Homemade Juggling Balls

Homemade Juggling Balls | In An Orchard

Justin was pretty tickled with the kids sudden interest in juggling.  Being a self-taught juggler, I think he really fancies the idea of having his own personal juggling troupe.

After a full day of the kids wildly throwing clubs and baseballs, Justin mentioned it would be good for them to have some soft juggling balls.  Something more suitable for juggling rookies and breakable household items.  Sunday afternoon I found Justin and J in the sewing room working on their homemade juggling balls.  My plan was to make regular old bean bags for the kiddos, but Justin had a better plan.  Real, perfectly-palm-sized juggling balls.  A set of three for each of the kids.

Homemade Juggling Balls | In An Orchard

He found the free printable pattern and instructions here.  It really is such a clever pattern.  The instructions show you how to make a round ball out of a single square of fabric.  You do this by tracing the pattern onto the fabric, and then using a kind of Origami style sewing, the square almost magically becomes a sphere.  I watched Justin sew the first two just to get my barrings, and then I sat down and made 12 more.  Once you get the hang of the folding and stitching process, the balls go together so fast.  The instructions suggest sewing them by hand but I used my machine.  I don’t trust my hand-stitching enough to risk the balls bursting all over the house.Homemade Juggling Balls | In An Orchard

At first Justin was cutting the squares of fabric with scissors, but I stepped in and started cutting squares with my quilting blade and ruler.  This sped up the process considerably.Homemade Juggling Balls | In An Orchard

He also found that cutting out 1/4 of the pattern and tracing it onto the square one side at a time worked the best.  You do need to be precise with the tracing and stitching, otherwise the ball will be badly misshapen.Homemade Juggling Balls | In An Orchard

Homemade Juggling balls | In An Orchard

At first we were stuffing them with rice but we switched to millet half way through.  Rice will expand if it gets wet but millet will hold up much better to wear and tear.  We found it was best to pack them pretty firm.Homemade Juggling Balls | In An Orchard

The kids were excited about the new juggling balls.  Miss P likes them especially, and keeps stealing them from the big kids.  She has a set of her own but three isn’t enough…she must have them all!  They get put in the back of little toy cars and tractors and stuffed in play purses.  But her favorite game is what I like to call, mama bird.  She carefully makes a nest out of her special blanket, gently sets each ball in the middle of her nest, and then sits on her “eggs” with a very pleased look on her face.Homemade Juggling Balls | In An Orchard

The Week that Was

The Week that Was | In An Orchard

I think this jar of tulips perfectly reflects my state of mind this past week.  Monday came and the tulips stood beautifully tall and cheerful…The Week that Was | In An Orchard…and by Friday they looked like this, ready to throw in the towel.  Okay, that’s a tad dramatic :)  My week wasn’t horrible, but Justin was out of the country for work, and the children and I were on our own.  Truthfully, the kids were a huge help to me, working hard, obeying cheerfully, going the extra mile because they knew I needed it.  But still, being a single parent is not for the faint of heart, and our big bed is a lonely place at night.

We managed to keep ourselves busy which helped the week go quickly.

The Week that Was | In An Orchard

The girls did a simple art project with coffee filters that I cut into heart shapes.  They colored the hearts with washable markers and then sprayed them with water.  The effect was the hearts took on a pretty watercolor look, and the girls love watching as the colors spread and bleed into each other.The Week that Was | In An OrchardOnce the hearts had completely dried I took them and stitched them into a garland for their room.

The Week that Was | In An Orchard

The kitchen is the happiest and busiest room in our house.  It’s were I spend the biggest part of my day.  From schooling with each morning, cooking meals, baking cookies, even folding laundry… it’s were I spend my days and I think of all the rooms in the house, it reflects my personality the most.
The Week that Was | In An Orchard

I’ve been experimenting with sourdough these last few weeks.  Feeding my starter each day; getting it nice and bubbly and tangy.The Week that Was | In An OrchardI’ve tried several new recipes all of which I found on King Arthur’s Flour website.  Some recipes were delicious and some ended up in the garbage can (too brick-like to be consumed by humans). I should note the failed recipes were a result of human error, not a badly written recipe.

The Week that Was | In An Orchard

The kiddos played outside in the evenings, right until the sun dipped behind the horizon.The Week that Was | In An Orchard

Winter sunsets are so striking.The Week that Was | In An Orchard

On Friday morning we went with our Homeschool Co-op to see the Gizmo Guys preform at the Gallo Preforming Arts center.The Week that Was | In An Orchard

It was such a fun show!  The Gizmo Guys are a team of jugglers who preform fantastic juggling fetes and then explain the science behind the trick.  The kids were so impressed with their talents!  As we walked out of the show and all three of them were excitedly talking over each other, wanting to relive their favorite parts of the show; I interrupted and said, “You know your dad can do almost every juggling trick the Gizmo Guys did, plus a few others.  He can even juggle knives and torches.” Their eyes grew wide with excitement; “Do you think he’d do those tricks for us?!!  Would he teach us how to juggle?!”The Week that Was | In An Orchard

 

By Friday night I was ready for an easy evening.  We were on the home stretch; Justin would be arriving home that night around midnight.  I let the kids eat popcorn, cheese, and fruit for dinner, and we rented a movie to watch.  Justin surprised us by coming in the backdoor at 9:30 instead of midnight.  He came baring gifts from France; a small box of French pastries, and lavender sachets for the girls.

The next morning as soon as Justin had finished his breakfast and coffee the children were begging to see him juggle!  He found his bag of juggling things in the shed and put on a good show for them.
The Week that Was | In An Orchard

This led to juggling lessons and things being wildly tossed in the air for the rest of the day :) The Week that Was | In An Orchard

The Week that Was | In An Orchard

 

I  got my Sweet Pea seeds soaked and planted in my small greenhouse boxes.  If all goes well, I’ll have 144 Sweet Peas to plant in the ground in about 6 to 8 weeks.The Week that Was | In An Orchard

 

On Saturday night Justin and I got an unexpected date night thanks to my brother and sister-in-law; who played with, and fed, and loved on our kids; while we had a delicious hot meal and uninterrupted conversation.  I even got dressed up much to the amazement of the children.
The Week that Was | In An Orchard

Sunday morning Justin got up before the children were awake, and made us homemade sausage McMuffins.The Week that Was | In An Orchard

I enjoyed my coffee and watched him create magic.  I like a man who knows his way around a kitchen.  He even cleaned up when he was done.The Week that Was | In An Orchard

The Week that Was | In An Orchard

The McMuffins were a huge hit with the whole family, and were so much better than anything I’ve ever bought at McDonald’s :)  They’re never going to want to eat toast and cereal again.The Week that Was | In An Orchard

Here’s a few things I’m enjoying right now:

We started listening to Anne Of Green Gables last week.  I suggested it mostly for mine and Eliza’s enjoyment, and was surprised to look over and see Justin chuckling, and equally surprised when the boys begged to hear more each time a chapter would finish. (We listen to lots of free audio books on LibriVox

This blog is one of my current favorites.  I’m not a knitter, but I never get tired of seeing yarn on needles being made into something beautiful and cozy.  Ginny’s dreamy photography, and gentle way of writing is so appealing to me.  For those of you who do love to knit, she also has a small online shop were she sells her hand-dyed yarn, and I don’t think I have ever seen such gorgeous colors in my life.

Floret Farms has been a longtime favorite blog as well (I also love their Instagram account). But they just recently launched their own online seed and bulb shop, and I am smitten with everything they sell. Their Sweet Pea seed selection is probably one of the best in the country.

And that’s all from our home this week.  We turned another page of the calendar and the children are dreaming up ideas for Valentine’s day, I’m already thinking about summer flowers, and hoping to get our chicken coop fixed up for a new batch of spring chicks.

 

Winter Sewing

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

After a full month of Christmas sewing I was eager to clean out the sewing room and start making a few things for the girls.  While I was at Joann’s looking for flannel for Miss E’s nightgown, I ran across the perfect bird print, it screamed “April! I’m perfect! Take me home and sew lots of little dresses with me!”  So I did.

I made two Geranium dresses.  A tiny one for a friend who just gave birth to a sweet baby girl, and one for Miss P.   I swear, every time I make a new dress for her I think, “This looks so long and big; it isn’t going to fit her.”  But it always does; proof that she is growing faster than I care to believe. Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Look at the look on her face.  ”Mom… again with the picture taking.”

I bribed her with “fart putty” so she would stay in one place long enough to take a few pictures.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Since the weather is still cold I’ve been putting the dress over her t-shirts and jeans.  When things start to warm up she’ll be able to wear it with just a pair of Saltwater sandals.
Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

 

I was catching up on some blog reading a few weekends ago, when I came across this post from one of my favorite sewing blogs Made by Rae.  Rae was showing some of the things she had made for her son Hugo (who is just a little bit younger than Miss P) and I fell in love with the pair of yellow pants she made for him.  She used her own Parsley Pants pattern but I decided to use a pattern I already owned, one that I made for Miss E when she was just a little thing.

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

I used the Basic Pocket Pant pattern from Meg McElwee’s book Growing up Sew Liberated.  Growing Up Sew Liberated is a must-have sewing book (in my humble opinion).  If you have little people in your house and you like to sew, then you need it in your library.

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

There is nothing I don’t like about these pants.  It’s a simple pattern made special by all the little details that are added.  The contrasting cuffs and waistband and the bias-tape pockets are a winning combination.  So many ways to stylize this pattern.  I used two different fabrics.  The main fabric is a Heather Bailey print for Free Spirit, called Primrose.  The contrasting fabric is a Robert Kaufman chambray.  The chambray is extremely light-weight, and I hesitated to use if for the cuffs and waistband, but I added some medium weight interfacing to those pieces and it worked out just fine.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

I love, LOVE those pockets!Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Because we’re still in the middle of winter, I decided to line the pants with fleece.  I had some green fleece in my fabric stash, so I used it to line the inside of the pants.  There’s the right way to line pants, and then there’s the way I line pants.

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Before I started to sew the pattern pieces together, I cut out a separate pair of fleece pant legs. Then, I carefully pinned the fleece pieces to the wrong side of the main pant leg pieces.  Next, I very carefully surged the fleece to the main fabric.  I took my time and made sure that both fabrics were perfectly smooth, so there wouldn’t be any puckers or ripples in the pants once I started sewing them together.  Once I had sewn the fleece to the wrong side of the main fabric, I simply assembled the pants using the pattern instructions.  All in all it worked out really well!  There’s a little extra bulk in the crotch seam but they’re loose fitting pants so it’s not really noticeable.
Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

I finished the pants just in time to test them out on a day trip to San Francisco.  We took the children to the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park over a three day weekend.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

They kept her warm and comfy all day!  That’s what I love about Meg’s patterns; she understands that children are constantly in motion and their clothing should reflect that, and not inhibit them.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

I think I need to make her at least one more pair, maybe two if I can find the time.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Just for the fun of it, I thought I’d show you the original pair of Basic Pocket Pants I made for Miss E, when she was little.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

These tiny pants are one of my favorite things I’ve made for Miss E.  Hindsight; I wish I’d have bought 4 yards of that floral print.  I used every last scrap of it, and when I went back to Joanne’s to get more it was sold out…heartbreaking.  I still have those pants out in the storage shed but they’re a size 3T, and they’re still a little too big for Miss P.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Next up on my sewing list is a few circle skirts for Miss E.  She’s been begging me for some new circle skirts to twirl around in, and I certainly don’t mind obliging her.

Handmade Christmas

Handmade Christmas | Inanorchard

I had a lot of fun making a few extra Christmas gifts this year.  I always make a little something for each of the children, a small handmade gift from mamma under the tree, but this year I carved out a some extra time and make a few things for my nieces and nephews too.

But I’ll start with the some gifts that came from the kitchen; not the sewing room.  We wanted to deliver cookie plates to our neighbors and friends this year, so I spent a few weeks mixing up and freezing cookie dough. I got up early one Saturday and started an assembly line of cookie baking.  By a little after lunch we had 10 cookie plates ready to deliver later that evening.
Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

Justin spent the morning roasting a huge batch of coffee, because the only thing better than cookies; is cookies with a nice cup of freshly roasted coffee!  Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

We had such a fun night making deliveries and being invited into the homes of our neighbors.  We had intended to just drop the coffee and cookies off, but each and every person invited us in to sit and chat.  It was a truly memorable night!

When I wasn’t elbows deep in flour and sugar, I was in the sewing room working on my small list of Christmas presents.

For my nieces I decided to make monogrammed tote bags.  I enjoy making making tote bags.  They are such a quick and satisfying project, and I was pretty pleased with the way the monogrammed letters turned out!
Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

I filled the bags with art supplies and chap stick (because every little girl loves chap stick).Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

For my young nephews I decided to make reversible hooded capes.  I used a black and silver polyester satin fabric to give the cape a dramatic, sweeping look.  I wanted it to look like a Jedi cloak or a Medieval cape.  It’s always a little risky making a handmade gifts.  There’s a fine line between being the cool Aunt who makes unique gifts, and being the crazy Aunt who makes embarrassing gifts that you hide in the back of your closet.  Handmade Christmas | In An OrchardBut both the boys seemed genuinely excited about their capes, and I was delighted to see pictures of them in the following weeks wearing their capes to the beach, over their pjs, and even to Disneyland!

I also painted up a few small snowmen and Christmas trees to tuck into stockings and other gifts.

Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

I  purchased several gifts from some other wonderfully talented women I know.  For each of my sister-in-laws I bought these wonderful crocheted face scrubs, and a bar of lemon poppy seed soap, from and Etsy shop called The Green Daisy.  I love this lemon poppy seed soap!  I’ve been using it myself for the last 6 months and I was excited to give them as gifts.
Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

For Miss P I made a new set of peg people.  Last Christmas I made her a set of animal peg dolls and this year I wanted to make her a set of family peg dolls.  I tried to get them to look as much like our family as I could.  She loves playing with them!  I ordered all my unfinished peg dolls, trees, and snowmen from this Etsy seller.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

Miss P loves wearing “fancy” things, so I also made her a hand-painted wooden bead necklace.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

I threaded the beads onto some leather cording and knotted it tightly at the top.  When it was finished I liked it so much I was tempted to keep it myself!

Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

I also bought Miss P this darling roll-up crayon holder from Justin’s Aunt Doris.  She is such a talented woman who makes beautiful things!

Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

For the boys I decided to make a homemade checker board. Justin helped me out with the boys gift by making the checker pieces with his 3D printer.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

Not only did he made extra large checker pieces but he even monogrammed them!  I love the way they turned out!Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

The boys have already used their checker board dozens of times.  J even brought it to school to share with his friends on a rainy school day.  I love seeing them use and enjoy something that I have made.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

For Miss E I made a very traditional Christmas gift; a long flannel nightgown.  I’ve wanted to make her one for years and I finally got around to it.  I have my own plaid flannel nightgown that I get out on those very cold winter nights, and whenever I wear it she says, “Oh mamma that is such a beautiful nightgown!  You look so pretty in that!”  I was absolutely determined to make her a nightgown of her own.  I’ve never made anything like a nightgown so I was a little nervous but it went together very smoothly.  I found this darling flannel print at Joanne’s Fabric, it’s from their Snuggle Flannel line (very reasonably priced).Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

My one regret was not taking a little more time to get the gathers around the neck more even.  Sometimes the gown hangs a little funky, but Miss E doesn’t mind a bit.
Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

She loves the pink lace around the neck.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

 

And that’s all for this year’s handmade Christmas!  It was so much fun to make all those little gifts and to imagine them being enjoyed, and worn, and played with… I love the whole process, from beginning to end.

Thanks again for stopping by!  I hope you enjoyed my little handmade Christmas tour and maybe you’ve even gotten a little inspired to try making a few of your own Christmas gifts next year.

See you again soon!  ~April

Our Christmas~

In our 10 years of raising a family we’ve never had to deal with illness over Christmas.  I’ve spent my share of New Year’s Eve, and Valentines Days nursing sick kiddos… but never Christmas.  This year changed all that; we pretty much spent all of Christmas break taking turns being sick.  I was the last and the hardest to fall.  Truthfully I’m still not fully recovered but I’m slowly (much too slowly) starting to feel more like myself.

Christmas 2015

Despite all the fevers, and stomach bugs we did have some sweet times together.  Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Decorating the GIANT Christmas tree Justin and the boys brought home.  They love getting out the ornament box every year.  They each have favorites that they look forward to putting on the tree; which can be the source of a few squabbles.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

We did our annual Christmas cookie baking and decorating day.  They consumed ridiculous amounts of sugar, my sanity barely held, and a week later I’m still sweeping up red and green sprinkles.  Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

This girl… she was in sugar heaven.  She couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let her eat sprinkles straight from the bottle.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Between the winter storms we found time to get some fresh air.  A little walk down the canal and though the orchard.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Evenings were spent being cozy near the fire.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Justin kept the Miss P occupied one morning while I did Christmas baking.  She loves making block towers.
Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

The kiddos went ice skating for the very first time and loved it.  Miss E met the challenge with her usual dogged determination.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

J has his own set of roller-blades, so he was speeding across the rink in no time.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Even G enjoyed skating.  He’s my guy who’s usually apprehensive to try something new.  I was pleasantly surprised when he lace up and headed out onto the ice without any coaxing on my part,  I was so proud of him!Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas morning was a little unusual.  Justin had been up early with J who had thrown up during the night.  J managed to open his gifts but climbed into bed as soon as all the presents were opened and slept most of the day.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

G loved the trapper cap I got him and the boys played many, many rounds of checkers with their new checker board.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

This guy also celebrated his 9th Birthday!  He was such a good sport.  We had planned a fun birthday outing  to The Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, but we ended up having to delay it because I came down with the flu.  Poor guy!  He enjoyed his presents, pizza and chocolate cake nonetheless.  Christmas 2015 | InanorchardAnd suddenly, just like that, it’s a new year!

I’ve got some fun Christmas projects that I’m excited to show you all, hopefully soon!

Hope your Christmas was wonderful and much less germ-riddled than ours :)

December Brought…

Christmas brings | Inanorchard

….an uncommonly tidy house.  It didn’t happen by itself.  The house-tidy-up-fairy didn’t come; I spent the days following Thanksgiving scrubbing, dusting, chiseling, sorting, and giving the whole house a giant and much needed freshen-up.  The clean house lasted a record breaking 4 hours, and in that time I brought the two boxes of Christmas decorations in from the shed, and made the house look festive.
Christmas brings | Inanorchard

The kiddos helped me make some coffee filter snowflakes for the back door windows.  They look so pretty with the afternoon sun shining through them.
Christmas brings | Inanorchard

I replaced the orange polka-dot curtains with something more Christmas-y.  The bottle brush Christmas trees have been lined up and Miss P can hardly keep her little hands off of them.  ”Mamma, can I have the yittle Christmas trees?!  Peeeaze?!”Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

Every fall I think “I’m going to force some Paperwhite bulbs and have flowers in the house at Christmastime”, and every year I completely forget, but not this year.  My sister-in-law and I spent an afternoon hanging out and potting up Paperwhites for our houses, and to give away as gifts.  Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

Colder weather and shorter days mean more time in the house.  Miss P has a good amount of toys; but her brothers’ hand-me-down wooden blocks are by far her favorite. Christmas brings | Inanorchard

She has an uncanny knack for building very tall towers that seem to defy the laws of physics.  Christmas brings | Inanorchard

The magic is in the tongue…Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

Colder days mean more baking in the kitchen.  Miss P and I made these Chocolate Chip Banana muffins the other day, and they were such a hit that they disappeared in one day.  You can find the recipe hereChristmas brings | Inanorchard

Justin was able to take time off during Thanksgiving to work on some improvements for our property.  That meant heavy equipment and excited children…Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

Christmas brings | Inanorchard

Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

On the first of December the kiddos started their Advent baskets; a fun tradition I started when the boys were just little guys.  It’s just a basket full of clumsily wrapped trinkets, but they look forward to it every year.  This year Miss P joined the fun and J decided he was a little too old for little trinkets, so there are only three baskets this time around.
Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

Usually advent gifts are small, inexpensive dollar section items, or candy, but this year I did something special for the first day of December.  I made all the children Christmas pillowcases.  I found an assortment of Christmas prints on the 50% off table at the fabric store, and used this pillowcase tutorial.Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

They were genuinely excited about their handmade pillowcases.  Even J was pleased.  Target had pillows on sale for $4.50 so I also picked up new, fluffy pillows for each kiddo.  Those pillows have been all over the house!  They pile them on the floor and read books, watching tv with them, they even tried to bring them outside but I put my foot down.Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

Another one of the advent gifts was a bottle of cheap shaving cream.  I know it sounds silly but shaving cream is a lot of fun to play with and surprisingly easy to clean up.  It doesn’t stain clothing and it makes the house smell kinda nice.  I let them squirt it in a glass pie pan.Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

Miss P was uncertain when we first squirted the shaving cream in a big pile for her.  She turned up her nose and said, “dat poopy!”,  which is her new and not-so-subtle way of telling you she doesn’t like something.  She very quickly got over her squeamishness and jumped right in!Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

December has also brought short days, and long evenings. Long evenings with cooped up kids has lead to some stir-crazy moments and a very frazzled mama.  The other night we busted out our Memory game in an effort to calm the crazy.Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

A warm fire and Peanuts comic books seem to help sooth the savage kids as well…
Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

The kittens are doing well and growing like weeds.  They let us think we’re still in charge but they know better.Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

Speaking of kittens… Monday night we got our Christmas tree all set up.  Lights on, popcorn strung, ornaments hung, the reservoir filled to the top with water, and then we all went to bed.  Sometime early in the next morning we heard a big crash.  I jumped out of bed and rushed towards the noise only to witness a downed Christmas tree, water all over the floor, soggy popcorn garlands, and broken ornaments. The terrified kittens had scattered leaving us to deal with the mess.  We put everything back together, and have vigilantly squirted the cats with water anytime they get anywhere near the tree!Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

December also means that my sewing room has turned into Santa’s workshop.  Every spare minute I can steal I’m in the sewing room working on handmade gifts.  Hopefully I’ll do a post about the gifts I’ve been working on, but for now it’s all top secret.  I’ll give you just a peek at a project I’m working on for Miss P.  She loves all things “fancy” and I thought it would be fun to make her a hand-painted necklace. These are the beads I painted for her new necklace.
Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

December also brings our annual “torture the children day”, otherwise known as, “Christmas picture taking day”.  It’s always a little crazy, someone inevitably ends up hurt and in tears, there’s lots of goofing and a bit of hollering, but in the end there’s usually one picture worth mailing to our friends and family. Christmas Brings | Inanorchard

 

I hope your December has been cozy so far and thanks so much for stopping by!

~ April

November in a Nutshell

November | InanorchardHazy phone pictures are all I have to offer for the entire month of November.  My trusty red camera never made it out of it’s case.  Lots of coming and going this month, which means the convenience of my camera phone trumped having quality digital photos.

We started out the month with a quick trip to see my folks in Oregon.  We enjoyed seeing their new home in a small country town, spend our days and nights being with them and getting much needed Grammy and Grandpa time.

November | Inanorchard

The fall leaves were stunning

November | Inanorchard

We ate breakfast at the local restaurant/ice cream parlor November | Inanorchard

Wandered the streets of their small townNovember | Inanorchard

Collected leavesNovember | InanorchardAntique shopping down a picturesque main street.

November | Inanorchard

There were bike rides at dusk, and sad goodbyes but we’re looking forward to more trips to Oregon!November | Inanorchard

We came home to a small second crop of pumpkins.
November | Inanorchard

Art projects at the kitchen tableNovember | Inanorchard

Stacks of library books and reading with daddy in the big bed

November | Inanorchard

Our plan to take a family trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium abruptly changed when sickness descended on the house.
November | Inanorchard

I took G and Miss E to the aquarium with Grandpa and Grandma W and the cousins…November | Inanorchard

…while Justin stayed home with this poor guy and Miss P.
November | InanorchardThe sewing room was a very busy place this month but not the usual kind of busy. It was covered with craft projects instead (maybe more on that later)November | Inanorchard

This is were the children end up when Daddy is watching Sunday night football on the tv… all piled on my bed watching Chip and Dale cartoons on a tiny screen.
November | Inanorchard

We spent Thanksgiving at Dad and Mom W’s eating, putting together puzzles, shooting clay pigeons, eating some more, throwing the football around, dozing on the couch, and topping the day off with at trip to the cinema to watch The Peanuts Movie.
November | Inanorchard

This month we read and loved these books-

Which you can purchase on Amazon

 

The Sign of the Beaver was recommended by a friend and the whole family loved this story!

My friends…it’s December!  I’m looking forward to cozy evenings, paper snowflakes, many rousing renditions of Jingle Bells, children checking off days on the calendar, advent stories read by an old friend, wreaths on the door, and foggy mornings.

What does December bring for you and your family?

 

The Passing Weeks

Some afternoons call for a mandatory reading hour.  Inanorchard

Some days homeschooling means working harder to keep the toddler occupied Inanorchard

Weekday mornings involve kitchen table learning with a bed-headed boy

Inanorchard

Weekends are all about afternoon napsInanorchard

We added two lovely little ladies to our family.  Meet Lucy and AvaInanorchard

A certain someone is pretty pleased with the new editionsInanorchard

Mr. J finishing his Harriet Tubman report.  The same report that we spent the better part of an hour looking for, only to find it in the hands of the 2-year-old who was getting ready to decorate it with her crayons.

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Colder days, darker evenings, and candles burning Inanorchard

Rain on the pumpkins and puddles around the porch.  Inanorchard

Justin went to France for the week.  He brought back pictures and stories and little trinkets for us. Our family and friends kept us busy while he was away.IMG_0231 (3)

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I sleep so poorly when he’s gone.  Staying up too late every night; not wanting to face the big empty bed.  Freshly brewed coffee became my saving grace each morning.
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InanorchardI flipped the calendar over to November and smiled.  November brings fall to our part of the world.  With it comes brightly colored leaves, a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Thanksgiving meals with family, a Turkey Trot down Butler Road, and fires burning in the little black stove.

In the Garden {October}

In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

I really didn’t intend to do another garden post this year.  Usually September marks the end of my garden’s growing season.  The long hot summer takes it’s toll on all the plants, the flowers go to seed, powdery mildew sets in, my diligence with pest control tapers off, until it becomes abundantly clear that the garden has given it’s all. In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

But not this year.  This little garden just keeps on giving. The cosmos that spent the entire summer looking like nothing more than huge green bushes, have suddenly burst with color.  They have taken over the garden patch.  I love their wild, carefree look.  I love how delicate their petals look at sundown.In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

They have even crept into the pumpkin patch.  The girls and I bring in armloads of them.  Last Saturday we drove the length of our road dropping bouquets off with all our friends and neighbors.In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

The raised boxes got a good tidying up last weekend.  All the remaining zinnias were pulled and the unruly English roses were pruned back.  My lavender and lamb’s ear got cut way back.  In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

The dahlias are just loving this cooler weather.  The blooms have gotten smaller but the colors are amazing.In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

The more we pick the more buds spring up.In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

In the Garden | Inanorchard

These are the colors that are dominate in the garden right now.  In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

Miss E loves the amaranth and she will often leave jars full of them throughout the house. In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

All summer the amaranth was a washed out pink and the leaves were a bright spring green.  This last month they have turned a deep, striking fuchsia color.   The vein patterns in the leaves are suddenly so distinct, and the very tips of the leaves are edged in a soft pink color.  Amazing what cool nights and a few bursts of rain can do for a garden.In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

These dahlias are another flower that have been transformed by the cooler temperatures.  The once bright pink petals have turned to a deep (at times almost black) color.  It looks so striking next to all the other flowers.In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

The rows of sunflowers, amaranth, and orange cosmos that I pulled out at the end of August have reseeded themselves.  They are mingling together in the prettiest, most random way.  I’ve never had so many flower options so late in the season.  It really has been fun to watch the garden transform and take on a personality of it’s own.  The birds are loving this small haven.  I’m not much of a bird watcher, but I can’t help but feel fond of all the sparrows, swallows, and finches that seem to be as pleased with my garden as I am.In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

There are still pumpkins to be found out in the patch.  They are hiding; tucked away under giant leaves.
In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

The last of the pumpkin crop I get to keep!  So I’ve piled them up on all the porches and steps. They look so cheerful sitting there.  I’m hoping to harvest some seeds from the remainder of the pumpkins, just trying to cut down our pumpkin seed costs for next year’s patch.

Perhaps this will be the final garden post of the year but who knows?  If the first hard frost holds off, we might have flowers for a while yet!
In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

From the Sewing Room

Some sewing | Inanorchard

Between all the busyness of life, sewing occasionally happens around here.  Lately, most of my projects have been gifts.  The only exception is the layered simple skirt (you can find the tutorial here) I made for Miss E’s first day of school, and the t-shirt dress I made for Miss P (I used this tutorial for the t-shirt dress).

Some sewing | Inanorchard

Some sewing | Inanorchard

When I was pregnant with Miss P I purchased The Divided Basket pattern from Noodlehead, with every intention of making one to use as a diaper basket for her changing table.  That never happened and the pattern got shuffled to the bottom of the pattern pile… until recently.  I decided to make one as a baby shower gift.  It was surprisingly easy to put together!  A little time consuming but not a complicated pattern.  I don’t usually like to make structured bags and baskets, but Ana Graham is so good at writing patterns.  Her directions are clear and uncomplicated.  It was also fun to fill the basket with books and other handmade items.

Some Sewing | Inanorchard

Some Sewing | Inanorchard

Some Sewing | Inanorchard

After I finished the basket I decided to tackle a simple patchwork quilt for my brand new nephew.  My sister-in-law planned a darling woodland themed nursery, and I couldn’t resist purchasing a fat quarter bundle of the Hello Bear line from Bonnie Christine.  This marks the first time I’ve made a quilt from start to finish.  Usually I would do the fun part; making the quilt top.  Then I would hand the quilt over to my mom who would quilt it, back it, and bind it for me.  After I finished backing and binding that small patchwork crib quilt, all I could think was, “Man, I need to send my mom some flowers and a thank you card for all the quilts she’s finished for me!”  Backing and binding a quilt is NOT my favorite thing to do.  All that being said, there is something so satisfying about starting and finishing a quilt.  I used a soft plaid flannel to back the quilt, because I think all baby blankets should be backed with soft fabric.
Some Sewing | Inanorchard

I also embroidered his name onto one of the solid colored blocks.  He has a wonderful name but it’s not my place to share it :) Some Sewing | Inanorchard

Some Sewing | Inanorchard

Some Sewing | Inanorchard

Last but not least is this Super Tote I made for my good friend’s Adoption Fundraising Auction.  It’s another of Ana Graham’s excellent patterns.  I picked up the apple fabric while we were on vacation in Colorado.  It’s a Melody Miller fabric from her Picnic Line.  I used the canvas weight material, which was perfect for this pattern.  Nice and thick without being too bulky or difficult to sew through.
Some Sewing | Inanorchard

I hastily took a few pictures before I dropped it off, and I completely forgot to take a picture of the inside.  The lining is made from a fun red checked material and had different sized pockets all around the sides of the bag.  The pockets are perfect for organizing sunglasses, cell phones, checkbooks and wallets.  I liked the tote so well I think I need to order some more fabric and make one for me to keep! Some Sewing | Inanorchard

That’s all from the sewing room for now, but as always, there is a never ending “to-sew” list.  Next up is a few Serendipity Blouses for Miss P to wear this fall and winter.  I’m hoping to make several blouses including a dress version.  As always, thanks for stopping in for a visit!  ~April