Make your own portable writing center

writing center

Oh darn, my step by step is on my lost camera…… WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, it’s super simple.  Get a metal box (for sturdiness), newspaper, and mod podge.

Tear the newspaper into little bitty squares.  Mod podge it all over.  I wrote a letter for the top modeling proper letter writing form.

I added a frequently written words cards.  It included things like people they write to, things they talk about a lot, and extra space to add more words.

I also included clearance stationary I’ve been picking up at Michael’s.  I wait until it’s in the 50 cents or less bin for a pack of 6-8.  They care more about quantity than quality.  I plan to eventually add in some address stickers and real stamps to let them mail cards to their grandparents.


And now they’re running around writing letters.

God loves hearts

Happy Chocolate Sale Day!

10 Commandments heart

Okay, so that started yesterday, and is actually the reason for this post.  I wanted to alert you to a cool item for teaching your kids the 10 Commandments that I made.

I blogged about it at my NEW BLOG, PEG DOLL BIBLE STORIES, where I’ll primarily be putting up my posts about what we’re doing to learn about God’s Word.  But occasionally I’ll post them here too still.



Supplies: giant chocolate heart, foamboard or posterboard (I used the thinnest layer of foamboard, if you do that you need a thicker box, like as in one designed to hold 2 layers of candy), various red tissue paper and red or pink scrapbook paper


1.  Trace your box onto your foam board.  When you cut it out, cut just inside the lines.  Check to make sure you can easily take your heart in and out of the box, for me I needed to trim my heart a little.


2.  Trace the top part of your heart and divide it into two.  This will let you make the pieces for the Commandments (sorry, I have no pictures).


3.  Start putting your paper on using mod podge or something similar.  I figured out that tissue paper works best because it adds the least bulk.


4.  Check to see if it all fits in your box.  The second time through it did for me.


If you go to 10 Commandments Activity, there’s a printable for your kids to make their own version.

A Valentine’s Present for your husband

Last year I made a “Year ‘O Dates” for my husband.  I had intended to repost it earlier this year so people would have a fun idea to make for their husband, we’ve been enjoying them, when we remember them.  We actually have one coming up in a few days (provided no one’s sick, we’ve been the house of plague the last few weeks).

I used many of the ideas from Love Actually and adapted a few of my own to things we both enjoy (which I can’t share because that’s one of the ones we haven’t done yet).  I also saw The Home Teacher has a Date Night post up today.

I’m brainstorming some ideas for this year, it’s going to take some doing because it’s hard to top that one.  I have all sorts of ideas in my head, but haven’t been able to figure out exactly what to do for it.

What are ya’lls plans for Valentine’s Day?  Any fun suggestions?

PS: I’m tired of being sick or having people in my house sick.

Special moments: Mommy and Princess tea party

Princess and I got a special treat, we were invited to a Mommy and Me tea party birthday party.


The doll is from SWAK Embroidery (also available as a pattern at You Can Make This), and I have easily made 20 of these, several as gifts and several for my kids.  You can see other versions of Batman, Superman, Princess, and costumes, and an Iron Man one which I can’t find a picture of easily on the blog.  I have requests for about 6 more, including a duplicate of this doll so Princess can have her own version of her friend (oh and another one to look just like Princess).


All set for the party.  Both of us in boots and dresses.



Colonial America: natural dyes

So, a few weeks ago we set about learning how the colonists made their clothes and got the different colored cloths they got.


We gathered some different items that had been suggested and boiled our materials for 30 minutes or so and pulled it all out.



Then we pulled it all out and separated it out into the different fibers and observed them.


Do you see what we discovered?  Here’s what we used: blueberry tea, red onion skins, yellow onion skins, and cayenne powder.


What did we get?  Brown, brown, blue-tinged brown, and brown.


We also discovered that canvas dies quite well.  The tight woven cotton did not, the bubble gauze cotton (very loosely woven) did, and the wool roving also took the dye well.


So, has anyone used a natural die and gotten a color aside from brown?

Fun quick tip for deocrating

I used dishwasher detergent to clean my sink.  It’s great because the bleach in the detergent helps get rid of the stains in my sink and scrubs it all out, but ever since we switched to using the tabs of soap for the dishwasher I didn’t have it as much (we switched to the tabs because the kids could put those in and not overfill the soap dispenser).

So, I bought a box of it and filled an empty spice container with the soap ready to be poured onto dirty sinks.

But it looks ugly.
Solution:  Prettify it.  Yes, that is a word.
Supplies: spice bottle, mod podge, paintbrush, scrapbook paper (mine is from a scrapbooking calendar)
It’s super quick and easy.  I just cut the paper down to size, and then painted mod podge all over the container.  After carefully aligning it I put it on and then put some more mod podge over the top.

Super duper easy!

History, no really it is

Remember where I talked about “If You Give a Homeschool Mom and Idea,” and many of you asked if I ever did the project?


Well, more than a month later it’s finally finished.  This is why I rarely do multi-step projects where you have to wait longer than say….. 5 minutes before doing the next step.  I forget to do the next step.  Sad, but true.

Supplies: canvas, ribbon, a pot of strong tea or coffee, typing paper, casserole dish



1.  Crumple up some paper.  Then flatten it out and dip it in the tea or coffee.  Leave it there for about 30 seconds or so.  I think the longer you leave it the darker it gets.  But, I couldn’t get the kids to leave it long enough to test.




2.  Repeat this over and over and over again.  After each page is completed lay them out to dry.  If you can lay them out in the Texas heat they dry in less than 5 minutes.


But, there’s also a very good chance the wind will blow them away…….


Then you get some exercise as you chase the papers all around the yard.




3.  Cut a piece of canvas roughly 9”x12.”  Cut a ribbon about 2 feet long.  Put the ribbon down first, lay the canvas on top of that, and finally lay your papers for you book on top of that.  Then draw your sewing line.  I just measured half of the paper and drew a quick line with sewing chalk.




4.  Now run it through your sewing machine with the biggest stitch your machine will do (just so that you don’t end up tearing the paper).  I backstitched at the beginning and end, but you don’t have to.


You could do this by hand, but have you ever sewn through paper?  It hurts, and is ridiculously hard.


Now in theory you could use this to write a first-person point of view journal.  But, not my kids.  No, they immediately seized them and started writing ghost stories.  Princess started drawing large numbers of Princesses and ponies.


Mommy craft: Puppet theater

This was super simple, and very popular with all three kiddos.
display board
All I did was cut a 3-sided  hole in the display board, and then tape the rough edges.  The hole can be closed up, and the kids get quite a kick out of knocking the door open.

How to make a Rapunzel dress from scratch

You’ve probably seen Princess in her  Rapunzel dress before on my blog.  We have to trick her into taking it off and letting us wash it.  Jeff and I had been discussing how I should make her another one soon.
And then Jeff took Princess out for breakfast and went with her to Target where Princess begged and begged and begged to get this dress.

Now, I look at it, and I see a repeat of the Sleeping Beauty dress, that within 30 minutes of being worn started unraveling and wasn’t worn more than that first day.  I also see a dress that won’t stand up to being worn nonstop for 2 weeks straight.

So, I went to Joann’s and got some more fabric, and then took A LOT of pictures to show how I did this.
1.  Buy this pattern.  Then purchase 3 different fabrics: a lighter purple for the bodice, a darker purple for the overskirt, and a print for the underskirt.  Also purchase two different types of ribbon (broader one for sleeves, thinner one for the lacing).  For my 4 year old daughter I bought 1/2 yard of the light purple, 1.5 yards of the dark purple, and 1 yard of the print.  I had enough to start making a second.

Unless otherwise specified seams are ironed open.


1.  Fold the short sleeve pattern in half.  Pull it out from the fold about an inch and cut it out.  This ensures the sleeve will have some gather to it.


2.  Put the front bodice pattern piece on the selvage edges.  Cut it out with about 1 inch of the pattern piece hanging off the edges.  Alternatively cut it out not using the selvages, but instead fold the pattern piece under and cut it that way.


3.  Cut out the insert piece on the fold.  Make sure it overlaps the other bodice piece by about 1/2” to give yourself a bit of wiggle room.

4.  Unfold your sleeves.  Spray them with 505 spray to make them sticky and start laying the ribbon on top of them.
To ensure the sleeves are even I put the sleeves in mirror image and put the ribbon across both of them.  This ensures the ribbons are put the same on both sets of sleeves.

If you don’t have 505 spray you can just  pin it like mad, but this lets me not pin.  I’m lazy that way.

5.  Now sew the ribbon down.  Depending on the width of your ribbon you could just zig zag it, my ribbon was just wide enough I had to sew down one side and up the other.


6.  Spray the bodice insert with 505 spray.  Than lay out the ribbon on it in a criss cross pattern.
I used the grid pattern on my cutting board to make sure the X’s were always the same size.  Mine are 2 inch X’s, but I think a 1.5” X might look better.


7.  Tack the ribbon down in the middle with a couple of stitches, backstitching several times to make sure it is very secure.


8.  Iron under the seam of the bodice front about 1/4 inch.  This doesn’t have to be exact.


9.  Lay the bodice insert on top of the front bodice pattern piece and line up the neckline (I’m showing the second half because it is more obvious in the picture what you’re doing).  Than carefully place the bodice front you’ve ironed on top so it matches the pattern piece and pin it.

10.  Now, topstitch the front bodice pieces together.

11.  Sew the shoulder seams together just like it says in the instructions.

12.  Run a gather stitch  along the shoulder seam of the sleeve.  For my machine I set the stitch length to 5, and just ran it through very fast.

13.  Gather the sleeve to match the armhole.  I find it easier to put the sleeve in flat for projects like this.

14.  Sew the sleeve in (don’t forget to reset your stitch length or switch it to your knit fabric setting).

15.  Iron the seam towards the sleeve.  This helps give it a bit more support, and I think feels better when wearing it.

16.  Sew together the panels for the front of the underskirt.  Run a gather stitch on the top of the skirt.
17.  Hem the sides of the two front overskirt panels using a double needle.  Run a gather stitch on the top.

04518.  Lay the overskirt on the bodice right sides together.  Pin the edges and then gather it until you like how it looks.  Pin in place

19.  Find the middle of the bodice front and place a pin there.  Then find the middle of the underskirt  pin that to the middle of the bodice front.  Now start gathering it up so you like how it looks and pin the heck out of that skirt.

20.  Run it through your sewing machine.  Iron the seams down towards the skirt.

21.  Sew back overskirt panels together.  Run a gather stitch, and gather it to the back bodice.

22.  Sew your side seam.  I did not catch the underskirt fabric in the seam to cut down on bulk, but that’s personal taste.

04423.  Iron down your hems.  I tended to use a 3/8” hem, but that’s an eyeball measurement.

24.  Sew down using a double needle, this makes a nice straight hem, but still gives it some stretch and give.

Hopefully that’s as clear as mud.

If I base success on her refusing to take it off for 4 days straight, than I’d say it’s a very successful dress.  I personally think the bodice shades clash a hair, but she picked it out and won’t take it off, so that’s a success.

I’d love to find some stretch lace so I can add the lace.  I think that would make it absolutely adorable.

Katie's Nesting Spot

For anyone wondering what I’ve been up to this summer

I’ve achieved one of the things on my summer bucket list, and so far I’ve mostly kept it up.  There’s a few things on the floor that need to be cleaned up now, but here ya go:


That’s before.  Yes, isn’t it truly horrible?  I mean horrible.  I’m rather ashamed it got that way, but I had a couple of deadlines and then it came down, where should we put this?  “Go put it in the sewing room,” and thus it got horrid.



And here’s the almost after.  The big tubs are a trash tub and a “doesn’t belong in this room tub,” I need to finish putting together one of the bookcases, but that’s going to be an afternoon project next week.  I think I’m mostly recovered from this crazy month of June.


So, that’s one thing to check off of my Summer Bucket list……..

To reward myself for all my hard work I made this:


As well as a finishing off a few other items……..