On it's Way

Oh how I want to show you the fun that is stuffed to the brim in this little suitcase but alas it still needs to wing it's way across the U.S. to my Year of Color partner.. I sure hope she likes it!

Fun and funky cell kit!

EDIT : We are once again sold out of kits!! ( blush blush blush!).. before I buy more supplies I am going to build a waiting list to see if there is enough call for them. Please email me a maddie6@bellsouth.net if you want to be on the list.

Well it took a whole lot longer than I ever thought possible given all the interruptions of late but I am finally ready to get my Fun and Funky Cell kit out there for homeschoolers to enjoy. The kit comes packaged with full instructions and diagrams plus everything you need to make 1 plant cell and 1 animal cell. When finished the cells each measure about 6-7 inches square. Shipping is $2 per kit but shipping can be combined when placing multiple orders. The kits are $10 each and you can contact me at maddie6@bellsouth.net and I can send you a PayPal invoice for the amount due.
Oh!.. and if you want to transform your cells into large magnets so your kids can see them each day on the front of your refrigerator add and extra $1.50 per cell kit for the magnet sheet backing. This project is created to mesh perfectly with the cell study in the Real Science 4 Kids curriculum but works just as well with any study of cells.

Homeschooling Articles

I have a new homeschooling article posted up over at e-How. It's about setting up an easy homeschool filing sytem. Please stop by and check it out ...and if you like it please leave a star rating for me.

Head shakingly sad

My second oldest son spends hours per week volunteering for worthy causes in our city. It's one of the perks of homeschooling that we can make time in our week for such activities. Recently he has begun helping teaching children in one of our inner city schools to read. He works in the 5th grade class with children who have reading levels of 1st and 2nd graders. The work is challenging since these kids as a rule don't get a lot of help at home and books are a luxury that just don't appear in their lives.
It seems that another thing that does not appear in their lives is a consistent classroom teacher. In a conversation today with my son I found out that the school he volunteers in is mostly staffed by substitute teachers since the school can offer so little support to it's teachers that they are unable to keep full time teachers in the school.
So.. ok.. this is not good to say the least.. but wait wait.. it gets worse!.. It seems that there is some sort of law/ policy that if a substitute teacher is employed for more than 20 straight days that they must be given a pay raise that brings them up to the pay level of a full time teacher ( I would assume that this is less benefits).. so.. as for this not to happen our local school system and the school my son volunteers in in particular keeps no substitute for more than 19 days. So this means that these kids get a new teacher every 19 DAYS! This is a particular problem for the inner city schools and we then wonder why children trapped at these schools, fail, drop out early and over all don't give a f@ck.

SO much fun

Not a lot of time to post today but I did want to say that I am having tons of fun putting together my little V-day Garland prezzie for the drawing at the end of the month and am also working on some super cute stuff for my swap partner from the Year of Color... gads.. i feel just like a nervous school girl.. I sure hope she likes it!

Grocery gettings...

I will come clean here... I love to grocery shop at the expensive small store in our town.. it's called the Fresh Market It's the holy grail of grocery stores.. it's beautiful, smells good and the people for the most part know their stuff and if they don't they are at least polite about it.

Most of all I love the food, creamy soft fingerling potatoes, nice fresh tofu, wonderufl fresh herbs, fancy pie filling... delicious!
Welcome back! and please cast your glance towards this fun little garland.

I am sorry that I am getting here later than I had hoped today. All my fault since I am obviously nothing more than a technological Luddite. For the better part of the morning my keyboard was not working right. I was getting all sorts of errors and garbage typing when I went to compose. So of course I swore, and grunted, fussed and fumed and generally carried on about the shoddy goods that are produced these days.
You see this is not even stupid once, it's stupid TWO TIMES.. as I was cursing at my wireless keyboard that goes to my LAP TOP ~hint hint~ it finally occurred to me.. Wireless...~looks deep into brain~ WIRE--LESS.. hmmm could the batteries be low?.. well why yes the little red light on the keyboard was not but a mere glimmer when it is a normally blinding laser light of justice!.. so after a nice " I could have had a V-8" style head smack I go to hunt up some batteries in the BATTERY DRAWER.. and yes.. you are quick.. NO AA batteries. Not a one.. even after I just bought the smack-load sized pack at Sam's last month! So back to fuming at children with MP3 players that do not recharge and the world in general and then making a big fuss about the fact that I was going to have to go to the store in our oh-so cold 16 degree weather .. then and only then did one of my little cherubs ask me why I could not just type on the LAPTOP keyboard ..yes I am just that stupid sometimes. ~sigh~
Anyway.. on with the show! I will assume at this point that you have downloaded and printed off some BINGO cards and vintage valentines. Depending on how big you want your garland will determine how many to print. I have 6 of each image (not pages) and it makes a 5ish foot garland. I recommend printing onto cream colored light weight card stock but white will work.
After printing, cut out the cards into triangles for the BINGO cards and to shape for the valentines. It's then time to give them that "vintage" look that you would have if you just happened to own a whole pile of old BINGO cards and some vintage V-day cards.
I like to rub the paper lightly on the edges with a light brown ink pad and also go lightly over the face and back of the item. Add to that some stick glue on the edges and then dip the cards in a bit of glitter if you are so inclined ( I am inclined, I love glitter.. sick I know.. but the sparkle is magic to me).
Now let them dry for a bit and when easy to handle come back in and add small bits of detail and fluff. I chose to use some nice blue glitter and hi-light the blue parts on each valentine.
I was a bit willy nilly with this and sometimes it was bows and skirt, sometimes shoes and bow, really whatever blew my skirt up at the moment. This is the totally free form part, make it yours!Moving right along I raided the button box to find some great red buttons to put on the point of each BINGO card triangle. This served two purposes, first.. cute cute cute.. second, it added some weight to the garland assuring that it would hang well. At that point I let them whole thing dry over-night and then the next morning I brushed off all the extra glitter and punch holes in the corners and strung it up on a ribbon. I chose black, not the most V-day color but the red ribbon I had was "too-red" compared to the vintage tone of the project. In the give-away kit I am going to include either cream ribbon or red and white bakers twine for stringing... see, I learn from my mistakes!

For a little bloggy-bonus I am including a mated pair of genuine vintage - bought directly from a little old lady garage sale- cardinals. These guys add the sweetest touch to hanging this banner and I hope the winner of the package really enjoys them! I have mine mounted on little clothes pins but I think it might be super cute to hook the banner ribbon to their beaks with a bit of hot glue and then use them to hold the banner that way.

Please consider leaving at least a short comment when you download the file, it's nice to know when people appreciate the time we blogger take to make these projects. Remember, to have a chance at winning the vintage garland kit with all the supplies ready to go ( including glitter, glue, birds and printed images) you will need to post a link up on your blog and then let me know about it. Drawing will be on Saturday the 31st!
** Edited to say.. yep.. turns out that my head is up my arse and not everyone has a blog, so if you let me know in the comment line I will enter your blog-less little name in the contest too!

Valentine Garland for you!

I hope everyone enjoys the this tiny little project in preparation for the month of February. As opposed to just one day I think it's a fine idea to spend the whole month letting the people you love know how much you care about them. ( Not that you shouldn't during other parts of a year but people start to wonder about you if you pass out Valentines in July!)

The printable supplies for this project can be found here:

The sheet of Vintage Valentines & Sheet of BINGO cards These are PDF files and when you get to the download site just bypass all of their adware and go to the gray box ( #2) towards the middle center of the screen and click to download the files.

Tomorrow I will be back with some loverly instructions. But.. wait wait.. there's more!.. I have one premade v- day banner kit in a super cute tin to give away to one lucky lucky blog reader. Here is the deal.. let people on your blog know about the free download/project here and then let me know you did it by leaving a comment.. i will then put your name in the hat for the free goodies and a very cute bonus that everyone will see tomorrow!. simple hu? and of course the people you tell about it can do the same thing.. etc etc....

See you then!

Valentines Banner with Vintage cards

It might be blue and white over at the Year of Color and I do promise to get to that soon but honestly who can resist playing with Valentines stuff??? Today during a run through our local megga thrift I scored a vintage vacuum flask for a dear friend and a whole smack load of BINGO cards! So once home and after the family was fed I ran to my craft room and started playing.

The colors of red and white in the BINGO cards just seemed to say Valentine so I pulled out my small but precious stock of vintage valentines. I am mid glitter ( or as my teen son says.. "The herpes of the craft world") but when done this will be a Valentine's Day Garland. I am thinking of PDfing this and making it into a free printable little kit with instruction if anyone is interested.

In other news my 11 year old got it in his mind to make Biscotti today (yes all by himself.. recipe from the Joy of Cooking)... DANG it is good. Alas I am not suppose to have any so have been trying to be good... but I swear I can hear it calling me from the kitchen. I thought I might just die when he also decided to dip it in chocolate! Here it is.. pre-dip!

ohhhh..maybe just one.

Pocket Knives for Kids

You don't have to be a Boy Scout to know that a small knife can be a handy thing to have around but when to get ( or give) that first knife can be of great debate. In our house somewhere between 7-8 is the right age, but I know 12 year olds who are not ready for the responsibility so you need to let your good parenting sense be your guide.

As for what knife to choose, hands down I like to go with the classic Swiss Army knife. Mind you, just because it's a classic does not mean it has to be dull. Today you can find SAK's in everything from the classic red to a wild cheetah-print so on this one let your fashion sense be your guide. I will note here that many families have great knives that are passed down from father to child but I don't think that this is the right time to give that knife. Remember, this is a first knife experience and you don't want it ruined by a child losing or accidentally damaging great great great grandpa's knife that came with him from the "old country". Better to save that knife for a meaningful life transition like High School graduation.

Pick a knife small enough so it fits in the hand, does not weigh down the pocket but not so small that the blade strength is compromised in use. I like this one, 2 1/4 inches and quite snazzy to look at. Check here for for some other nice examples. I am rather smitten with the floral one and might have to upgrade my own SAK to that one.

Things for children to rember ( and for you to teach):

  • Never use the knife blade for prying things open. This is a great way to snap off the blade and even a better way to get a serious cut.

  • Learn to sharpen the knife. A dull knife is dangerous since you then put to much force into the stroke and lose control in the process.

  • Make sure knife blade is fully locked open before use and close it right after, no exceptions

  • Cut away from the body - ALWAYS

  • No throwing the knife to try to sink it in an object, like a tree or the soil. This will ruin your knife and show that you are not responsible enough to own one yet.

As for a first project I like to start with a firm talking to that establishes our family knife rules and then some front porch whittling. One of the cutest starter projects I have seen to date is here at ReserectionFern

How stinking cute is this??

Now... go give it a try and enjoy some time with your child!

On Raising Renaissance Children...

I don't spend a lot of time talking about parenting on this blog since at times it can feel a bit like "talking shop" since the truth of the matter is that my current biggest and more important job is raising and educating my children. Any crafting I fit in around that is just a sanity booster and many a personal project or dream has been put aside for now so that I can do this job to the best of my ability and not short change my children in the process.

One of my most important tasks in parenting has been to prepare my children for life "out of the nest" For me this means exposing the children to a wide variety of experiences and helping them as they learn a plethora of skills that will serve them well in life. Everything from learning to really cook ( not just heat stuff up in the microwave) to knowing how to fix plumbing or change a tire on a car. For me these items are second nature since I grew up in a "can do" house with a father who tackled each task with what seemed to me total certainty that he could deal with whatever it was that had gone wrong.
I have clear memories of one day following him up the ladder and walking across the ridge of our house roof as he hunted down a ceiling leak in our kitchen. If he was horrified when he turned around to see me there he did not let on but did caution me to watch my footing and to sit down by the chimney, " since that was a great place to watch from" he said. The view from up on the roof was wonderful and I remember feeling pretty darn special and capable getting to do something so grown up as sitting up there. After a while he let me scoot along the ridge and help him put in some flashing and a patch where he had found a place where some shingles had blown off from that famous Oklahoma wind.
It's these sort of memories to which I hold tight as I introduce my children to skills and tasks that many able bodied adults are fearful to try and at the very least seem to think that children are not capable of doing. I mean really!, these days most kids don't even have their own pocket knife! We live in a culture that tells kids to "say no to drugs" but does not trust them to carry a 1.5 inch long mini Swiss Army knife! ( yes I know that children who go to school cannot take any sort of knife or " dangerous drug" such as cough lozenges but there is still the weekend and Summer. I am talking an attitude not the piss-ant details of modern life.)
So to that end each week I hope to offer a skill building lesson that you can introduce to your child. And if I can really get my act together we might have a little give away to go with each project.
First Lesson ( Full lesson posted next week) - Using a knife in the kitchen/Using a knife in life. This would be a great time to present your child with their first Pocket knife. Small Swiss Army knives can be found at most retailers these days. And while you don't have to spend a fortune don't get one at the dollar store since the blade will not hold an edge and a dull blade is even more dangerous than a sharp one. Target has a wonderful selection in all sorts of fun colors and sizes just right for small hands. Each family has to use their best judgement about this but I feel quite comfortable starting my children when they are about 7 years old. So if you would like to work on this lesson with your child scamper off to your nearest Target and get a small pocket knife and while you are there get a small kitchen knife that will be the one they use to learn about knives in the kitchen. I suggest a paring knife ( 2-4 inch blade) with a slight saw tooth to help in getting a grip on food for your new kitchen assistant. ( HA!.. see you thought I was just so altruistic.. believe you me, when you have potatoes for 7 people to prepare you appreciate a kid who knows their way around a knife!)

A whole year of fun!

I think that this is going to be a whole lot of fun and well worth the $12 Click HERE for more information.

What's new in the house...

Perhaps you are wondering.. Maddie has not shown off any cool finds of late.. has she given up thrifting?.. no no dear reader, I still thrift but am trying to cut back since my house is about to explode with thrifty goodness as it is!. But fear not, the occasional find is just tooooo fruity delicious to pass up. Enter the standard issue public school wonderfulness of these desks. One is a marvy blue and the other we are calling melon orange since since calling it pink or "salmon" makes it hard to get a little boy it sit at it each day!
In anycase the desks were a steal at $10 each and solve the " he's jiggling his foot and kicking the table cry" that I often hear. The legs need to be sanded and given a nice new coat of metal paint but that will have to wait until Spring since spray painting indoors is lethal stuff!

In other news it seems I continue my love/obsession with little wicker suitcases. It really borders on crazy at this point but I sure do love them and find them perfect for storing so many different craft supplies by topic or purpose. I found a cute little one about two weeks ago and it is holding my rubber stamps and my big new one is the perfect size for all my Gocco inks and masters.

My guidelines for purchase are simple but help in keeping me from bringing home every little wicker piece I see. They must have good strong hinges, in tact handles and a good closure. I usually strip out the insides since they are often fitted with straps to hold tea party of picnic stuff.. and if needed i then insert a piece of Luan board in the lid that I have fitted out to hold what I need to store. ( example: little loops sized to hold paintbrushes etc..)
In yet more news, we had a HUGE tree taken down. Why you ask.? ( after all we are tree huggers). Well, just take a gander at how much this 89 year old fellow was listing over, right into my house! Over the past month of rather heavy rains for our area the tree seemed to be lifting from the ground and leaning more each day. We loved that tree but we loved our house and our cars even more so out it had to come ( cha-ching!). The ground was too wet to bring in the big boom truck so the guys hand climbed it and brought it down limb by limb. If you look very carefully at the photo you can see they guy in the tree as he was stripping the left side of the tree on the way up. The boys spent their whole afternoon watching them work, from way far on the OTHER side of the driveway!

More Gocco Fun

Ok.... so much fun for such a small package! I used my "new to me" Gocco for two Baby Shower gifts that I needed in the next few weeks. Luck was with me and both babies are going to be boys so I sort of double dipped and made them the same thing. The image came from a sweet blogger friend and was just perfect for these little onesies. The colors in the cloth ink are sort of limited so I mixed this one up from white and a touch of bright blue. I made 6 onesies in all but could have printed more if I had more little baby things on which to print.
The plaid you see behind the outfits is the fabric I used to sew up little bags to put the gifts into. It was super cute fabric but the registration was off on the print making it a real bugger to work with.
Next up with the Gocco are some Chalice and flame cards for my work with my church.


Like most people I launch into January with thoughts of getting organized. My first victim was my own craft studio since it's hard to rag on other people when your own stuff looks totally hellish!

This is before
And this is AFTER!
I am pleased with how it came out. I used the easy to mount Closet Maid Easy Track system which is about a hillion jillion times easier than some of the other systems out there. The key to the Easy track is on main VERY stout track that you hang at the top of it all and the uprights hang from there. This also makes it very flexible but in my case I was just going for straight strong shelves.
In other news I just about found the top of the dresser I use for storage of larger pieces of fabric but it needs a new paint job and some handles so yet another thing to add to my " to-do" list.
Folded fabric section is looking pretty good, now if I could just keep the cats off the stacks of fabric! I am still using this surface for touch up ironing so that I don't have to pull down the board each time. It's working well.

The sewing corner is a bit of a wild thing but not to bad over all. I need to do something with my chair.. the old orange vinyl is on it's last days and begging for a redo.
Next Up : The Schooling room {cue the spooky music}