Everyday Magic

 

InAnOrchard

I wish that somehow I could wrap up all these pictures into one tidy “Week that Was” post, or connect them by some profound or humorous thread. But really it’s just a hodgepodge of all the little things that make our weeks go by so swiftly (with a milestone thrown in for good measure).InAnOrchard

This past week I woke up early one morning and shuffled to the coffee maker.  As I was grinding the beans and filling the pot, I glanced out the kitchen window at my neighbor’s field.  It was beautiful in the morning light.  Like a scene out of a book. I half expected to see Darcy walking out to meet Elizabeth in the middle of the sun-drenched, misty field.

The coffee was left unmade on the counter.  I hastily ran out to and snap a few pictures in my flip-flops and p.j.s.
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This year I couldn’t resist doing a little something with the kiddos on St. Patrick’s Day.  So we made green cupcakes.
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I found these fun rainbow candy strips in the dollar section at Target a last month.  I snipped them in half and we made rainbows with marshmallow clouds.  The children’s delight was only surpassed by my own excitement ;)  We jumped in the van and made cupcake deliveries to friends and cousins.InAnOrchard

 

Miss P is getting very close to being two.  She is a busy girl, who likes to explore all-the-live-long day!  It can make our homeschooling day… interesting.  This is one of the ways I’ve been able to keep her occupied lately.  A small tub of lukewarm water, kitchen utensils, with plastic toys and the baby girl is suddenly very content.
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We decided to go on a day trip with the kiddos this past Saturday.  It’s so easy to get stuck in a weekend rut of “we need to do this, this, and that”, and we forget to have fun.  We considered several day trip destinations but ended up taking the kids to Sutter’s Fort.  What a great place to explore with the kiddos!  Our oldest son J has been studying the Western Frontier at school so he was particularly excited to visit the fort.

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The docents who volunteer at Sutter Fort were great!  They involved the children in whatever activity they were doing, and told stories about life in the Fort as they worked.  Miss E got to use the rug loom and learned about being a Weber.InAnOrchard

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We looked at guard towers, old cannons, and rifles so big they took three men to them hold up.InAnOrchard

At first Miss P was more than content to sit perched on her daddy’s back eating snacks, but before long she was running along behind the big kids.
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As one of J’s school assignments he had just finished reading “Patty Reed’s Doll”.  It’s based on the true story of Patty Reed who traveled by wagon with her family and the Donner party.  It was a fascinating read for Jude (it left out all of the gruesome details we associate with the Donner Party), and it centered around the little girl, Patty Reed and the dolly she had tucked into her dress, after her family was forced to leave most of their possessions on the trail.   The Reed family was eventually rescued and brought back to Sutter’s Fort.  Upon her death Patty Reed willed her little doll to the Sutter’s Fort museum.  InAnOrchard

I think it amazed J to see it, the real doll carried by Patty Reed herself, sitting under glass all these decades later.InAnOrchard

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It really is a beautiful old building.  Simple, utilitarian, but beautiful all at the same time.InAnOrchard

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There were quite a few activities set up around the Fort for the children to try.  They had candle dipping, corn husk baby dolls, bread baking, and even a cannon demonstration (which sadly we missed by only a few minutes).InAnOrchard

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It is such a great place to take young children!  If you haven’t taken a tour you really should.

 

This little girl turned six this week.  I know I’m completely biased but I really love the girl she’s becoming.  So excited about life, full of curiosity, and fierce determination.
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And right now this yellow bike is her whole world.

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She rides it first thing in the morning, as soon as she gets home from school, even in the dark.  As soon as she sees her daddy’s car pull into our lane each evening, she runs out to meet him, jumping up and down, saying, “Daddy will you take me on a bike ride down the canal?!”.   He always smiles at her, sets is work things down, changes his shoes, and before I know it I see them flying past the back of the property on their bikes.  He is always close behind her, she is pedaling like mad with a wide grin on her face.

Yes, 6 looks good on you little girl

Birthday Tea

Birthday tea | Inanorchard

Two cousin-friends, born only 11 days apart, turned 6-years-old this March.  Jessica (my sister-in-law) have been daydreaming about throwing a tea party for the girls for a number of years now, and this seemed like the perfect time. The girls have the sweetest group of friends from their Kindergarten class, so we invited them (along with Miss E’s other sweet cousin friend) to an afternoon tea, hosted at Grandma W’s house.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

The table was set up on the front porch, with paper lanterns hanging from the eaves.  Jess and I thought it would be fun to do a more colorful and playful version of a fancy tea; we used bright colors and my Mother-in-laws crystal tea cups and clear glass plates.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

I loved the contrast of the bold, black gingham with the dainty doilies and turquoise jars stuffed with pink and white flowers.  It’s always so rewarding to have and idea in your head and see it turn out exactly the way you pictured it.

We assembled all the tea luncheon essentials; fruit, mini cupcakes, tea sandwiches, hear-shaped cream-filled cookies, eclairs, a token vegetable, and hot tea.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

I found these darling white berry baskets at Michael’s and we used them for party favor bags and place markers at the table.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

Each box was filled with jelly beans, a sucker, and a shiny new jump-rope.  Jess and I found those darling jump-ropes in the dollar section of Target.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

After we got the table set and all the tea things in order the guests began to arrive!  Each girl came in the sweetest tea party frock, with braids in their hair, pearls around their neck, flouncy skirts and spring sandals… it was pretty adorable!

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

We started the party off with a simple craft project.  We wanted the girls to have a craft activity, but we had to be careful about the mess since they were all dressed so beautifully.  Painting was out of the question, so we decided to let them decorate small ring boxes with colored tissue paper and paper flowers.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

 

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

After the craft it was time for tea!  You could tell that each little girl was so excited about the fancy tea table.  Even before it was time to eat, they were hovering excitedly around the table.  I did a short story time for the party guests, while Jessica and the grandmas made tea and set out the food.

Birthday Tea | Inaorchard

We filled the center of the table with all the treats.  I think they where all a little surprised when we let them each pile their plates with whatever tea goodies they wanted.  The carrots were not as popular as the eclairs (no surprise there)

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

Of course the real hit of the tea party was the sugar cubs and tiny stirring spoons.  I won’t even tell you the number of sugar cubs those girls put in their 8 oz. tea cups!Birthday tea | Inanorchard

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

 

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

I loved the small crystal tea cups!  They were just perfect.  Tiny curved handles and even a little pedestal at the bottom; you could tell the the little girls were pleased with them.  We served sparkling lemonade as well, just in case some of the quests didn’t prefer the taste of tea.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

Little Miss P was toddling around in all the tea party hustle and bustle.  She was such a sweetheart but shortly after tea she was getting a little tuckered out.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

 

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

Daddy made a surprise visit to the tea party to give the birthday girl a hug and wish her happy birthday.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

This probable comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me or has read this blog, but I have had a thing for flowers ever since I was Miss E’s age.  I loved looking at pictures of bridal bouquets, and I remember seeing pictures in story books of girls wearing crowns of flowers around their head.  I always wanted to wear a flower crown.  So I made two for the birthday girls to wear to tea.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

After the girls ran wild through the yard for about a half an hour, we got the mini cupcakes out and sang happy birthday to the birthday girls.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

 

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

Finally the moment Miss E had been waiting for all day arrived; opening presents!

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

I love watching them all lean forward with anticipation as each gift was opened.

Birthday Tea | Inanochard

 

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

 

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

By the time the party was wrapping up, the little ring boxes had completely dried.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

I was so pleased with the way they turned out, I thought the girls did a great job decorating them.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

As one last parting gift, Jess and I slipped a small flower ring in each box.  My mom was sweet enough to make these ring for me from scratch.  She bent and smoothed and polished each ring by hand.Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

It was a fantastic day!  I think the girls made some sweet memories together.  It’s such a fun time in their lives, and I am loving watching them experience the carefree excitement of being six-years-old.

Birthday Tea | Inanorchard

 

Happy Birthday sweet girls!  Love ya lots!

 

The Week that Was

Our week in pictures and a few words to go them~

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

 

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The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

The Week that Was | Inanorchard

 

My thought for the week: Listening to bloggers having angst about their blog, is on my top 10 list of pet peeves.  So I’m walking a fine line here, when I say I’ve had doubts from time to time about having my own blog. The world of personal blogs can be so warped, and unhealthy; where we all read about each other’s lives though a very small, but public window.   I see the subtle and erosive effects this can have on my own mind, and the way it can distort reality; not only in the way I see my own life but lives of other woman and mothers.  Am I contributing to the “my life is better than your life” mentality that plagues social media?  When thoughts like this begin to roll around in my brain I ask myself, “Is it time to set this down and walk away?”

But at the end of the day, what I keep coming back to is the heart and soul of this little blog; the place where I narrate the story that unfolds in front me, day after precious day.  My heart tells me that’s worth something.  For 8 years now this is the place I have written our story, the small victories, the tough days, the milestones, the sad moments, the funny stories… it’s all right here for us to look back on when these days have become memories.  So I think I’ll keep at if for a while longer, and I hope you feel welcome to enjoy the journey with us.

~April

 

 

This Week in the Garden

We are entering year number two for the cutting garden, and this year’s garden is going to be stunning!  At least that’s the way I have pictured it in my head, over and over, all winter long :)

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

Justin made my flower boxes for me last spring, just in time to plant dahlias, and summer cutting flowers.  Unfortunately, it was already too late in the season for spring cutting flowers, bulbs, or rose bushes.  While I completely enjoyed my summer flowers, I was looking forward to getting an early start on the cutting garden, by having a crop of spring flowers that would transition into summertime.  This fall I was able to plant 50 daffodil bulbs and 4 varieties of sweet peas.  All 50 bulbs have come up and I’ve been able to bring small bundles of daffs and snapdragons in the house!  The sad news is only 2 of my 4 varieties of sweet peas germinated.  SO disappointing!  I held back 4 packages of sweet peas and started them a couple of weeks ago in peat pots.  I have them tucked away in a nice place on the back porch.  If they germinate and transplant well I could end up with 6 varieties of sweet peas and two harvests!  But you know the old saying “Don’t count your seedlings before they sprout…”

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

The weather has be gorgeous.  We have beautiful spring-times here in the valley but this spring has outdone it’s self.  This week I took the opportunity to turn over the beds and amend the soil.  The soil in my beds is a little too sandy, so it needed some compost and garden soil added to it, along with a some fertilizer.

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

Naturally I had my gardening assistant with me.  She likes dirt.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

 

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

I realized too late that I had purchased two seed varieties that should have been sown in the fall along with the sweet peas.  Apparently Larkspur and Nigella like to be tucked in the ground through the winter, at least in climates that have mild winters (like the winters we have here in California).  I got them in the ground as soon as I realized my mistake.  I’m hoping that the month of cold nights will be enough to get them started.

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

Here’s a glimpse at my “spring-time bed”.  I’ve dedicated this bed to spring flowers.  I’ll be able to use it again mid summer to sow a second harvest of sunflowers and zinnias (if all things go according to plan!)

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

 

These beautiful English ladies will be joining the garden this spring and I am absolutely giddy about it.  Giddy I tell you!  I’ve been in love with David Austin roses for as long as I can remember.  They are the quintessential English cabbage rose.  They are so old-fashioned, dreamy and romantic looking.  I know it’s just my personal bias but I think hybrid tea roses looks so sterile and boring next to these beauties.  If you’d like to spend an hour of pure happiness just stop by the David Austin website and fest your eyes on rose heaven!  The website also has a link to nurseries throughout the U.S that sell their roses.  I got my at The Greenery in Turlock, CA.  These gals will stay put in their pots until the first week of April, when they will move to their permanent home in the cutting garden.  I plan on planting herbs around them.  There are quite a few herbs that make wonderful greenery in flower arrangements (but more on that later).

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

And this is the cutting garden as of this moment.  Spring bulbs shooting up, sweet peas just beginning to vine, Nigella and Larkspur freshly planted, and the beds being turned over and the soil being amended.  This is shot you will see a lot this summer.  I thought it would be fun to document the garden’s changes by taking this same picture throughout the season and posting it here on my blog.  I hope you don’t mind, but the blog will, now and again, function as my personal garden journal.  This is the most convenient place to record the successes and failings of the garden.  It really is such a learning process but I’m loving every step of the way!

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

The summer lineup has been chosen (mostly, there might be a few last minute additions).  I’ve got the seeds sorted into groups.  One of the key elements of flower gardening is figuring out which seeds need to be started and transplanted, and which should be sown directly into the soil.

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

I’ve been reading Sarah Raven’s “Grow Your Own Cut Flowers” book and learning so much about cut flowers.

Anyway, if you’re interested, here is a list of the summer flowers that I’ve chosen for the 2015 season (click on the links if you’d like to see a photo of the flower and read up on it):

Bachelor Buttons (these did wonderfully in last year’s garden and I’m putting in twice as many in this year)

Billy Balls (or Sun Balls) these are really popular flowers right now, and I couldn’t resist trying to plant some.  These need to be started and then transplanted after the last frost.  I’m very curious to see if these will grow in my zone.

Hare’s Ear- this is a beautiful “filler greenery” that I have often purchased from local floral shops.  The texture and yellow-green color of this plant is stunning in floral arrangements.  This seed is a gamble, but I’m hoping it pays off in a big way (I’ll keep you updated).

Cosmos- these are so easy to grow!  Usually.  Last year they gave me fits and refused to bloom, but normally they are delightful to have in the garden.  I’m hoping the improvements I made to the soil will solve my cosmos woes this time around.  I purchased several varieties; “double click” mixture,  “sea shell” cosmos, and the standard “Sensation mix”

Sunflowers- naturally.  No cutting garden would really be complete without cutting sunflowers.  I got four packs of Renee’s Garden sunflowers.

Zinnias- I purchased Johnny’s Giant Benary’s mix

Amaranthus (Love lies bleeding)- this is gorgeous flower that grows like a weed and looks so beautiful draping down the sides of a floral arrangement

Of course the Dahlias will be returning in all their summery glory!

This year all my flower seeds have either come from Johnny’s Seeds or Renee’s Garden.

And that’s it for now!  Hope you liked the little tour of the spring garden and the summer line up!  ~April

Love Fills in the Gaps

I still remember my mom planting snapdragons that spring.  I was four and she was adding pansies and snapdragons to the flowerbeds in front of the garage.  I was at her side as usual.

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“Do you know why these are called Snapdragons April?”

I shook my head as she bent over and plucked a small flower from the plant.  She gently held the bloom between her thumb and forefinger and gave it a little squeeze.  Much to my delight the little flower’s mouth opened and closed.

“Because it looks like a little dragon’s head and it’s mouth opens and closes”, she said as she smiled and put the flower in the palm of my hand.

Snapdragon memories | Inanorchard

We are so quick to remember the harm a careless word or action can cause our children.  We worry and fret about the damage we might cause, and the impact it could have on their lives.  But there is redemption in the small things.  You may be flawed but to them you are magical.  You are the keeper of secrets; you open the world up to them one small discovery at a time.  You are mom. You sooth the hurts, you take the ordinary and make it memorable.  The way a common field clover can make a crown, the names of the flowers growing in the yard, putting the crayons in rainbow order, pouring root beer over the ice cream, reading that picture book again, slicing strawberries and eating them over the sink, chalk on the sidewalk…all those little memories that have the power to tip the scales.  Love fills in the gaps.

Make those mistakes, it’s going to happen.  Ask for forgiveness.  Remember that there are hundreds of ways to say “I love you”.  Keep saying it.  When it’s all said and done, and by the grace of God, your children will remember a home that was love, a home that was safe.  That’s my prayer anyway.

Snapdragon memories | Inanorchard

Homeschooling : Art Friday

 

Our family has been very blessed to be apart of a Homeschooling co-op ever since my oldest son started kindergarten.  It’s been an idyllic situation for our children.  Several days a week the kiddos are in a classroom of 8-10 students being taught math, reading, language arts, choir, and PE by their teachers, and part of the week they are taught at home by me.  I also do reading, as well as science, and Social Studies.

This school year things have been a little different.  My second born son G and I, started homeschooling full time.  His co-op class got so small that we weren’t able to keep it going.  I decided to homeschool G while the other two children continued to be apart of the co-op.  I’ll be honest, I went into this year with a good amount of nervousness, but G and I have had such a fun year together!  Not that there haven’t been moments, or even days, that didn’t go smoothly, but mostly it’s been a joy to be his teacher.

My best friend Stephanie also has a daughter in the same grade as G.  When we both realized that we would be homeschooling them for their Second Grade year, we decided to do some tag-team teaching.  We chose our curriculum together, planned out our school year together, and every Friday we take turns teaching both children.  It’s been a great arrangement.  I love that both the children get to spend time together, and it’s nice to have every other Friday off.  I think it’s been good for G to be taught by someone else on a regular basis,  I feel like Stephanie gives me good feedback on G’s progress.  On the days that G goes to Steph’s house, I send all his schoolwork for the day, and Stephanie plans a special science project with the kiddos in the afternoon.  On the days that I have the kids, I do an Art History project with them.  I have LOVED this time with G and C.  So far we’ve studied Kandinsky, Van Gogh, and Jackson Pollock.  We’ve also studied perspective, blending colors, hues, saturation, background, middle-ground, and foreground.

This past week we did a study on Claude Monte.  Our project was to replicate one of his water lily paintings.  This has been my favorite art lesson so far.  We worked on it throughout the school day, doing one step at a time.  This project needed to be done in layers; giving time for each step to dry before we could move onto the next.
Art Friday | Inanorchard

First thing Friday morning, I took a stack of coffee filters and dyed them pink and green.  I did this by sticking the coffee filters in a bowl of water and food coloring.  Then I set the stack of filters on a cookie sheet, and stuck them in the oven set to the very lowest heat setting.  The coffee filters were soaked and I needed them to be dry for the project.
Art Friday | Inanorchard

Once they had dried out in the oven, I stacked them up and set them aside.

Art Friday | Inanorchard

At the start of the school day, I gave each of the kiddos a square canvas.  I wanted the water background to have an interesting texture, so I had the children dip strips of tissue paper in glue and press the paper onto the canvas.

Art Friday | Inanorchard

The glue was mixed with water, otherwise it would have been too thick for the delicate tissue paper. As they were adding the tissue paper I told them to think about what water looked like.  The way it flowed in one direction, or the way little waves looked on the surface of the water.  After they added the tissue paper there was a lot of excess glue on the canvas, so I took a dry paper towel and blotted the extra glue away from the canvas.

Art Friday | Inanorchard

Once the tissue paper had completely dried (which took several hours) I filled a paint pallet with 4 or 5 different shades of blue paint and a little bit of white paint.  This is not children’s washable paint.  I used inexpensive artist-grade acrylic paint for this project.  The color selection and texture of the paint is better than the washable, craft-grade tempura paint.  I had them wear old t-shirts to protect their clothing.

Art Friday | Inanorchard

I tried not to interfere too much with this part of the process.  The only instructions I gave them was to cover the entire canvas in blue paint. They painted directly over the canvas and the dried tissue paper.  I let them look at photos of Monte’s water lily paintings and encouraged them to think about water and what it looks like.

Art Friday | Inanorchard

I love the way the water turned out!  The texture the tissue paper created, and all the different shades of blue with white high-lights, looked amazing.  I liked the blue canvas so much that I was tempted to leave just them blue.

Art History | Inanorchard

Art Friday | Inanorchard

This is the brand of paints I used for the project.  It’s the cheapest line at Michael’s.  They were $3.99 per tube but I got them 30% off.  There was plenty of paint left over to use on other projects.

Art Friday | Inanorchard

I cut the coffee filters into several sizes of lily pad shapes.  We made the flowers by pinching the bottom of the pink and white filters together.

Art Friday | Inanorchard

We used plain ole Elmer’s glue to add the lilies to the canvas.

This is G’s Water Lily painting

Art Friday | Inanorchard

And this is C’s painting

Art Friday | InanorchardI’m so pleased with the way they turned out!  The kiddos were very diligent and patient with the whole process, and I think they were pretty proud of the end result.

I start each lesson by introducing the artist to the children.  We learn about the artist’s work, art genre and medium, and we do a brief biography of the artist’s life.  For our Monet study I found three great videos on Youtube.  If I manage to coordinate a library trip before hand (which rarely happens) I’ll have biography books on hand for them to flip through as well.

The first clip is biography video about the life of Claude Monet, narrated by a young girl.

The second video is a tour of Monet’s garden at Giverny, France.  This was my personal favorite.  It made me realize how blessed we are to live in this day and age, with the kind of information we have at our fingertips.  We sat in our living room and took a virtual tour of Claude Monte’s gardens!  An amazingly beautiful and popular tourist attraction. It also made me realize how much I would love to see Monte’s gardens with my own eyes.

And the last is just a clip showing a variety of the paintings he painted over the course of his life.

This this just a small glimpse into my homeschooling lesson.  Not everyday is this creative, but it’s projects like this that make learning enjoyable for both G and I.

Thanks so much for visiting!  ~April

 

 

Tea Parties, Mud Puddles, and Spring

Tea Parties, Puddles, and Spring

These little ladies went to their first real tea party at a tea house.  It was the only thing Miss E talked about the week leading up to the tea party.  ”Is today the day we go to have tea Momma?”  Tea Parties, Mud Puddles, and Spring

Finally the day did arrive.  Miss E wore her new dress and tights proudly.  It was raining that day which might have put a damper on the whole trip, but really it only made it more special and memorable.  We were seated in the sun-room at the tea house and the rain pattered on the roof and windows.  We were cozy inside with our warm tea and delicious food.Inanorchard

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The tiny stirring spoons were a big hit with the little girls!  Being able to add your own sugar and cream to a real cup of tea was a rare treat.

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Did I mention that the food was amazing?  It was.  There wasn’t a thing set before us that wasn’t absolutely delicious.  The name of the tea house is Columbia Kate’s and if you are ever in the foothills near Sonora/Columbia CA, you must stop in and have tea!  Do not leave without trying the macaroons.  That’s an order!

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After tea we set out to explore the town and the shops

Even little girls who go to tea and wear fancy dresses can’t resist a good mud puddle…

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We wandered through Historic Columbia (a small mining town in the foothills that has been preserved), we bought candy at Nelson’s Candy store, visited the antique stores, and ended the day with a good cup of coffee and a scone for the road.

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Back at home, the fresh rain made for the perfect opportunity to give the cutting garden a good cleaning.

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I turned over the beds, weeded, and admired the daffodils and sweet peas that were coming up.  I also finalized and ordered all my seeds for the summer (but more on that later)

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Does your bed look like this on Mondays?  Mine always does.

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The house became Valentine’s Day central this past week as the kids worked hard making cards and gifts for their classmates and teachers

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These were the Valentines the boys and Miss E made to give out at their class parties.  I should mention that the children all have very small class sizes, otherwise we would have picked much simpler projects!

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I know that right now much of the country is covered in snow and ice, but here in our little corner of the world, it’s spring… and it is breath-taking.

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We spent a Sunday afternoon walking around in the almond blossoms.  I wanted to get a sweet picture of the kids in the orchard.  In my head I imagined a scene with smiling children huddled together under a bower of blossoms…

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It never turns out that way.  Besides funny is way more memorable right?!

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Thank you for stopping by and visiting this space, for saying hello, your presence here brings a smile to my face!   Gratefully yours, April

 

For the love of little sewing

Last week the sewing room was covered in sewing projects for the girls, but with so many little ones being born this winter and spring, it was time to set all that aside and start sewing for babies.

Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

Making things for my own babies is what made me first fall in love with sewing. I never mind having an excuse to sew for babies, it feels like coming home again.  It brings back all those sweet (and not too distant) memories of having a newborn in the house and all the little things that go with those tiny beings.

My very first sewing project as a mommy was making bibs for my oldest son.  Over the years I’ve used many different bib patterns, types of fabric, and fasteners.

This is my current favorite.  I’ve made Miss P a small pile of these bibs.  It’s a free downloadable bib pattern from Darling DexterSewing for baby | Inanorchard

These two were my attempt at making gender neutral bibs.  I’m not very good at gender neutral.  They tend to all come out a little masculine looking.  These are both made from “vintage” Amy Butler farics.  I’ve had these in my fabric stash for 9 years now.  Amy Butler’s beautiful fabric lines were another reason I fell in love with sewing. Sewing for baby | Inanorchard

There are lots of ways to make a simple project look special.  Small ribbon tags, top-stitching, lovely fabric, and vintage buttons.Sewing for baby | Inanorchard

These bibs are backed with super soft cream Minki fabric.  I like having soft things to put on my babies.

This small diaper clutch is another project I like to make for friends.  It’s  free tutorial from a sewing blog I absolutely love, Noodlehead.  Ana has long been one of my favorite sewing bloggers and her tutorials are hands down, the best.

Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

I used more of my Amy Butler fabric and paired it with some natural linen-blend fabric.  I like using a soft color pallet when I’m sewing for newborns.

Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

The diaper clutch is such a quick sew, and it’s easy to get an assembly line going and make 2 or 3 in an afternoon.  What mom doesn’t need a pretty diaper holder to keep unruly diapers from taking over the diaper bag?  It’s a must.  When you pair the clutch with several bibs, you’ve got the perfect baby shower gift.
Sewing for baby | Inanorchard

Embellished onesies also make a great gift.  It’s a simple thing to do, but babies live in onesies for the first few months of their lives, they might as well be fun. There are so many clever ways to dress up a plain white onesie.  Just do a Pinterest search, and you’ll be scrolling for hours.Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

One of my favorite ways to embellish a onesie is using stamps and fabric paint.Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

I’ll give you a quick walk through:

Before I begin any sewing project I pre-wash and dry all my fabric and onesies

1. Start with some solid, light-colored fabric.  I’m using the same natural linen-blend I used to make the bibs and the clutch.  Brush your favorite stamp with a light, even layer of fabric paint, and stamp it onto the fabric.Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

2. Trace a 1/2 inch boarder around the image and cut out.Sewing for baby | Inanorchard

3. Use your iron to heat set the images.  You do this by turning the iron up to its highest heat setting and holding it on the fabric for a few moments.Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

4. Then use the iron to fold under a 1/4 inch of the fabric on all sides.Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

5. Pin the fabric carefully to the front of the onesie and sew around the edge.  Make sure you keep the stitching close to the edge of the fabric.  Because the onesies are so small (especially the NB size), sewing the patch on can be a little tricky.  Just take your time.  Keep checking the underside to make sure you aren’t catching the back of the shirt in the stitching.Sewing for baby | Inanorchard

In the space of a few hours you can make a half dozen little shirts.  Sometimes I make a stack and keep them in the sewing room to use as last minute baby gifts.
Sewing for baby | Inanorchard

If, my friends, you have been tempted to take up sewing as a hobby (and I highly recommend it), these baby projects are a great place to start!  The bib is an especially good place to start.  The pattern is free, the sewing skills required are basic, and if the button and buttonhole scare you, just do what I did when I was first making them… use extra strong Velcro.  You can do this!  And the pleasure you get from seeing your little one in something you made especially for them, is a great feeling!

 

 

Ode to a Digital Pattern

Assembling a Digital pattern | Inanorchard

This isn’t really an ode.  Strictly speaking it’s a PDF pattern review and instructional post, but that sounds really boring; hence the catchy but misleading title.

Let’s take a moment to just talk about PDF patterns, or as they are more frequently called these days; digital patterns.  In the 5 or 6 years that I have been seriously sewing, I have seen digital patterns advance and grow by leaps and bounds.  What started out as a cost-effective way for small independent pattern companies (most of them Esty sellers) to sell and distribute patterns, has become the wave of the future.  People who were brave enough to try these new PDF patterns, quickly realized the many benefits digital patterns had to offer.  Suddenly small independent pattern companies were sprouting up everywhere and growing rapidly. It opened up a whole new world of sewing techniques and pattern styles to a new generation of self-taught seamstresses.

So let’s take a minute to go over all the advantages a digital pattern has to offer.

1.  Instant gratification-  you find a pattern you like online, purchase it and instantly you are emailed a link that will download the pattern to your home computer.  INSTANT!  I don’t know about you, but that’s worth a lot to this busy mom, who no longer shops at any store that doesn’t sell disposable diapers.

2.  Superior instructions and photos- because these patterns are digital files, pattern companies no longer need to be stingy with written instructions and visual aids.  It costs real money to manufacture a paper pattern with lengthy instructions, which is why the patterns of our fore-mothers seemed so irritatingly cryptic.  With a digital pattern you not only get more detailed written instructions, but nearly all of them come with photographs.  Actual colored photographs showing exactly what each step looks like.

3. Re-printing-  at any time you can reprint your pattern.  Let that sink in for a moment.  NO MORE PATTERN TRACING!!  No longer do you have to spend an extra 20 to 30 minutes tracing an exact size in order to preserve all the sizes.  When you, or your child need a different size you simply reprint.  It also makes it easy to replace lost or damaged pattern pieces (which happens a lot when you have and 18-month-old living in your house).

4. Cost- Most digital patterns are less expensive than printed patterns.  Because there are no printing expenses, pattern companies are able to pass that savings on to the consumer.  This isn’t universally true, some of the more popular pattern companies (such as Oliver + S) charge as much for their digital patterns as they do their printed patterns.  Etsy is an amazing source for inexpensive, well written, stylish PDF patterns. 

Because there are so many compelling reasons to use digital patterns, I’m always surprised when I run into people who love to sew but have never used one. I ask myself “why?”.  What’s the hangup?  I think the big hurdle is the daunting thought of having to purchase, print, and assemble one’s own pattern.  Especially for people (like myself) who have a love/hate relationship with their computer.  Fear not!  Downloading and assembling digital patterns doesn’t have to be intimidating.  In fact the lovely people who produce digital patterns work really hard to make these steps as easy as possible.

And today is your lucky day, because I’m going to do a quick tutorial on how to assemble a digital pattern.

Once you have purchased and downloaded your pattern, you will print it on your home computer using regular computer paper.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

On every digital pattern there will be a “test square”.  Its a small 1″ by 1″ square (or in this case a 2″ by 2″ square).  BEFORE you print off the entire pattern, print just the page with the test square.Assembling PDF patterns | Inanorchard

Measure the square to make sure that it’s the right dimensions.  If your square is the right size, your pattern will print with the correct dimensions.  If the square is smaller or bigger than it should be, then you will need to adjust your printer settings.  I know that sounds terrifying, but all digital patterns include instructions for printer troubleshooting, which will walk you through the changes you need to make to your printer settings.  All that being said, I have never encountered a digital pattern that didn’t print correctly on the first try.

Once you’ve checked the test square and it checks out, go ahead and print the rest of the pattern.

Now that you’ve printed your pattern it’s time to assemble the pieces.Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

Each pattern company has its own system for helping you match and assemble the pattern pieces, but all of them are very clear.  Some are color coded, some have a number matching system…

This pattern uses an alphabetical labeling system.  The first thing I do match up all the letters and then lay out the pieces on the kitchen table.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

Next I trim half of the horizontal dotted lines, and leave half of them untrimmed.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

Then I match all the trimmed edges up with the untrimmed edges and tape them together.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

When that step is done it looks like the picture below.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

Next I trim half of the vertical dotted lines and leave half untrimmed.  Once all of the vertical lines are matched and taped the pattern piece is ready to be used.

At this point I flip over the paper and reinforce the back with a few more pieces of tape.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

Just repeat those steps with each pattern piece until you have all the pieces needed for sewing.  Not all the pattern pieces will require assembly, only the ones that are too big to fit on a single sheet of paper.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

Before I begin cutting out the pattern I like to use a yellow marker to mark the size I’m going to use.  This helps my eye stay on the right line as I’m cutting.

I store all of my printed patterns in Zip-lock bags and file them neatly in alphabetically order in a file box.  Not really.  They get tossed haphazardly in a cardboard box that is bursting at the seams. At least they’re all in Zip-lock bags and in one place now; which is a drastic improvement over my last filing system which bore a striking resemblance to a recycling bin.

Assembling a PDF pattern | Inanorchard

I hope this will give you the courage to give digital/PDF patterns a chance.  I think you’ll find that the benefits out-weigh any of drawbacks.  If you have any questions please feel free to leave me a message and I’ll do my best to answer!

Thanks and happy sewing!  ~April

 

The Serendipity Blouse Pattern

I’ve been toying with the idea of making Miss E some tunic shirts since the fall.  I did a pretty extensive pattern search trying to find the perfect tunic pattern, but hadn’t really hit on anything promising.

Until the end of last week.  Somewhere in my searching I stumbled upon the Serendipity Blouse pattern by Sewlosophy Pattern Co.    It was a pattern company I had never heard of but I loved the style of the shirt so I took a gamble and purchased the PDF pattern.  It comes in sizes 2T-12years. Which is great because I can very soon make tunics for both Miss E and Miss P.  It also has a sleeveless version that would be great for the summer.

In no time at all I had two sewn up.  I tried it on Miss E and it fit just like I hoped it would.  The tunic has a breezy casual look to it, but the shoulders and neckline are nice and tailored which makes it fit beautifully! Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

There really was no hitch in the pattern.  At no point did I scratch my head, or pound the desk in frustration, or pull the seam-ripper from it’s case.  The directions were so clear at every point and the photos left nothing to guess at.

Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

Miss E typically likes her clothing to be very girly and I wasn’t sure how she would like this slightly boxy tunic pattern.  So I hedged my bets and made them out of very feminine, whimsical fabric.

Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

Both prints are from Heather Ross’ Far, Far Away II line.  I was delighted to find them in our local fabric store (which doesn’t typically carry brand new fabric lines by hip well-known fabric designers).

Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

My favorite little detail (and the part that sold me on the pattern) was the little shoulder button flap.  It complimented the style of the tunic so well.

Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

If there was a tricky part to the pattern (and I’m not saying there is), the shoulder buttons would be it.  But really the directions are so clear, that even that part went together without any trouble. Sometimes, I find that I run into trouble when I am adding buttons to a small area.  If there are any bulky seams nearby it can really jam up my buttonhole maker.  Happily that didn’t happen.  The space for the buttonholes was wide enough even for my finicky buttonhole maker.

Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

And here is Miss E wearing one of her Serendipity Blouses. I hastily snapped this photo as she was headed out the door for school.  I’m trying to be better about including pictures of the girls actually wearing the clothes that I have made them.  When I am pattern shopping I always pay very close attention to how a pattern fits.  Any garment can look darling on a hanger, the proof is in the way it wears.

Serendipity Blouse | Inanorchard

I’d love to make Miss E a few more.  I keep picturing a summer tunic made up in white linen with subtle lace accents, or a small Liberty of London floral print.  I’ve also thought about turning it into a longer dress version, something she could wear with leggings or tights.

In other words… you might be seeing a lot more of this pattern :)