From Sewing

Milk and Cookies Toddler Halloween Costume

I am certain I threw my mom a few curve balls when it came to Halloween costumes when I was growing up.  For example: one year I asked to be Humpty Dumpty.

An egg.

That falls off a wall.

So that’s why I wasn’t surprised by Ike’s initial request to be an octopus for his fourth Halloween.  I was ready.  I was up for the challenge.  Then, out of no where, Ike had a nightmare that included a T-Rex taking away his little brother.  That’s when most things, including an octopus, were “too mean looking” for him.  Poor thing—he’s still recovering.

That’s how we landed fair and square on a nice wholesome set of cookies and milk.

Given that my darling three-year-old thinks everything in the world belongs to him, including the sun and the moon (literally), I was delighted when Ike wanted to share his costume with his little brother.  Of course, Lincoln got downgraded from sprinkles to chocolate chip, but he’s not complaining and neither am I.

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Foxy Friend Valentine Dolls

I have to admit that when I first found a tutorial to make these adorable fox plush dolls, I wondered if it would be too weird if I made a bunch to just hang out in different spots in our house.  They’re just so cute and welcoming.

Unless you look a little too long at their doll eyes.  Then they’re just weird.  But I digress.

Instead of making them for myself, I decided to whip up a few foxy friends as Valentine’s Day presents for my two boy-o-boys.  That’s a good cover, right?  I’m making these for the kids.

By the way, I’m pretty sure that if you asked a fox what he really says these days, it wouldn’t be “hatee-hatee-hatee-ho!”**  Instead, he’d reply with a sigh and an eye roll by saying, “please, isn’t there another woodland animal that is, like, so on trend now?”  Yes, Mr. Fox, I’m sure there is.  But I live on the edge of the Earth in Maine where trends arrive a year late thankyouverymuch, so you’re here to stay.

**in case this blog post stands the test of time and in the year 2025 someone is wondering what this “hatee-hatee-ho” business is all about, just Google “what does the fox say video.”  If Google even exists then.

Using this well-written and photographed tutorial on A Beautiful Mess, I made these little lovies in less than two hours.  I decided to go with a circle belly patch, plus some hearts, making them a bit unique.  As for fabric, I opted for some soft red cotton and then comfy jersey material for the snout and hearts.  That pretty blue is actually a super soft corduroy. It was just a matter of cutting a few pieces and stitching them together.

I even embellished the back, just a bit.  The crooked zig-zag stiching adds some charm, don’t you think!?

Back to the creepy doll eyes for a quick sec.  These were easy to find at my local fabric store and were just over a dollar for three sets of eyes.  They have a snap/lock mechanism on the back, so you lock them on before you sew the front and back together.  Once it’s stuffed, you can’t even tell there are doll eye screws and bolts in there, and then it’s super safe for the littles.

To get the eyes nice and symmetrical, I folded the front piece of fabric in half and cut a small slit through the two layers so that everything lined up nicely.  A fox doll with crooked creepy doll eyes would be super weird.

While I’m talking about plush dolls for Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d show you the sweet little Valentine’s Day pillow that my mom made for me when I was une petite fille.

Sweet, right?  I’m not sure my boys will hold the same sentimental value in their little fox dolls, but who knows!  Even if they don’t keep them forever, I might…

Are you making any Valentine’s Day projects for yourself your kids or someone special?  And are you totally over the fox trend, or still hanging on like me?  Even if you’re not into the fox look, I’m betting this tutorial could be super versatile and could be adapted to make a dog, cat or other animal.  Hmmm…now I’m thinking the possibilities are endless…

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Our stockings are hung

Sometimes it really hits me that I have two children.  I mean, obviously I know we have them, but there are times when I wonder how and when, exactly, we got to this place.  Seeing our four stockings hanging in a row was one of those moments.  Holy cow.

Of course, we can’t forget Frankie the dog’s stocking, which will be hung out of reach of his sniffing nose (it’s too easy for him to sniff going up the stairs!).  But seeing our stockings alongside those of our two boys is just crazy.

It’s been fun making these stockings as our family grows.  I’ve been saving this one long piece of red satin over the years to use for the hanging loop for all the different stockings as they come.  It ties all of the stockings together since otherwise they don’t really match.

Somehow I’ve developed a taste for stockings that aren’t made with overt Christmas patterns.  I’m not sure why.  So this year I made a new stocking for Chris to replace the red and green velvet one I made for him the first year we were dating.  Ike came with me to our local fabric store and he picked out the moon and stars fabric, so now Chris’ stocking has even more sentimental charm.

And it’s Lincoln’s first Christmas, so we picked out fabric for his stocking, too.

I also took the opportunity to embellish the stocking I made for Ike two years ago with some gold ric-rac.  (BTW, ask a nearly-three-year-old to say ric-rac and you will be overwhelmed by the cuteness.)

And I gave my stocking some pom-poms.  Because I’m the mom and I wanted pom-poms.  Someone has to add a little femininity around this house of boys, right?

So, let’s now talk stockings.  What are the traditions in your house?  Do you wrap items that go into the stocking, or leave them unwrapped?  Do the stockings hide until Christmas Eve?  Or are you like us and display them throughout the month? Spill it.

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Handmade gift idea: Chicken Bean Bags

If you have some kids on your Christmas shopping list this year and you’d like to do something homemade, I have just the thing for you: Chicken Bean Bags.  Because every kid needs some toss-able chickens, right?

Well, even if these bean bags are not the most sought after gift, they sure are cute.  I made these a few weeks ago for my nephew’s third birthday and they are perfect to link up to the Dare to DIY Homemade Gift Challenge!

I gave my birds some super cute tail feathers because, well, why not?  Actually, you might recognize the trim from Ike’s robot costume, and the fabric is from leftover squares from Lincoln’s quilt.  I’m all about using up those scraps leftover from other projects!  Plus, I like the idea of non-traditional chicken colors—helps build the imagination, don’t you think? (I’m not a child development expert, though, so don’t take my word for it.)

These are super easy to make if you have beginner sewing skills.  You essentially cut and sew two squares together, inserting the beak and other chicken parts into the seam before sewing.  Then you fill the chicken with rice and a small amount of polyfil before closing up the last seam.

You can see a full tutorial here (the pictures are so good and the instructions are clear, so there was no need for me to repeat the tutorial here!)  My chickens look a bit more complex because my fabric squares were made of two triangles, since they were left over from a quilt project.  And I added the “tail feathers” to the back (which made for a very easy way to close the last seam).

I’m planning to whip up another set for Ike’s stocking since he seemed to like them.  What do you think?  Any kids on your list that could use some chickens?  Oh, and if you’re looking for homemade gift inspiration, head on over to visit Michelle at Decor and the Dog for lots of inspiration at the Dare to DIY Homemade Gift link party!

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Thanksgiving Pennant Banner

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big believer in holding off on Christmas until Thanksgiving is over, so while many bloggers are trimming their trees, I’m savoring fall for one more week.  Okay, six days, but who’s counting?

Thanksgiving isn’t one of those holidays that lends itself to decorating, but each year for the past four years I’ve been inspired to do a little something special thanks to the Dare to DIY blog party series started by Kim at NewlyWoodwards and now co-hosted by Michelle, Cassie and Rachel.  And since I had so much fun with my Halloween garland that I decided to do something similar on our hallway shelves for Thanksgiving by making a pennant banner out of burlap.

If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ll know that I use our hallway shelves as a mantle, changing up the styling for each season.  The pennant banner adds a little something, don’t you think?

The colors happen to coordinate with the turkey wall hanging I made last year which is just around the corner from these shelves on the pantry door (or the “dog food door” as Ike calls it.)

This was, perhaps, the easiest project I’ve done in a long time, taking a total of 30 minutes.

First I created a triangle pattern and cut out 12 burlap pieces (I had the burlap on hand from our fall porch decorating).  Then I trimmed the pattern and cut four pieces out of three coordinating fabrics.  I used pinking shears to give the fabric a finished look without any effort.

I didn’t bother attaching the fabric to the burlap, I simply used a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine to connect the burlap, fabric and yarn.

Easy peasy Thanksgiving banner.

If you need some ideas for last minute Thanksgiving decorating, be sure to check out my projects from previous years like my give thanks jars, thanks wreath or turkey wall hanging.  Or, just head over to Primitive and Proper to see the other projects linked up to the Dare to DIY party this week!

And if you want to join in on the fun for the next few weeks, here is the Dare to DIY schedule.

Here’s to a crafty holiday season!

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Jack-o-lantern wall hanging {and some thoughts on traditions}

I’m getting just a little serious here on the blog today.  This post started out in my head like most do: “I made something this weekend and I’m going to share it with you—not because it’s amazing or original, but because it means something to me and it might inspire you, or mean something to you, too.”  But then I thought a bit more about why I made what I made last weekend.

I made a jack-o-lantern wall hanging even though I’m not exactly a wall hanging kind of girl.  Don’t get me wrong, my home will never be super sophisticated and well decorated for each season like a Pottery Barn catalog.  But still, I don’t usually envision my home filled with decorations like the one I’m showing you today.

Despite all of this,  I really, really had my heart set on making this jack-o-lantern to add to my holiday-themed wall hangings (see the Christmas tree and Thanksgiving versions).  And I think I figured out why.

From my own childhood I remember a few key decorations that were displayed as the seasons and holidays changed, and few key traditions—activities that I could anticipate and experience to help mark the time and the change in season.  Carving pumpkins.  Making applesauce.  Baking Thanksgiving pies. Cutting a Christmas tree.  Coloring Easter eggs.  Raking leaves.  Sliding down the hill in our front yard.

As a parent I now acknowledge that we sometimes work so hard to create special experiences for our kids to remember that we forget that it’s the every day things they will remember most.  Amidst the chaos and craziness of our daily lives, I want Ike and Lincoln to see and experience small and subtle things that will create a sense of anticipation and comfort throughout the year.

I want this simple jack-o-lantern wall hanging to help teach the boys the concepts and vocabulary of fall and Halloween at age two.  I want it to go relatively unnoticed by my too-cool-for-school kids at age 10, knowing they would miss it if it wasn’t there.  I want my kids to give an exaggerated eye roll when I hang this during their college fall breaks, even though they will be secretly happy for this small reminder of home and their childhood.  And someday I want my kids to hang this in their own home, just because it is tradition.

I know this is a lot of pressure to put on one small jack-o-lantern pieced together during the span of one afternoon nap, and I recognize that this piece is more likely to end up at Goodwill or in a dusty attic than in the home of my grandchildren someday.  I get that.  But it stands for something simple.  Something free.  Something I made.  Something that can follow us wherever we go and can fit with whatever we have—no matter how much or how little we have.  Something that will evoke memories of fall in our house.

Life is unpredictable and sometimes scary.  Jack-o-lantern wall hangings that come out every October like clockwork are predictable and nice.  Traditions may never be trending on Twitter or pinned on Pinterest, but they never go out of style.

Here’s to new traditions, even if they come in the form of  jack-o-lantern wall hangings.

What traditions are you starting with your family this year?

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