Monthly Archives: May 2010

Saturday Jersey Set

I’ve had this dress done for a while now, but as it really needs to be worn to photograph I was waiting for a warm day! The pattern is Saturday Night Silk Jersey Set from Weekend Sewing. Mine isn’t silk, but it still feels nice to wear. It is really a top and skirt but though you are meant to be able to wear them separately I’m not sure if I will. I took an inch off the top pattern all the way around because I’m small, but I feel that makes the top a little short to wear with a pair of jeans, as she suggests. (With a wrap top like this it is a little tricky to figure out how to adjust width and not length, but it’s probably one of those things you could do if you just played around with it.) But I’m happy with it, especially as it is only the second clothing item I’ve made.

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Building a Bench

I, even I, am building a bench. Remember when I said I needed to build some furniture? Well, this is attempt number one. In fact, the bench is pretty much built, and is now awaiting sanding, general tidying up and finishing. I found the instructions online, but me being me, I had the irresistable urge to modify it, even though this is easily my first woodworking project since…..well, a LONG time. I made the bench shorter (38″) and changed the design of the legs. It’s hard to get exciting pictures of the bench at this stage, so I’ll include the following simply as proof! I’ll write more about the whole experience when it’s finished!

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Wall Flowers

Another case of “I should be doing many other things, but instead I am doing this.” Fortunately, it was not a big project! I saw this idea in a book once – a simple jar of blossoms hung on the wall. In the book it was a round jam style jar but it struck me that this glass syrup jug would be perfect, for a number of reasons. For one thing, it has a tiny little loop handle, which makes me feel more secure about hanging it. And the jar is also flat, which makes it ideal for hanging against the wall. I knew I was saving that jar for something. So I soaked the jar in warm soapy water and scrubbed it to remove the label. I think a rustic twine would be great for this kind of thing but I only had raffia, so I used several strands braided together. Then I filled it half full of water and stuck in some flowers. I believe this could work with any jar, but you would want to make sure that it has a sizeable lip so you feel the string wouldn’t slip of and send you jar crashing to the ground. Perhaps you could also use some wire tightly wound around the top of the jar, for a more sturdy hanging option.

When I was finished I wandered around the house looking for a good place to hang my wall flowers. With plaster walls you don’t really want to put nails in without the little metal picture hanger bit (I believe that is what is it called), which takes away from the charm.

But with something this size there are still lots of options. I settled on the front porch (at top) because I think it makes the entryway look rather jolly.

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Soon to be ours

A house in the country. Soon to be OUR house in the country. I can hardly believe it. Even on a grey day it looks lovely. (In fact, it was raining, so I had to rush a photo. Trust me though, it is beautiful.) At this point we have jumped all the house-buying hurdles, and are now just waiting for closing day, a little less than a month away. In a way I’m sure it will not feel altogether real until we have the key in our hands!

This lovely house is 180 years old and has been lovingly cared for by the previous owners. It is a short 11 minutes drive to Annapolis Royal and sits on a beautiful piece of property with two outbuildings. Buying a house is a big decision, but it wasn’t a hard one because this house felt so right. When you see a good thing…… Plus, this is the dream! But for those who are wondering, no, we are not moving anytime in the near future. Someday it will be our full-time home, but for now we will have to content ourselves with the summer, weekends and holidays. Still, I think it will be wonderful.

I will doubtlessly be posting a lot about this house. For one thing, it calls for some major making and crafting. I’m even thinking I need to take up carpentry and build some furniture! And learning about country life  is going to be a journey in itself. But I’ll try to hold back a bit until I’ve got that key (that cute skeleton key) in my hand.

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Yummy Millet Cakes

Well, I’ve got lots on the go but nothing that is ready to share just yet. But as this space has been quiet for a few days I thought I’d do a quick post about a fabulous recipe I’ve been using. We try to eat a lot of grains and beans so I am always on the look out for different ways of cooking them. These  Savoury Millet Cakes are wonderful. Very healthy, yummy and simple to make. It is also easy to see how you could substitute different veggies and herbs for different flavour combinations. These are now a favourite with us and I recommend giving them a go!

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First Fiddleheads

Spring Eats – Fiddleheads from Pictou! This afternoon I made some more pasta so I thought a fiddlehead and pasta dish was in order. I sautéed some onions and plenty of garlic in olive oil, added some navy beans, half a can or tomatoes and some steamed fiddleheads. Salt, pepper, pinch of sugar and, for some more Spring flavour, chives from the garden. Quite a colourful dish. The fresh local spring greens to cook with (after a lot of frozen swiss chard) are so very welcome!

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Autism Art Class Update

I haven’t said much about autism art class lately so I thought it was time for an update. This term we are working hard to create a recognizable and comfortable structure to the class and activities. We noticed that some children did very well when expectations were clear. An understanding that they must try each activity seemed to create a feeling of comfort. This doesn’t work for the everybody, as it is a divers group, but for three of the children we have a checklist of that day’s activities which they must complete and check off. In one way, it sounds uncomfortably rigid as an art class, but I have seen first had how this system is really helping. It is as if the structure allows them to feel free trying new things, a much-needed scaffold system for their exploration. One child who would do nothing but work with cardboard and tape now enters quite enthusiastically into all the different activities and did amazingly well in print making. Note the 3/3, A+ he included in this print – his way of recognizing and celebrating the fact that he tried all three activities.

On top of the organized list of activities, each station also includes  visual queues. For example, at the painting station there is a card with an illustration of a hand painting. Activities that have several steps are broken down into “First this, then this” instructions, complete with the appropriate visuals. “First draw then paint.” It can be tricky sometimes to come up with illustrations for every part of an activity, but again I feel the structure is helping.

In a way it is kind of surprising that it has taken us a while to settle into this way of doing things, but in fairness the group is very wide in abilities, and I think we were reluctant to set up structure and expectations when there were some notable differences in the needs of the children.  I was uncomfortable with the idea that there are two groups, even while finding it easy to identify them – one group that participates in activities and the others who do better with free access to materials that seem to work for them every week, such as painting. So right now we have three kids who participate in carefully chosen activities, designed to explore different techniques and materials. I should mention that once they have tried the activities they are free to return to something they like, or do something of their choosing  – it’s not all regimented! We also have two children for whom art class is more open. Painting is generally available to them as it seems to be a favourite. Sponges, brushes, painting large-scale on the floor or wall, or on paper at a table. Sometimes drawing material is out, or last week we had some plasticine. Different children have different needs and it’s ok to tailor or support systems to make this a positive one.  We are still working on it. But we know that trying to meet all the needs in one way just wasn’t working.

This Saturday I took the structure set up a step further by including an activity that required several steps: a tissue box diorama. The first step involved painting the inside of the box, the next was choosing an image from a magazine as a background. Then they had to create the standing up scene inside the diorama (itself quite involved) and add plasticine figures. (I took some process shots but didn’t get good finished ones!)

It was a bit of a challenge to come up with clear visual instructions but the ordered process did work well. In our experience, it’s quite an achievement for these guys to work on a project in a sustained way. Next week I want to try another project that involves several steps. I feel this might be a good way of creating a sense of accomplishment with special works.

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