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Monthly Archives: March 2011

seed sorting

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As I said yesterday, Pia and I are attempting to grow wildflower seeds from one of those wildflower seed packets. The back of the packet says it includes “crimson clover, sweet sultan, purple coneflower, mexican sunflower, tricolor daisy, burpleurum, sweet william, mexican lupine, love in a mist and others”, but we have no idea which seed is for which plant. And don’t get me started on the “and others”. Such a wide open field that is. Anyway, in an attempt to conquer the seed mix, Pia and I sorted the seeds by type before planting them. Our sorting process looked like this:

We had nine distinctly different seeds after sorting them by size, color, shape, and fuzziness. We chose six different types of seeds to plant in our strawberry-container-turned-greenhouse and kept track of what we planted where. “Furry seeds, front left; small black, front middle; big brown, front right; flat brown, back left; worm seeds, back middle; skinny zebras, back right”. My high school science classes have served me well, clearly.

And, voila! A mere week into this experiment we have seeds sprouting!!! And we know (based on our highly scientific chart) that they are the “big brown seeds”. After googling each flower type + seed on the packet I have deduced that these are crimson clover. We shall see.

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let the wild wildflower rumpus begin!!

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Against my better judgement I agreed to be co-chair of the gardening committee at Pia’s school. What this basically means is that instead of just failing in my own gardens I can fail on a grander scale in a more public venue. Mostly I jest. In reality there are enough lovely volunteers in addition to my very green-thumbed co-chair, Sandy, that my hare-brained schemes rarely are allowed to wreak havoc on more than just a little bit of the garden at a time.

The current hare-brained idea of mine is getting the kindergarten classes to grow wildflower seeds. You know those wildflower seed packets that are often handed out as promotional items for banks or other businesses? The packets that promise an insta-wildflower garden? The ones that you scatter in the garden with high hopes but then forget to water and really completely forget are even there and nothing ever comes up because of the neglect and forgetfulness? Yes, well, our school butterfly garden received several of these packets included with a very generous donation from a local bank. And I am determined to have these seeds grow into the beauties that they can be. So, no outdoor scattering for these seeds. No. They will be grown inside with loving care and then transplanted outside when the weather warms. In, like, five months.

I had originally intended to buy actual seed-starting greenhouses for each of the classes, but because of the way my brain works I ended up using old strawberry containers instead. With the beginning of strawberry season it seemed we were accumulating a lot of these little plastic boxes and I assumed other households were as well. They seem like perfect greenhouses. A lid that can open and shut. Vents on all sides. And they are an example of reuse, instead of buying a similar thing at the hardware store that will just be tossed eventually anyway. So, I collected a bunch of these containers from friends, peeled off the stickers on the tops, cleaned the insides and lined the bottoms with several layers of cheesecloth (so that the dirt wouldn’t run right out of the holes in the bottom). Then Pia and I filled them up with seed starting dirt and attached seeds and instructions to each of the mini-greenhouses. I have no idea how this will work, but figure it is worth a shot. I will be delivering them to the kindergarten classes this afternoon. Hopefully they will get something to grow.

Pia and I are also doing this experiment at home.  I will keep you posted on how it works and if strawberry containers as cheap mini-greenhouses are the wave of the future. Or if this idea is similar to my idea of crushing up garbage to use as road building material. I still think that last idea has merit. No one else seems to though.

A sweater for Pea

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With bad seasonal timing, I just finished knitting a sweater for Pea with the most scrumptious superwash wool (Malabrigo Rios).  I love how soft it is, especially in the broken rib stitch I used – it seems so comfy and warm.  The pattern was excellent – I just measured my victim and did a little simple math as directed by the pattern, chose my own stitch pattern and neck shape, and knit up a totally custom, really cute raglan sweater that fits Pea perfectly.  (Now.  At the end of winter.  Go me.)

I love the yarn.  I love the color of the yarn – beautiful blues and greens.  I love the finished sweater.  When I put it on Pea I didn’t totally love it, though.  The color isn’t really right for him.  I’ll still dress him in it, and he had fun posing for me, but I should have chosen a different color.  Oh well.  Live and learn.

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"What do you mean there are no more cookies?!"

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"If there's no payment in treats, I'm done with this."

One of my favorite pictures from today was from when Tea begged to join in the photo shoot, but then wanted nothing to do with it once he was there.  Poor Pea just rolled his eyes as I tried to coax any expression from his brother.

"You heard she's not giving us cookies, right?"

Favorite films

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Tea’s favorite movies are My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service.  Never mind that I can count the number of movies he’s seen in his life on one hand.  These two, both written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, have captured his imagination.  He talks about Kiki as if she’s a friend and he’s already logged a request to be Totoro for Halloween.

As luck would have it, he got to see his favorite characters in an exhibit at Appleton’s The Building for Kids, as part the traveling Jump to Japan exhibit.

Riding the cat bus

 

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Tea's tea. I just noticed Tea's mouth is actually *on* this cup. Ew.

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Tea is so pleased to pose with Totoro. Pea could care less.

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Let’s just pretend this post is substantial.  That’s all I’ve got for now.

pia jumped over the candlestick

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I think this is my last nursery rhyme prop. Which is horribly sad. I will have to think of another project to give me reason to neglect household chores.

This is the candlestick for Jack, the quick and nimble (not the clumsy oaf who drops his water pail), to jump over. It began as a toilet paper tube which I stitched a satin and quilt batting sleeve for. The flame is the same material I used for the clementines, sort of a nubby wool fabric that has a lovely visual texture. I machine stitched the flame to the inside-out tube sleeve and then flipped the whole thing right side out and slid the toilet paper tube into it to make it stiffer and to stand up straight. The base is 4 layers of fabric with wire in it. The 4 layers give it the necessary stiffness and weight and the wires enabled me to bend the handle of the candlestick.

The next step was to have Jack’s stunt double (Pia) test out the jumping over bit. Taking the photos during the day would have been a better option, but this fuzzy picture makes her look super fast.

There is some good clearance there. She didn’t even get singed! I think I see a steeplechase career in her future. Do they let girls run steeplechase? Or is that one of the few boys-only events left?

clumsy jack

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The nursery rhyme prop sew-a-thon continues here and I am having a ball. Indeed, a bit too much fun is being had and that is clearly illustrated in how dirty the rest of my house has become. Why do laundry when I could be creating a water pail for Jack to fall down with? Why sweep the floor/pick up clutter/do the dishes when I could be sewing crowns by the dozens?

The latest request from Pia’s teacher was a pail that has water spilling out of it. Well, that has water in it and then out of it when Jack falls down and breaks his crown and Jill comes tumbling after. I knew some blue silk would be in order, as well as some craftily placed sand to make the pail tip every time it is dropped. Here is what the pail looks like just after Jack fills it (he is a bit unsteady, hence the water sloshing around):

Then, after Jack trips and falls and (presumably) spills his pail, it looks like this:

The silk is lightweight and billowy enough that it naturally falls out as the bucket tips. I attached the pail handle by using metal eyelets and buttons so that the handle could freely move to one side as the bucket tips. I tested the prop out several times by falling to the ground and dropping the pail and the water pours out 90% of the time. Hopefully the kids will also get such results.

Next up: a candlestick for Jack to jump over. I do hope it is a different Jack as this one is quite clumsy. And jumping over a candlestick with a broken crown is ill-advised.

happy! sad. happy! sad.

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We are on a nursery rhyme roll here. Yesterday Pia’s teacher requested a humpty dumpty to use in the class. Pia was in an amazingly cooperative mood and she and I got to work. I cut pieces. She glued on eyes and tears and shoes. I sewed. She stuffed. We were a great team and in no time Humpty had come to life. Contrary to popular belief you can put Humpty Dumpty together again. Hee, hee.

I started out embroidering the face features, but quickly got lazy and opted for paint instead. Way easier. Humpty has sand in his bottom which makes him sit up nicely even without something to lean against. Which is good because in the classroom he has to perch on a wall made of cardboard bricks. But even sand in his bottom can’t prevent him from falling off the wall. Again and again and again.

Flip Humpty around and he is very sad. A big crack in his head and sparkly tears streaming down his face. Though maybe I am reading his emotions wrong. Perhaps he is just sad that I placed his arms so high up that they look like ears. As if it isn’t hard enough being an enormous egg.