Create

life is good

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 {Burp cloth for baby.  Hair tie for big sister.  German Chamomile powder for baby. }

I'm super excited that I will be beginning to give a little tour of my "new place" very soon.  One week left of my goal to have completely "tidied" my main level and upstairs before the big bridal shower here.

Room by room I'm beginning to enjoy real living again.  Yesterday I sat down briefly to sew a few things for a friend's baby shower last night.  Yes, I've sewn a little in this room since it went from "art room" to "art/sewing room" but since then I've sat for an hour and gone through the enormous box of special art and special stories my kids have written that I've been holding onto.  One by one I sat and decided what few things I would keep for each of them.  I know that what is more important than keeping bins of my kids art for years is the process, the experience, they had in the creative process.

80% of the pieces were recycled.  I'm sure that paper, once recycled, will return to our home for many more hours of focus and creation.

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 {One of my favorite girl fabrics and designers--for babies and older girls alike: Sarah Jane Fabrics}

 

In less than 24 hours my husband will return from being away for a week.  I always like to challenge myself with some big project when he's away.  Little does he know it but the entire kitchen will be completely tidied before he returns.

That means I've already loaded the garage--our donation docking station--with many dishes, kitchen gadgets, and even small appliances I know he'll never miss...hopefully.  ;)

 

I am leaving him with the huge spice cupboard.  That'll be his baby.

 

Today is the last day of my girls' intense 5 week ballet program.  After their incredible hard work and yes, my incredible hard work with the house these past 5 weeks, we are super excited about having a special night out for ice cream.  We all have known since breakfast what flavors we'll choose and boy, are we ready!

Life.  Is.  Good.  

Life is so busy and I'm learning so many lessons.  Things are about to slow down a bit but I can't wait for what August will bring.  New plans and goals.  A major shift in how our days look.  And new experiences await.

Life is so very, very good.

 

Happy weekend to you friends.

 

the sleepy time gal

friends + japanese calligraphy

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IMG_2847 Yesterday we enjoyed friends we haven't seen for a while and practiced a new art: Japanese calligraphy.

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I was in charge of keeping my toddler and my friend's toddler at bay while my friend guided and directed each of my girls with calligraphy.

I love the beauty of Japanese calligraphy and always have since taking a Japanese Art class in college. (I was an Art History major.)  There is something about the contrast of simple, intentional strokes of the black ink on crisp white rice paper that is absolutely beautiful in its simplicity.

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By the time both little toddler boys had had enough of sharing with each other and naps were approaching, we had an amazing pile of calligraphy covering my table.

 

Goodbyes were said and the very content feeling of friendship lingered in my home the rest of the day.  There's nothing better than feeling loved by someone gently teaching and inspiring your children.

 

the sleepy time gal

right now...

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Right now we are...

  • cutting, hot glueing, and sewing purses + totes daily now that their art room has officially been turned into the "sewing + craft room"--tour coming soon!
  • beginning the life-changing magic of tidying our home (starting with all of the clothes throughout the house) since being completely changed from reading the book, [amazon_link id="1607747308" target="_blank" ]The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up[/amazon_link].  Caroline, who has listened to some of the audio with me, has taken the book's philosophy to heart and has been going through her own things--pretty amazing.
  • coming up with simpler, healthy summer desserts to make when company comes that only involve a few ingredients--like our weekend [amazon_link id="B004N5KUVC" target="_blank" ]Scharffen Berger bittersweet dark chocolate[/amazon_link] dipped strawberries (The youngest three loved rolling some in peanuts and unsweetened coconut.)
  • trying hard to regularly, daily, say no to more things to focus and give our best to the yeses in our schedule (which definitely can be challenging to be honest with yourself in deciphering what is most essential.)  Side note: if you haven't read my thoughts on the book [amazon_link id="0804137382" target="_blank" ]Essentialism: the Disciplined Pursuit of Less[/amazon_link] check it out here.)
  • replanting green beans, green onion, and other vegetables in the garden today that are either teasing us or our friendly rabbits have been eating
  • enjoying my Chromic app that lets me do simple video editing immediately on my phone
  • literally sleeping under the big dipper in sleeping bags on a tarp around back, or for as long as we can handle the chill through the night ;)
  • finishing [amazon_link id="0440409411" target="_blank" ]The Castle in the Attic[/amazon_link] audiobook in the car--a book I stumbled across + remembered enjoying when I was younger

 

Our June + July will definitely be our busiest months this summer because of ballet.  And so I'm carefully + intuitively planning our days now to only contain the most meaningful things beyond the scheduled things: a lot of outside biking time, inspired creativity inside, simple meals + snacks, my most exciting personal goals at the moment, and better flow of maintaining the house daily for them + me.  And most importantly, being flexible when we're all together so we can really say at the end of the day (and personally in my 5 Minute Journal at night) that our days + summer has been absolutely thrilling + successful for all of us.

 

 

Go out + live boldly!

 

the sleepy time gal

video: top 5 "kid picks" for june

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My Top 5 Kid Picks for June Good morning!

Here's my Top 5 "Kids Picks" for June video!  Super excited to share what we're loving right now at the beginning of summer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZOSEd7GVWo

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here for my weekly video updates!

 

I shared with you now YOU share with me!  What are you and your kids loving right now??  I love hearing about new things my kids and I could enjoy.

Share and link below.

 

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

the sleepy time gal

video: what kids learn through creating

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IMG_2776 SO much learning can happens with our kids every day when we simply inspire them.

Yesterday morning we had table time and I brought out art supplies, art paper, and, something new.  

 

If you saw on Instagram yesterday (find me here), I'm in the process of making over our less functional "art room" for something better.  In the early morning I began filling a box with tattered and unexciting childrens books during the room makeover.  I let the kids use the too-worn-to-donate childrens books for any creative project they could imagine.  You would have thought I just announced free chocolate cupcakes for a lifetime or something by their initial surprise and then total excitement!

And their creations were even more spectacular than I could have imagined.

Skills my 6 year old girls mastered from one morning of creating:

  • tape rolling to create double sided tape
  • making water + powdered tempera paint to get the right consistency paint
  • how to compensate for too much powdered paint to water
  • delicate, detailed cutting
  • multi-medium, collage layout
  • coming up with a system to take turns with the best pair of scissors
  • creating a unique story for their particular project
  • checking in with me on how to spell particular works for their project

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I like to put supplies out, maybe suggest a few ideas and then step back.  They hear me remind them often while I'm in the kitchen or elsewhere to let me know if they need my help.  And then their real work begins.  All of my kids start at the table and sometimes their ideas lead them to gathering supplies from other rooms or merging their creative work on the table with some creative play elsewhere.

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Here's a cute little video segment of Annabelle + Ainsleigh's intense work at the table.  My favorite is Ainsleigh's focus as she masters rolling tape--all on her own!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTkXLkqKnb0

 

the sleepy time gal

table time: planning a garden

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Our four raised beds have been weeded and now after yesterday morning's "table time" we have four gardener's plans for the garden this year.

A handful of pre-written garden term wordstrips made the garden planning easier for my beginner writers to copy onto their garden plan.  A little glitter glue and this year's illustrated plans came out beautifully!

 

Looks like everyone wants to try planting watermelon again.  Let's hope we get more than two baby melons.

 

Are you planting a garden this summer?  What are your garden plans??

 

the sleepy time gal

the weekend + linen baskets

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IMG_1837 Page 3 IMG_1816 Happy belated Easter!

We have had a wonderful week of transitioning from adventures + family in NYC to Easter + family back in Pennsylvania.

I've been excited to finally make some simple linen Easter egg-hunt baskets for my youngest three this year.  The morning before we left for NYC I quickly finished sewing off the last basket.  I left the simple initial embroidery for Sunday morning when the house was still quiet from sleeping-in, worn out travelers.

 

My kids enjoyed their first Easter egg hunt with their out-of-town cousins in years.   The pictures tell it all.  And the little linen baskets held up well to swinging, twirling, and the load of filled eggs.  We watched our Church's annual worldwide conference, went on sunny walks, and spent the whole day at Grandma + PaPa's.  A wonderful family Easter.

I was inspired by these cute mini linen baskets but they were way too small.  So I made up my own pattern for the bags using linen, heavy-duty iron-on stabilizer interfacing, lace trim, and some vintage fabrics for the handles.  They turned out simple and sweet, just the way I wanted them to be.

I hope you had a special weekend with your loved ones as well.

 

(Wanna see highlights from our family adventures in NYC?  Check out my Instagram feed @nshiffler.) 

 

the sleepy time gal

 

 

 

 

 

 

rowan's no-sew felt quiet book

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Add a little bit of body text (1) I'm very picky about felt projects.  There are so many felt projects out there that look too crafty or not well thought out.  Not that I'm a felt snob but if I'm going to use felt for something I want the project to maintain high quality and craftsmanship.  This may be why this felt quiet book took so long to finish; I would start a page and a week later totally change it because it looked too cheesy.  (Do you creative people know where I'm coming from??)

I remember putting a lot of time and love into Annabelle and Ainsleigh's special personalized soft books when they were young.  They treasured them.  Rowan somehow missed out on getting one of those, still doesn't have a baby book filled out, nor has a first year photo album like his sister have.

It has been a really satisfying feeling putting the finishing touches on his felt quiet book, though, and having him on my lap this past Sunday playing with it for the first time.

I hope my felt page designs and tips give you the confidence to make your own no-sew felt quiet book.  Come and see...

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Why no-sew?

I wanted to put more emphasis into the details of each page of this felt book and not be constrained to the machine.  That is the advantage to working with felt: you can cut felt without needing to finish off edges.  I decided to do absolutely no sewing (except the binding) so the entire book would be consistent in terms of tension/stretch on each page of the book.  

Hot glue is the key for this whole project.

For the quiet book, all you need is different colors of felt (I used both craft + wool felt), sharp fabric scissors, metal snaps (for closure) , and hot glue gun + glue stick refills.

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 {The winter scene activity: 3 snowmen, rainy day gear, sneakers, small pieces for buttons + noses, hats, arms, and cold weather gear.  This activity page has the smallest pieces on it.}

 

Tip: To make your felt book project even easier, buy a precut package of craft felt sheets at any fabric or craft store.  These felt sheets (usually around 10" x 13" sheets) can be used as your book's pages--no need to cut felt pieces into pages.

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 {The summer scene activity: the beach scene!  All of the elements from our beach trips like seagulls, a crab, bucket with sand, shovel, sandcastles, puddle, little boy + his beach ball, and clouds.}

 

Tip: Glue down the basic backdrop of your felt play scenes onto your felt sheets.  This makes it easy for a child to build onto the scene with the moveable felt pieces and not have to remember what the scene is supposed to be.  In the beach scene, I hot glued the ocean, sand, sun, and birds.  Rowan simple adds to the scene with extra details in his play.

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{The create-a-face activity: there are multiple hair styles, eyes, glasses, noses, lips, a beard + mustache, crown, and bows.}

Tip: Play around with your felt pages in terms of vertical and horizontal layout.  I liked my face activity vertical so there was room enough for the beard, bow tie, and tall hair.

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{The favorite foods plate activity: fruits, vegetables, chicken leg, eggs + sausage, BACON, dark chocolate, gingerbread cookie, hot cocoa, ice water, and utensils.}

Tip: When making a narrow felt piece, hot glue a felt detail onto the piece to make it more sturdy and less flimsy, like my utensils.

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{The loadable dump truck activity:  add the truck's wheels and load the truck (which really is a pocket) with either rocks or shapes.}

Tip: Make your felt pages more realistic by adding depth.  You add depth by hot gluing another layer onto the base felt piece, like the outer piece with cut-out squares I added to the dump truck.

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{The birthday ice cream shop activity: load your bowl or cone with your favorite scoops of ice cream!  Don't forget the celebration balloons.}

Tip: Add glitter, ric rac, beads, and other decorations to create a 3D effect.  I added hot glue + glitter to some of the ice cream scoops to create the drizzled topping effect on the ice cream.

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 Where do I store all of the felt pieces?

After you've created each felt page and its pieces, cut out large felt pockets, one per activity page.  Hot glue the sides and bottom of each pocket onto the back of each activity page (excluding the last activity page--it won't need a pocket on its' back).

Fill each pocket with the coordinating pieces for the activity page that the pocket faces.  That means the first activity page's felt pieces will be stored in a pocket you secure to the inside of the book's cover.

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How do I bind + close the book?

You have two options for binding your book.  I chose the easiest which was using my sewing machine.  I know this is a no-sew book but if you can machine sew the binding it will be your quickest, easiest option.

Simple sew the pages together with a seam and then sandwich the pages into the cover and sew one more seam.

Handsewing option:

If you don't have a sewing machine, simply hand sew the binding to create a strong binding.  I do not recommend using hot glue for the binding.

Closure:

Add a few metal snaps to the cover flap for closing the book.  Follow the no-sew snap instructions which will require a hammer.  A few snaps will do the trick.

 

 

 

I hope you make a no-sew felt quiet book.  Make pages based on activities and themes that your child/grandchild loves.  Rowan's favorite pages are the dump truck and food pages, of course.

 

Which page was your favorite??

 

the sleepy time gal

imitation

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{Caroline's incredible felt doll + clothes closet board for a friend's birthday party this past weekend.  She imitated my concept of Rowan's felt book and created the coolest gift.  Doll (in underwear) on the front, liftable closet door for two dresses and 3 fillable drawers for tops, bottoms, and shoes.}

Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.  

Salvador Dali 

There has been a lot of imitation happening in our home.  This is a sign to me in my little world of mothering and family life that life/unschooling is good, young minds are creating/problem solving, and my kids' understanding of the world around them is expanding. Page 1

{My on-call hand-mixing girl, Annabelle.  After initially fearing the mixer, she now loves the process, the steady control she has to maintain, and conquering a skill some of her sisters refuse to try.}

When kids imitate something inspiring that they see, they are driven by the thrill of trying something new and the satisfaction of physically understanding their world in an intimate way.  Children are driven by imitation.  It drives so much learning and development.  It is the most natural process of learning for children and adults alike.

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And before you get tired of hearing about Rowan's quiet felt book,  I'm pretty excited to show you his book tomorrow.  I'll also include my tips for creating your own no-sew felt quiet book.

Happy Monday!

 

the sleepy time gal

meet little miss, her playable pillow + wardrobe

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Meet the happiest pillow on the block.

She's soft and huggable and quite fashionable.  Ainsleigh chose this adorable project for their young friend turning three.  I haven't made any dolls recently since Rowan's birthday doll last fall so was excited about familiar and unfamiliar steps that this project required.

The pattern is from one of my favorite sewing books [amazon_link id="1584798580" target="_blank" ]Wee Wonderfuls: 24 Dolls to Sew + Love.[/amazon_link]  I've made many dolls from this book for my kids, their cousins, and some of their friends over the years and the concept of a felt doll sewn onto a pillow (with a pocket to hold the doll's dress-up clothes) sounded like the cutest gift for a beloved little friend.

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It started with sewing a soft fleece pillow with the doll's felt body and hair sewn to the front of the pillow.  (The twins cut out the patterns and felt.)  I spent a quiet, early morning huddled around my space heater in the basement carefully embroidering the doll's face and split embroidering her hair.

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The best, most surprising part of the little pillow is the elastic pocket in the back.  I chose a vibrant, colorful fabric that would accentuate all of the colors in the doll's clothing.

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Once the pillow was sewn, it was time to meticulously trace and cut out all of the doll's outfits first on felt and then on fabric.  (That was more time consuming than I expected.  Isn't that how special projects always turn out??)

Here is Little Miss' raincoat, rain hat + boots.

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Party dresses, bobby socks, a linen top, cords, pajamas and variety of tops were simply edgestitched to the felt and embellished with ribbon, fabric marker, or applique.

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It was no surprise to me that after Little Miss' pillow + clothes were finished my Annabelle and Ainsleigh were not only over-the-top proud that they helped make it but were over-the-top excited giving it to their little friend at her birthday party.  I mean, over-the-top.  Including Rowan.

 

I've been going back and forth if I should commit to making two Little Miss pillows for A + A's upcoming spring birthday.  I can just see them spending hours up in their bedroom switching out outfits and adding the best dialogue to their pillow dolls.  It sounds so nice right now but I think I'm going to take a break from meticulous cutting/sewing for a bit. ;)

 

the sleepy time gal