Friday, October 28, 2011

Crochet Therapy

The Italian school system is different than the American school system in several ways; one being my second grader does not go to school all day, every day.  Three days a week he gets out of school before lunch.  On the “short days” he brings home homework, and lots of it.  Bouncing Boy and I STRUGGLED through homework last year, but over the summer I learned (they have tons of homework during the Summer, too) if I have something that keeps me busy, but not so busy I can’t be constantly interrupted, homework is so much less frustrating.  Crocheting proves to be just what we need to get the homework done.  Bouncing Boy can procrastinate all he wants and I don’t have to get all worked up about it. 
When school started I began two projects, one adult hat and scarf and one child’s hat.  The adult hat is another pattern from CrocheTrend.  This was my second pattern from CrocheTrend (see the first).  The directions are very clear, concise, and are accompanied by a great illustration.  The hat and scarf use a shell pattern.  This was my first time making shells, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Shells are just complicated enough that I didn’t get bored doing the same thing over and over again, but not so complicated they distracted me during the homework.  I think the hat and scarf turned out great and they more than likely will end up being a present for someone. 

The other project I began when school started was an owl hat from Crazy Socks Crochet, for Baby Girl.  She has a thing for owls.  This hat is mostly just single crochet stitches.  I actually had to do several redos on this hat.  Apparently during homework-crochet-therapy my stitches can get VERY tight.  So my first attempt at the hat was way too little.  The second go around I used a bigger hook.  Everything was going along pretty good until I got to the ear flaps; there I learned that apparently I can’t count.  So I had another redo.  Then I when I went to stitch the face on the owl I really should have gone out to the car to retrieve my pins, but I was being lazy.   Why would my pins be in the car you ask?  I taught a sewing class earlier in the day and didn’t unload the car.  So the face is a little off to one side, however, when the owl hat goes on Baby Girl’s head all I see is cuteness....

 ....and I forget about all the struggles I had and could you not smile.
Next up is a monster hat for Bouncing Boy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Party!

Halloween in Italy is catching on, but it is no where near as big as it is in the United States.  We had the great fortune of attending a Halloween Party hosted by some American friends on the grounds of an Italian Villa.  

There was a wonderful mix of Italian and American children sharing the Halloween excitement.

Since most Italian children do not go trick-or-treating the host set up craft table for children to make their own Halloween bags.  My children however, have been waiting for over a month now to use their Monster Bags!

We all shared a very American dinner of chili, hot dogs, sloppy Joes, and all the trimmings.  As it started to get dark we were lead through a "trick-or-treat" trail that twisted through the grounds of the Villa.

Along the way different spooky and silly characters handed out Halloween treats to the eager children. 

The Green Man was handing out my Halloween treat contribution....MONSTER COOKIES!

Afterwards the children roasted marshmallows and ate Smores. 

 A good time was had by all, I think it was the most Halloween fun I've had since leaving the States! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Phase Two

During Phase One my son and I were working on a 1950's space inspired costume.  We worked for a couple of days on a paper model and then he came home from school with this....

He decided that instead of the Buck Rogers / Flash Gordon type, he would rather be a robot that wears a mask.  A month passed, I was very busy taking online classes.  Yesterday Bouncing Boy and I FINALLY moved on to phase two of our project.  We tweaked the mask just a little bit; made the eye hole a tiny bit bigger and moved the breathing vents up to where his nose and mouth are.  Examining his design closely, I was really impressed with one of his "technical" solutions.  In order to help the mask not slide down he had cut little pieces out that fit over the ears, "like sunglasses!"  We kept that little bit of genius in the final design!   He decided on the colors, blue and black with a red jewel.  We worked out together where to put the blue and the black and the jewel.  I cut the mask out of craft foam and taped it together just to make sure we had everything just right.  

Bouncing Boy really wanted me to paint the jewel so it looked "like it sticks out."  With his excited approval I painted the whole mask "like it sticks out."  

Today we glue it all together and work out the details to the rest of the costume.  I love collaborating on costumes with him.  He is full of fun creative ideas, and he is really good at listening to other ideas, too.  
While Bouncing Boy and I were busy with the mask, Baby Girl entertained herself by making "shoes."

You gotta love the creativity, but good grief what a MESS!
Stay tuned for Phase Three!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Joy of Making Birthday Presents

Recently we were invited to the Birthday Party of a 3 year old friend.  My children were very excited about a trip to the toy store to buy present,  however, I had something different in mind.  After inquiring about what our young friend would like for her birthday (anything girlie or princessie), I remembered all the time she  spent playing dress-up the last time she visiting our house.  I decided to make her a tutu.  My children were NOT excited about this idea, after all I had just nixed their trip to the toy store.  My Bouncing Boy decided to hang out with his father, but Baby Girl choose to go with me to the fabric store.  I let her choose the colors for the tulle and the ribbon.  She was very excited to help, and the toy store disappointment quickly faded.  While I put the tutu together the children drew some really beautiful pictures for their friend.

No-sew Tutu with knotted ends, embellished with ribbon roses and a headband and necklace to match!

The children thoroughly enjoyed the Birthday Party.  When it came time to open our present the first words out of my son's mouth were, "My mom made it!" proud as can be.  Our young friend LOVED her tutu and matching headband and necklace.  In the end the missed trip to the toy store was forgotten and my children were just as excited as our young friend.  I really hope that I pass along to my children my feelings about presents....

Happy, Birthday Ballerina! 

Finding a present for someone is always fun, but making a present for someone is an extra-special kind of fun!

Friday, October 21, 2011

View From the Clothesline Part II: A Happy Ending After All!

I was very saddened by the camera events that occurred yesterday.  When I looked out the kitchen window this morning and saw this....

Pink mountains, PINK MOUNTAINS!!!! I had to try the camera one more time.  I crossed my fingers and ran outside.  Miracle of all miracles the camera WORKED!  The electronic gods smiled upon me.  Thrown from the top of the car, left in the rain, dropped on the floor, and she still just keeps on taking pictures.  I've decided she and I were meant to be together.  I named her Viola, and drew a little heart on her purple duct tape "band-aide,"  and then took her out for a walk in the sun.  We walked with my favorite baby and her mother over the hills and through the vinyards. Happy, happy, happy day!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The View From the Clothesline

 I love to take my camera with me to the clothesline.  Perhaps it has something to do with the view.  This was the view from the clothesline the second to the last time I took my camera out....

The clothesline is right next to the garden so if I have my camera with me I stop and take some shots there too..

 It makes me feel happy and peaceful.  I enjoy hanging out the laundry and taking lovely photos on beautiful days.

 Two days ago was one such lovely day.  I was happily hanging out the clothes when an insect caught my eye.  I decided to run back inside and grab the camera.

When I returned the insect was gone.   I hung the camera up on a little hook near the garden and finished hanging up the clothes.

This morning I needed the camera....then I remembered where I had left it....panic hit when I looked out the window at the pour rain....
All hope was not lost, after all, this is the camera that survived a fall from the top of the car on to the road (it's spent the last two years held together with purple duct tape).  I took the battery out, set the camera near the heater to dry and went off to teach my watercolor class.  5 hours later, when I put the battery back in, the camera made a little noise.... my hopes shoot through the ceiling.....then the screen came on....I felt like I'd escaped disaster....then the burning smell started....I tried to quickly remove the battery....then came the loud, startling *POP*....the camera went flying out of my hands, through the air, and landed on the floor, the duct tape popped off and the battery fell out...the camera she is dead.  *sobbing*

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

More Happy Little Fairies

Yesterday marked the conclusion of a two-part fairy wings and tutu class, and just in time for Halloween.  I am so excited about the creativity my students brought to the class!  We had a very small class, but one of my favorite classes of all time.  It is always my goal to encourage students to use their creativity.  For the class, I provided outlines of 3 wing patterns from last year, plus the two new ones I created for this year, as a starting place for students.  This year I had one student create her own wing pattern, another alter existing wings, and 2 more students use existing wing patterns, but paint them in very creative ways.  These ladies all get gold stars for creativity and super cute one-of-a-kind Halloween costumes!
Class began by choosing or creating wing shapes, and then we moved on to painting.
One student created a bat wing pattern.  She had a great beginning, but was unable to attend the second class.  I really hope I get the chance to see the project finished!

After the wings were painted students made no-sew tutus using a method that yours truly created to avoid the tangled, rolled up mess that can sometimes accompany making no-sew tutus.   

Once the tutus were finished, students finished and embellished their wings. 

These wings and tutu were designed to go with a pig hat, which I think will be absolutely adorable, and super fun!

I love the boldness of these wings and the sunflowers make the perfect accents!
These lovely tri-colored wings and tutu were designed to go with a Tinker Bell costume.  This student so enjoyed making wings, that she plans to make another pair for her upcoming wedding!

Thanks for the inspiring class! Those are some lucky kiddos! 

If you are interested in making your own fairy wings and tutu, this pattern with a full set of illustrated, detailed instructions is available on Etsy.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Monster Bags

 I made these really fun Monster bags.  But I thought they could use a little more "personality"...
monster bag
Perhaps "personality" would have been easier to 
add in the preliminary steps, but I managed.
Love, love, love the results.  By the end in my little adventure of "personality" I wished I had more bags to fit all of the personality ideas that popped into my wee little brain.   
monster bag
 Meet the Ladies...
monster bag
and the Fellas. 
monster bag
 The only way in and out of the Monster bag is through mouth, which I think adds extra fun.  
monster bag

During our photo shoot...
monster bag
Little One Eye Miss got a little HUNGRY!