Friday, June 20, 2014

laugh lines

  When I was a little girl, I was always attracted to older people with laugh lines.  Those were the strangers that would smile at you, those were the people who would know how to cheer you up, those were the people quick to laugh and hug, and those were the people whose lifetime of laughter and fun were etched upon their faces.   I loved following the deeply etched laugh lines of a face with my eyes and wondering what stories made them. 

  Then the inevitable growing up began, and when I was barely out of puberty I was told to start right now to avoid getting those nasty wrinkles when I was older.  Even now, I am constantly bombarded by anti-wrinkle creams and friends lamenting the start of their dreaded crow’s feet.  And that little girl inside me is looking at the corner of their eyes with her own eyes filled with tears, her lower lip trembling because to her those crow’s feet are just baby laugh lines and she still thinks they’re the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen.  

  My favourite people still have the deepest, strongest laugh lines creasing through their face like rays of sunshine when they laugh.  Sorry, folks, I want those.  I want my middle-aged and older face to tell the story of a million peals of easy laughter and good times and joy, not a lifetime of worrying about wrinkles.  I see those crow’s feet in the mirror and wonder to myself, am I laughing enough to earn those future badges of honour?  

   Am I laughing enough?

  Am I laughing enough in this lifetime to become the sort of person little girls will recognize as a happy, joyful person?   Or am I falling for the vanity I feel is imposed upon myself to become something that I’m not, something that is unhappy and unnatural, something that my childhood self would have pitied?

  Nah.  I’m having too much fun for that.    

Thursday, February 27, 2014

DIY wood stain (that you can use indoors!)

  I have been working on a project that just didn’t seem complete without a wood stain.  Unfortunately, it’s far too cold outside for that, and using a traditional wood stain inside would definitely make me sick.  

  So I started searching google and pinterest for some DIY wood stains and found some great ideas.  I set up some experiments to see what I liked best…

…but nothing grabbed me.

  Then inspiration struck.  

  I grabbed my olive oil.  I grabbed some blue pigment.  I mixed them up and slathered them on and waited while the wood drank it in.  Then I rubbed off the excess and much to my surprise I had exactly what I was dreaming of! 

  The blue seeped its deepest into the lighter spots while the olive oil honeyed the darker knots in the wood, resulting in a very happy looking union of tones.  

  If you’d like to try this yourself, here’s my recipe:  1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil to ¼ teaspoon of blue pigment (I used some of Evening’s Natural Earth Paints) and mix well.  Make as large a batch as you think you’ll need, since it will be hard to get an exact match from batch to batch.

  Apply a thick coat onto your sanded, ready-for-finishing wood with a brush.  It will look MUCH darker than the finished result at this point.  Leave that for the wood drink in for about an hour and a half. 

  While that’s happening, make a batch of beeswax sealant to protect your colour later.  You can make this with 1 Tbsp of beeswax with 6 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.  Combine the two in a glass bowl/jar/cup and set in a pan with about 2 inches of water.  Bring the water to a boil, all the while stirring the wax and oil in the glass.  Once the beeswax has melted completely, remove from heat and set aside to cool.  

  Using a rag, begin to rub off the excess stain from your project.  Once finished, begin to apply the beeswax sealant with a fresh rag.  Apply thickly.  If you have any sealant left over, you can store for up to a year and use as a polish (though if you have any pigment in the jar like I did be sure to only use it on this project!).  

  Leave for one hour, then rub off with another fresh rag, revealing a beautiful and safe, natural stain on your wood.  

Linking up with the HomeAcre Hop!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

simple DIY play broom

   Evening loves playing with my broom.  She pretends to sweep, she walks around with it, she talks to it, and lately she's been wanting to play outside with it.  The problem with that is how much she wants to sweep things like mud puddles.

  In an effort to save our house broom, I decided to make Evening her own little play broom.  While there are lots of tutorials out there on how to make a proper broom from straw; this isn't one of those.  This is just a note on how to make a quick little broom for some outdoor fun.  
  You will need: a stick, a generous handful of some tall grass, scissors, and a bit of string/twine/etc.  A child old enough to use scissors could easily make this themselves.

   First of all, lay out your grass and place your stick in the middle.  You want to place a knot or fork from your stick into the grass so the grass doesn't just slip off.  If need be, do trim your stick so one of these is near the bottom.  

  Wrap the grass around your stick and secure with your bit of twine above the knot or fork on your stick.  Tie a tight knot and there you go - you've got a broom!  

  Evening had lots of fun 'cleaning' the yard and she loved the swishing noise the broom made as she shook it about. 

  It also makes a great palm tree when it's upside down!

  The six-year-old girl that lives next door immediately fell in love with Evening's broom when she came over to play.  No sweeping for her, though, she held an imaginary quidditch match instead!   

  Apparently, with the right broom the possibilities are endless, which leads me to think that I should be having a lot more fun sweeping the kitchen than I have been...

Linking up with Eco-Kids Tuesday Creative Fridays, and We Made That!

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Friday, April 19, 2013

DIY toddler Fisherman's Pants

  If you’ve never worn Thai fisherman’s pants before, you are in for a treat.  I was first introduced to them while attending university and fell in love.  Thai fisherman’s pants are comfy enough to lounge around in with the freedom of movement usually reserved for gi pants (karate pants), and funky enough that you look like you made an effort.  

  So when I realized that Evening was going to need some more summer pants, I wanted her to have a pair of my favourite comfy pants too.   I busted out the measuring tape and started figuring it out.  This pattern is for toddlers, but don’t worry, you can find an adult pattern here.  

  This pattern and these pants are forgiving, but I don’t recommend you make these pants out of a knit fabric.  I’m actually using some upcycled linen from an old couch cover!  An old sheet would be perfect for this project too.

   This pattern should fit most kids from 1-2.5 years old (gasp!  they'll fit for more than a month!) as the hips don’t widen too much in those years.  I’ll tell you where to adjust the pants for your child’s inseam length, but the pants look nice cropped as well so use your own judgement! 

  To start, gather up some paper, a ruler, and a pencil to draw up the pattern pieces.  This pattern has three pieces altogether. 

  The first piece is for the top panel, a rectangle that is 54 cm by 24 cm.  Click here for a handy conversion from centimeters to inchesYou will use this top panel pattern to cut 2 pieces of your fabric.  

  The second piece is the pant legs, which look something like a fat capital T.  Measure and mark 54 cm across the top of your T.  On both sides, mark out 12 cm straight down, and then another 23.5 cm (this measurement is the inseam plus 2.5 cm seam allowance – sub here to fit your child).  Returning to where you marked 12 cm, cut out a curved 5 cm by 23.5 cm (or inseam) rectangle from either side so that your T looks like this:  

(you can click on this photo to enlarge it)

  I find it best to draw one curve and cut it out then fold the paper over and trace the first one.  A good match means the pant pieces will fit together well.

  Cut two of these from your fabric.  

  Our third piece is the tie, simply a long strip 2 cm by 90 cm long.  You’ll need to cut 1 from your fabric.  

  If you want to add a graphic to your pant leg as I did, now is the time to do it.   

  I used a silhouette of children playing dress up that I found on the Graphics Fairy’s blog.  You can find it here.

adorable silhouette I added to Evening's pants

   There are a lot of different methods to apply graphics to fabric, but we’re pretty low tech around here.  I printed off the picture and taped it to our window.  Then I taped the pant leg over it and traced the image onto the fabric using a frixion pen.  Next I coloured it in using a non-toxic, black “Stained” fabric marker. 

super-technical way of adding graphic (patent pending)

 While that is setting, take your two top panels and placing right sides together (if applicable) and stitch along both shorter edges so that you make a tube.  Hem one long edge of the tube.  Turn right side out and set aside.  

  Take up the two leg pieces and place right sides together.  Stitch along the 12 cm seam on each side and open so that these seams fall in the middle.   Beginning at the bottom of one pant leg, stitch up and around the curve of the crotch, and down the other leg.  Turn right side out.  

  Place the pants inside the tube made by the top panel, lining up the tops of both pieces.  Making sure that both are turned right side out, stitch around the tops.  

  Almost there!

  Now stitch around your tie piece, leaving one end open.  Using a chopstick/pencil/what-have-you turn the piece right side out.  Iron flat and stitch open end closed.  

  Pull the top panel of the pants up and stitch the middle of the tie onto the rear of the pants, about 8 cm above the back seam.  

  For potty training purposes, you might want to add a few snaps or a button to the tie so your little one doesn’t have too much trouble.  

  And you’re done!

  But wait!  How do you wear these huge pantaloons??

  It’s a bit different from our regular pants – first put your tot into the pants, pulling that top panel up and tying the tie (or snapping or buttoning) around the waist.  Then allow the top part to tumble over the tie – there you are, ready for some fishing!

pull panel up and fasten tie around belly

  I hope you like these pants as much as we do!  Evening really appreciates the new freedom she has for climbing…

  If you have any questions or if any parts need clarification, leave me a message so I can help.   And of course, we’d love to see some photos if you try this out! 

Linking up at A Humble Creation, Eco-Kids Tuesday, Sew Darn Crafty, Brag Monday at the Graphics Fairy, We Made That, Pattern Party and the Creative HomeAcre.  

If this tutorial helped you create something or inspired you, please take a moment to click on this box! 

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