches for seam allowance and sticking the apron up into the waistband. I did 17 because I wasn't sure how much room I'd need for the clothespins. (mistake #1).

I ended up folding up a few inches because after I used it the first time, it was too long for my hands to easily reach the clothespins. I made it 16 inches wide, because that was all I had left of the bird fabric and I really wanted to use it. (mistake #2) And of course, I didn't want sideways birds while I'm here hanging up clothes, on the farm, with no one to look at me but the cats and kiddles, because that would just have driven me nuts every single time I used it. But if I were you I'd make it at least 20 inches wide. Fat quarters are 22" and that would be just perfect!

To reiterate, ideal cutting measurements are 22" wide by 14" long. To make the pockets, nip off a corner of the top fabric while it's folded. I went down about seven inches and curved in almost a right angle. This plan worked out!

Pin your bias tape to the top fabric pockets. Sew.
If you miss some of your bias tape (mistake #3), make sure you go back over it. This is easier to do before your apron's all assembled (mistake #4).

Now you're going to sew your apron pieces together and flip it right side out.
Normally, when you do this procedure you put right sides together. Thusly. 

DO NOT DO THIS! (mistake #5)
You want the right side of the  bottom piece to be facing the inside of the top piece when you flip them right side out. You should layer them with the right side of your top piece facing the wrong side of your bottom piece.

If you don't listen to my advice, you're going to have to sew another panel onto your bottom piece, like so. 
Sew the wrong sides together, flip that right side out and carry on as if nothing happened.

Also, double check you didn't miss any edges and have a hole in your new apron already. (mistake #6). If you do, sew it up!
photo by three year old assistant

Now you're (finally) ready for your waistband. What you really should do is measure across your middle and that is how wide you should make your waistband. Or, you could just really want to use this fabric in your apron, because it's all you have left from when you made a dear friend her apron for her birthday, so you make it as wide as you can with the fabric you have. In my case that was 14 inches. I made the little bump just to be fancy. 

You know aprons are fancy.

Then you'll sew wrong sides together (mistake #7) along the top only. 

Know what's a good idea? Making sure you flip BOTH pieces to wrong sides, not just the one you see. I could blame a husband or miscellaneous children, because I know I started to get interrupted about now, but as this was not my first error...probably I won't.

Know what else is a good idea? Not using a really tiny stitch when you sew them wrong. (mistake #8) I decided to just leave it. Even though it will annoy me, I just zigzagged the raw edges. I couldn't flip them so I didn't have raw edges, you see, because I had frugally used the selvage edge of my fabric, planning for it to be on the back of the band where no one would see it.(mistake #9) I decided the raw edge was the lesser of the two annoyances. 




When you're done with correcting all your mistakes---no scratch that, YOU won't make any mistakes, because I've already done them for you---, you'll insert your apron into the waistband. You'll need to turn up the edges of your fabric so you don't have any raw edges showing. I usually fold down about a 1/2 ", iron, fold my raw edge into that crease, and iron again. If you know of a faster way, please tell me.

Insert your apron into the bottom of your waistband, taking care to not catch and cut your thumb on the needle for the first time ever (mistake #10).

If you misplace (somehow) both of your pairs of sewing scissors, even though you just had them, do not think that your son's school scissors will actually cut thread, even though they will cut into the upholstery of the dining room chairs given enough tenaciousness. 

Moving on to the apron ties. I like wide ties. So I cut two 45" lengths of six inch wide fabric. The only one I had enough of was the blue. So I picked that. 

Fold it in half and sew along the long end. If you want to get fancy (again) cut a 45 degree triangle off the end of it. Turn it right side out. It doesn't take long if you like wide ties like me.

If you need to turn narrower strips, I highly recommend a tube turner. (Those are the ones I have, but I didn't get them there; I don't usually shop at Walmart). Once you figure out the directions, you will thank me. (There are also youtube videos, if the directions still don't make sense.)


Gather the end of your apron tie a bit, fold your raw edges in on the sides of your waistband and insert. I made sure I inserted it at least 3/4", because I have been known to be a bit skosh (pronounced with a long O) and had to re-do the entire thing. (I'm sure this comes as a big surprise to you.)







 Sew it well.

VoilĂ ! You're done! And all before the baby woke up from her nap, despite all the mistakes, which proves if you do it right the first time, this is a very quick project.

Now go hang some clothes!

My photographer is short, and was trying very hard to
get the apron in the photos. I promise, I really do have a head.

The first time my bum was ever on my blog.
(at least to my knowledge)

as it looks hanging in the laundry room



Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Death Obsession, or, In Which a Soapbox is Climbed

It is very hard to find used clothing for a six year old boy. Boys are notoriously hard on their clothes. At one of the second hand stores we frequent, there are rows and rows of size six girls clothes. There were exactly TWO pairs of pants for Cadrian. And one was a pair of capris, so I'm pretty sure it should have been in the girls' section.

I had to resort to eBay for his fall school clothes. I prefer to not do that if I don't have to, as the auctions plus shipping are usually a little more expensive than I like.

Also, I'm picky.

I like to buy in lots to save money, as you can usually get a better deal per item, but every item in the lot has to be one he'll wear, else what is the point? Money would not have been saved.

I don't really like that many of the boys clothes have sports on them. What if the boy isn't sporty? Or, what if he's athletic and doesn't really like to play organized sports? Why are there so many options for sports for boys clothes, but none for little girls?

I don't really like that so many of the clothes have a brand or a store emblazoned on them. WHY should I pay good money to have my child be a walking advertisement? Shouldn't they be paying me?

I don't really like that so many of the clothes are from video games, TV shows or movies. In my book, six year old boys should be outside climbing trees and rolling in sand and making things out of rocks and not be inside playing video games. I don't think playing a bit of video game is necessarily bad in and of itself. I don't have a problem with a movie now and again. I do think plastering a video game or movie character across my son's chest is like saying, "This. This is what is important to me. This is where my priorities lie."

I don't like how there are so many boys clothes with sassy sayings on them. A few I saw: A dog tooting, with a fallen tree "Who cut one?". "I can give a headache to an aspirin". "For Sale...Little Brother...Cheap" "Underachiever"  "My parents are exhausted"    THIS is the best we can do for our boys? Our boys we are raising to be men? We make them wear self deprecating tee shirts, give them put downs and undermine their precious (and true) exhausting energy and put these low opinions across their chests. What messages are we trying to send?

I once had an adorable red onesie for my 15 month old son that said "Heartbreaker" in white letters. I put it on him for Valentine's Day and we took him to a party. When I was looking back at the pictures, I thought how appalling that it was that I did that! Do I want my son to grow up and plow through girls like a stereotypical stud? Or do I want my son to be a man of integrity, who waits for the woman he can spend his life with, and then who he sticks by in thick or thin? Do I want him to treat women like throwaway possessions and leave a trail of broken hearts behind him or do I want him to treat a woman's heart like gold?

I got rid of that onesie and promised myself that I would be more discerning about what messages I put on my children, and what representations we put out into the world.

And the thing I really really don't like about boys clothing right now is all the skulls! A skull, for almost all of time, has represented death. It still does. Even if we put it on our babies' sleep and plays, it still represents death. Even if we see a skull almost every time we leave the house because it is on so many kinds of clothing, it still represents death. I don't think it's cute. I don't think it's for children. Pirates used skulls to intimidate. Skull and crossbones still are used to indicate poison. In Tarot cards, skulls are on the death card. Skulls were part of the Nazi SS uniform as well as many other military insignia, partly to be representative of loyalty until death, and partly as a warning: "I will kill you".  Skulls might be fashionable right now, but I think they still represent a culture obsessed with death.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

We've been busy

July is usually pretty busy for us, but this July has been even more so.

We had three weeks of swimming lessons. We had Kevin, Cadrian and Aviana's birthdays. I was on call for a couple of births, one of which was a totally and completely amazing. I went to a city a few hours away with three of the children for a training for a new phase of our home school journey. I've read a few books. We painted our "new" family room. We got a puppy. I wrote a song, recruited a friend to sing it, and am in the process of making a video.

Aaand a bunch of other stuff..






I've missed blogging. My goal for August is to plan better and post at least once a week.