Posted in creativity, Fiction, Homeschooling, sock creature

More about the Sock Creatures and their Ancestral Home

mug run laura003Who hasn’t daydreamed about living in a stately home furnished with shabby-chic antiques and the bric a brac collected by their forebears, such as the eighth duke’s collection of golf clubs and the ball gown Lady Amanda wore when dancing with the Ruritanian Ambassador?

No such dwelling would be complete without the haunted Long Gallery with the portraits of long-gone ancestors, showing the family resemblance as to chin, nose — or antenna?

And this portrait of Snarfie and Pie Thagoras has its own secret treasure, to be revealed in the last chapter of the story, saving the family seat from being redeveloped as a bingo hall … stay tuned!

Posted in creativity, Homeschooling, sock creature

Arrival of Stupid Sock Creatures

IMG_0502_cropMeet Pie Thagoras and Snarfie!

They are from Return of the Stupid Sock Creatures: Evolutions, Mutations and Other Creations, by John Murphy, published by Lark Crafts.

Young Sprout made most of the design decisions and did some of the cutting and ALL of the stuffing — to the point where I had to do reverse stuffing to sew these critters closed!

Like quilting every project is a learning experience.  With Snarfie  I learned ladder stitch.  He is made from a pair of orange ankle socks, felt, a scrap from an old t-shirt, and a giant blingy bead.

With Pie Thagoras I learned that critters stuffed with rice are heavy and need stronger stitching — he already has an extra blue patch on his derriere covering over the spot where he was sewn closed.  He’s made from a pair of crew socks plus a third blue sock for contrast.

YS has learned how to do the stuffing, that sewing takes longer than you think, and hopefully that persistence pays off to complete projects.  He has also learned more understanding and respect for the importance of sewing equipment and supplies, which in this household can only be a Good Thing.  Also that although the results may not look quite like the book it’s all good.

It’s amazing how these guys have taken on personalities.  The book gives them all names and life stories, but ours have lives and minds of their own!

Posted in books, Environment, Fiction, Homeschooling

Drop Everything and Read

Nerd Alert!

Drop Everything and Read is a program that encourages everyone to commit to doing just that, for 20 minutes.   As a homeschooling extended family we are pretty conscientious about reading at least 20 minutes every day.  But it’s certainly easier when there’s a good supply of reading material.

Our library has an even better than free book sale.  It goes on all weekend about four times a year.

They cunningly have different price points.  Saturday you pay to get in and then have the best pick of all the books.  Sunday morning you get in for free and buy the books (think it’s a dollar for pocket books and kids’ books and $2 or $3 for hardbacks and trade paperbacks).
Perhaps the best time to go is Sunday afternoon, when you pay $10 to get in but it’s an all you can eat buffet, so no agonizing.  Yup, they ACTUALLY let you take ALL THE BOOKS YOU CARE TO READ!!!

We filled a large suitcase in minutes, and then went on to fill all our tote bags too.  Eventually the volunteers started passing out boxes and in the last few minutes one of them walked around urging everyone to “Take more than you want!  Please!!”  At home I counted about 40 books for my shelf, then got tired of counting.IMG_0499  See photo for a clue to why.

It was a great experience to go as a family, as the sale was in an arena so there was plenty of space and no anxieties about losing track of the little ones.  Also it was heart-warming to see them finding books for themselves and ones they thought other family members would enjoy.  There were even board books for the baby!

Victoria boasts one other epic used book sale every May,  the famous Times-Colonist Book Sale, with proceeds going to literacy programs.  This is considered better than Christmas by all local bibliophiles.

We’re blessed too by a number of street book boxes, so as I read through my pile I either pass to friends or recycle in the book box in our neighborhood.  So far I’ve dropped off two books I realized I’d already read, some fiction and a book telling you how to make liquid soap which totally cured me of wanting to ever try doing it!  Interestingly, that was picked up by someone else very quickly.

We still go to the library but the kids are more amenable to taking just a few books out at a time so this has cut the stress of looking for misplaced books on the day they’re due back. Or they will put holds on books by the authors they found through grabbing books at the sale.

Posted in Art, Environment, Homeschooling, International, Poll, surface design

Creepy before and after

Our new home has a backyard, greatly appreciated after so long in apartmentland.  The enthusiasm may wane when the grass starts to grow and needs to cut, we’ll see.

Only thing is, this is part of the deal …

IMG_0002AT LEAST it’s not facing the house, but it’s firmly settled in the ground and not for us to remove (rental).  Young Sprout did NOT like seeing this from the house, let alone playing near it.

First attempt was to place a garbage bag over the top.  That lasted a few days and then blew off into the bramble bushes.  The middle of the bramble bushes.

IMG_0003This is somewhat of an improvement.  From the house, seen in profile it rather looks as if it’s facing a firing squad, and apparently Young Sprout and Pirate Girl have used their rubber dart guns for target practice, although I’m positive they would not have ever seen a firing squad since they don’t watch a lot of movies.

I used some recycled Indonesian cotton that had been used as packing in an international move and is great for surface design, soy wax resist, etc.

Posted in Environment, Homeschooling

Upcycled Art Supply Box

Young Sprout (my grandson) is about to start kindergarten and is enrolled in distance education, meaning that my daughter Umm Sprout will be his main instructor with curriculum, supplies and guidance from a teacher.  Much is supplied through the program but we need to get a few things together ourselves (nothing like the regular back to school shopping I had to do when my two were in school though).

One thing is to provide the child with what the parents guide calls a Beautiful Junk Box to be stocked with egg cartons, cores from paper towels, boxes, clamshells from salad, etc. to enable the student to get creative and make models and do crafts on her or his own.

I found a good sized extra sturdy box in my storage locker


but it needed some oomph.


contact paper to the rescue!

And it’s already partly stocked with cores, boxes  and cheap ribbon, which I just happened to have on hand.  I have ideas of other stuff to put in that is already here but should consult with Umm Sprout first.  Am also planning to label the box using an 8-1/2 by 11 inch mailing label.  Again, I want to consult with my daughter as to what she wants it to say.

Apparently they also need a box for math manipulatives but I just happen to have shoeboxes available which are probably a good size, and enough left over contact paper to do a coordinated cover.

Interestingly I phoned around before setting out to buy the paper and a deservedly famous local hardware store had the big box store prices well beat!

Posted in baraka, Homeschooling, Islam, quilting, stash

Prairie Point Project

Does this ever happen to you?

It never fails!  My major projects, such as the dino quilt, always seem to generate test and practice pieces.  And they in turn take on a life of their own.

Yes, I could grab some ugly hard to use fabrics, make a quick quilt sandwich and grab assorted precut 3-1/2 inch squares (precut by me using Joan Ford’s Scrap Therapy system) and make sure I can apply Prairie Points.  But I can’t bring myself to do that.

Out comes a novelty fabric and some pretty chintzes and I’m making a table topper for Young Sprout & Co.  They were recently blessed with a child size table and chairs and as soon as it was in their room, they found a receiving blanket to serve as a tablecloth.


Since this is to be an Eid gift, for now I’m just showing the back.  Ignore the birds nest of threads.  This is still a work in progress as I have to deal with that and sew down the prairie points by hand.   Then it will be on to the dino quilt, a much larger project, LOL!

Posted in Art, creativity, Homeschooling, surface design, Writing

Slightly surreal

Today’s feels more like an illustration.   I used the ruling pen but tried not to get any large blotches where I didn’t want them.  This was somewhat inspired by illustrations in a children’s book, Freight Train by Donald Crews published in 1978 by Greenwillow Books, but I will have to look at the illustrations to be more confident about showing more than just the smokestack!  When the drawing was finished I realized it could be mistaken for a hat.

Posted in Homeschooling, Library Challenge 2010

What’s The Library Worth to You? – 1

Library services seem to be the easiest item to chop from strained municipal budgets these days, even though libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.

Although consistently committing to a project is a challenge for me, this is something I feel passionate about.

The challenge, issued to myself and others is:

keep track of the value of your use of the public library for 2010.  At the end of each month, compare it to what the cost of library services is per citizen per month.  Celebrate the difference and tell everyone!

This is informal and there will be no “library police” checking – but it’ll be interesting to see how the numbers stack up.

My thoughts on counting:

Since I live in Canada, I will count the price of each book checked out in Canadian dollars, usually printed somewhere on the cover or book jacket.

Movie rentals will be counted at the going rate for renting from the video store (not the purchase price).

Computer use in the library will be counted at the going rate at the internet cafe for the time used.

Not every book checked out will be listed in the blog, but I will keep track via spreadsheet of the dollar value and post at intervals.  The most interesting books will doubtless figure either in posts or in the bookshelf list on the right-hand side of the blog.

Who else is up to do this?  Thoughts, anyone?

And does anyone know how to make a badge to celebrate this that could be shared in the blogosphere?

I’m already at $28.99 as I have a book that we’ll be reading through New Year’s, Light Up Your Child’s Mind: Finding a unique pathway to happiness and success, by Joseph Renzulli and Sally Reis.

Subsequent posts will describe exactly HOW I know that libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries, so stay tuned, and feel free to share your own thoughts and experiences!

Posted in All things food, Homeschooling

Yet Another Reason to Homeschool

or yarths for short, which has a great piratey sound, doncha think?

This is an entertainingly written but ultimately chilling  piece on the 20 worst fast foods for children.  It starts by pointing out that the average family spends more on eating out than on books and educational materials, music, movies, and video games combined.

In the ensuing discussion, one poster points out that school dinners are just as bad and suggests that Emeril, Rachel Ray, and Martha Stewart should be tapped to do something about it.  In England Jamie Oliver had a series, Jamie’s School Dinners, where he worked with kids in one school to get them to try healthier alternatives.   The difference was that the kids were bringing their own packed lunches and he was trying to get fresher/healthier stuff packed by the parents.

Families who are able to homeschool can teach their children to cook from scratch, can eat lunch at home usually, and dinner can be made as part of the daily routine instead of exhausted parents getting takeout or going out because they’re too frazzled after a hard day’s work to cook from scratch.