Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Making Do

I actually completed the project at the bottom of the page before this one, but am having the usual problem rearranging the photos. After I had done Flopsy's room, the older girls wanted something done to their room, so I sewed off and on for 3 days making everybody happy.

The older girls' room is in the finished daylight basement, so their window is a short one. I took regular sized long curtain panels and cut them to fit. After hemming, I sewed ribbon along the seams. I didn't have to do casings because I used the clip-on rings with a cafe rod. Very easy.

I then took the leftover curtain material and paired it with a cheerful seersucker print I have had around for a while to make pillows. I trimmed them with the same ribbon. I'd never made the bolster-type pillows before but they were actually quite easy. I cut a rectangle of the seersucker, sewed a shorter rectangle of the yellow fabric to each short side, folded the whole thing in half length-wise and sewed the long edges together. I sewed a narrow casing on each (yellow) end and turned the whole thing right-side-out. I threaded multiple colors of baby ribbon through one casing and pulled it tight, knotting it. After stuffing the resulting "bag", I threaded the same ribbon through the other casing and pulled it tight. Voila!

The first project was, as I mentioned, Flopsy's room. We had been given a very pretty comforter that was, shall we say, a little outsized for a twin bed. Ok, it was a king size. I hated to get rid of it but it was really unusable. I even tried it on our queen sized bed, but it was STILL too big. After a while, I figured that I had nothing to lose, so I measured it for a twin bed and cut off the rest. I ripped the seam on the bit I had cut off and removed the ruffle. Then I sewed the open side shut, inserting the ruffle as I went. You can't tell the difference.
I had all of this nice fabric left over (you can see it's contrasting) so I decided to make some pillows. I made one square one and had enough ruffle to trim it with. Then I made the cylindrical one, doing it more simply than the ones above. In fact, I recycled the batting from the comforter as pillow-stuffing. I still had quite a bit of material. I moved two antique chairs into her room and recovered the seats. And yes, I still have fabric left over. I'm thinking...

We had recently painted this room and the yellow is so cheerful. I can tell it will look nice in all seasons. You can see why I was so anxious to use this comforter! I don't know about the green curtains though. They look a bit strange from the street. I can't believe I managed to redo this room with one hand-me-down comforter!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Children's Books Everyone Should Read

This is by no means an exhaustive list. For one thing, there's not room. For another, I come with all sorts of biases. Some books I truly enjoy but have not included, thinking that other adults probably would not enjoy them. Some, that others think should be on the list, I haven't included because either I haven't read them or I did, but didn't myself like. Feel more than welcome to add your own personal favorites in the comments.

These are in no particular order. For some reason, I am lately unable to move pictures about on the page after I've added them.

Tom's Midnight Garden won't appeal to all, but it is a very well written, imaginative book.

George MacDonald was a great influence on such writers as Lewis Caroll, C.S.Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien.

This is really a poem, but I'm including it anyway. I particularly like the illustrations of Kevin Maddison in this edition. It's pure fun.

Everyone should immediately put the Disney version of Mary Poppins out of his head. Disney is all very well in its place, but has the unfortunate effect of convincing people that they now know all about the original story and have no need to read the book. Bosh. Mary Poppins and its sequels are much, much better than the movie, which bears almost no resemblance to the book.

I was fortunate to find this one in grade school. I keep forgetting to get a copy for my children. They would love it. Delightful.

Half Magic is heavily influenced by the books of E. Nesbit, a fact that is actually stated within the story. It is the first of a series. I think the books by Edward Eager are much more obviously humorous than those by E. Nesbit, but I enjoy them all.

And we finally arrive at E. Nesbit. I've only pictured Five Children and It, but The Story of the Treasure Seekers is also wonderful. Both are the first in their series. The children depicted are very real and not condescended to.

These three tales by J.R.R. Tolkien are great bedtime reading (as, frankly, are all of the books here). Tolkien has developed an unfortunate reputation of being hard, and these books are a definite antidote to that. Roverandom is much more the children's story than the first two, but I like it none the worse for that.

I hope the sight of Bread and Jam for Frances is inspiring nostalgic smiles. All of the Frances books are fun. Gloria and her string bean (to practice on)...who wouldn't like that?

Aha, the controversial one. All I can say is that when I was a child, Little Black Sambo was a favorite read-aloud book in our house. I think it was an absolute favorite of my sister Rebecca's. I hear there are politically correct versions of this floating around. Mercifully, the original is still obtainable.

Beatrix Potter is seriously underrated. Today her corpus seems to be reduced to nursery decorations and bib mottoes. Father gave me the complete works of Beatrix Potter while we were dating. Obviously, we are well suited.

Two stories stand out as my favorites (and neither is Peter Rabbit). The first is The Tale of the Pie and the Patty Pan. This is classic humor, reminiscent of Shakespeare. I am almost incapable of reading it aloud because I can't stop laughing.

The second is The Tale of Ginger and Pickles. I could read this daily and never tire of it. If no one can muster the courage to go buy it, I may order a case of them and send them out as Christmas presents.

I didn't want to make this an interminable post, so here is a list of some more of my favorites without pictures:

My Side of the Mountain
Winnie the Pooh (really, read it - very funny)
The Narnia books
Alice in Wonderland (forget Disney)
The Hobbit
The Wind in the Willows (especially nice for summer)
The Borrowers (all five in the series)
Watership Down (more serious, but a great read)
The Cricket in Times Square
The Giver
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (hilarious!)
the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary (so true to life)

Here is a list I found while writing this post. Someone else has been working hard making a more exhaustive canon.

Happy reading!

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 4th 2007

I was looking through some Fourth of July photos from 2 years ago and couldn't resist posting a few. Pickles was such a baby! The photo on the banner is from that vacation too.

Look at these two! They were waiting for the fireworks to start. Father said it's like a Tragedy/Comedy mask...

Everybody lined up to watch fireworks.

Cupcake fest:

These were taken earlier in the day. So much for the lovely, winsome smiles I was hoping for. Everyone was almost in tears. Actually, Pickles WAS in tears.

This stands as one of my all-time favorite pictures:

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

This is the first Fourth that I didn't have to work in the last 4-5 years. Yay! We took off after supper into town to go to an outdoor concert put on by the community orchestra/band. Ribby was less than thrilled that I took a picture.

There was plenty of room but I wish we could have been closer. The children really seemed to enjoy it (for the most part).

Sorry so blurry. They had an 8 year old prodigy from Virginia playing the coronet on a few pieces. He was amazing. He wore a white coat and a cowboy hat.

 Ginger really gets into music. He likes to play all of the instruments and he dances like a combination of Mr. Bean and Elaine from "Seinfeld". [note: Apparently he and some other children got up on stage during the Melkite food festival and danced to the music (while visiting friends). We didn't see it, but we heard he had everyone in stitches.] Sorry the picture is so shaky: the combination of inexperience and laughter made it very difficult to hold still.
video video
They did a medley of Glenn Miller songs. After a few moments three couples got up to dance on the sidewalk nearby. They were pretty good!
They wound up with "Stars and Stripes Forever" with a guest conductor (chosen by lottery from the crowd). We all clapped with the music then packed up to go see the fireworks. We only had to walk about a half of a block.

It was a most enjoyable evening and the kids are all tired out (and in bed). I hope everyone had as much fun as we did!