Tag Archives: kids activities

Patchwork Game Bags

Patchwork Drawstring Game Bag

Patchwork Drawstring Game Bag

Patchwork Drawstring Game Bag

Patchwork Drawstring Game Bag

Last week I made five patchwork bags and listed one on Etsy. They are game/dice/toy/travel bags. The first patchwork bag I ever made was for Peanut back when he was one (the picture on the bottom). As we prepared for a trip, it became clear that he would absolutely need a special bag to carry his plastic nesting cups for vacation. Notice the trend? I might also have been looking for an excuse to do some patchwork sewing, because it fascinates me. That bag is still in use and still makes me smile. While working on this blog post, I realized depth of my affection for this particular style of bag and instead of holding back and being polite, I decided to let loose and tell you all the things I think are amazing about them!

A little bag for a small child is wonderful for its simplicity and endless possibilities. A bag that children can open and close themselves is a great object. These bags are great for travel. Their small size limits how much the kids can bring with them. If it doesn’t fit in the bag, then it doesn’t leave the house. Once out and about, toddlers love opening and closing the bags to take individual toys out. In the car or on a plane or in a restaurant, a little bag of special toys can provide endless entertainment. A bag can be a cave or a bed or a field, becoming part of play once it’s not holding toys. A bag full of peg people can become it’s own world.

Older children always seem to have a collection of little things to take along. Whether it’s acorns in the forest or the latest supermarket collectable toy, gathering seems to be a hallmark of 4-6 year-olds. A personal bag gives them a way to take their collection with them and imposes limits on how much they can take. It’s also a great way to take games on visits or trips. Games in boxes are bulky and the box itself isn’t always very sturdy. A card game or dice game in a bag is easy to carry and easy to identify.

The color and pattern combining that makes up patchwork allows for endless possibilities. There’s nothing more fascinating than to see how a piece of fabric can be transformed by its neighbors. Making patchwork pieces is an experience in endless variation. For this bag, I sat down one day while Pumpkin was coloring and started trying to figure out just how many combinations there would be for a nine patch piece. The answer is mathematical, of course, but working it out through coloring was fun. I imposed a couple rules because I was trying to figure out a good process for making multiple bags. The results were fascinating. Patchwork or quilt sewing is about the magic of the process as much as the beauty of the finished piece.

I’ve made a lot of drawstring bags over the years, always looking for a favorite method. I like a lined bag for anything the kids are going to use. Exposed seams on the inside are always a weak point and a lined bag has the added element of a surprise when you open it up. I’ve combined a couple different methods to come up with the one I used for these bags. Extra stitching around the string openings gives added strength there. Top stitching at the top of the bag keeps the lining in place and gives a pretty ruffled effect when the bag is closed. These bags can be opened and closed time and time again without wearing thin or wearing out!

So there’s my little drawstring bag obsession in a nutshell. With the Herfstmarkt at Peanut’s school coming up on 1 November, game bags in beautiful fall colors were just the thing to make. I’ll bring along my small collection of vintage games as well. A bag and a game would make a terrific Sinterklaas or Christmas gift. The bags are 9cm x 21cm (7.5in x 8.25in) and made of 100% cotton. There’s one listed on Etsy now, in case you can’t wait until the market or won’t be able to attend.

Friday Check-In

Bubbles and paint

Bubbles and paint

As I’ve gotten more serious about my writing and my work, I feel a need to be more accountable for maintaining balance in my life and for working on long-term projects. In order to do that, I’ve decided to transform my Friday Moment into a Friday Check-in. Here’s the plan. Every Friday, I’ll post a picture and answer five questions. They will be about my work, my home, myself, my project or goal, and the picture. I’ll try it for a season and see how things go!

Things are toodling along around here. School goes on and fall is slowly but surely coming on. We’ve been spending a lot more time at home these days. Empty weekend days seem to invite a day of crafting and working on projects around the house instead of forays into museums or wilderness. It feels good. I think we’re all loading up on togetherness and quiet time before moving into the next week. The feeling that this won’t last is starting to build. We have a trip back to North Carolina planned and the holidays are also coming faster every year. It’s nice to be building a reflection habit now when there’s a bit of space. I’m going to need it a little more every week.

1. How are you moving forward at work?

It turns out that my production plan has fallen nearly entirely to the side. I should revise it. This has been in part to a bit of laziness and in part because of a change of plans. I’m going to have a stand at our school’s Fall Market and decided to make a couple new things and to do some fall colors as well. There are five patchwork bags in brilliant fall colors ready to go now. I’m going to sell them with vintage games, which should be fantastic!

I’ve been waiting for a Moo.com sale to order Earth Apple stickers. The sale came by last week and I designed and ordered the stickers right away. I’m a bit nervous how they will turn out as this will be my first design (I’m using paint.net, it’s a free photoshop baby sister). They should arrive this week, so fingers crossed for great results!

2. How did you improve your home?

Last weekend I finished a knitting project and discovered a little universe of unfinished projects and notes at the bottom of my basket. Getting that cleared out was a good feeling. Now Peanut has a new monster hat, my knitting notes are up to date, and I have a great plan for Sinterklaas gifts using some socks I made that didn’t work out so well.

Yesterday I put a few pictures up on the wall in our living room. We have been living with bare walls in there for a year and a half. None of the pictures are new, but it took me quite a while to decide on what I wanted to do there. I didn’t want to buy anything new and big, it’s just not my style. An arrangement sounded nice, but then it took time to decide which pieces to use and how to arrange them. After finally getting that far, another two weeks went by while the idea marinated for the last time. Did I mention it takes me a while to make up my mind about things? Anyway, here’s the result. I’m feeling pretty good about it!

Living Room

We’ve done another furniture shift. At the end of the summer we shifted furniture in my workroom and the dining room and got an amazing free make-over. This time, we stacked two Besta units from the IKEA and put away a side table. Like magic, our living room expanded. Back in the dining room, we pushed the short end of our table right up against the bookshelves. It’s a gigantic table, so we’re not losing any eating space, but again, the room opened right up. I’m loving squished furniture just now!

3. How did you take care of yourself?

I haven’t taken very good care of myself this week. It’s been a lot of late nights for no good reason. Staying up late is a bad, bad habit of mine and one that I have the hardest time trying to break. What I am trying to do is to give myself a break and to stop being my own hardest task master. Setting your life up as a constant improvement project is exhausting. Learning to just be for a while and accept myself for what I am would be a good thing.

4. How are things going with the daily writing project?

I missed a day. In the middle of staying up too late and a head full of thoughts, I completely forgot to write on Wednesday. So there’s a gap in my dots. I felt pretty upset for a while (see task master comment above). Then I forgave myself. There will be more dots. Today, there are two.

5. Talk about the pictures.

Peanut received Art in a Box for his birthday. It’s a box of twenty A5 cards. On the front, there’s a piece of art. On the back, there’s information about the artist, discussion questions, and an art project. He picked an abstract art project to start with. We added some dish detergent to watery paint, blew bubbles, and put paper over the bubbles to make prints. They’re drying now so we can do more with them over the weekend!

Friday Check-In


As I’ve gotten more serious about my writing and my work, I feel a need to be more accountable for maintaining balance in my life and for working on long-term projects. In order to do that, I’ve decided to transform my Friday Moment into a Friday Check-in. Here’s the plan. Every Friday, I’ll post a picture and answer five questions. They will be about my work, my home, myself, my project or goal, and the picture. I’ll try it for a season and see how things go!

It has been a long and exhausting week. It started slow enough with crafting afternoons and putting together a fall nature table, but Thursday and Friday kicked into high gear and have ended with a kiddy birthday party. I’m ready for a nice quiet weekend!

1. How are you moving forward at work?

It feels like I’m doing a lot more writing and blogging than sewing lately and that leaves me with the feeling that there isn’t much work getting done. But in fact, this week I added a market to the calendar [link], made ten nine-patch squares to be transformed into bags, and have hit an all-time high for blog traffic (thank you so much for stopping by), so let’s call that progress.

2. How did you improve your home?

We shifted our dining room table this week. We had to find room for a table we bought a few weeks ago and in the process ended up shifting our dining room table. The move made the space feel significantly bigger. It was strange and wonderful. In the garden, I’ve been doing some cleaning up and planting some things that will hopefully keep it a bit green through the fall and winter: hardy lettuces, beets, and chard. I’m not sure how hopeful to be, but it would be nice if it works out even a little bit.

3. How did you take care of yourself?

I’ve embarked on a mission to go to bed at a decent hour much more often. After seeing how well I respond to all those little dots in my notebook, I took a page in my journal, marked it with a month of days, and am writing down my “in bed” times there. The goal is 11:00 on weeknights and 12:00 on the weekends. I’m a serious night owl and need to reform. Those bed times seriously shortened my computer time and have created a couple special challenges. This week I also gave myself a break. The thought of making pizza dough and fresh pizzas after the birthday party this afternoon was too much for me, so I didn’t. We ate frozen pizza. It wasn’t grand, but it filled, potentially nourished, and kept me sane.

4. How are things going with the daily writing project?

It’s getting harder to remember to write on busy days. The new has most certainly worn off and I need to come up with more solid strategies for getting my writing done. Turning the computer off at 10 and getting to bed by 11 isn’t making it easier. On Wednesday night, I didn’t get to write during the daytime and then went out for dinner with some lovely ladies. Only when I was in bed did I realize I hadn’t written yet. It was a good time to adjust my writing project to include blog-purposed journal writing when computer access is difficult. 38 dots and hoping to make it to 50.

5. Talk about the picture.

We played games at Peanut’s birthday party this afternoon. This is a Dutch game that the kids love. It’s called koekhappen, best translated as eating cake. A piece of cake is threaded onto a string and suspended at about nose level. The player eats the cake without using their hands. Blindfolds optional but quite entertaining. The kids had a blast playing and we had a great time watching!

Quiet Time

Quiet time in the workroom.

I like my quiet time. Time when my mind can pick a direction and follow it for more than, say, 30 seconds and I can start to feel my body and mind rest and open. As a stay-at-home mom with two littles, there isn’t a lot of quiet in my life. My most important category of parenting tricks is quiet time. Quiet time as we understand it is not play time. Instead, it’s time in which everyone in the house is happily doing quiet, individual activities. Everyone in our family needs quiet time during the day and we do our best to make sure it’s part of our daily rhythm, usually just after lunch.

Peanut is five. He’ll be six soon and just started the first grade. At the moment he is going through what one of my books (yes, I’m that kind of mom) accurately described as mini-puberty. We’re toggling between flinging accusations and utterly sweet on a moment to moment basis. He is a sensitive kid who needs to turn off once in a while in order to recover and re-energize. Pumpkin is three and wants to play or help. Helping is a great alternative to play because she gets to be right next you and continue to ask a question every 30 seconds. To illustrate, when she gets her little chair to stand next to me at the counter, she explains, “If you need help you can say it.” That’s the sign that she intends to plant herself right there until I need help. She hasn’t napped in at least a year and is on the go from 7:00 in the morning until 7:30 at night. Without some quiet time to add a real break to our day, things just fall apart.

Quiet time started when Peanut was two and refused to nap. I once spent three hours trying to get him to sleep. After that, we needed new approach. We started with a pile of books nearly a foot high. I put Peanut and the books in his bed, and left him to it. Reference or art books with lots of pictures were the best and most engaging. He would sit and look through all the books before coming out 45 minutes to an hour, happy and calm. In all the years he sat with books for quiet time, I think he fell asleep once. These days he still likes looking at books but also uses quiet time to draw or listen to audiobooks. We have quite a few audiobooks (the Roald Dahl collection is amazing) but limit his time with them.

Pumpkin is a different story. She doesn’t enjoy books as much and thrives on being around people. We’ve try to find ways to do quiet time together. When I wrote the first draft of this post, she sat next to me at the table imitating my typing on her Fisher-Price cash register. A notebook and stickers are also great at the table. She might get out her little ironing board and “iron” scraps while I work in the workroom. Sometimes, I will lay on the couch and she will snuggle up between me and the back of the couch with a book or two. Other times, she will invent silent games to play while I take my quiet time.

We’re finding our way as the kids get older and quiet time changes. What’s important is that it’s a part of the routine in our home that we all participate in. If we’ve had some busy days or if they’re tired, the kids will ask for quiet time and we know how to give it to them. I like that they learn to listen to their bodies and feel when they need a break. As a family, it’s also a good and powerful thing that we’ve found ways to give ourselves a break in a way that maintains peace and energizes us for more fun later! Clearly, this isn’t the only way and I’d love to have more tricks up my sleeve, so tell me, how do you manage breaks in your home?

Log Cabin Pillow and Template

Log Cabin Pillow

Log Cabin Pillow (back)

Log Cabin coloring

The design

Back in July, I wrote about a log cabin pillow case project. Today, I want to show you the finished project and share a coloring template so you and your littles can design your own. One question with the pillow project was whether or not involving Peanut in the design process would win him over for the finished product. It worked. He took his finished pillow camping this summer and it now lives in his bed. The extra bonus was the fact that working with him was so much fun.

I ran across his original sketches the other day and thought it would be interesting to share them. He started off with some fun and funky designs that were fun to look at but difficult to recreate. After I suggested he use one color per field, he worked towards his final design. I love his color selections and was so relieved and surprised that those colors were in my fabric stash.

The finished pillow more or less matched his vision. I made a couple adjustments to his pattern along the way (with much consultation) to compensate for fabric supply and measurement issues (ahem). After consulting with Peanut, I used the same colors as the front to piece the back and made some binding for the edges. The inside raw edges were also finished with bias tape. The quilt as you go method described by Suzuko Koseki in Patchwork Style worked out great. Next time, it would be interesting to try quilting it at the end next time to see how that works out.

When we were planning this pillow, I couldn’t find a log cabin pattern to color in. Instead, we used copies of a drawing I made up. This weekend, I tried my hand at making one on the computer for you to use. You can download click here to download the Log Cabin Coloring Template and try your own coloring or making project. Giving kids an opportunity to design their own quilted pillow is just fun. You could also put together a bunch of colored and cut out log cabin blocks to make a paper quilt or wall decoration.

Click here to see and download the Log Cabin Coloring Template

Inspiration: Sprout Tree

Tree Sprout

Inspiration cabbage

Let us...


I found a tree in a brussel sprout. It was a sweet little surprise. I’m the only brussel sprout eater in my house, which makes no sense to me at all since they are delicious. “Eat your brussel sprouts” sounds terrible, though. “Want to eat a tiny tree?” sounds so much better. Won’t work, but will be fun to try. The real question is – why look so closely at my vegetables?!

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