I know, I know! Yes I am still here and nothing is wrong, except the girls are getting older and time man, it’s just escaping me! Someday we are going to try one of those schedule things and I’m going to put blogging back on it. Until then, it will be sporadic.

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Learning in January. Oh how I love looking back on the month. I feel like we do so little “school” since we’ve slipped into full on un-schooling mode. I would like some kind of schedule, for my sanity more than anything. But I love that learning happens all the time.

We did a lot of sensory play, baking soda was big over here (did you know you can buy huge bags at costco?). The girls love it when I put a pan of it out and then give them colored vinegar and droppers, the fizz! I also figured out from Asia’s book (150 Screen Free Activities – affiliate link, so good, I highly recommend it!) that baking soda and water makes a simple dough. One that Bennet just loved. And of course water play for a two year old can’t be beat. We also got tons of that silicone sand from Jo-Ann’s on black Friday and gave it to Bennet for Christmas. They both loved having this out for a few months.

An extension of sensory play was our shaving cream marbling. It turned out wonderful! I really loved the results of this project; plus the girls kept playing with the colored shaving cream so it was a double win.

Spelling and writing was huge over here. We had a major break through one Sunday. We were all downstairs, I was sewing and had my felt design board out and Tuesday was saying, “B-O-O bad Bj!” for fun. Only it wasn’t so nice and finally we’re like, hey, you’re spelling boo! I had the felt letters handy and showed her. She started sounding out and spelling a ton! I showed her how rhyming words work, just change one letter. She thought it was amazing. We got back out the movable alphabet (a wooden alphabet that is using in Montessori education) and she has been crazy for spelling ever sense. When she first started she could spell a lot but not read it. It’s so interesting how the mind works. She would write out a bunch of words and then ask, “what did I write?” That phase was pretty short though.

Tuesday was also interested in time so I got out some various things I’ve collected and set them out for her.

Speaking of things I’ve collected. Oh man, I can’t stop with the books and the coloring books and the manipulatives and the school stuff… I love it all! So much so that our basement was looking crazy! Pair that with the fact that my mom moved out of her house of 21 years (where I still had much more than I realized stored!) and I needed to get it under control. I did for the most part, but we’re still figuring out what is going to work best for us space wise. I love the basement for it’s size but the girls like to be in the light and around the main living area. We’re thinking of taking over Bj’s office and walling in the lightest corner of the basement for him (lucky it’s tall and has sunny windows). I did decide for now to move one shelf up, and make the dining room wall more eclectic with projects, maps and posters. Can’t hid that we’re homeschoolers now! Ha!

Tuesday also turned six! I added a covered wagon figure to our little Waldorf type ritual (which I described here). She remembered and loved the tradition of walking around the table as if it were the sun. She took us on a spy walk that had me choking from trying not to laugh at my little girl with a fake mustache diving on the ground as cars were coming. She made cakes for her Tootsie, oh how she loves that doll. Magnatiles all the time. Listening to stories on the CD player in the living room. Inventing games. Dance lessons, gymnastics lessons, and now violin lessons. Forest school. My dreamer and creator. I just love her.

Bennet. I just love when I can find activities that hit her right where she is at. This month I found a puzzle that was just challenging enough. I love her face when she completes it, such pride in her “work”. She hears Tuesday asking how to spell things and asks me as well. Then scribbles marks on a paper as if writing. She’s got a great pencil grip, all the early work in that area paid off again. She got to start dance, finally. She is so happy to have her own dance class, but so wee I had to make the required red leotard. She had no interest in modeling it, as you can see. She really loves when we do things all together, like the painting night we had. I just love to talk to my little snuggle bug, she’s always surprising me by what she notices and I just love that!

More to come!

  • Jessica - That spy walk sounds hilarious!! Also, I kind of want to play in that shaving cream myself, haha!April 13, 2015 – 1:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Julia - I love how you are un-schooling the girls. You make learning so fun for them! I love Tuesday’s birthday cupcakes… so cute!April 13, 2015 – 4:01 pmReplyCancel

  • Mary Lou - So glad to see your post. Everything looks like such fun. The girls are really growing up!April 13, 2015 – 9:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Jeanine - Oh wow…. I have never seen your blog before… This is just fantastic. What a blessed life you share with your family! Truly beautiful! Thank you for sharing in pictures! (& your words).. Absolutely amazing. I am off to take another look around :DApril 24, 2015 – 8:35 amReplyCancel

We are going to the end of the Oregon Trail center soon with our homeschool group and I need make Tuesday another Prairie girl dress. The last dress I made for Tuesday has gotten lots of wear, she has it in rotation with her regular clothes, so it’s not just dress up to her. It went with us to Hawaii, she’s worn it in the snow, in the sun, in the rain… everywhere! I wanted to look up the details about it and realized I never blogged about it. Since this is where I keep all details about my crafty pursuits I want to record it.

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I made her a bonnet first, then the dress, apron, pantaloons and another bonnet that coordinated a little better. I used an old Holly Hobbie pattern for everything but the pantaloons which I stitched from another pattern. I really like the tucks in the hems on the pantaloons. I already let one out to make them longer. I self drafted the short sleeves, the pattern came with long sleeves and she didn’t want them. She’s wearing my simple yet effective shawl (Ravelry link), which was my first shawl and I didn’t make it big enough. I also wore dresses like this that my mom made me and loved them. I’m so happy that Tuesday loves her so much. She hasn’t requested a larger dress, but she’s been wearing this one for a year. The pantaloons especially are small, and when she has the apron buttoned on it’s quite tight. Still it never looked overly big. This was a size four, and I think I’m just going to go up one size, though maybe add more length. We bought her these boots (affiliate link) that she also wore with her Santa costume. They really work well with this outfit to  round out the whole Laura look she is going through (bonus they look hipster cool and she wears them with EVERYTHING). We’ve read through the whole Little House series and are now onto her daughter, Rose. Starting with The House on Rocky Ridge.

  • Julia - So cute! She looks adorable!January 26, 2015 – 12:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Mary Lou - Amber, this is a wonderful blog! Tuesday, I loved little house on the prairie too and I love your outfits! You guys have so much fun! I wish I had grandkids to try some of this stuff with. Mary LouFebruary 11, 2015 – 3:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristina Mattson - LOVE LOVE LHOTP! Do you have a pattern to share or to refer me to for those adorable bonnets? thanksFebruary 15, 2015 – 8:08 pmReplyCancel

  • Amber - Kristina, I used an old holly hobbie pattern for most everything, #5996, and made a few modifications. But the bonnet I didn’t change.
    AmberFebruary 18, 2015 – 4:44 pmReplyCancel

  • jessica - I really love Tuesday’s dress! The colors are especially wonderful.February 28, 2015 – 8:00 amReplyCancel

  • Estela - that is soooo adorable! I think my daughter would love to wear!March 2, 2015 – 8:38 amReplyCancel

  • Mary Lou - Missing your posts Amber. Hope everything is alright⁉️⁉️⁉️April 12, 2015 – 10:14 amReplyCancel

It’s been a while since I’ve recapped our learning, so I thought I’d do a post to finish off our learning in 2014. There was lots going on with the holidays, but my favorite things during this time were all the game nights! After counting and organizing our games I decided we needed to play them more, and we did!

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(for some reason these photos are in reverse order, but I’m going with it!)

Lots of indoor activities, but they still wanted to play outside if at all possible (even if 32 degrees!). They’ve made friends with the neighbors, older kids who they love to run around with. So fun, I love our neighborhood. No problem with “socialization” at our homeschool:)

Tuesday (5.5 here) has talked us into having her rest time downstairs (as opposed to playing or reading in her room). This gives her lots of time to set up things safely out of the reach of her 2.5 year old sister! She also LOVES to listen to audiobooks on our CD player (a high school graduate present I never imagined would last this long!). We get them from the library. She loves Clementine books, as well as any of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, Farmer Boy is a particular favorite. She can listen to them over and over. Usually doing a little something else at the same time (patterns, knitting, drawing, etc.).

In the Farmer Boy book Almanzo talks about putting popcorn in milk, equal sized glasses, and how the popcorn will fit in the glass of milk without overflowing. Can we try this mama? Yes!

I love saying yes. Can we paint our faces? Yes! Can we paint your face? Yes!

Lots of sensory play. We love Asia’s book 150 Screen Free Activities (affiliate link). And now buy baking soda in 13.5 lb bags at Costco! Also a garlic press + play dough, try it! By the way Tuesday made the “corset” in the picture of her playing with baking soda and colored vinegar. She is so so so proud of that thing!

A giant cardboard house thanks to a new light fixture at grandma’s. We had this set up in the living room but had to move it for the tree. When we brought it downstairs I let them go nuts painting it.

We hit up lots of independant game shops on Black Friday and randomly grabbed My First Carcassonne (affiliate link). If you want a game that is awesome to play as adults but even young kids can pick up on, this is it. We love it.

Tuesday made “Christmas” cleaner. Here is a link to our cleaner. So easy, and she loved giving it an extra minty smell for the holidays.

Writing, writing, writing! I made a little book for Tuesday. Small slips of paper hole punched and bound by a binder clip. I write words she’d like to spell out on them, so she can go back. It currently has all of our friend’s and family’s names, “happy” “birthday” and many others.  I can’t remember where I saw this, but I didn’t come up with the idea. It works great and she references it a lot. Speaking of writing… found an old Mad Libs. Oh the hilarity!

Perhaps the most exciting thing for an unschooling mom like me to see is the moment an idea solidifies for my child! This happened in December with math equations (or word sentences or whatever people call them now). She had been adding things up for a while, but never wrote out the equations. I found this little old slate, which had been mine. Since Tuesday is so into “prairie girl” things she, of course, loved it. She wrote ” 5 + 5 10″ so I showed her what an equal sign was. Boom! She’s all about equations now, so fun.

Extra curriculars: Tuesday and Bennet are in gymnastics now, homeschool bounce at the trampoline place for both of them, and our local children’s museum has a “homeschool hangout” class once a month that Tuesday loves. She’s all, “Ok, see you later mom!” and I pick her up three hours later with her bubbling with what they’ve learned. Wild that she’s so self confident and outgoing. I just love her!

I really want to show you how I’ve changed things around for the new year, but for now I’ll leave it at learning from mid-November through December 2014!

  • Amanda - Glad to hear about all the good learning taking place! Tuesday has good taste! I loved the Little House books as a kid too and would beg my parents to do pioneer days, haha.January 19, 2015 – 5:11 pmReplyCancel

    • Amber - Amanda, I did too. Like LOVED. I totally wore a prairie girl dress to school most days… complete with pantaloons and an apron! :)
      AmberJanuary 19, 2015 – 8:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Julia - You are the coolest homeschool mom I know!! I love how the girls are learning. You make learning really fun for them!January 19, 2015 – 5:32 pmReplyCancel

    • Amber - Julia, it all seems to go well when I throw all the rules and goals out the window, LOL. Funny how that is!
      AmberJanuary 19, 2015 – 8:45 pmReplyCancel

Though I didn’t blog a ton (oops took all of December off!) we had a wonderful year.

January was forest school, birthday fun, friends, and cozy time at home.

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February was full of snow! More than we usually see, which made it so special. Tuesday still has a little in the freezer. The end of the month saw us in Hawaii.

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The first of March we were still soaking up the sunshine, and we came home feeling the need to be outside, warm or not! Tuesday finally took an interest in her balance bike, the addition of a cardboard baby doll seat sure helped. We started 100 days of happiness and ended the month with our 7th wedding anniversary.

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April was full of lots of everyday goodness, including a return to some warm (unseasonably so!) weather. We even had our first dinner outside of the year. Forest School continued on, but in tee shirts instead of full rain gear. Started planning and scheming the garden, even buying olive trees. Plants started blooming. Tuesday and I took a homeschool train trip to Seattle and back… in one day. And then left for California; a quick trip to visit my dad. It got so hot by the end of the month apparently we all needed tank tops and naps with out blankies!

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In May I tried to hire someone to work in our yard, but it turns out I’m only satisfied with me being the one to do all the work (and oh do I love it!). So I let perfection in the yard go and dug in. Dinners on the front porch were back on. Chatting with neighbors as we lounged and ate, nothing better. The muddy river looked quite different once the sun came out at Forest School. Tuesday enjoyed herself at a sheep to shawl show, we were about halfway through Laura Ingalls Wilder series by now and in full on “prairie girl” mode! By the end of the month we were covered in dirt by early afternoon nearly everyday.

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June wrapped up Forest School, dance and girl scouts for the year, along with most obligations of any kind and it was full on summertime bliss. I pared my clothes, accessories and shoes down to a total of 33 items for the summer and LOVED IT. I easily stuck to this and feel so much more in love with myself with much less! Started composting, and reading more about permaculture.

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July was rag curls, playing in the creek in undies, first sparklers on the forth of July. Camping in the backyard, bouncing in the bounce house. Impromptu trips to the coast to cool down. Eating lots from our own yard. The bounce house. Beading in the cool basement. Bennet turning two! The canning madness started. Water fountains were splashed in. We had a grape arbor built.

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In August I got a pressure canner so I could do something with all those beans. We participated in Salem Harvest picks, and I said yes to zucchini from everyone. There was a drive in movie, and of course more canning. Ceara and I had a crazy week that involved watching Bruno Mars, then flying to California to see a taping of So You Think You Can Dance (barely!). I took Tuesday to her first Girl Scout camp. We said goodbye to my mom’s old place, where she lived for 21 years and hello to having her and Bill in the neighborhood for good! I turned 34 and went to the State Fair, of course.

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September was no spend month, our favorite. We cleaned and organized and of course I canned some more (somebody stop me!). We camped by a creek on my grandpa’s property with the whole family. I picked way too many onions, canned way too much grape juice (all in one crazy marathon day!). I flung doors wide open and smiled at still warm breezes coming through. Bennet got a bob and Bj cooked everything possible in his new Big Green Egg. We saved seeds and made pizza, and played in the sink.

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In October we were still getting lots of yumminess from our garden. Even eating melons at the beginning of the month! Then Bj, Bennet and I went to beautiful upstate New York for a wedding of a dear friend.  Bennet slept through the night, which we celebrated at the carousel (sadly this didn’t last). There were harvest festivals to go to. A girls craftcation weekend which was exactly what I needed. Meanwhile Tuesday was getting so proficient on her bike she managed to get up some big hills at the park. I made the girls’ costumes for halloween.

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November saw us turning to the inside, playing lots of games, writing lots of notes. Tuesday started playing more with neighborhood kids, and often bunches of them will be in someone’s driveway playing. I love the sound of it. I finished a quilt for my friends, my favorite to date. I started knitting again. The living room was taken over by a large cardboard house. We spent Thanksgiving at my in-laws in the Tri-Cities. Probably our last… They put an offer on a house in our neighborhood and it was accepted!

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Finally December, in which I ignored the blog completely. We made Christmas scented cleaner. We played lots and lots of games. I started sewing a lot again, mostly my quilts. I counted at least 20 UFOs, for shame! Lots of sensory play (baking soda dough, water play, etc.). Tuesday listened to so many audiobooks, many on repeat. I knit a lot of washcloths. Carmen came for a girls weekend in Portland with me. I hosted another crew girl Christmas. We went for a lovely Christmas walk and came up with new traditions for our family. And we played games, and read books, and played more games.

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Along the way we did lots of learning at home, had fun with Daisy Girl Scouts, Bj rocked his job (and traveled a freaking ton!), and I managed to be crafty more often than not. Tuesday wore her prairie girl outfits constantly. And her baby “Tootsie” was with her more often than not. And if all that seems pretty wonderful, it was! I didn’t put a single negative thing in this post. There were hard days and many more hard nights (still no sleep for the weary around here!). But I love looking back on all the positive things that happened! I’m feeling so great about 2015 too. One of my dearest friends is getting married, and I’m sure that will be a huge part of it. So exciting. Tuesday and Bennet are growing and learning by leaps and bounds. I feel like I’ve hit a bit of a stride with homeschooling, or at least most of the panic has subsided.

I’ve realized when you go to look for wonderful things in your life surely you will find them. And this picture heavy post proves that. I don’t like to call it luck. But damn, I have it good.

  • Julia - Such a fabulous year, Amber! I loved seeing all the fun photos of you and your family. Here is to a fabulous 2015!!! And (fingers crossed) we make it out to visit you guys this spring/summer!! It’s seriously going to happen this year!!January 13, 2015 – 7:44 amReplyCancel

  • mary m - Focusing on the positive makes such a difference–I loved seeing many of your positives from last year :)

    I hope 2015 is the best year yet for you guys.January 13, 2015 – 8:03 amReplyCancel

  • Heather - love this post!!! ❤️January 13, 2015 – 7:49 pmReplyCancel

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I don’t know about anyone else, but the beginning of this year (hello 2015!) has made me want to organize! I have loved this tutorial by my friend from quilt guild, and asked her if I could update it a bit to show off my mom’s lovely cord. I made a bunch of these bags a few years ago, so I thought it was time for a fresh set.

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Here is a diagram for cutting on dot matrix paper, because I’m so fancy like that. One of the 12.5 x 20.5 inch pieces can be pieced, if you want to use up scraps, or orphan quilt blocks. Megan’s tutorial has more information on making custom sizes, I just chose this one size for ease of the tutorial.

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And this is the finished bag size. It can be reversible if you choose to hand stitch the opening closed (see below).

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After you cut the pieces take the long skinny strip and use wonder tape to tack down about a quarter inch of the edge. It’s basically a sticker so it’s super easy to use.

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After this fold and iron wrong sides together.

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Lay the inside fabric right side up, then center the strip you just iron with raw edges facing the top, and finish the sandwich with the exterior fabric on top, right side down. If you have a directional fabric you need the pattern to face up. I tried to pick a very obvious pattern for the tutorial so you can see what I mean. Pin all along the top and stitch with a quarter inch seam – too wide of a seam and you won’t have room to thread the cord through.

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After you stitch that seam your bag will look like this opened up. You can see here I’ve pressed the seam down, so the little casing we’ve now made for the cord stands up.

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Next fold the bag like so and pin all around the edge. Again you are going to sew with a quarter inch seam allowance, leaving the small gap you see between the scissors and pen open to turn the bag right side out.

After sewing clip corners, to get rid of extra fabric and push out. Then flip the bag through the opening.

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You’ll need to sew closed the opening. I decided not to worry about the bag being reversible, so I just did a straight stitch over the opening. Then I tucked the inner lining down into the bag and threaded cord through the casing.

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Ribbon Jar has so many awesome cords. I loooooove the neons.

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There are a couple types you can use. Either the toggle, which has two openings or stops, which has one. Both are a tight squeeze, which is really what you want anyway. Use a paper piercer, large needle, awl, or tip of very sharp scissors to get the ends through (and be careful!). I like to tie the two sides together so you can hang the bag.

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Super fast, awesome project! And like I referenced in my last post about these, they make great reusable gift bags.

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Here is a pieced version of the same bag.

Supplies needed for easy drawstring bag:

Fabric cut list:

(2) 12.5″ x 20.5″ pieces of fabric (piecing optional)

(1) 18.5″ x 1.5″ piece of fabric for casing

Cording: I used about 26″. It’s sold by the yard, so if you buy a couple yards of a color, you’ll get three bags worth (that would give you 24″ per bag).

Cord Stop: You can get them here at the Ribbon Jar

Wonder Tape: Also at the Ribbon Jar

 

***********Since the Ribbon Jar has all the awesome supplies you need (minus the fabric, which if you’re anything like me you have a stash of!) they have given readers a coupon for 15% off all cord, just use CORD15 when you check out (good until Sunday, January 11th).

My mom also gave me a pack of cord to give away! I’m going to throw in a big bag of scraps so you can do a scrappy version if you like. Just leave a comment by Sunday and I’ll announce a winner Monday.

Giveaway closed. Winner is Julia! Thanks for playing!

Happy sewing!

 

  • Draw String Bag Tutorial and Giveaway! | Ribbon Jar - […] on over to Amber’s at Life in Color Photo! She has a terrific tutorial on making Draw String […]January 5, 2015 – 2:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Julie - Great Tutorial Amber! I can’t wait to get some drawstring bags of my own sewn up!January 5, 2015 – 7:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Ann - I’d love new colors of the 3mm cord! Thanks for hosting the giveaway and sharing your tutorial.January 5, 2015 – 8:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Julie - I am new to sewing, but I bet I could handle this project. Thanks for including such great photos! Its really helpful for us beginners.January 6, 2015 – 11:16 amReplyCancel

  • sarah did it! - What a fun tutorial. Thanks for sharing and a chance to win!January 6, 2015 – 11:34 amReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - Wow! The perfect drawstring bag! Thx for sharing.January 6, 2015 – 1:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Julia - I am also new to sewing, but I think this is a project I could handle. It’s adorable!!January 6, 2015 – 2:14 pmReplyCancel

  • Honey - I think sewing these out of muslin or solid flannel to use as shoe bags for traveling would be wonderful. Thank you for the clear and simple tutorial.January 6, 2015 – 8:54 pmReplyCancel

  • carmen - Dude the black and white fabric is awesome! And so is the cord! I also love neon. I mean LOVE IT! thanks for this tutorial– I am also on an organizing craze. Happy New Year! I need to go on ribbon jar soon and stock up on some of that cord, and also some striped fat ribbon….making more banners again :)January 7, 2015 – 3:33 pmReplyCancel

  • s.w. - What a great tutorial! Gives me hope that I can perhaps do the same.January 9, 2015 – 11:42 amReplyCancel

  • Jenna - Fun tutorial and a great way to use up scraps! As always you’re so nice to share your know-how with us!January 10, 2015 – 6:36 amReplyCancel