Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Our Favorite Fall Board Books

We love, love, love books around here.  On any given day we will read, I would guess, between 15 and 30 board books.  As a general rule, I steer clear of books that have commercial characters (i.e. "Dora," Disney characters etc.) and the book has to grab me with either a wonderful story, wonderful illustrations, or in a perfect world, both.  It is back to school week here in Vermont and so I thought I would share some of our fall favorite board books:

The Busy Little Squirrel: This book follows a squirrel getting ready for the winter.  He passes lots of different types of animals who ask him to do things with them, but he can't because he's "sooo busy!".  At the end, he is snug in his nest in a tree, all ready for winter.  I like the theme of this book as well as the illustrations, and it was one of my sons favorite books last fall.

Leaves:  A great book about the changing of the seasons told through the eyes of a bear in his first autumn.  I love this story and the illustrations are beautiful, my son however is not a fan....yet...

Owl Babies:  This isn't exactly a fall book, but seems to fit in with the others.  Three baby owls wake up to find their owl mother gone, they worry she won't return and then she does, because mama's always come back to their babies.  This is one of our favorite, favorite books, we read it all the time, but especially in the fall when I have to head back to work...

Mouse's First Fall: Mouse and Minka go out to play on a fall day and notice the colors, shapes, and sounds that leaves make.  A good, basic fall book with vibrant illustrations.

The Little Blue Truck:  This book is not a "fall" book but the illustrations are decidedly autumnal.  It's a wonderful, wonderful story and by far one of my sons favorite books of all that we own.  He loves the sound effects and when I bounce him on the "bump, bump, bump" page.  A must have in any board book library.  (We are anxiously awaiting Little Blue Truck's will be at the top of our list this holiday season!)

Duck & Goose Find a Pumpkin:  Duck and Goose want a pumpkin and look everywhere for one...everywhere except the pumpkin patch.  Eventually they find one and are thrilled with what great pumpkin finders they are.  A silly, fun book with simple text and bright illustrations.

Autumn:  A wordless picture book with beautiful illustrations of all of the wonderful things you can do in the fall.  We like looking through it and pointing out the things we see in the pictures.  This whole series is wonderful!

This year we are hoping to add: Apples and Pumpkins, Apple Farmer Annie, Apples, Apples!, and Herbst to our collection (we don't have any apple board books, how can this be!?).

Stay tuned at the tail end of September for our favorite Halloween Board Books!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Beautiful Things for Boys: Triangle Quilt

I made this quilt for my son in the few months before he was born.  Honestly, the hardest part for me was making a final decision on which fabrics to use.  I ended up making it with solids, mostly in neutral colors--blues, grays, whites, browns, tans.  I cut each fat quarter into 5" squares and then cut them diagonally.  I randomly arranged them and rearranged them until I felt happy with the placement (I find it super helpful to take pictures of my quilts before I sew them together, for whatever reason the camera always reveals more than my bare eye does and I usually make changes that I like so much better!).

I sewed them together with a quarter inch seam, used cotton batting, and backed and bound it with Kona Cotton in Charcoal.  I chose to quilt it with straight lines a quarter inch away from each seam, making a grid pattern.  I also embroidered a little message to my sweet boy.  I love, love, love how this turned out.  As much as I love fun prints, there is something so soothing and beautiful about a quilt made in solids.  I hope my sweet boy will love it just as much as I do someday!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Aid Washcloths

After I got pregnant it suddenly became incredibly important to me that I have a well rounded first aid kit...I don't know exactly why, it just seemed impossible to be motherly without one.  So, I obsessed for weeks looking for and writing down natural cures, finding the perfect box for bandaids etc., and somewhere along the way I saw a recommendation to have red washcloths in your kit for tending to younger children so the blood on the cloth doesn't scare them (or their mamas!;)).  Genius.  

So even though I had a million other things to do to prepare for a baby, I found myself knitting these.  They are just simple garter stitch cloths, nothing fancy.  I casted on 36 stitches and knit in straight garter stitch.  I slipped the first stitch of each row for a smoother end and they ended up 8" by 8".  They are incredibly simple and incredibly plain, but I love them.  

Monday, August 18, 2014


-dreading the end of blueberry and wildflower seasons
-embracing the near constant mess
-thinking about trying to make my own deodorant...I've spent a ridiculous amount of money on a bunch of healthier deodorants and haven't found one I love, I figure I have nothing to lose...
-working on finishing up a few memory keeping projects that have been on the to-do list too long (right now, its the 2011 yearly photobook...2012 isn't even started, but 2013 is nearly done...)
-playing around with some ideas for fall decorating on the cheap
-pulling out and washing fall clothes for the babe, and then trying to fill in any holes
-trying to get back in the knitting groove (mama made sweaters for my sweet boy is one of those holes...)
-enjoying having my husband home for a few vacation days and loving the rhythm of our family of three
-soaking in the last few days of summer, before its back to work

Monday, August 11, 2014

Family Camp Photo Book

 This was a photo book I never intended to make.  This spring I finally got around to doing something with our wedding photos and decided on a photo book from Kolo, it just so happened that at the same time they were running a promotion for a free 5.5" x 8" photo book with another photo book purchase.  I ended up deciding to make one of our trips to my husband's family camp in Northern Maine and I'm so glad I did, it is one of my favorite memory keeping projects to date.

I used the same template with two pictures a page throughout the album, with the exception of the first page of each trip which acts as a title page of sorts, listing the month and year of the visit.  I also did a full page picture of our family photos on the steps of the camp, a picture we take every year.  I chose not to include every single picture we took on the trips, but chose the ones that I felt told the story of that years trip the best.

I plan to put a label from Paper Source on the inside of the front cover with the name and location of the camp as well as the year it was built.  The great thing about these albums is each year after we go I can just simply print more pages and insert them into my album.  I think this would be a great album for any family trip (or reunions would be very cool...) that is repeated year after year...its so neat to see the growth and change your family goes through year after year.

(This post was in no way sponsored by Kolo and links are not affiliate, just wanted to share a project (and product) that I love.)

Friday, August 8, 2014

{this moment}

linking with Amanda Soule this week for:

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Getting Started with Copperplate Calligraphy

I have always wanted to learn calligraphy and this winter I decided to give it a go.  I bought the book Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy as my guide and then bought some copperplate nibs, a nib pen, ink, and a pad of layout paper (this paper is super useful because ink doesn't bleed on it and it's transparent enough that you can lay a guide page underneath it to help you with your letter formation).  Shortly after I started I bought some fun colored ink made by Speedball at a craft store and was super disappointed, the quality was far inferior to the Winsor and Newton ink and my penmanship looked significantly worse with it.  Perhaps if you are more advanced at Copperplate it wouldn't be such an issue, but for me it made a huge difference.  I also use the free printable Copperplate guide from here...there are a bunch of others out there, but this was the one I liked best.

It is a fairly inexpensive hobby to try, all in all, I spent about $25, but it does require some devoted practice time.  For the first month I typically tried to write a page a day.  I would always start with some lines of warm up strokes at the beginning and then transition to practicing letters and eventually words.  I can't speak highly enough of the book Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy.  It really breaks everything down step by step, gives you letter variations, and practice words and sentences.  If for some reason something was hard to understand at first (like for me, the letter "o"), I would turn to YouTube.

I still have so far to go with my calligraphy, but even within the first month I saw significant improvement. The hardest part for me has been carving out the time to sit down and write.

(Please note all Amazon links are affiliate).