It's not what you gather, but what you scatter, that tells what kind of a life you have lived.

Monday, May 11, 2009

ABC book 101

I seem to get so busy that I forget to blog! It's crazy, really, because I'm not working right now and should have lots of time to blog. I need to work on my time management, obviously. The flower girl's dresses got done and turned out pretty cute. These two little ones are some of my "other" grandchildren. My daughter's best friend growing up called me mom and now her little ones call me grandma, and I love it! They are darling at two and four. They had nice full petticoats to wear under the dresses for the wedding, but we didn't have them when we tried them on. They also had a nice wide black ribbon sash and a pink and white flower at the front. If Shelley brings me a picture from the wedding, (which was in Georgia, by the way) I'll post it later. Unfortunately, sewing is getting really hard for me, as are most other persuits. My hands are getting worse by the day, and I can't always even tell if I have something between my fingers because of the lack of feeling. My fingers are clumsy, too, and I wind up hitting two keys at a time more often than not when I'm typing, so I have to do a lot of correction. I don't like getting old, and if I could go back and do it all again, I think I would stay about 40 all my life. The early 40's were good. Too bad it doesn't work that way. Oh, well.

Now it's time to get started on that ABC book. We'll start with the title page and A and B. The title page is totally up to you. Actually the whole book is, but I will give you ideas and guidelines and patterns for what I did. From there you go where you want. My pages are sheets of white card stock (you can buy it cheapest at Wal*Mart) cut in half to make 8 1/2 x5 1/2" pages. I cut the corners of the outside edge to look kind of like a tag. Be sure to leave a wide enough border at the inside edge of the pages for the binding. You wouldn't want to be punching holes in your pictures. I like to use comb bindings, which you can have done at Kinko's or somewhere like that. You can also use notebook rings, which can be purchased at Wal*Mart or office supply stores. My title page is purple because the child who is getting the book loves purple. I like to use different fonts, textures, sizes and colors to keep things interesting. It also stimulates the little ones who will be looking at it. I tore the edges of the purple to add another texture and glued it to the page. Easy, huh? I don't think things need to be too complicated, although I got a little carried away on some of the pages.

The A page is Ants carrying Aunts. I tried to put at least two words for each letter, and I wanted them to be fun for the kids, too. I collected photos of all the aunts on both sides of the family, sized them small enough to fit on the strawberries, and put them in the ant's hands. My grandchildren have 5 aunts from my children, plus however many they get from the other side of the family, so I had to really squeeze them in in this particular book, because their daddy has 6 siblings, plus all but two have spouses. I don't have all the aunts there, yet, but they all have a place. I haven't learned how to make and link a PDF file yet, so I have just put in a picture of the pattern. I tried to do the PDF thing, but it didn't work. Sorry. The ant on the left has its hands up over its head, so the strawberry goes up there. The berry goes is front of the other ant, as his hands are outstretched. The berries are red, or dark pink, and the tops are dark green. I used some scrapbook paper that looks like grass for the foreground, and rubbed some light blue chalk in the sky.

The B page is a bunch of little windows with doors that open so you can see inside. I used a lot of bright colors for the doors and the buttons. Under each little door is a sticker. I use butterflies for the girls and bugs for the boys. I used a piece of colored cardstock for the background. Cut the windows in it, being sure to leave enough room in between each one, because the door flap is wider than the opening. Cut a door flap for each window and stitch it on with your sewing machine. This makes the flaps much sturdier than just glue or 2-sided tape. After the flaps are stitched on, glue the background pieces to the pages. Then lift the flaps and put the stickers in the openings. You can decorate the outside of the flaps, too, if you want.
The C and D pages will be the next post, hopefully tomorrow. I will try to keep up with my blogging at least until the book is finished, so come back and check it out.
Now, it's time for me to go. Remember, life is brief and very fragile, so follow your heart wherever it takes you, and be happy. 'Night, Gramma G.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's a hard life, but good.

Life is hard. After not working for over 3 months, my husband has finally gone back to work, and that's a good thing, but.....he's not making enough for us to get out of debt. We will be absolutely broke for the next year, if not longer, and that will cause havoc with his depression. It's a catch-22. But at least he IS working, so we can try to make some headway.

My grandson, Cameron, had his Cub Scout Pinewood Derby in March. His car wasn't very fast, but he had a good time, and that's all that matters. My oldest granddaughter, Cydney, also got the cutest little black puppy while we were there. Some people were in the parking lot with a box full of puppies, knowing full well that where there's kids there will be a better chance to get rid of them. Anyway, her step-mother wouldn't let her keep it, so guess what? I have a new puppy!

The one at the back is Cameron's. Its a worm on a roller skate. When my boys were
 in Cubs, we always made their derby cars different. We had a stick of Big Red gum
once, and a Cub Scout driving a hot dog, and a few other crazy things like that.
 My son is following in my footsteps.
A couple of weekends ago was the Clark County Fair and Rodeo, and I spent some time with my friend Bev in the Humanitarian Aid booth. We knitted hats for the newborns at the county hospital, we tied quilts for the humanitarian aid program of the church, we taught others to knit and tie quilts, and we re-acquainted ourselves with each other. (You can see pictures of the booth at the Bev's Blog link at the right.) She is a good person with a heart of gold, and she is constantly doing something for others. I am glad to call her my friend. She put a few things into perspective for me while we visited, and it was a good few days.

Now I am busy trying to finish three little flower-girl dresses for the wedding of my daughter's best friend's sister-in-law. How's that for a mouthful? The wedding is taking place in Georgia in about 2 1/2 weeks. The dresses are black, and hot pink with black polka dots. They will be really cute, I think. Basically, the only black will be the bodice and the polka dots, and the trim on the bottom of the sleeves. If I remember, I will take a photo and post it. Two of the little girls live here in town, and the other one lives in Georgia. It's a pretty simple pattern, so it won't take long to get them done, I just have to get started! To me, the worst part of sewing is the cutting out. I hate cutting out. Once that's done, its a breeze from there. I'm in the middle of that dreaded part right now, so I will start the actual sewing tomorrow. I enjoy that part.

I am working on that other cute pattern I told you I had for you. That's technically a lie. It's not one pattern, but a series of patterns. It's an alphabet book for little ones, and it's personalized for each one. I made one for my grandson and he really likes it. I'm making the one you will see pictured for another grandson...actually two grandsons. I'm trying to get the pages photographed and all the patterns made, then we'll do one or two pages per post. I think that will work. If not, we'll step it up a little.
Well, that's all for now. I need to get to bed and get some rest. I also am making a quilt top for the same wedding as the dresses, so I will be busy for a while. See you back at the farm. 'Night. Gramma G.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Quiet Dolls

Well, the move has been made and we are back in Nevada again. I really didn't want to leave Montana. I was really happy there, except for the lack of work. We have been here for 3 months without any work, but Chuck finally went to work last week. Hopefully we will be able to get back on our feet soon. Everything just came to a standstill in my life for a while. Thank heaven for family. Our kids have helped us as they could, and my husband's brother and his wife took us in and gave us a place to stay, otherwise, we would be out on the street! We are now the proud buyers (notice I did not say owners) of a 36 ft. travel trailer, and I love it! It has a nice, large slide-out in the living room, so there is a lot of room. From now on, if we have to move, we just take our home with us! I'm slowly getting things put away. I have a lot of STUFF that won't fit, so I am sorting and getting rid of things, and trying to find room for what I really want to keep. We went back to Montana and had a big moving sale at the storage unit, then brought what didn't sell down here and had a yard sale. We will be having another one this weekend, weather permitting, and then what's left will go to the thrift store. This has been really hard for me. I feel sometimes like I'm watching my life go to strangers. I know it's just things, and things aren't that important in the big picture, but I get really attached to my THINGS. And my children don't have the same interest in the things of the past, like family heirlooms, that I do, so things that I've hung on to for years they don't really want, and it's hard to watch those things go to someone else. But maybe they will be better off not being burdened with the things of the past. I don't know.

Well, enough of that. I have some cute patterns for you coming up. We will start with a set of quiet dolls that I first made when my children were little, and they now range from 29 to 35 years old, so this pattern has been around for a long time. I got the pattern in a Relief Society meeting(the women's meeting of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and I have no idea who brought it to the meeting, but a big Thank You goes out to whoever it was, because I've been making these for 30 years for all the toddlers in our family, and that's quite a few. Plus I've shared this pattern with too many people to count. So Thanks, whoever you are!

The dolls are made of felt and they all fit inside one another. The littlest one is a finger puppet, the next one snaps, the next one buttons, the next on ties and the biggest one has a zipper. Use nice bright colors and be sure to sew your decorations on, so that little ones can't get them off and choke on them. The new felt is totally washable, so the dolls are too. Great, huh? All the little ones that I have given these to really liked them, and in my family, I kept these for play at church only, so they were a kind of treat, too. Since they only got to play with them on Sunday, they didn't get old as quickly as those toys they played with everyday.
Enlarge the pattern to fit on a piece of copy paper and they will be the right size. Of course, you can make them any size you want to, but that's the size I make them. Have a good time with these. If you have kids that are a little bit older, they like to help make them, too. And they have some pretty good ideas for how to decorate them, too. I got the idea for a hula dancer from my oldest daughter, who was about 8 at the time, and doing a report on Hawaii. Any chance you get to work with your kids, take it!! Not only does it build a relationship between you, but it also develops an appreciation for all things handmade.

Trace and cut individual patterns from cardboard. Use these as your patterns to trace onto the felt. Cut two of each size from the same bright color of felt. One piece will be the front and one piece will be the back. The backs of numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 will be cut right up the middle. Leave the back of #1 whole. You will also need to cut 1 strip - 1"x4" for number 2 and 2 strips for number 3. (The dolls in the photos only have one strip each.)

Next comes the fun part. Decorate the front of each any way you want. I usually like to take into consideration the likes and interests of the child I'm giving them to. Make each one different and unique, and use lots of bright colors. At the right are some ideas to help you get going. Draw the faces with permanent markers or paint pens and let dry.

Now it's time to put them together. Start sewing with number one. Put wrong side to wrong side and start at one of the marks at the bottom of the pattern. Sew up and around to the other mark, leaving an opening at the bottom. This one is the fingerpuppet.
Next, take the strips you cut for #2 and #3 and fold them in half to make tabs 1"x2". Sew them to the left side of the back pieces on the center edge. (Illustration #1.) The tabs for #3 need to have buttonholes in them to fit whatever buttons you choose. (Big buttons are better for little fingers.) The tab for #2 will have a snap. Match up the two halves of both and sew the buttons on the right half of #3 and the other half of the snap on #2. (Illustration #2.) Number 4 gets two ties. These can be made out of ribbon, or 27" shoelaces, cut in half. If using ribbon, you need 2 27" pieces cut in half. Stitch two halves to each side of #4, leaving an inch at the outside edge to tuck into the seam. Make sure the tip of the shoelace is toward the middle. (Illustration #3.)
Number 5 gets the zipper. Trim 1/4" off each side at the center edge, and stitch in the zipper. A contrasting color of zipper is nice. Now that all the pieces are in place, stitch the other four dolls together. Place front and back together, right sides out, and stitich all the way around. Be sure to tuck the ends of the shoelaces or ribbons around to the wrong side and into the seams.
That's it! You now have a cute and unique set of quiet dolls that will all fit inside one another. They will keep your child occupied for quite some time while helping them learn to tie, button, zip and snap, along with learning their colors. Have fun teaching your child how to use this toy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

Well, the new year is starting with a bang! We will be moving. My husband can't earn a decent living here in Montana, so I guess we will be going back to the desert. As much as we love Montana, we are getting deeper and deeper in the hole, the longer we stay here. But the job we thought he had lined up in Nevada has maybe fallen through now, so I'm not sure what we're going to do. We have given our notice to our landlord and we're supposed to be out of the house by the end of the month, so we better find a place to go really soon!

Sledding with the family.
Been working on getting the website going. I bought a domain name, now I just have to figure out what we need the web page to be so we can get hosting and get it all started. This is more complicated than I thought, but I'll get there eventually. I have a partner, and we'll each have our own items and brand-names under one umbrella website. We will probably have other people's items eventually, too. I am excited to get going on it. I have been cutting out purses and bags, etc. so I can start building up stock, and also for taking photos. I can hardly wait for it to be out there!
I will have a new project for you the next time I post. It wasn't quite ready for tonight. I have also been busy starting to pack and go through things. I am going to have to put most everything in storage until we get settled and come back for it, and I am trying to weed out a lot of unnecessary stuff, so I am not paying storage on a lot of stuff I don't really need. Its hard for me, because I am a packrat. But three big boxes of books are on their way out the door, so that's a good start.
I need to get to bed now, so this is a short post. I will try not to let so much time go by before I post again. Look for a cute project coming up. A quote from J.K. Rowling: "Its our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." 'Night, Gramma G.
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