“We checked every bulb, didn’t we, Russ?”
“Yeah, Dad, I’m sure of it.”
“We checked every bulb, didn’t we, Russ?”
“Yeah, Dad, I’m sure of it.”
The kids are demonstrating just how cozy they feel in their flannel jammies. I made all of them except for Baby Sprinkaan’s. Each of the girls got a nightgown and a set of button-up pajamas and Konik got two pair of button-up pajamas — his other pair has monkeys and balloons on it. Granota’s nightgown is blue with little brown owls and Rana’s button-up pajamas are hot pink with black foxes.
The boy and girl button-up pajamas are unisex, but I used a different pattern (McCall’s 6458) for Konik’s than I did for the girls (Butterick 5853) because of size differences. I ended up preferring the pattern I used for the girls because it was much more straightforward. The Butterick pattern was put out in 1998 (I picked it up at a thrift store), but the McCall’s is recent. I guess, in trying to improve on a basic pajama pattern, they went and made things needlessly difficult. For instance, the button placket on the McCall’s is a separate piece to sew on rather than just an extension of the front which is then folded over (how things like this are normally done). Also, there was quite a large cuff on the sleeve, which looked cute, but in practicality was a pain in the butt for all involved. First of all, I probably shouldn’t have interfaced it, despite what the pattern told me to do. It was just too heavy. It didn’t fall naturally on Konik’s wrist and, because he’s a 6 year old boy, he ended up tearing it at the seam. Repeatedly. I got so tired of repairing that stupid cuff seam, that I just tore the whole thing off. He was horrified and wailed and cried and told me how mean I was. He got over it after a day or two. That was on the monkey pajamas. I learned my lesson, then, for the train pajamas and just extended the sleeve length to account for the cuff I wasn’t going to put on it and just hemmed it in a regular folded hem. It works much better! The Butterick pattern was already written like that, so I didn’t have to make any modifications on the girls’ pajamas.
The nightgown is actually from a tunic/dress pattern (McCall’s 6500). It’s super simple with an elastic neckline and at the wrists. In fact, I have made iterations of this style numerous times, a several of which have already been shown on this blog. It’s a good workhorse.
There you are: a good dose of coziness and cuteness.
Baby Sprinkaan (18 months) climbing up a sand dune this past summer. If that’s not joyous, I don’t know what is.
Yes, I’ve been gone. However, absence here means productivity in real life! And I have most definitely been productive. I’ll write at more length later about the kids’ Easter outfits, but I know that there are plenty of people who wanted to see the outcome after a solid month of sewing (and some crocheting).
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The last of the Christmas gift round-up! This was another Rana project and definitely not something I would have done with the younger kids. Finding homemade gifts for men can be tricky — it’s easy to find all kinds of cutesy, frilly, girly projects, but something that a man might want or find useful can be a real challenge. Rana had pulled one of her uncle’s names for this last one. Knowing that this uncle uses a wood stove to heat his house, when I found this project for pine cone fire starters, I thought that this was something we could do.
First things first: you need pine cones. Pine cones are plentiful on the other side of the state, but over here on the Western side of the mountains, mostly all we get are fir cones. Fir cones, while bountiful, are worthless, acidic clumps of mush. Some people have to rake leaves from their lawns; we get to rake fir cones, or else they burn up your grass and you have no lawn. Actual pine trees are in sparse supply around here, so in order to get the aforementioned pine cones, we used several of those cinnamon-scented pine cones they sell around the holidays. One advantage to this versus foraging for cones in the wild is that the cones are already dried and opened up.
Other supplies you’ll need are wax (we used an old candle) and wicks (cotton yarn). The basic idea is, you put a wick on the pine cone and coat it in wax, then you chuck the whole thing into the fireplace to get your fire going. We melted down a white candle in our pseudo-double boiler (tuna can in a pot of water). Little known fact: tuna cans float. That made the whole cone-dipping process more exciting. Bobbing for pine cones.
Rana did make a cute video for this, too, but Konik is yelling at me in the background while my mom tries to shush him. Oh well.
I had visions of the cones looking as though they had been frosted with snow. Unfortunately, white wax doesn’t look white unless it’s in a solid chunk, so our pine cones just looked kind of greasy. Hm. Another one of those “live and learn” moments, I guess. Even if they didn’t turn out as pretty as we had counted on, we hope that they are at least functional!
We’re on the last batch of homemade Christmas gifts now with Rana’s contributions. It is fun doing this with a little bit older child since she is capable of more. Since she jumps at the chance to use the sewing machine, I chose a project with some easy sewing: pocket handwarmers.
For each of the kids’ projects, I took little videos where they explained what they were doing and who their recipient was. After Christmas, I shared those videos with our families. But Rana’s video is so funny because she goes into full-on TV hostess mode. And she explains the project as well as I can, plus, she’s cuter. Take it away, Rana! (The picture below will link to the video. Click it!)
After adding the lavender and rice to the little handwarmers, we sewed up the hole and called it good. But then I started thinking that maybe the recipients needed something to store them in during warm months when handwarmers aren’t needed. I whipped up some little pouches while Rana was at school, but let her choose the ribbons for the drawstrings. There! Now they were ready to send off to cousins. Just a few seconds in the microwave, pop them into their coat pockets, and they’ll have toasty fingers.
What is it about making everyday things into unexpected shapes that is so appealing? Square crackers: eh, that’s alright. Circus animal crackers: fun! Straight drinking straws: gets the job done. Twisty straws: fun! Chunks of breaded chicken: edible. Mickey Mouse-shaped nuggets: fun!
That’s the principle at work here. A bar of soap is purely functional. No fun to be had. But soap shaped like little popsicles: that’s funny.
This was a really easy project that Konik and I made for his cousin. We started with two bars of transparent glycerin soap. I couldn’t find uncolored soap, so I was hoping that the orangish-tinted soap we did find would take on more interesting colors. You can see our supplies: soap, a popsicle mold, popsicle sticks, and food coloring.
The hardest part of the whole project was getting the soap to melt. After I chopped it into smaller pieces, Konik loaded up my Pyrex measuring cup and I heated it in our little NuWave oven.
It took several minutes of cooking, stirring, cooking some more to get the entire batch liquified. In retrospect, this probably would have gone much quicker in a saucepan. I think the reason I chose the Pyrex cup was for ease of pouring, but the thing was so dang hot, that I had to do it instead of Konik anyways. The soap was surprisingly stubborn when it came to melting.
He was happy to drip food coloring into each little popsicle mold. Then we took a stick and stirred the coloring around. You can see that we didn’t always get it mixed through and that was due to all the contours and divots in our particular mold. If I were to do this again, I would choose a simpler mold.
The soap begins to harden fairly quickly. We had to hold the sticks steady and centered for just a minute before the soap had congealed enough to support them. Then we set the whole mold aside for a couple of hours to finish hardening all the way through. Aren’t they pretty?
Getting them out was a little tricky, again due to the shape of the molds. A few careful jabs with a table knife was enough to release them, though, and they looked none the worse for the wear. I don’t know why I didn’t get pictures of the finished project. I wrapped each soapsicle — or “pocksible” as Konik calls them — in cellophane tied with a ribbon so that they wouldn’t stick together.
Konik is a pretty good little crafting partner. He follows directions well and really tries his best. I’ll have to try to come up with more little crafts for us to do together throughout the year just to keep his crafty spirit alive!
Second in our little series of homemade Christmas gifts is some fancied-up candy for my little brother. Every Christmas morning, my siblings and I would meet in the hallway between our bedrooms to compare what we had gotten in our stockings. We oohed and ahhed over the little toys and took inventory of the candy. I could make my candy last for weeks; one year when Dad got us one of those giant peppermint sticks, I nearly made it to Easter. I also had some very weird dreams that year (Cars parked at the bottom of a shark-filled swimming pool? Giant nationwide network of tunnels accessed through our house’s crawl space? Weird, and memorable enough to have stuck with me lo, these many years). But my youngest brother was more, shall we say, epicurean and usually had his stocking candy finished by the end of the day. Clearly, the
boy man — he’s a grown-up man (you’re still my baby, Bud) — would not turn down extra Christmas candy.
Enter: The giant peppermint stick. Ok, so these are fun as-is because giant candy is always fun. Bonus: weird dreams. But I thought we should probably dress them up a little bit, as shown here, to make them more festive. Because if giant peppermint sticks are fun, giant peppermint sticks dipped in chocolate and rolled in sprinkles has to be at least 2x as fun. Our grocery store was severely lacking in the sprinkles department. I searched for plain white or heck, even Christmas colors, but all I got was the typical multi-colored batch, more suited to birthday cake than candy canes. And, I love my brother, but not enough to pick through a bottle of tiny sprinkles to pull out all the white ones. Sometimes we have to make compromises.
Granota got a kick out of this project because, for a 6 year old, being allowed to get anywhere near the stove is a big day indeed. First, we melted chocolate chips in my pseudo-double boiler. If I had had any prior candy-making experience, I should have tempered the melting chocolate so that once it hardened again, it would keep that deep, chocolatey color instead of developing a whitish bloom. The color change doesn’t affect the taste of the end product; it just doesn’t look as pretty. But, I didn’t know about tempering until after the fact. Hm. Welp. When it came time for dipping, I tilted the hot pan and Granota carefully took the peppermint stick and rolled one end through the melted chocolate. She let any extra drip off into the pan, and then she rolled the chocolate-covered end in a plate of sprinkles and set the finished candy on a sheet of wax paper to harden. It actually doesn’t take that long for the chocolate to cool and harden, so we had to be fairly efficient with our production line. Her: dipping and rolling; me: tilting the pan and refilling the sprinkle plate.
We had four sticks to do and were doing pretty well until the last one. This particular stick apparently had a more sensitive constitution than the others and suffered thermal shock when Granota dipped it into the hot chocolate. I fished out the broken end with a fork and Granota begged me to please-oh-please let her have that one, y’know, to test, just to be sure, please? please?
Ok, fine. From what I hear, it was pretty good.
Again, they didn’t turn out “perfect,” but Granota put her little 6 year old heart into them and my brother was sweet (ha!) enough to send her a message on Christmas day thanking her. I hope they both feel special.