On-Our-Shelves Sunday: PSAT review

This week, the book on our shelves is one that The Bee is reading:


PSAT strategies, Practice, & Review


My girl has been reading this book since the beginning of August. We took it out from the library, so she could prepare for taking the PSAT soon. There are practice tests, and questions. Next to the questions were explanations along with answers, which she found incredibly helpful. Not only could she see if she was correct or not, but she could also see why she got it right or wrong.

We just had to return it to the library, but she had me place it on hold again because she liked it that much.

Not fun reading this week, but informative.

Have your kids taken the PSAT?

What is on YOUR shelves this week?

Dobby Poseable Clay doll

Last week, I was asked to be one of the judges for the Harry Potter contest over on Instructables. As you may know, we are huge fans over here, so I absolutely loved judging this contest! One project that caught my eye was this Dobby poseable clay doll.  I instantly wanted to try it for myself! PS- spoiler alert: she was the grand prize winner.

Dobby poseable clay doll: made by using an Instructable

Dobby the House Elf clay doll

I brought all the supplies to make this craft on our weekend getaway, and created it in about 2 hours (all except the painting part, which I did yesterday, at home). This was my first time ever creating a scultpture using an armature. It wasn’t bad at all! The details in the Instructable are great.

Dobby poseable clay doll: made by using an Instructable

The one thing I would actually do (that is in the instructions, but I forgot to bring) was use rubbing alchohol to smooth the clay. I looked all over the house we were renting for some, and there was none in sight. So my Dobby is a little rougher than he should be.

Dobby poseable clay doll: made by using an Instructable

The thing I made differently was the body. I am sadly allergic to wool, so I couldn’t use it. Instead, I sewed a tube of muslin fabric, slipped it on his torso, stuffed with poly batting, and then hand sewed the top and bottom closed.

Dobby poseable clay doll: made by using an Instructable

He does stand, but I made his legs so they bent at the knees, and consequently, he kind of looks like he is riding a horse.

Dobby poseable clay doll: made by using an Instructable

Mine only stands about 10 inches tall, so creating those tiny digits was challenging. Plus, I didn’t realize that Dobby only has 4 fingers on each hand, so I made an extra wire digit that I had to incorporate into the other finger.

Dobby poseable clay doll: made by using an Instructable

Overall, I am pleased with how it came out! I am thrilled to have this skill in my repetoire for future projects.

Dobby poseable clay doll: made by using an Instructable

I absolutely adore sculpting. I took a class in college (I was a fine arts major), and fell in love. I tried throwing pottery, and was not very good, but handbuilding was more my speed. Since then, I haven’t done a whole lot of it. I really need to make time to do it more often. This one was so much fun!

Dobby poseable clay doll: made by using an Instructable

What have YOU made today?


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Getting away before school begins: A Lummi Island vacation story

 Our family wanted to have a relaxing mini vacation before the rigorous school schedule starts up again this week. I say “wanted”, but I think we all really needed it. Our Summer has been full of running around and activity. While that is fun, I felt like we needed to recharge our collective batteries, and get out of dodge for a few days. What better place than Lummi island?

Lummi Island, WA vacation story

We left on Sunday for the beloved Island. As we were packing up, I told our youngest to go out to the car wih her bag. A minute later she darted inside screaming and crying. Through the sobs, I decifered the words “Mama Mouse” and “Babies“. I ran out to take a look, and there were brand new pink mouse babies and a whole lot of stuffing in the rail of the sliding door of our van.


Lummi Island, WA vacation story

We stopped what we were doing to think about what to do next, and spotted the Mama carrying her little ones further into our car. *sigh* We haven’t even gotten on the road, and we now had three more passengers signed up for the trip, whether they knew it or not.

Since we could not see where they went, we decided to continue on.

A Lummi Island, WA vacation story

Let me pause here to let you know about our 10 year old daughter, Falafel. She has a knack, let’s say, for being the one to find nature in crisis, and the one to be moved to tears by it. Always. She is the one who found the abandoned nest in our yard, even though my husband had mowed the day before, and the yard is an acre. Last month, she was standing beneath a tree in our front yard, when suddenly, a young bird plummeted to the ground next to her feet to it’s ultimate demise. Only after, mind you, a few hours of our girl trying to give it water and bring it back to health, amidst lots of sobbing.


Now there are newborn mice to fret about, and they are somewhere in our car.

So we take two ferries and drive a few hours to get to our home away from home (for a few days). It is beautiful. The home has been remodeled, it has brand new appliances, and the view is spectacular. And then we go into the master bedroom, and it smells like sweaty man pits. Serious body odor, and I cannot find where it is.

I sometimes feel like we are living in a Seinfeld episode.

Lummi Island, WA Vacation story

I proceed to wipe every surface (including the door frame because that is where it was the strongest), and I STILL CAN’T GET RID OF IT. We ended up spending the night in there with a fan running, but because I am a “super smeller” according to my husband (and I have to agree. I really am- I can smell obnoxious odors from a block away if the wind is blowing right), I buried my face in a pillowcase that I brought from home, the entire night because I just could not un-smell it. The next day, we stripped the bed and washed the sheets, and I located another strong smelling spot which was on the pillow shams. I can only guess that a smelly guy rested after being at the beach on top of the bed, and the odor stuck. The odd thing is, it was only in that one room.

Lummi Island, WA vacation story

The next morning, I took the girls down to the beach, which is full of barnacle covered rocks (I am sure you know where this is going). It was so peaceful and beautiful and quiet, until Falafel slips on some seaweed, and falls onto the barnacles. I sent her back to Jim at the house, crying and bleeding, and turn around only to see The Bee do the exact same thing.

Lummi Island, WA vacation story

I kid you not.

  A Lummi Island, WA vacation story

We all got in lots of relaxing after that, which is what the whole point of the trip was.

Lummi Island, WA vacation story

We even hiked two of the three nature preserves on the island.

Lummi Island, WA vacation story

Mostly, though, we just sat and looked and listened.

Lummi Island, WA vacation story

There is a peace and stillness on this island like no other.

Lummi Island, WA vacation story

We have only stayed on the opposite side of the island (here and here).

Lummi Island, WA vacation story

It was nice to have a different experience this time.

Lummi Island, WA vacation story

The second night, we go into the room, and it still smells. Jim and I give up at this point. Luckily, there is a pull-out couch in the livingroom (with a gorgeous view of the water), so we bunk there. The Bee, evidently is nose-deaf, so she took that room, and our Falafel had the whole downstairs to herself. Everyone was happy.

Lummi Island, WA vacation story

It felt good to read a whole book in a few days (which usually takes me weeks or months to do). And I brought a craft to try out (which I will share with you later this week).

Lummi Island, WA Vacation story

I pre-cooked all of our meals before we left, so all we had to do was heat things up. That right there was brilliant, if I do say so myself. Not having to actually think about meals was heavenly.

Lummi Island, WA Vacation story

Our girls both were excited about making smores (GF and EF, of course). Sadly, there was a burn ban, so no fires allowed. We made them in the oven, anyway.


We realized that our girls need nothing more than a beach to explore to keep them happy every day. They looked at every rock there was to look at, and had a blast doing it.


There was plenty to keep them entertained for the entire trip. It was lovely.

A Lummi Island, WA vacation story

 We have enough rocks and seaglass to start our own beach, now.

A Lummi Island, WA vacation story

There were moments when they couldn’t comb the beach, but the high tide didn’t stop our 10 year old. She insisted on playing on that rock, singing, happy as could be, in the cold (I was wearing a fleece sweatshirt) for an hour and a half (and would have stayed longer if it weren’t for me).

Lummi Island, WA Vacation story

Overall, we had a wonderful mini vacation. None of us wanted to leave, which is always a sign of a successful time away.

A Lummi Island, WA vacation story

This week, we journey into a new school year, with fond memories of our time on Lummi.

Where have you recharged, lately?

Pencil Pouch: Sew some love for school

Our girls go back to school this week, and it is a big year for our youngest, Falafel. She will be starting Intermediate school. She is a bundle of nerves right now. My solution to that (always) is to sew a little something. I believe the kids can actually feel the love I put into whatever it is I made. In this case (get it?) I made a pencil pouch, so she could take a little love to school.

sewing up a pencil pouch for the first day of school jitters

It serves as a tangible reminder that she is important and loved and that I am here waiting to hear about her day. Often I think I need to sew something just as much as she needs to recieve it. Can you tell that I am a little nervous for her?

sewing up a pencil pouch for the first day of school jitters

I let her choose the fabric, which makes it all the more special. Custom pencil pouch?! How cool is that? The fabric is Heather Ross Tiger Lily Marching Cats in green (affiliate link). Oh how I adore Heather Ross fabric. This one was in my stash awaiting a very special project. I thought this qualified.

sewing up a pencil pouch for the first day of school jitters

These zippered bags take me minutes to sew up, and I know she appreciates having a Mama-made pouch to take with her to her big new school. I know it won’t take away all the anxiety, but I am hoping it helps.

My older daughter is going to be a Junior, and has this whole High school thing down, so far. It surprises me, but my teen still loves when I make her things. I may just have to whip up one for her, not because she is nervous, but to show her some Mama-love too.

Do you sew something special for your kids to start the new school year?


On-Our-Shelves Sunday: Percy Jackson

On our shelves today is a series that my daughter just finished, but I now picked up:


Percy Jackson

The Sea of Monsters

*affiliate link*

Rick Riordan

I must say that I am enjoying these more than I thought I would! This is the second book in the series, and although I have seen both movies, the books are radically different (and in my opinion, better). When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the movie Clash of the Titans, and anything to do with Greek mythology. I think maybe part of the reason I am enjoying these books so much is my inner child longing for stories of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades and the heroes of Greek myths. That AND they are fun stories.

My favorite part about reading these, though, is being able to talk about them with my Falafel. She whipped through the entire series so fast, and didn’t have anyone to share them with. Now she does!

What books are on YOUR shelves this week?

Making Magic: Paper and Glue Wands

As this last week winds up our Summer, I am determined to slow down a bit, and enjoy my family.

Falafel came into the room and said she wanted to make wands (she has been listening to at least one of  the Harry Potter books on CD every day this Summer). I jumped at the chance to sit for a moment and craft with my girl (especially this one because it is one of my favorites).

Paper and Glue Wands: by Falafel and the Bee

If you need a tutorial to make your own, you can see mine here. You can also see some others we made here. All you need to make these is paper, hot glue, and paint. We also used tissue paper (for stuffing) and tape (to hold them tight). Oh and don’t forget to bring your imagination.

Paper and Glue Wands: by Falafel and the Bee

I made this one. I love making them bronze. I have no idea why. Just seems magical to me. My Falafel, on the other hand, made hers a dark sparkly green/brown. She also made hers much shorter and wider. This is a craft of much creative freedom.

Paper and Glue Wands: by Falafel and the Bee

I absolutely love the simplicity, and ease of making these. We always have materials to make them, so the convenience factor really pushes this one to the top of my list.

Paper and Glue Wands: by Falafel and the Bee

Falafel said that hers reminds her of a flute, and she likes the way mine turned out, so of course I said that she could have them both. She has  been casting spells and pretending to play the flute like Hagrid ever since.

Paper and Glue Wands: by Falafel and the Bee

It is amazing how making time to sit and create with my child helps me recharge. Did I need to make a wand? Probably not. But did I NEED to MAKE a wand? Absolutely.

What is YOUR favorite craft to make with your children?

Sewing for my Teen: Bringing home Marbella

A month ago, I shared this Marbella dress I made for The Bee over at Melly Sews as a Blank Slate Patterns Team member. Today I get to bring it home! I absolutely adore sewing for my teen.

Marbella pattern by Blank Slate Patterns sewn by Falafel and the Bee

Oh my goodness we had fun with this one. When she put it on, she and I agreed that we needed to do a 1940’s-esque photo session. We got some great looks from passerbys in the ferry terminal and in the center of town, for sure.

Marbella pattern by Blank Slate Patterns sewn by Falafel and the Bee

Believe it or not, this pattern is a fairly quick sew! The Marbella uses knit fabric, and has a collar and front placket. Instead of buttons, I used snaps, because I thought they looked cleaner. Well, that AND I really dislike sewing button holes and buttons. Ha!

Marbella pattern by Blank Slate Patterns sewn by Falafel and the Bee

 A really cool feature is the side seam pockets. I took this opportunity to use a fun light blue woven map fabric. It is just a little pop of color that peeks out when she bends.

Marbella pattern by Blank Slate Patterns sewn by Falafel and the Bee

I folded the hem up, on the sleeves, and topstitched on the right side of the fabric, so that it would have a cuffed appearance. I left the bottom of the dress unhemmed. This knit fabric will not fray, and I didn’t want any bulk down there.

Marbella pattern by Blank Slate Patterns sewn by Falafel and the Bee

My girl is all over the sizing chart. Literally. Her measurements spanned across size 4- 10. And not in top-to-bottom fashion, which would be easy to grade out. Over bust is a 10, Bust is a 4, Waist is an 8, and Hips are a 4! So I took her bust measurement which was a size 4, and even though her waist is an 8, there is enough ease to fit her there. All I did was decrease the seam allowance a bit, and it fit beautifully.

Marbella pattern by Blank Slate Patterns sewn by Falafel and the Bee

She has already asked me to sew up another Marbella for her (just in time for school to start), which is a sure sign this pattern is a big hit!

This officially is my last post as a Blank Slate Team member. A big Thank You to Melissa for choosing me to be on the team this past year. It was wonderful to sew up your fabulous patterns. I know I will continue to use them for many years to come!

On-Our-Shelves Sunday: The Lost Hero

::This post contains affiliate links::

This week, since my 10 year old (Falafel) has finished the entire Percy Jackson Series, she has started:


Heroes of Olympus

The Lost Hero

by Rick Riordan

This series is not a continuation of the same stories as the first series. It is a whole new series about different half-bloods. I am thrilled that my picky girl has more books to read. With the Summer ending (all too soon, in my opinion), I am glad she is squeezing in a little more fun reading!

What are YOU reading this week?

BIG news

Hey you guys! I have reopened my Etsy shop!

Upcycled White Rope Basket

This time, I am combining my passion for upcycling/ recycling with my passion for making rope bowls! They go pretty well together.

Upcycled Rope Basket

 I am making some plain, and then playing with color for others. Eclectic and fun.

Upcycled Rope Basket

All of them are made from upcycled/recycled rope. A little something for everyone. I am actually amazed at how very sturdy they are!

Upcycled White Rope Basket

If you want to make your own, I do have an instructable to show you how. If you want a rope bowl, but do not want to make it, hop on over to my Etsy Shop to purchase your very own!

On- Our-Shelves Sunday: Fourth book in a series

Today, on our shelves, is the fourth book in a series that I absolutely love:


Keeper of the Lost Cities


by Shannon Messenger

*affiliate link*

I started this series a few years ago, and was instantly hooked. After finishing the mermaid books I was reading (see here), I was looking for something else to read, and discovered there was a fourth book in this fabulous series!! I didn’t even know. I devoured it, instantly, and now am waiting impatiently for Shannon Messenger to release her 5th book in the series, which will be out in November!

Basically, there are Elves and Goblins and Alicorns, and magic. I love it.

What is on YOUR shelves today?