Monday, September 26, 2011

An Easy Wreath


I got to work on a wreath this weekend, and it came together amazingly fast! I had a back-to-school theme in my head {most kids have only been back in school here in Portugal 1-2 weeks}. I’m holding off on putting out the fall d├ęcor for a wee bit longer. 


The only wreaths I have left to work with here at 2 Styrofoam rings—on the small side, but they’ll do! I cut one of the arms from a discarded shirt of my husbands into strips and started wrapping the wreath.


I used straight pins to secure the ends as a way to save on hot glue and since I’ve had those pins for ages.


I didn’t plan on it, but one of the cuff button holes ended up so nicely showing. I didn’t have time to finish the embellishing that night and then I forgot to take photos of that process the next day.


  1. I used a broken measuring tape like ribbon to wrap the wreath and secured it in spots with hot glue.
  2. I cut apart a 3 circle doily that was stained, hot glued the center of one to felt and gently stretching it out lightly glued every other tip or so. I glued it all to a thin piece of cardboard for stability with fabric glue and added a button with hot glue.
  3. I cut 4 circles of felt in graduating size and secured them with an X of embroidery thread.
  4. I made a yo-yo and glued a button for it’s center. See my last post on yo-yo’s for more info on making them.
  5. I added small pieces of cardboard with  hot glue to the back of several of the items including the little chalkboard so they’d layer well on the wreath.
  6. I twisted some wire around straight pins in the back for a hanger and added hot glue to secure it all.


If I run across something else “schooly” I might add it, but this works for now. I got a lot of these ideas from wreaths I’ve pinned to my wreath Pinterest board.

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Have you joined Pinterest yet? It’s been a GREAT place to store all the ideas I see in one place with photos, not just a link as you would have saved in your web browser favorites. You can also search for things other people have pinned. Let me know if you’d like an invitation!

Happy wreath making to you all!

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Friday, September 23, 2011

A Hoopoe in Our Yard

What is a hoopoe? Let me start from the beginning.

Over the months of reading about different types of homeschooling philosophies, I found that nature study is an important facet of the Charlotte Mason type curriculums I have considered.  Time outdoors, a nature notebook, animal identification… So I wanted to buy a field guide or two yet didn’t want to spend the money and/or never followed through. Finally my husband said I should go for a DK one—our DK travel guides were always nice with great pictures.

I’ve tried to mark a few birds in our book {RSPB Birds of Britain and Europe by Rob Hume (DK)} that I saw might be in Portugal, and we think we’ve spotted a few. But yesterday we hit the mark. My husband saw a strange bird fly out of our yard with a head full of feathers poking up like a peacock. He came in to tell us and was able to grab the book and one daughter before the bird flew away.


The best thing was that this bird, the Hoopoe, is on the cover of our book! How convenient was that! I missed seeing the bird that first time and found it hard to believe such a bird would be seen here. Little did we know this bird would take a liking to our yard. He has come back several times a day over the past two days, and I’ve had several opportunities to take pictures of it {through windows only so far—it flies away once we open a door.}


I want to keep trying to get a photo of the Hoopoe with its head feathers up. So you can see, here is a photo from Bird Forum by Rajiv Lather .

Rajiv Lather

We’re so thankful at how this has energized nature study for our whole family—albeit somewhat more spontaneous than I planned! It’s amazing what we see when we are looking!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dyed to Please

Last weekend I took action on some inspiration. I decided to dye some lace and doilies in bright shades for a lampshade skeleton I have after seeing one done so well with neutral tones.


In addition to the neutral items, I had a shirt and sweater that had faded {and I wasn’t ready to stop wearing them} along with a nice white towel that would not let go of its stain after several bleaches. imageimage

My mom had brought me some iDye {such a trendy name don’t you think?!} and some liquid Rit dye. Interesting how their instructions were not the same.


I used the stove top method since we have a front loading washing machine {although that didn’t stop me before}. I’m all about taking risks with clothing and fabric that would otherwise be thrown out or sit unused. The capris I dyed brown a few years back are now a nice shade of gray that I love!


I learned a few things:

  • Give the fabrics enough room to move in the pot. My sweater came out splotchy even though I did stir the pot. I hope this wouldn’t have happened had I not stuffed the pot.
  • Don’t wash the polyester lace because the dye will nearly all come out. This would really be a problem if it were going to be a part of a washable garment. There is iDye for synthetics but I didn’t have that kind. You can see how the cotton lace was the only one that retained the bright color.


I’m wearing the shirt I dyed today so that was a success. My favorite results are the doilies!


This was the kind of color I was hoping for. I don’t think I’ll use them on my lampshade since they don’t go all the way around, but they do look neat on one side of it.  Now I have to decide if I want to keep them or sell them in my etsy shop!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Our School Room

Having my husband’s old office for a school room is wonderful after containing our homeschool books and supplies to a few boxes and carts. See last year’s post for what I was working with before. We have tried to get it all in order before starting homeschool this week . . . and it is getting there. {Please excuse the picture quality in this post. I’ve found it difficult to get good photos in this room with the light against me from the window—tips, anyone?}


Making or finding fun decorations for the room was the easiest—I am inspired to do that! I made the vowels I love you print after seeing one on etsy I loved.


I found an amazing Portuguese 1st grade primer from 1945 that was falling apart, so I didn’t feel too bad to frame some its pages. It was hard to choose which ones to display!


Another great flea market deal was this bookcase that now houses all kinds of special things from the girls and some books I look forward to reading with them!


It’s been a great landing spot for the latest special feather, shell, or rock.


We use the window sill for other handmade treasures and baby succulents that had sprouted from leaves the girls had glued on a paper!


We hung a map from America {geographic titles written in English} above our computer.


I have a U.S. map and a Portugal map on our closet doors with the calendar and other things we do every morning. If you’re interested in any of the items we use, check out Homeschool Creations or 1+1+1=1’s Calendar Morning Board printables. There are other things I’d like to incorporate into that time as I can get to it!


I use a BIG sheet of laminated notebook paper for reviewing weekly themes. I’ve been blessed with a great dry-erase board, a small roll out desk attached to the wall, a movable dry-erase board we use for All About Spelling, and a new bulletin board for items like our picture study—not posted at the time of photograph. My sweet step-dad grabbed the colorful bulletin board border and a welcome-to-the-classroom sign from the Target dollar bins before they came to see us this summer!


We got our desks on sale last year {a pre-having-a-school-room-purchase!} that are a great fit—not too short like the ones the girls are outgrowing from IKEA! We are waiting for our next trip to IKEA for the TROFAST shelves for our bins. They’ll hold the girls’ independent assignments to work on while I work with the other sister, kind of the workboxes system. 


And behind those closet doors are gobs of stuff in some resemblance of orderly fashion. Everything from our hallway art cupboard moved in here so games could have a new home in the hall. I made labels for my magazine holders with my Silhouette and some sticky chalkboard paper I found here. My fun idea did not have the longevity I’d hoped for since the labels get smudged when you grab the box. Maybe a chalk marker next?


The best things in our classroom are my wonderful students of course! They’re fairing pretty well with the change to full-time homeschool; every day this week has felt like we’re getting in the groove better and better. THANK YOU to those of you who were praying!

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