Scrappy Hobby Horse

Do you have piles of felt scraps floating around? Felt food, hair clips, fancy flowers, and a myriad of other felt crafting fun can leave you with quite a heap of felt bits floating around. Or, if you can’t get enough scraps, like me, you might purchase a big old box of scraps from some felt supplier. These scraps can come in handy, but I’ve found them hard to use in bulk, until now. I decided to try piecing some fabric together out of all the scraps. After I got about a third of a yard worth, I decided it was time to make something. Of all the different projects I had in mind for this lovely patchwork fabric, I decided a felt hobby horse was most appropriate, because it’s usually made of re-purposed materials (most commonly a sock, but you get the idea).

collage 1

I drafted my own pattern, fully stuffed muslin and all, and then with a few alterations, I stitched up this guy. My favorite part is the mane. It may look involved, but stitching the mane was almost the easiest part (besides attaching the button eyes, of course). collage 2

It’s stuffed firm with scrap wool (i.e., wool that is too short, scratchy or icky to use for anything else). collage 3

Did I mention my little girl is obsessed with horses? She’s already completely smitten, and I think this may be the start of a beautiful scrappy friendship.

This is another project that I think deserves a tutorial, though it might take me a little while to get around to it. Busy, busy, busy. But life is good.

Have a great day.

Spring Wings

So, I’ve been so busy with things in my real life that I forgot to mention on my blog that I’ve been participating in a crafting competition, SYTYC. You know me, I love to have a good excuse to get some crafts done that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Here’s my project for the first week. The theme was Spring.

When I think of spring, one of the first things that comes to mind is baby animals. Lambs, bunnies, fluffy little chicks. So for this project, I decided to make something for my own sweet little babies. Something Spring, of course.  wings on wall

wing inspirationHere’s a look at some of my inspiration. I love these paintings of wings by Albrecht Durer. Love.

I made both girls a new set of wings to transform them into little baby birds. I’ve seen the idea floating around Pinterest for a while, and I wanted to do my spin on it. I love them, and the girls do, too.

collage 1


fia

fia running bella sitting

Now my little birds are ready all ready to fly.
running with the wings

happy girls

Well, it looks like I may be out this week, and I’m not surprised, since the theme, knock-off, really isn’t my thing, but if you want, you should go over and vote. Voting goes until Thursday night, I think. There are some nice projects if you are into knock-offs.

Have a great day!

I made a quilt

whole quilt

I am not a quilter. Not even an aspiring quilter. I have only ever made one other quilt in my life, a little lap quilt that I hand quilted about ten years ago. But for whatever reason, about 2 years ago (yes, two years) I got the urge to make a queen sized quilt for my bed. I can only explain this by stating that I needed a new quilt/covering for my bed, and I have this feeling that I should DIY pretty much anything I think I could handle. quilt close up 1

I had it all pieced together and even the layers basted over a year ago, but when I came down to live in Galapagos, neither it nor my sewing machine made it in my suitcases. So when we, and my lovely 1970′s sewing machine were all reunited, I decided it was time to get this thing done.

quilt close up 2

Did it matter that I didn’t have a walking foot that fit my sewing machine? Of course, but I just decided to accept the unintentional ruching and puckering that came about because of my regular-feed presser foot.
close up 3

Of course, it was a little ill-advised to take up this project in the high heat and humidity of a Galapagos summer, especially with no air-conditioning, but once I started, I just had to get it done. I felt a little crazy and cool at the same time thinking that I was surely the only person on the entire island engaged in this kind of activity.
funny isabella

My little girl helped with the photo shoot. She’s been experimenting a lot lately with the crazy faces.

Here’s what the back looks like. backbottom of quilt bindingquilt back close up
quilting

Of course, it has its quirks and defects, but I’m quite pleased with the results. Would I do this project again? Hmm, probably, but I think it would be something to save for chilly winter evenings, and not hot, humid, air-conditioning-free afternoons.   thread 2 thread

I used this lovely organic cotton thread for the quilting. I was worried I would run out, and being in Galapagos with no access to any craft supplies, I figured that would put an end to the project, but I had just enough. Phew.

Now, I just need to wait a little for it to be cool enough to actually use it.

Have a great Monday.

Oregon

green and red
green 3
green moss
green 2

So, I didn’t talk to much about my time in Oregon, but I just wanted to say what a wonderful time I had. It was strange being there after being out of the States for a year, but it was good. The first couple stores I went to were pretty overwhelming, and I was especially appreciative of conveniences like clean, drinkable water, access to pretty much any thing you can imagine (food, clothing, craft supply, you name it, and the public library system.

I also enjoyed taking in the complete difference between my family’s home in Oregon and our home in Galapagos. There is so much lush, rich green in Oregon. I love it.

Have you ever experienced coming home after an extended absence? I’d love to hear.

Have a wonderful day!

Ice Monsters and Other Pleasantries

Well, now that we’ve past the middle mark of the first month of the year, I thought now would be a good time to pop my head in and say hi. The truth is, I just completed (almost, since I don’t count the exterior of the fridge as any big deal after going through the inside) a major overhaul of the fridge. Let me back up. I don’t know if I mentioned, but we were in Oregon from the beginning of December until three days ago, and we are just settling back in to life in Paradise (every time I type that, I am slightly tempted to put that word in sarcasm-implying quotation marks, but really, I do love it here most of the time).

And all that time we were gone, my fridge was brooding over its neglected state. By all rights, I should have thrown the thing out long ago, but you’d be surprised how hard it is to come by a nice new fridge for a decent price on a secluded island. So I’ve hung onto it, because any fridge is better than no fridge, right? My fridge makes me question that logic. It had a record-breaking 4 inches of solid ice accumulated on the bottom of the freezer (meaning, the top of the “fridge” portion of the fridge, the “shelf” that separates the fridge from the freezer, so technically, not even in the freezer). Seriously, I feel like this defies the laws of physics, but I’m sure there is some equation for predicting the amount of ice that can form in a 6-week period given x weather conditions and y amount of years your fridge is past its prime, to put it nicely. Yes, I should have left the fridge unplugged while we were gone, but I didn’t have time to gut it of all contents before we left, and I paid for my negligence. I just finished thawing and cleaning the white beast and have just now restored it to semi-dilapidated service, so the chocolate chips I imported can get a chance to de-liquefy after several days on the counter in sticky-hot weather.

Though I’ve been all but silent on the blog, I assure you I have been quite busy behind the scenes. There were holiday toys to be made; always less done than I had planned, but a good showing nonetheless. Of course, most of my time was spent enjoying my families company and indulging in the luxuries a first world nation offers up in abundance (cheddar cheese, bacon, pickles, butter, a working oven, showers with warm water and high pressure, and libraries, to name but a few). Anyways, I’ll be sharing more as time allows. Because, truthfully, there is a lot more to be done to get our house in shape than thawing one ice monster.

Have a great weekend!

My Desk

It all started about 12 years ago. Really. I had checked out a book from the library on painting with chalk pastels (one of the many, many mediums I read up about when I was a teenager. What, didn’t you?) The subject was fascinating, but the part that really caught my attention was at the very beginning of the book. It was a schematic plan for building your own desk. But not just any desk, a desk for an artist: large, flat drawers for paper, and side drawers for all the other supplies you would need. That book started a dream that I’ve had to this day: a custom made desk that would hold all my art supplies.

Flash forward a dozen years, and I’m living in the Galapagos Islands, living a whole other dream. But hey, my super supportive husband who never forgets anything I tell him, remembers this other dream I had. And he says, you know, you could get a desk built here. Just like you want it. You draw it up, and someone makes it. My response was, are you serious?! And my second response was to start drawing something up. Like, before we were even living in a regular home and had unpacked any suitcases or anything, I had a working drawing for the desk I wanted. And then super supportive husband helped me out again, introducing me to Google SketchUp, which made it a lot easier to get together a precise drawing of exactly what I wanted, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the carpenter getting confused. After hours of fine tuning, this is what I cam e up with:

Yes, I added a side table so I could have more storage and more work space. Of course, I still don’t have room for everything. But it’s so wonderful anyways.

And here’s the finished product, complete with clutter and evidence of working order.

It’s all solid wood, all handmade, following my specifications, by a local craftsman, and it is pure awesomeness. And it’s big. The desk and side table combined are about 8 feet long and 3 feet deep.  And even though it was custom made, it was very affordable. So that was a big plus, too.

Of course, here is the real owner of this desk. I don’t mind sharing with her, too much.

With the gift of this desk from my sweet husband, I finally have a studio space in my home. Of course, it’s not usually this clean. In fact, it’s usually much worse. But that’s another story.

But I still love it. My favorite part are the extra wide drawers that fit my big watercolor paper. So nice.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Table Linens

I can’t help myself. When I come across a creative contest with fabulous prizes, I just get the urge to make something for it. Thank goodness for contests, then, or I might never finish a project. Anyways, this project is no exception. In the craziness of relocating yet again and settling down here on the island, I had really no intention of spending an inordinate amount of time on table linens, but then, I saw this on Sew, Mama, Sew, and I couldn’t resist. Besides, I didn’t have any table linens, so why not make some to adorn the lovely table that I spent forever and a day refinishing, (that’s another story). I would have done a whole fancy tablescape with a terrarium or vase of flowers, but in the Galapagos, there’s just not many places (read any) to get things like that. So I just kept it simple.

On to the linens. It all started with the napkins, and I’ve got to say, they’re still my favorite.

I am so pleased with how the ombre stitching came out.

And then came the place mats.

I was up late finishing those the night before the deadline, and then low and behold, they extended it another week, so why not make a table cloth, too? Color blocking with flat felled seams?

Why, certainly.

And then, finally, these sweet little felt napkin rings, braided following this tutorial. I love those almost as much as I love the napkins. So there you have it. The whole table. This project included a lot of firsts. First time sewing a button on using my sewing machine, first time doing some free-hand stitching with an embroidery hoop on my machine, first time using that nifty little hemmer foot (I love it!), first time doing a fancy flat-felled seam for the color blocking on the tablecloth, and first time starching linen before sewing on it (the extra body helps the fabric work better, if you have ever sewed with linen, you know what I mean). And how appropriate, since this is my very first set of table linens in my possession (I know I’ve been living like a savage up to this point).

I was going for simplicity, elegancy, and versatility, and I feel like they were a success. The placemats are all reversible, so you can mix up the combinations. Coral and blue, coral and natural linen, blue and natural linen, and all natural linen.

And they look nice without the table cloth too.

I stitched the flowers free hand, and I like their quasi-geometric look.

I would have taken more pictures of the different variations, but my baby was having a royal tantrum while I was taking pictures.

See, I’m not kidding. Anyways, I am so so glad I had the opportunity to make these! Now, someday I’ll add a lovely terrarium or a large vase of lush flowers, but we’ll just stick with baby steps for now.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Oasis

It is the cold, dry season (technically winter, if you want to give it a name) in Ecuador. Everything is brown and bland and a little sad looking. On the long bus ride to the shopping center, we pass acres of parched, barren land that only a few months ago had been green and fertile from the generous rain. It’s an “add water and watch if grow” type of place. So it’s no surprise that in the few parts were people try to cultivate the land, they meet with fairly easy success. That’s how a little farm came to be, cropping up in the two-year lapse between our second and third trip to Ecuador. They carved out a spot of land in the relative middle of nowhere, bordered on one side by a narrow road that happens to be the short-cut route the taxies take between Libertad and Ancón. So we would pass it regularly after our weekly shopping trips. They had horses! For Isabella, it was the best part of the shopping excursion, that brief glimpse of living, breathing horses.

So can you imagine our excitement when abuela found out, quite by accident, that the little ranch belonged to the family of one of her former students? It was totally meant to be. Only a few days after the discovery, we made a short jaunt to the finca (farm) to check it out up close.

It did not disappoint. A personal play structure. Puppies (multiple!).  And a gigantic dog. Two dozen baby chickens. Geese. More chickens. A cabybara (world’s biggest rodent; they’re raising it to eat—creepy and cool at the same time).

And horses of course.

When we first arrived, this little colt was tied at the ankle to a post, but she wasn’t too interested in that. A couple of kicks and she was free.

 The owners were very welcoming. They showed us all around there lovely farm. There was a mother hen with forty chicks! They were kind of funny looking chickens, too, with bald heads and a big ruff collar of feathers around their necks.

There were some geese.

And even a capybara, the world’s largest rodent. I guess they caught is somewhere, and are fattening it up to eat if. Hmm. Very interesting. 

The girls got to pet the horses. Isabella was gentle and soft with the colt. Sofia gave the colt one good smack and it took off running, stepping on the handler’s foot in the process.

The mother horse was very obliging. My toddler was thrilled beyond expression with her private riding session, and she acts like an old pro. Is it too early to start training her for the equestrian event in the Olympics? How cool would it be, she could win Ecuador’s 2nd gold medal, in anything, ever!

 


 

I’m so grateful for kind strangers! Thanks for make these little girls’ (and their mami’s) day!