Monthly Archives

June 2013

Explore With Me: Panther Mountain

Panther Mountain, AdirondacksLast weekend we did one of my all-time favorite hikes, Panther Mountain.   Located in lovely Piseco, New York, it is one of those ‘most bang for your buck’ kind of hikes.   It clocks in at under 2 miles (round trip), with gorgeous views of Piseco and Spy lake at the top.

The hike is sometimes referred to as ‘Echo Cliffs on Panther Mountain’ since it ends at, well, the Echo Cliffs.  Perfect for lounging and having a snack (or lunch!) before heading back down.  I’ve never had a campfire at the top, but there are always remnants of one nestled between the cliffs.

We hiked it with our 5, 4, and 2-year old and the older two hiked it no problem (with a little whining for the shall-remain-nameless oldest child).   The youngest hiked half-way up on her own, something we did not expect, but of course loved.  Did you know that 2-year-old hiking means climbing over every. single. rock.  along the way.  Our little guy loved it the most…he was excited to hike ‘up into the sky’ and left a trail of leaves so we could find our way back.

This is the hike I recommend to everyone in the area.  It’s quick (not as quick with kids), it’s fun, it’s beautiful.  The hike trifecta.   We hiked it on a humid, hazy, about-to-rain-any-second kind of day, and it was still gorgeous…

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Our Father’s Day Craft

Now that the kids are a bit older, and one of them attends school, the Mother’s/Father’s day shindig is a lot more fun.  You know, as opposed to when they were babies and we had to do everything for each other and then be obligated to be extra patient and cheery while taking care of various oblivious-to-the-day  newborn/baby/toddlers because ‘it’s mother/father’s day, after all…’

Oh, none of you felt that way?  Just me?  Moving on, then…

Nowadays, thing are a lot more fun.  The kids have their own ideas of what they want to do/make for us.  Our daughter, especially, hides projects in her room or backpack for weeks leading up to the event.  I like the kids to make something, but it isn’t always easy finding a craft that they can actually do by themselves.  Last year we painted rocks, this year I found a fun crayon-sandpaper-shirt-transfer project (official name) that I knew the kids would LOVE.  It really is a great craft, with big results, and would be an ideal birthday party/Girl Scout/rainy day activity.

You will need:  sandpaper (I used 120 grit, but you can use any), crayons, shirt, iron, towel.

Step One:  Grab a kid and make them color on the sandpaper.

Adirondack Inpired Celebrates Father's Day Adirondack Inpired Celebrates Father's Day

 Step Two: Iron the sandpaper art, face down, on shirt, covering it with some sort of towel.  Iron for about thirty seconds.

Adirondack Inpired Celebrates Father's Day Adirondack Inpired Celebrates Father's Day

Step Three:  Surprise Dad with the shirt on Father’s Day!  Take a picture of his manly chest.

Adirondack Inpired Celebrates Father's Day

 The kids were SO excited, he had to rotate the shirts throughout the day to keep everyone satisfied!  I’ll update this once I’m sure how it handles washing/drying.  I have a feeling we’ll be using this technique to add a little something special to their next mama-sewn item.

How do you celebrate Father’s Day, I’d love to hear!

Pajama Shorts (on the line)

I decided to sew along with a series while it’s actually still going on.  That’s what I call progress…  It’s titled Shorts on the Line  (although I tend to sing the title to the tune of Pants on the Ground) and is hosted by Imagine Gnats and Small and Friendly.  Such a fun series, and while I meant to take the opportunity to sew something for my boy, he (once again) got put on the back burner.

My smallest girl is short on pajamas for summer, so I thought I’d try to draft a pair for her.   I mean, how many tutorials are out there going ‘first, trace a pair of well fitting shorts/pants/shirts…’   I have to tell you, though, I really hate this step and a will be remedying it as soon as I can decide on which pants/shorts pattern to add to my stash.  (recommendations, anyone?)

Pillow Case Pajamas for Shorts on the Line

I used an old pillowcase to make both the shorts and a top for a little pajama ensemble.  I drafted each piece, and the whole process felt a little bit like I was a kid playing with construction paper, glue, and a stapler.  I just wanted to see if I could do it…there was no planning or careful execution.  I barely pinned and didn’t iron, all rebel-without-a-cause style.

Pillow Case Pajamas for Shorts on the Line

The material for the shorts was pretty heavy for the shorts, not like your typical pillow case.  I drafted them using a pattern a size up because I wanted a bloomer effect, but they actually fit pretty snug since there isn’t much of a difference between a 2T diapered bum and a slim cut size 4.  I used the existing hem on the pillowcase (love these re-fashioning shortcuts), and just sewed some elastic on the inside to cinch them in a bit.  I wish I had documented the process, but I did this during naptime and that always lends a bit of ‘racing the clock’ rush to my projects.

The top is pretty much a pillow-case-dress-esque type of thing.  I used eyelet for the straps, and I am in love with them.  I mean, look how sweet…

 Pillow Case Pajamas for Shorts on the Line

Pillow Case Pajamas for Shorts on the Line

Sweet dreams baby girl!

Explore with Me: Nettle Meadow Farm

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Last weekend, we skipped the hiking trail and went to visit a goat farm nestled into a little Adirondack valley in Warrensburg, NY.

It’s called Nettle Meadow, and you can read more about them on their website.  I first heard about them after eating an incredibly delicious goat cheese spread at a nearby restaurant.  The menu mentioned the cheese was local, from a farm called Nettle Meadow, and I loved both the name of the farm, and (especially) the cheese.  Over time, I heard that you could buy the cheese directly from the farm, and then later, that they give tours.

Adirondack Exploring

I was worried about finding the farm, especially when our garmin basically prompted us to park on the side of the road and start walkin’ (not kidding!).  But, no, it’s right off the road and very easy to find (phew!).  The tour began with one of the owners, Lorraine, appearing with a baby goat in her arms.  The fur was still damp, it had been born just shortly before we arrived.  She brought him out like a proud Mama, and let the children (and adults such as myself) give her (the goat, not Lorraine) a little love.  It was such an incredibly beautiful way to start the tour.

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We met the other goats, eager to come to the fence for some attention, as well as cats, ponies, llamas, sheep, chickens, and a rather noisy, but beautiful, peacock.  We learned that Nettle Meadow is also an animal sanctuary, and they sometimes find animals just dropped off at their farm.  Lorraine introduced each animal that came up by name and anecdote.  She also shared their story, how she and her partner Sheila were living in California working in the legal profession, before ditching it all to buy a goat farm in the Adirondack mountains of New York.  When I inquired how they found this place, she responded with ‘the internet.’  I always find these types of stories, and the people who own them, incredibly fascinating.  Who makes this type of decision, how doe this even come to fruition???  Her response was you have to be a little crazy.  I believe it.  But I also can’t help thinking it’s the best kind of crazy.

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The original farm dates back to either the late 1700’s or early 1800’s (I was a bit distracted by the kids during this part).  We climbed into the loft of the barn (in the process of being restored), and it was such a beautiful space.  I’m sure I didn’t appreciate it as much as my husband, only because I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at.  (ha)  I’m already looking forward to making Nettle Meadow an annual visit and watching the progress of the barn restoration.

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The tour ended with a sampling of their delicious cheese.  Soft goat cheese spreads, goat cheddar, and the creme-de-la-creme, award-winning kunik cheese.  Just incredible, creamy goodness.  You can read more about the cheese for sale here.  (tip: the spreads can be frozen!)

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For any local, or visiting Adirondack readers, I highly (highly!) recommend a visit to Nettle Meadow.  We will definitely be visiting again (probably as soon as our cheese runs out…).

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Sewing for Me: The Summer Sundress

A couple of weeks ago I shared my first delve into real, actual sewing for me.

It resulted in a dress (see it here) that needed a couple of tweaks.  I knew from looking at the dress what needed to be done, but I wasn’t sure how to translate that into the pattern.  Lucky for me, Mom was around just when I was trying to figure it out.  She helped me decided how to take up the straps (take up front? or front and back?).  I wound up taking a full two inches out of the front straps.  Mom pointed out that doing this will probably make the arm scythe a little tight, so I trimmed a bit from there as well.  I increased the front bodice length by one inch, but since the front bodice is cut several inches shorter than the back, I could have added more.  I’m still not sure if this dress is supposed to be ‘bloused’ between the bodice and skirt….or not.

Initially, I added five inches to the skirt length, but whoa….that did baaaad things.  The drape of the knit made it really, hmmm, what’s the word.  Doudy?  Old-lady-ish?  Instead of flaring out nicely, that length pretty much clung to the hips and outer thighs.  Cue the sad horn wah, waaaah.  Instead of just cutting the length back off, I decided to do a u-shaped hem and traced it out using a dress I had in my closet.  It’s amazing what the cut of fabric does for your body.  It’s all smoke-and-mirrors, people.  I almost shortened the hem by a couple of inches, but I wanted this to be a staple dress.  In other words, a dress that passes the bend-over-to-pick-up-toddler-test and sit-on-the-floor-playing-trucks-or-cards-test.

Oh, and the fabric!  We can’t forget about the fabric.  This was my very first order from Girl Charlee (!!).  The fabric was on clearance for something like $3.00/yard!  It’s sketched birds, which looked a little different in full-print mode than it did on the little thumbnail, but I still really love it.   I think that it looks like an abstract print from a distance, and the blues and golds will translate perfect into fall.  I’m not going to lie, though, I’m kind of wondering if I’m crossing some sort of invisible home-sewer line.  I think it’s cute and fun, but I wonder if I’ll have friends giving me the side-eye, like…really, Monica?  Wearing bird clothing?  Okaaaay.  Well, there’s no going back now, and I do love the dress, so I’ll take the looks.  Okay…..want to see?

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 My husband helped me out big time and acted as my photographer (thanks!).  Photographing yourself is…awkward.  Having your husband photograph you is…slightly less awkward.   Especially when the mosquitos are out and…hungry.  The outtakes of this shoot involve a lot of blurry arm movement swatting the bugs away from my face.

Here is the before and after shots of the hemline I took during the creating process.  Amazing what a hemline can do!

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One last shot…  awwww…my girl!

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I really recommend this pattern to anyone out there (it’s McCALL’S M6744).  It is easy (eeeaaasy!) to sew up, and a great project to start with if you’re interested in sewing with knit fabrics.  I love it,  and am pretty sure I need to put in another Girl Charlee fabric order STAT!

Thanks for reading along, share your thoughts in the comments!

Happy Friday–and what we’re liking this week

A bit of randomness for your Friday.

We had two discoveries that changed up our daily grind this week.

One was the Blink card game.  Have you heard of this?  It had high ratings on Amazon and I had it in my cart forever, but just bought it the last time we needed a round of diapers or something, and it is our new favorite game!  It’s simple enough for my 5-year-old to teach me how to play (apparently, she has this game at school), and very fast paced.  I think the tagline is ‘the fastest game ever.’  (or something…)  I’m pretty sure I like it more than she does.  Probably because it means I may never have to play Candyland agan.  (Seriously, Candyland, why must you be so torturous.)  Blink is suggested as 7 and up, but my 5-year-old took 3 out of 5 games last night. ( Our old favorite game was called Spot It, and that’s great take-anywhere game that even 3-year-olds can manage.  I recommend this one too!)

(I’m using affiliate links up there for those games on Amazon, because if you buy them after clicking I make a million dollars.  Or 17 cents.   Something like that.)

The second discovery of the week was that Kindle books can be borrowed from the local library!  I don’t know how long this has been a possibility, but when I discovered it (quite by mistake), it felt like Christmas morning.  In the southern Adirondacks, with our tiny towns and libraries, we have a system called SALS (Southern Adirondack Library System), and if you live in this area, check it out.  All the libraries are linked, so if you’re looking for a book, you can request it from any library in the system.  I’ve been a fan of our library since I was old enough to ride my bike down the road and take out my first Nancy Drew novel (yup).  I have donated quite generously over years.  And by ‘donate’ I mean I forget to return books  and pay huge late fees.

But Kindle books return themselves!  Hurrah.   I can feel that nerdy itch, and be reading a book in about 30 seconds, all without getting off the couch.  Nerd nirvana, right there!  Is it too much to call it a life-changing discovery?  I didn’t think so.

Have a great weekend, everybody, and leave any game or book recommendations in the comments!



How to Sew with Commercial Patterns: Part 1

I have been sewing for just over a year now, and just sewed my first commercial pattern.  And by commercial, I mean a Simplicity or McCalls type of pattern.

After the hand-holding, beautifully detailed tutorials and patterns of the Internet, I was afraid to dive in alone.  When you are used to sewing with step by step diagrams or photographs (!) of each step, sewing without them can feel a little daunting.

Learning to sew is intimidating.  It’s an entire new language.  I had to ask questions at Jo Ann’s just to figure out how to purchase the pattern!  I mean, seriously…

So, this series is for anyone just starting out sewing and trying to figure out how to choose, purchase, and sew the pattern they want!

STEP ONE:  Choose a pattern.  My local store is Jo Ann’s, and there is a section of the store with tables and big books of patterns.  The books are by pattern company, so one for Vogue, one for Simplicity, etc.  It reminds me of the process you would use to purchase wallpaper.  Then you flip through the book and find the section you are interested in.  Women’s dresses, kids pajamas, doll patterns….  The books are very visual with large photos, try not to get too distracted.  When deciding which pattern to sew, pay attention to the difficulty level.  Mine was labeled easy…perfect!  Once you decide on a pattern there will be a number/letter code next to it.  I chose a McCall’s pattern with the code M6744.  Once you have this information, there are file drawers labeled by pattern maker and letter, with the numbers in numerical order.   Go look up your pattern!


STEP TWO:  Great, we have a pattern!  At this point, you have a slim envelope with the pattern tucked inside and a bunch of information on the outside.  The outside of the pattern is loaded with information, such as:

  • The pattern maker’s name and pattern style.  Eg. McCALL’S M6744.
  • The size(s) of this pattern. Eg. (Xsm-Sml-Med) or (6-8-10-12).
  • The size chart with measurements.  You have to know your measurements Don’t even think in terms of ‘I’m a size 6, so…)!!  Numerical size means nothing, forget it.  Be free of your number.   Look at the measurements.  Bust, waist, hip.  Make sure you are buying the pattern that coordinates with whatever these measurements are for you.  My pattern listed (Xsm-Sml-Med) on the front of the envelope.  It also listed what measurements of these sizes were.  So, if you fall between  29 1/2″ and 36″ at the bust line, you know you can use this size pattern.  If you don’t, go back to the bin and find the pattern in your size.
  • Variation styles included, these will be labeled as A,B,C,D…etc.
  • Yardage.  There will be a chart that has the yardage required for the variation (style A, B, etc) and size you plan on making.  For my example it says I will need 1 3/8 yardage off of a 60″ bolt.  The 60″ refers to the width of the bolt.
  • Suggested Fabrics.  Eg. Jerseys, Interlocks, Cotton Knit.
  • Notions required for garment.  Eg. buttons, elastic, bias tape.

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As for buying patterns, I bought mine the last time Jo Ann’s had a 99 cent pattern sale.  The price of my pattern is originally $18.95.  Jo Ann’s patterns are always on sale for 50% off, and sometimes they run 99-cent patterns on a major pattern company.  The day I went, McCall’s patterns were all $.99, with a few exclusions.  (The ladies looking through the books at the table had no clue they were on sale, and didn’t believe me when I told them!)  So watch for the sales, and stock up!

Part 2 of How to Sew with Commercial Patterns will be coming soon…  Next up we’ll walk through cutting out the pattern and your fabric pieces.  Riveting stuff here, people!

Sewing Skinnies

I had planned to make these waaaaay back during Kids Clothes Week.

I get sidetracked easily.

So fast forward a couple of weeks (whoops, I make that a full month) and I’d like to introduce these pair of hot pink skinny jeans right off the press!  They actually aren’t denim, but maybe a stretch twill bottomweight?  I don’t know, I’m just making things up at this point.  Tossing out fabric terms as if I know what I’m talking about.  I came across them when Jo Ann’s was having their 50% off clearance fabric.  Big score.

I’m not sure how much stretch this has compared to stretch denim, but I don’t recall the pattern specifying a percentage of stretch.  I compared them to her Target skinnies and they were comparable.   Oh yes, and the pattern is Peek-a-Boo’s Skinny Jeans PDF pattern (find it here) in case you are motivated to sew up your own version.

As usual, the delay in sewing it up comes from that tedious process of printing out the pattern pieces, taping that mess of a puzzle together (I’m particularly bad at puzzles), cutting it out, tracing the appropriate size, cutting that out, and then finally cutting into the fabric (hint: pay attention to that stretch so you don’t have to repeat this last step, ugh!).  See, even typing that process out is annoying.  I just want to get to the sewing already…

The sewing process was pretty easy.  I couldn’t understand the spatial sense of the pocket attachment and used a different method, but that’s on me, not the pattern.  Other than that, it came together pretty quickly with no bumps in the road.

***And here’s where I ask for help…  Both times I’ve made pants with pockets with a pocket lining, the diagrams show that pocket line curve as large as the curved cut out of the front leg pattern piece…but…it never is quite as large and I’m not sure where to line it up (with the inner edge, outer edge or shave a little off each side).  And both finished products have pockets that are a little bit ‘off.’  I don’t know how to explain it other than they don’t lay nice and flat.  Lay your tips and tricks on me, sewers, and I’ll buy you a margarita.  On the rocks.  With salt.***

And that wraps up the word portion–on to the good stuff…

Peek-a-boo Skinny Jeans Pattern

Peek-a-boo Skinny Jeans Pattern

This is her version of a ‘test drive…’

Peek-a-boo Skinny Jeans Pattern

I left a bit of the pocket lining out because I think it’s fun.  It’s supposed to be tucked under and top-stitched down, but I love this little contrasting pop.



Peek-a-boo Skinny Jeans Pattern Peek-a-boo Skinny Jeans Pattern Peek-a-boo Skinny Jeans Pattern

Peek-a-boo Skinny Jeans Pattern

Peek-a-boo Skinny Jeans Pattern

Happiest photo shoot yet, I’d say she likes them.

(Of course, it happened to be 80 degrees and humid outside during this photo shoot.  Kind of hoping for some cooler weather so she can wear them before she outgrows them…)