Twelve little housies…

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The bedroom is finally ours again, yey! ūüôā

Please don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed sharing it with the little monster¬†when he was a baby¬†and found it so practical for nighttime feedings to have him right beside me in his co-sleeper. But when he started to constantly climb into my bed, I was more than ready for his transition to the kids room. While I remember this transition to be quite easy with the big monster at the time, it was a bit trickier this time around:¬†TWO monsters, ONE room – problem! It took us a little while but somehow we¬†figured out a way to make them both¬†go to bed without waking each other up¬†– at least most nights…

Anyways, the bedroom is ours again and while Paul and the big monster were visiting the grandparents for a week, I finally managed to finish the quilt for our bed. It seems like it took forever, but the timing made for a really nice surprise upon their return!

The first thing I knew when¬†thinking about¬†different design ideas¬†for the quilt was that I wanted¬†to somehow incorporate the leaves that I¬†stitched onto¬†our head board. Then I happened to¬†find a light grey fabric with a beautiful¬†leaves print¬†that¬†perfectly went together¬†with¬†its charcoal color. And finally, when browsing through Pinterest for more inspiration, I came across a quilt with twelve houses arranged in a square that I instantly loved. And since Paul really liked it too, that was a really easy decision. (I might be slightly obsessed with houses…¬†I already have house-shaped display boxes in my crafts corner, then Paul¬†made me this house shelf not too long ago and at some point¬†I may¬†also have suggested a house shape for the chalkboard in our kitchen…)

So I started¬†with a sketch of the quilt and decided to fill the center and the corners of the quilt with arrow heads that I find look really nice with the houses. The colors that I used for the sketch¬†are just due to the limited selection of¬†pencil crayons that I have, not reflecting the color palette I really had in mind for the quilt…

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Then I figured out all the pieces and their dimensions that I would need to “build” my little village.

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When it came to choosing fabrics I actually found one that featured a grey bricks print (what better coincidence could you imagine?!) and decided to also use some yellow for highlights. After cutting all the pieces I made a numbered stack for each house which included all the little squares and triangles for the walls, the door and windows and the roof.

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I started by sewing subsections of all the houses, then ironed them and put them together to make complete houses.

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Here’s the whole pile of all twelve of them.

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As a final design check I laid all the blocks out on the floor and after one or two changes, I was happy with the position of all the houses: all neighboring houses different, not too much yellow in one area of the quilt etc…

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Next, I cut and assembled the pieces for all the arrow heads…

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… added¬†the last few¬†charcoal pieces for the background, and eventually joined everything to form the quilt top. Once ironed it looked like this:

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To prepare the quilt sandwich, I used the same spot on our living room floor as I did when basting my parents’ quilt.

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Two hours, 300 safety pins and a glass of wine later…

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In order to facilitate the quilting of that huge thing my favorite husband¬†made me a quilting table! It’s a wooden board that contoures perfectly around my sewing machine and¬†for an even larger surface I can “attach” our ironing board by slipping its tip between this board and the table underneath. So great!

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I started quilting the most painful part first, the dark square with the arrow heads in the middle. Again, as with my parents’ quilt, I chose to stitch wavy lines, but thanks to the raised surface of the quilting board, it was a lot easier to maneuver the quilt and especially to keep its weight of the sewing needle. So (almost) no cursing this time! ūüėČ

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I also stitched wavy lines all over the houses and decided to add some leaves to the dark frame around the houses. Approaching one of the last leaves on the outermost quilting line…

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As the last step after trimming the edges of the quilt I attached the binding, using once again the grey leaves fabric that I mentioned at the start of this post.

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The stitched leaves did not turn out as perfect as I was hoping – a lot of them are a bit wonky and the stitches vary a lot in size -, but overall they look really nice together with the binding I find. Here is a closeup of one of the prettier ones:

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I also¬†made a label again that I placed in one of the corners of the back of the quilt. Unlike my parents though, Paul did not find it until I gave him a hint… ūüėČ

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And here’s a picture of the quilt on our bed. Taking a nice picture of a big object like this is not all that easy. I might give it another try in our backyard once it stops raining… ūüėČ

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Our new chalkboard

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We have a new spot for our aprons and potholders! Now they’re no longer hanging from random cabinet handles¬†– which makes¬†the kitchen look a lot tidier, I find. For the same reason I am planning to abandon my usual habit of having my groceries list lay around beside the fruit bowl, and just take a picture of the chalkboard before heading to the store. Not that¬†my discipline is always sufficient to fulfill all my resolutions, but this time I have a good feeling. ūüėČ

For the frame, Paul used some maple leftovers from the kids furniture and for the centre, he covered a thin sheet with black board paint. Then he attached four little hooks et voil√†… so pretty, eh?! The back wall of the kitchen is¬†a really nice¬†spot for it, I think. And my favorite detail is the little groove for the chalk – but thankfully, I wasn’t around when Paul did this terrifying cut on the table saw…

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A little chef

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Over the last few weeks, the big monster has shown a real interest in cooking. Besides watching me in the kitchen, stirring his building blocks and making lego soup have been some of the first activities that would keep him busy on his own for (somewhat) extended periods of time. So after he had transferred the armrest of our couch into his counter top/stove using more and more of our kitchen equipment, I decided to make him an apron for his birthday and give him his first own utensils.

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I found the scribbled grey and white pin stripes were perfect for a little mister’s kitchen gear and added a red pocket and straps as color accents. And, as I simply couldn’t resist, I also made him a little chef hat… ūüėõ

Just as I had expected, he instantly liked the apron but really didn’t want to wear the hat when we first tried everything on. To my big surprise though, he didn’t mind wearing it during our last pizza making session. And even better: daddy had the camera ready! ūüėČ

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Rustic Italian

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I haven’t been very adventurous nor experimental with my cooking lately and¬†just realized that my last food post¬†was back in¬†October! With our lovely visitors¬†though, we¬†have been taking advantage of the¬†opportunity to¬†make great food together – and take turns in watching the monsters. ūüėČ

Today we made ravioli – my first time if I don’t count the cooking class that I took last week¬†with my cooking buddy Angela (another first…). During the class, we stuffed the little pasta pockets with Ricotta and spinach – a nice filling, but one you find in every grocery store. I find, if you do go for the effort of making raviol from stratch, you should make something more exciting. So I did! Our composition was a mix of Ricotta,¬†goat cheese, grated Parmesan¬†and dried figs, spiced with fresh thyme and nutmeg (yes, again…) and roasted pine nuts for some crunch.

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I now know that a pasta maker and a rolling pin are not exactly equivalent… ūüėõ

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Because we didn’t want to overpower the flavors of the filling, we served our little beauties with a light zucchini sauce – and¬†were lucky to find a bottle of white wine in the fridge! So yummy, I’ll definately make this again!

We also had some red wine poached pears with Mascarpone whipped creme a few days ago, another dish that we had made during the cooking class. The smells of cinnamon, cloves¬†and red wine clearly made me feel a bit like Christmas, but it was actually quite cool that day. I mostly stuck to the recipe that we had used during the class, except for adding a few chopped pistachios. And serving two half pears per person instead of just one. Obviously…¬†ūüėČ

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Small peoples’ furniture

Today’s post is dedicated to my amazing husband.¬†He made some new furniture for the kids room and I just LOVE it!

It’s already been a little while that we felt the need for some storage cabinets for all the kids’ toys and because we both like¬†our high chair so much,¬†we decided to once again combine maple and white elements. We wanted some open shelves for books etc and a low cabinet¬†that could double as a bench. We discussed a few different layout ideas and ended up with these two pieces that we placed on either side of the little monster’s crib:

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The color of the¬†frames and fronts¬†is a¬†very light shade of¬†creme which matches the cover of the kids’ chairs, the tops and shelves are natural maple.

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Paul started cutting the pieces about two weeks ago and finished spraying everything earlier this week. So we could bring them in and fill them just in time for the big monster’s birthday. And he was really excited and immediately started to rearrange all the toys, and again, and again… ūüėČ

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Now the room feels a lot more complete. Before, there were only the two beds, a changing table, a kids chair and some toy bags.

And, I’m not going to lie, I also really like the fact that we were able to reclaim some of the shelf space in our living room! ūüėČ

Lots and lots of pluses

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I finally fulfilled one long term ambition and made a quilt for my parents. They really liked the baby quilt that I made for the little monster, so they got one with a very similar color scheme. Actually, a few of the fabrics are even identical. Instead of triangles, theirs is featuring a pluses design though.

The whole project¬†started with¬†cutting the pieces, two little squares and one long rectangle for each plus. Doesn’t look like many? It’s just under 1000 pieces… ūüėõ

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Instead of laying all the pieces out to figure out their exact positions,¬†I created a cheat sheet and coded the different fabrics with numbers from 1 to 9. This technique had already proven very handy with the baby quilt last time, but was an actual necessity with the full size quilt this time around.¬†We simply don’t have¬†enough empty floor space in our house¬†to put all these pieces down (and not have them attacked by little monsters).

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So according to¬†this¬†nifty cheat sheet, I¬†prepared one little pile of¬†pieces for each row…

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,,,¬†which I then sewed together forming strips. You can see a few “editions” to my cheat sheet¬†where I changed the position of a few pluses because I wanted to¬†avoid the two brightest and the two darkest fabrics¬†to have neighboring pluses, so they would stand out to each other more nicely.¬†Below is a picture of a few of the finished strips – it was definitely a great moment to see all these strips of¬†squares and rectangles come together to form the actual pluses!

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Another moment where lots of endorphines were released was after all these strips had been joint to one single sheet. After a good little while of ironing it looked like this:

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In order to assemble the¬†quilt sandwich¬†– I used a light polyester batting and a matching navy blue flat sheet for the back –¬†I pinned the three¬†layers together using safety pins.

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Then,¬†I quilted¬†the sandwich¬†together with gentle wavy lines. It’s hard to see in the picture but I used a turquoise yarn that would stand out nicely against the navy background.

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And finally, after attaching an also navy colored binding, here is the finished quilt:

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As an additional surprise, I hid a little triangle¬†in the back of one of the¬†corners – which¬†my parents¬†found within only a few¬†seconds ūüėČ

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I’m so happy I managed to finish the quilt before my parents’ visit! The last stitches were only completed on Friday, the very day befor their arrival…

So, dear Mutti and Vati, I hope you’ll sleep well under your new blanket! I love you! ūüíõ

And more toy bags

The two monsters have kept me quite busy lately and simultaneous daytime naps are a rather rare treat. Hence there has not been much to show here… But at least I managed to make a few more toy bags and I’m happy that this is not going to be the first month without any blog posts as I was fearing!

The first one is for the big monster’s brand new racing cars, …

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… the second one is for the big vehicle fleet, …

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… and finally, I added a little pouch for the small train accessories to keep them separate from the bulky tracks.

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I’m amazed how well they actually work – Yannick knows exactly where everything belongs. Just operating the drawstrings is still a bit of a challenge for him, but I’m sure he’ll figure it out soon.

And a last picture of the entire collection:

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Howdy!

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Ever since I can remember I have loved to dress up. Carnival, Christmas, Easter, birthday parties (except Halloween which wasn’t a “thing” in Germany at the time)… you name it – my sisters and I would dress up or paint our faces. There’s plenty of photo evidence. ūüėČ And while¬†I don’t think that dressing up is only for kids, I do think it is even more fun with kids. I had such a great time with our little monkey a year ago and was already getting excited about Halloween… But then we were too busy with the second monster’s arrival and didn’t get a check to dress up. But now that it’s carnival time in Germany again, here we are¬†with our next chance!

So we just needed to figure out¬†the costumes… During our trip to Germany a few weeks ago, Yannick got all excited about the ponies and goats at a little pet zoo and wouldn’t stop neighing for a long time. Since we’ve been back, we’ve been watching Heartland with him and¬†it is so funny to¬†see him point at every single horse in the show. So I decided that the little monsters should be cowboys! I made a horse head out of extra thick brown felt and Paul cut the stick off an old mop I didn’t even know we had in our garage. I added some bias tape reins and¬†two little bells (clearly the best feature!)¬†– and here we go!

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Both monsters are proud owners of a plaid shirt and good thing every real cowboy has a hat in his closet, eh Paul? (It is not easy to take a picture of a running toddler with props, so it turned out a little blurry, but at least the stick horse is in focus… ūüėú)

And the little monster even has real boots! They were a gift from his uncle.

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He usually kicks them off within three and a half seconds though, so his picture was no easier. But we also got a¬†nice shot of him and his horsie, one of the treasures from my own childhood that survived! ūüôā

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So proud of the two, yeehaw! ūüėÄ

Toy bags!

These days, our living room looks much more like a kids’ room and you really have to watch your step… So I have started to make drawstring bags to organize¬†some of these toys¬†in a nicer way. I still had quite a bit of that heavy grey fabric left from the teepee because I overestimated how much I would need for the floor mat, and I also had some lime green leftovers. For now there is a smaller bag for the kids’ wooden blocks and a fairly big one for the trains. In order to “label” them I appliqued symbols of the respective content on the front. There is still enough material for one or two more bags, depending on their size, so I’ll see what¬†other toys¬†I can find to¬†organize in one of them. Maybe the legos…?

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A third gent

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In order to continue the tradition that we started last year, the little monster also had to have his own bowtie. So at Christmas I made a third one from the same red and navy plaid fabric.

I am not sure yet¬†when¬†my three misters will have the occasion to¬†wear their matching accessories for the first time. But for about two weeks the little monster wants to stand on his feet all the time and he does it with such pride that I thought this would be the perfect moment to try his little¬†bowtie on and to take some pictures. And here they are! Looking good, eh?! ūüôā

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Another mini toque

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Everybody knows that babies grow quickly… and yet it still strikes me HOW quickly. It seems that I am constantly sorting the clothes out that¬†the little monster has outgrown after wearing them only¬†a few times. The latest one was his little snowflake toque. While it fit perfectly for the first few weeks, it now doesn’t cover his ears any more.

So, this time he got a navy colored one. And I went for two simple red stripes rather than another fancy pattern since he’s only going to wear it for another three months or so… ūüėõ

It’s panda time!

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Our little monster quickly feels cold. Especially at night he really seems to appreciate all these layers to keep him warm, usually two shirts, a sleeping bag and a flannel blanket. And our house is really not cold… I wanted to knit something different than toques for once anyways, so I decided to make him a little sweater. As I was getting a bitq tired of all those snowflakes, I wanted to put a kids motif on the front. I found a panda illustration that I liked and that I thought was simple enough to be transferred into a knitting pattern.

It turned out a little shorter and wider than I intended, but hey, it’s my first sweater, so I think I should be happy with the result… ūüėú¬†The monster’s hands were nice and warm for the last few hours though, so I guess he likes it!

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More grown-up toques

As I always have a hard time finding Christmas gifts for my parents, this year I decided to knit them toques, so they would be well equipped for their next visit here in Canada. My mom got some Norwegian snowflakes, similar to the ones I chose for Paul and Timo, and I even managed to finish her toque about a week before Christmas.¬†¬†I had some small hopes that it would still arrive in Germany in time, but it didn’t get there until yesterday…

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In the meantime, my Dad’s toque was also finished. As I didn’t want to make them run around in partner look, he got some black and green zigzags.

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I hope they like their new toques and don’t mind the little delay! ūüėČ

A Christmas teepee

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Yeehaw! I made a teepee! ūüėÄ

Well, I actually made it back in October, but now the big monster finally moved in. The reason why I hid it in the basement for two months is that I didn’t want it to experience the same¬†cruel fate as his cardboard box house¬†earlier this year. Even though I was really close to throwing it out a few times because it was battered so badly, I ended up keeping it until it literally fell apart. It was just so invaluable during those moments where I was cooking and just needed to know the monster was not climbing onto the dining table or living room shelves. And I also thought that the teepee would make for a great Christmas gift, especially to give us more inside playing options for the winter.

I got the fabric¬†at Ikea. I wanted something stable and durable and was happy to find a selection of heavy quality fabrics there.¬†While I don’t love most of their patterns, they also have a few nice solids,¬†so I decided to combine white and dark grey. I chose a hexagonal shape,¬†sewed¬†wide white and grey fabric strips together as walls and cut windows in two of these walls and a long slot in another to be the door.¬†For the dowels I added fabric tunnels along the sides and in order to add some color accents, I¬†trimmed the edges with lime green bias tape.

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Because I wanted the teepee to be as cosy as possible, it also got a floor mat that can be tied to the posts to also¬†give the teepee a little more stability. And the monster was lucky: his new home¬†comes fully furnished with a bunch of pilows. ūüôā

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So yesterday, we set up the teepee in our living room.¬†The big monster¬†didn’t try to climb through the windows as I expected… but through the gap between the wall and the floor mat and still¬†almost managed to¬†throw the whole thing over. Oh well…

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This morning we finally succeeded in reading the first book together in there, sitting on the pillows. I hope this will become the main (peaceful!) use of the teepee and it will live a long and healthy life!

And exceptionally a picture of the proud builder… ūüėČ

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