An Easter Bunny for Baby Girl

March 29, 2012

Sorry that I've been absent so much from this space.  Kid 2 got his tonsils out at the beginning of the month, and that was all kinds of fun.  Last week, with the official start to spring, I thought he was finally well and back to normal.  We had a unusually warm week, and even made it to the beach... in swimsuits!  Lots of the flowering trees started blooming, and the magnolias were especially beautiful.

Alas, this week has been a bit dreary.  The weather has cooled off, and the temperatures got so low one night that the magnolia blossoms froze and turned brown.  In other dreary news, Kid 2 spent 6 nights in the hospital with RSV.  He has kind of a complicated medical history, and I won't go into the details here, but the short story is that his heart condition makes it harder for him to get enough oxygen when he has a respiratory infection.  I'm pretty sure Kid 1 also had RSV, but for him it played out as just an occasional cough.  And there it is, this has been a dreary week.  My husband stayed with our son at the hospital and I was at home with our other two kids, and only stopped in for a visit or two each day (while my kind, kind friends watched my other kids).

Yesterday, while I was at the hospital, and my husband was giving at presentation at lunch workshop, my friend Jessica came over and played with my kids.  Not only did she take excellent care of them, but she washed the mountain of dishes that I was building in my kitchen.  Awesome, right?  Since my afternoon plans consisted mostly of washing dishes and holding my baby, when she fell asleep in her bouncer, I suddenly found myself with a bit of time.  Perfect for sewing an Easter Bunnny for Baby Girl (my boys each got bunnies on their first Easter, so I am continuing on with the tradition).

I used my Jack Rabbit Softie Pattern that you can download for free here.  I don't know if I should admit this, but I haven't made one since I sewed up the original 4 years ago.  It was fun to revisit this pattern, and mix things up a bit in the process.    

I used an old striped super soft cashmere-blend sweater, and kept things simple by not adding the face, hands, or tummy pieces.  I used white leather for both the tail and 'M', and a yellow gingham for the inside if the ears.

I love how the rabbit looks and feels, but be warned it's a little more fiddly to sew with a stretchy sweater.  A felted sweater would work similar to using fleece.  Mine wasn't, so I interfaced all the pieces but the ears to add some structure.  This made the sewing easier, and I think will help it hold up a little better in general.

Here are all the pieces before I stuffed them put them all together.  Even the 'guts' for this rabbit looked adorable (and I was pleased with my self for how well all the stripes worked out).

When I got to stuffing the main body, I ran out of stuffing.  Of course.  I haven't had a chance to run over to Joanns to pick some more up, so the rabbit isn't as plump as I'd like.  A couple more handfuls of polyfill and a little hand stitching to close up the opening, and she will be ready for Easter!

I also opted to not use buttons for eyes (a little safer for something intended for a baby), and stitched a simple 'sleepy' face.  Cute, right?

Anyone else sewing bunnies for Easter?  The Long Thread has a great list of bunny tutorials and patterns, and my Jack Rabbit Softie is on that list.  If you make one, I always love seeing the end result (it makes my day to get an email with pictures of something someone has made using my patterns and tutorials).  There are lots of blogs (with pictures) linked up in the comments section for my pattern, so please click on those to see what everyone else has made. 

The Beginnings of Spring

March 24, 2012

Hey, hey!  It's officially Spring!  This should mean that I'm sewing cute Easter dresses for my girls and making Easter decorations and treats and kid crafts.... right?  Well, if you live at my house, Spring so far has looked like snow, and being wiped out on the couch sick. 

We are just now on the upswing, and I'm beginning to feel that Spring will bring life.  All of this extra light in the evening, and just the promise of warmer weather to come is enough to brighten my spirits. 

Today we dyed Easter eggs using natural food dyes.  The idea is that you take colourful foods, simmer with a bit of water, remove the food, and then you are left with a natural dye.  A basic recipe is 1 cup of food to 1 cup water, simmered for 30 minutes.  You can either add a bit of vinegar to your dye or dip each egg in vinegar before dyeing it.  In addition to the dye, we used rubber bands and wax crayons for decorating.  I used the following colours:
  • Ground Turmeric - Yellow
  • Blueberries - Dark Purple
  • Beets - Pink
  • Red Onion Skins - Red
  • Yellow Onion Skins - Orange
  • Purple Cabbage - Blue
The colours are not quite as vivid as commercial dyes, but it was a fun experiment, and I also felt quite safe letting kids eat the hard boiled eggs after decorating them. 

My daughter and I also had fun changing our Valentine's heart tree to a spring leaf tree.  I originally had pulled a few branches off of a tree in my yard, stuck them in a mason jar, and covered them with little paper hearts.  I wasn't ready for the branches to be tossed, so I changed the coloured beads on the bottom to greens and yellows, and exchanged the hearts for paper leaves.

Now that I am finished with this being sick business, I'll have to put my mind to more Easter projects.

The Cradle is Finally Finished!

March 20, 2012

Remember this?

Well, I am finally ready to share my finished cradle.

Okay, the cradle has actually been done for awhile, but I haven't posted about it for a few reasons.  First, my room has been a mess and I haven't had the chance to clean and then take pictures of the cradle next to my bed.  Oh, and the baby has hardly slept in it since she prefers to be held.  All the time.  The light has also been pretty bad since winter in New England is cloudy.

But luckily, Spring is here (and baby girl is starting to figure out how to stay asleep without me holding her)!  Anyone else excited?  About Spring I mean, although I don't mind you sharing my excitement that I can occasionally put my baby down.

Honestly, there isn't a great transformation since it started white and ended white.  But it's a clean lead-free white, so I'm pretty excited about it.  I really love to use white in our house, partially because we have always lived in really small spaces, and white helps things not look too heavy and crowded.

And the mattress is new.  I bought  a piece of 1" foam from Joann's (with a coupon because foam is really expensive), and cut it to fit the bottom.  I also sewed up a zippered waterproof mattress cover and a few sheets for it.

I actually felt rather clever when I made the sheets because they are sure to stay on with their  boxed corners, and two pieces of elastic across the back.   

So there you go.  A clean white cradle for the new baby girl.  

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

March 19, 2012

The other day I woke up craving a specific kind of muffin.  It was also a kind of muffin that I had never had before, but I imagined it would be good.  I wanted a muffin that was full of blueberries, oatmeal, and other healthy stuff.  I wanted a muffin that I wouldn't feel guilty about eating for breakfast.  Well, thank-goodness for the Internet!  Is there anything that doesn't exist in that great big world?

I found my dream recipe on The Eat Clean Diet website.  I changed my version a little to make it slightly less clean, but still pretty virtuous.

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

slightly adapted from

3 bananas, mashed
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups oats
2 cups frozen blueberries (or fresh!)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease or line muffin tins.
2. Mix bananas, milk, sugar and eggs together.
3. Mix baking powder and oats together and add to wet mixture.
4. Add blueberries and stir until just mixed.
5. Spoon into muffin tins and bake 20-25 minutes.  (Note: These muffins don't rise very much, so you can fill your tins pretty full.)
6. Enjoy!

I imagine that these muffins would last a few days in an airtight container, but at my house, they didn't last more than a few hours.

Mailboxes and Letters: Developing Literacy Skills

March 14, 2012

The mailbox game is a perennial favourite at my house. 

Do you know this game? 

First, you make a mailbox.  Our current version was made out of an old box, stickers, paper and packing tape.  It is hanging on the door knob inside the front door.  I've also made mailboxes out of plastic containers, paper, and well - anything we could find at the time in the recycling bin.

Next, you write letters!  Or draw pictures, make cards, write love notes, or scribble on scrap paper - whatever you're in the mood for.  My kids have really gotten into this.  My one year old is very serious about her creative process. 

Finally, you check the mail!  If you are four, you'll check the mail all the time.  And, if you're four and have put a letter in the mailbox for someone else, you'll make sure that they check the mail as soon as a letter gets put in there.  Mail is pretty exciting, after all.

Today when my daughter and I left for preschool, my husband was still at home.  As soon as we got home, my four year old checked the mail.  She had mail and was so excited about it! 

Letter writing is a great way to work on literacy skills.  My four year old dictates long letters, and writes short notes by herself.  She also draws pictures and decorates things.  My one year old is working on using pencils and crayons to make marks on the page.

Letters are also a nice way to show people that you care.  There is something so special about opening the mailbox and seeing a handwritten letter, just for you.  A mailbox inside the home is just right for getting that instant gratification.

How to Ripen Pineapple

March 10, 2012

Last time I was buying a pineapple at Costco, a nice older Asian lady gave me some advice.  She told me that I should choose a pineapple that was uniform in colour (most will be yellower at the bottom and greener at the top).  She said that will help it ripen more evenly and be sweeter.  And the best way to ripen a pineapple?  Put it into a plastic produce bag, tie the top (I don't think you want it completely sealed shut), and wait a couple of days.

I figure, if someone stops you from buying your (non-uniform in colour) pineapple, takes your pineapple out of your hands, passes you a new one with a plastic bag to put it in, they must know what they are talking about.  And do you know what?  It totally worked.  It was an awesome pineapple!  Try it!

Toddler Bed Bolster - Or How to Keep a Toddler in a Toddler Bed

March 6, 2012

Last fall, we moved Kid 2 out of his crib in anticipation of the birth of our baby girl.  I realize I'm a little slow in sharing this with you, but I forgot to post about it when I made it, and I was reminded of it today when I took Kid 2 upstairs for his nap.  Kid 1 went straight onto a twin sized bed when he was two, so we were new to the toddler bed situation.  Thanks to a tip from my friend Jaime, who spied it by the dumpsters at her apartment, I got an awesome toddler bed for free.  Well, it was almost free.  The only cost was that some girl stepped on and broke my glasses while I was taking the bed apart and loading it into my car.

The first night he fell out of bed.  Luckily it wasn't very far to fall.  Even though his new bed has a partial rail, since he moves a lot in his sleep, he wiggled out through the end.  My best idea was to make a bolster to help him stay in.  I didn't want something too high, he still needed to be able to climb over it to get in and out of bed, and I also wanted it to be soft.  Oh, and free.  I didn't want to buy anything new.  I really wanted to get by using what I had at home.

What I ended up doing was cutting a pool noodle slightly shorter than his mattress (I used a bread knife for this), rolling it up in some polyester quilt batting, and sewing a quick removable and washable cover.

My cover was made with a big piece of quilted cotton I mysteriously had in my stash.  I bound the ends with handmade double-fold bias tape (again, it was just lying around), and added matching blue plastic snaps to keep it securely on.  I have a snap press, and I love it.  In the past I've used it to make cloth diapers, but I use it every chance I can because it's just so awesome.

Obviously the removable cover isn't necessary.  I just made it to protect the batting and foam noddle from 'accidents' and from getting picked apart by tiny hands.  If you don't feel like sewing, wrapping a foam pool noodle in batting, or even a blanket, would also do the job.  And since it goes under the sheets, it really doesn't matter. 

To use the bolster, I slid it in between the mattress and the mattress pad after the sheets were on.  If you are like me, it's a major battle to get crib sheets on, (I know you want them snug for safety reasons, but I almost rip them every time I put them on) so it's much easier to do this after the bed is made.  

Here is our free toddler bed with the bolster in place.  Like I said, it isn't very high, but it's just enough to keep my wild sleeper of a toddler in his bed at night instead of on the floor.  Notice the awesome quilt on his bed?  It was made by my good friend, the talented Heather Larsen.  I helped make one of the wonky log cabin blocks, but she did all the rest of the work.  I would show you the front of the quilt, because I love it so, but the blocks spell his name, and I've decided to not share my kids names on this blog.  But just so you know, it's pretty cute.


March 3, 2012

It feels like winter will never end.  Does any one else have that feeling?  Maybe it's because I just moved to Alberta from Ontario where now the winter is a bit longer and a bit colder.  To trick myself into thinking that winter is over, I have been eating summer food.  You know, like barbecuing when it is -40 outside.

One of my favorite summer foods is chimol, a recipe I got from my friends Amanda and Fernando.  Fernando is from El Salvador, where chimol is a staple.  Chimol is made of radishes, tomatoes and cilantro.  It is often eaten with meat, but I love it as a fresh salsa.  (It tastes great with Carlee's sweet potato burritos.)  Chimol tastes just like summer to me, because I made it all the time in the summer when my tomatoes and radishes were in full force.  Even if you are not a radish fan (which I am not!), I urge you to try it, you won't be disappointed!


1 Tomato, chopped
7 Small Radishes, chopped
Some Red onion, to taste
Some Cilantro, slightly chopped
Some Salt and Pepper
2 Limes
  1. Chop and mix ingredients together
  2. Refrigerate first, or serve immediately

Microwave Popcorn

March 1, 2012


In the last month, I've heard a little internet buzz about making microwave popcorn.  I am pretty sure that I was the last person on earth to finally try making some, but just in case you are actually the last person, here is how you do it. 

Find a paper bag.  The best size to use is the medium size that you get from the bakery when you buy a pastry (mine measures about 14" x 7").  The lunch size is just a little too small, and the grocery store size is a bit big (although you could totally still use it).  But do yourself a favour a buy a pastry from your local bakery so you'll have the perfect bag.  And you only need one bag.  I've used mine a handful of times and it still works great.   

Dump 1/4 cup of regular popping corn into your bag and fold down the top.


Put it into your microwave and push the 'popcorn' button.  If your microwave doesn't have one, like my parent's model from the early 80's that still works, cook on high until the popping slows down (more than 3 seconds between pops).   

And that is it.  The result is perfectly popped, light and fluffy popcorn.

I feel a little like I've been lied to by the makers of store-bought microwave popcorn.  I used to think that you needed a special bag, or that the 'oil' was necessary, but it turns out that all you need is regular popping corn and a paper bag.

The only thing missing is the chemical taste from whatever they add, and for me this is the best part.  Now you are free to salt, butter, flavour, or just eat your popcorn plain. 

Have you tried doing this yet? 

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