Life Lately // Little Bits of Life and a Lot of Honesty.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I've been keeping life really simple since the start of homeschooling. I haven't been creating and painting as much, I've been away from the blog world quite a lot, and I've stayed away from social media much more than usual. I don't know if it's just me but I feel like the blogging world is at a stand still. Kaelah sort of stole the words right out of my mouth and wrote this post about the evolution of blogging and how things have really changed since the death of Google Reader. I've been getting less page views, less interaction, but I've also felt less stress which is great. I don't feel like I have to be here everyday shooting content out of my wazoo. It gives me more creative liberty and time to make content that is relevant and purposeful. I've been much more personal lately and I've been able to talk about whatever I feel, instead of what others are expecting me to write about. Yes, this is a vintage and handmade blog and I like to stay true to that, but there is also a person behind this screen and I think that needs to show through a little more. Things may change around here, I may be less frequent with posts but I assure you that when I sit down and write it will be something with substance. There will be more projects, patterns, recipes, and of course vintage and a lot less filler. I think that blogging everyday sort of sucks the life out of a blogger. It gives you less of an opportunity to be creative and to really spend time and effort creating. I don't know if posting less will make you guys more disinterested but at this point I'm just here to blog about what I love and if that love is shared with 7 people or 7,000 people it won't effect me in the least. I started this blog to have a voice and to gush over my passions and I've felt that it's become a lot less passionate. So to my loyal readers, the ones who have been here since day one, thank you for sticking with me through my many blogging ups and downs and always being encouraging. To my new readers, I hope that you will stick around and see all this blog has to offer, even if the posts become few and far between.
Now I leave you with a few little snap shots from my life lately, maybe you can see why it's so easy to stay away!

Adventures in Homeschooling // Pt. 2

Monday, September 23, 2013

It's Fall! Hooray! Fall means back to school for us here at the hive. Homeschooling has been an interesting journey for my kids and I. Last year when I first decided to take the leap I wrote this post all about my methods, tools, and choices for homeschooling. As the year progressed a lot has changed in our approach and some things have been scrapped all together. I think that the best part of home education is that you don't have to stick to anything. If your child isn't ready for certain things you can put them to the side and come back to them later instead of forcing them to understand or "get it". My biggest goal with homeschooling is to help my children develop a life long love of learning. I want them to always strive for knowledge and information and to look for answers everywhere and question everything. I never want the learning process to become boring or stressful for them because it never has to be. Learning should be fun ALWAYS!
I think a lot of us have grown up with this false conception that to learn you have to go to a school, have a teacher with a degree, and learn a set curriculum at the school's set pace. I feel like a lot of kids do not thrive in an environment with no individual focus and very little consideration to the child's educational needs. Every child is different and our kids should not suffer because our schools systems are made 'one size fits all'. Through experience I have learned that this also applies to homeschooling. If I force my daughter to practice her Spanish vocabulary she has a complete breakdown and then the learning becomes stressful for both of us. I have definitely learned to step back and let her guide me through our day. She has been so much more willing to learn when she can choose what she wants to do and I find that she focuses a lot more time on a subject when she picks it as opposed to when I pick it.
This year we are changing everything and I am adopting much more of an unschooling attitude. If you're not sure what unschooling is you can read about it here. I think that unschoolers really get a bad wrap and their are a lot of misconceptions about what exactly it is and how it is all done. Basically the general idea is that you are harnessing the natural learning process through experience. When you are little you aren't given a book to learn to walk or talk, you learn through observation and practice. The same goes for a lot of other subjects surprisingly. That's not to say that books aren't important because they sure are, but why should my child look at a worksheet with pennies printed on it to learn about money when I can put the money in her hand? Why should my daughter learn about the water cycle by reading a book when we can make a cloud in a bottle or watch to her favorite song about the water cycle on YouTube.
The best part about unschooling is that you follow your child's lead and you find out what he/she takes interest in and then it snowballs from there. Last week Marli was so fascinated by planets, so I gave her everything I could find about planets and space. We read books, watched the Bill Nye The Science Guy and The Magic School Bus episodes all about the solar system, and found fun solar system themed songs to listen to. We spent so much time on the subject because she couldn't get enough and that makes me incredibly happy, she loved to learn because she was interested and because we made it fun.
We still use pieces of our old curriculum, I have a ton of handwriting work sheets and math worksheets, we practice those every day. We use flashcards to work on our alphabet and shapes but we also started using these amazing videos from the Have Fun Teaching channel on YouTube and she loves learning what sounds letters make and her sight words that way as well as the flashcards and sheets. I still use 'Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons' and we work with that about once a week. I still want all of the basics to be instilled in my kids, but I think there are better ways then just making them do paper work. I have mentioned a lot of videos and shows that I use with the kids but please don't think that I'm sitting them in front of a TV for hours and not being active in their education. The point of unschooling is that everyone in the family learns and benefits together. If they are watching a show or a video we watch it together and we talk about it as it plays. Sometimes Marli draws pictures that correspond to what we are learning and she tells me about them using facts from the show or video. Usually after we watch a show we spend time away from the TV, we play outside, read books, do other parts of the curriculum I use, ect. A lot of the Have Fun Teaching videos are just songs, so Marli and Hunter like to move all of the furniture in the living room and then they dance and follow the videos instructions (draw a capital D in the air or walk in the shape of a square)  so they are being active, having fun, and learning.
If Marli was in a conventional school she would only be in preschool and Hunter isn't even two but these kids blow me away with their level of intelligence and how much they soak up information. Marli counts in English and Spanish, she has a strong vocabulary, she can write her letters quite well and has even begun to sound out simple words. Hunter has just started to talk and his favorite word is Dinosaur and he also can count fairly well. Most of these things have been developed through their own desire to learn, not because I make it an obligation. It's so wonderful to see them make the choice to pull out their books everyday or to hear Marli beg to do school even when we have been busy learning all day. Every single part of our lives has been turned into a giant learning process and it is absolutely fantastic. I wish every person on this Earth would find education and learning to be enjoyable and they would instill that love into their everyday lives. Maybe the world would be a much better place. Knowledge is power!
If you want to know more about the resources I use or more about unschooling ask away! I'm happy to answer any questions that you have and let you know a little bit more about what we do. I am no expert but I can give you what I know through experience. I hope that soon unschooling will be looked at with a more open mind instead of being criticized and called "radical", that word being used to describe unschooling really bothers me. What is radical about teaching your children that if they want an answer to something they can always find it? What is radical about following your passions and developing a love for education? What is radical about teaching your children to learn by just getting out there and doing instead of being instructed to do it? What is radical about raising self sufficient members of society?
I have witnessed such a wonderful amount of growth in my kids through our little journey and I can't wait to see what is ahead.

The ends and outs of basic crochet.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It's hard to believe that I only taught myself to crochet a little over nine months ago. Since then I feel like I have come leaps and bounds and now using my hook is like second nature. When I post patterns and tutorials here on my blog the number one comment I get is "I wish I knew how to crochet, I would totally try that!", but guys, you can learn to crochet so easily! We live in the age of technology and Internet information is the greatest way to learn a new skill quickly and easily. I know that it can sometimes be overwhelming to sort through all of the tutorials and videos so today I thought I would compile some of my favorite crochet how-to's and share then with all of you wanna-be crochet addicts! I taught myself to crochet solely by reading and watching YouTube video after YouTube video and in that time I've found some really great stuff so hopefully these sources will help you on your journey!

I guess it is best to start off with the basics, you're going to need to know all about yarn and hooks to get started. Knowing what tools you will need will keep you from wandering around in the yarn section of your local craft store for hours and will make you feel a little bit more confident about the journey that lies ahead. There is a lot more to picking a yarn and a hook then you might think so check out this wonderful guide from Anonymous Crochet before you head out to gather your supplies.

Now that you have everything you need to practice crochet you're going to need to learn all of the basic stitches used in any beginner project. Once you have your basic stitches down you will be able to look at any pattern and make all kinds of wonderful goodies. Learning stitches to a beginner can sometimes become confusing and frustrating, I've been there. The biggest tip I can give you is to be patient and to persevere. Don't give up if you mess up a few times, keep trying! Pause your video and go at your own pace. I started videos over and over again until I got the stitches down and practiced a ton until I gained confidence with them. This video from All Free Crochet was a savior for me, it's a pretty basic and it teaches you all about chain stitches, single crochet, double crochet, and triple crochet stitches. If you are more of a learn by reading and pictures type of person then this guide from Knit Simple Magazine is super helpful and it also includes a few stitches that are not included in the video above such as the slip stitch and half double crochet.
One thing that you'll notice when reading patterns, looking at tutorials, ect. is that some terms are different depending on your source. British and Australian terms are simply a little different then the American terms but the stitches are the same. This stitch term rundown from Aberrant Crochet gives you each stitch and the abbreviation in both English and European so you know how to read all kinds of patterns.

I always suggest starting off making a swatch of crochet stitches before starting off any project. This will get you practice and up your confidence level before you dive into a project. After you have made a swatch there are two key steps that you have to take with any crochet project for it to hold up and stay together, these are fastening off and weaving in ends. If you do not learn these two steps you will be bumming later on when you crochet a really cute granny square and then it completely unravels. These steps essentially keep your work together and make sure that during wear and tear they don't loosen in the future.

Now that you've learned the tools, the basics, and the crucial steps to keeping your project intact its time to pick a pattern and crochet something cute. I always suggest that beginners start with something like a scarf or a basic granny stripe blanket. These are both easy projects with few stitches to learn and will help you practice crocheting while you make something functional. If you're looking to make a simple scarf this tutorial  from Make and Takes offers picture and video!
If you want to try a basic blanket project you should check out this granny stripe blanket from Attic24, it's best you you try the stripe-a-day method so you don't get overwhelmed just like Matt did (his blog is a glorious crochet wonderland)!

I hope that all of these tips, tricks, and tutorials help you on your crochet journey and if you have any questions feel free to ask! I'm going to follow up this post with some more intermediate skills and methods like joining pieces, fancy stitches, and more so stay tuned!

Treasury Tuesday // Lovely Art.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's Treasury Tuesday and today I'm sharing some of my absolute favorite artists and illustrators that sell their lovely designs and creations via Etsy. I love how many artists are out there with such unique styles and perspectives. I own pieces from most of these lovely shops and I love keeping up with them and grabbing up new items. Oana Befort added some really cute fruit postcards to her shop recently along with the Autumn art print that's featured in my treasury. Are you a bride-to-be? If so I highly suggest heading over to FirstSnowFall and checking out all of her lovely wedding goodies! I'm especially in love with the bridesmaid cards I have featured and all of her cake toppers, so adorable!
If you need new pieces for your art collection I definitely suggest that you head on over to my Lovely Art Treasury and check out all of these amazing shops! You wont regret it!

Making waves.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

On Thursday last week my little Marli left the nest and took her first vacation with out mommy and daddy! My mother took her down to Florida to visit my brother and sister in law and get in some beach time. The past few days have felt seriously so long without her, I can't believe how calm and quite the house was with only one kiddo around!
They had such a great time on their trip. Marli played in the ocean, built a sandcastle, and even rescued a little baby sea turtle. Boy do I wish I could have fit in her suitcase and went along with her! My sister in law took some really great photographs during the trip so even though I wasn't physically there I got daily updates and we have all of these memories to keep forever. I'm so glad that she's finally home and had such a good experience!
I thought I would share these today because, well, they are so dang cute!
Also, if you haven't noticed I sort of re-designed the blog yet again! I loved the painted florals from my last design but I felt like they just didn't fit this space and what my blog is all about. I never felt at home. Now I love the design and it feels way more me! I still have a few things to implement so if you look at my pages or older posts things might look a little crazy and mismatched but I'm working on it. Hope you guys like it! have a fantastic day!

Weekend Project // Mid Century Inspired Wall Art.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lately I've been seriously struggling to find some interesting pieces to adorn my bedroom walls. I would like to keep everything as authentic mid century as I can but sometimes finding exactly what you want can be so hard! I've been dreaming about picking up some lovely teak wood painted wall hangings with a similar pattern to the paintings above but finding them in the wild is impossible and sometimes the prices on Etsy and Ebay can be a little intimidating. We just bought our first home so decorating on a budget is rule number one, and I plan on sticking to that the best that I can. 
I started brainstorming ways to make replicas of these cute little genie bottles ( that's what they remind me of at least) for a dirt cheap price. Awhile ago the ladies at Oh So Lovely Vintage did a tutorial on how to make retro wood wall art and it featured a similar vase/bottle theme but I knew that I wanted something that required a little less work, I don't want to whip out stain, too much fuss!
After abandoning the idea I was wandering the craft isle in Walmart because that's the only store within 30 minutes of my home and I stumbled upon a three pack of canvas panels for about $9.00 so I grabbed them up along with some acrylic paint and headed on my way. When I got home the idea dawned on my to use the canvas panels to make some fun MCM inspired art! I simply drew up some rough drafts so I knew how I wanted my little vases arranged and then I took to the canvas.
I lightly sketched my designs on the panels and then started painting away. I did about three coats of acrylic paint on each, making sure that I had an even layer of paint and that no canvas was showing through. It took me about an hour per canvas, partially because I'm a perfectionist and partially because my son busted in the room and colored on both panels with a pencil and then I had to do some major touch ups. Oh toddlers, what can you do!?
I still want to build frames for both pieces and hang them properly but until then they look great perched on top my my husband's gentleman's chest. I think it's probably the best $12.00 I've ever spent!
So word to the wise, don't waste money on wall art if you don't have to! There are so many great pins and tutorials through out the magical land that is the interweb and they will save you a ton of money, not to mention you get the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself. Take some time to create and then sit back and enjoy the beauty!

September Wishlist!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I didn't get a chance to freak out about the fact that it's already September yet, so I think it's time! Where did the year go? My goodness, I better start preparing for the season! I'm really excited that the fall months are ahead of us, it's honestly the best time of the year. Warm summer days and cute dresses are all fine and dandy but I love cool fall afternoons, thick cozy knitwear, and boots! Everyone is starting to get fall pieces in stock and everything smells like pumpkin and cinnamon, what could be better? Here are some items on my fall wish list, take a look!

Also check out:
// This knit clutch is so fun and perfect for colder weather. Unusual knit accessories give great texture and character to any outfit, or maybe I just love yarn.

// Need the perfect fall cocktail? This Apple Cider, Vodka, and Ginger Beer cocktail sounds absolutely yummy and very season appropriate.

// This knit hat featured on The Sartorialist is just divine! I love the mixture of color and print, this would really add a pop to your fall wardrobe!

// This gorgeous hand spun skein from The Fibre Tree would make a beautiful cowl or hat! I love a chunky wool that knits up quickly!

// Maybe I'm a little bias but this Autumn Essentials printable from Jones Design Company is so adorable! I love the little watercolor illustrations!

// Nothing makes your home smell more delicious than baking apple pie! Why not keep the scent going throughout the fall with this delicious soy candle from PommesFrites? Spiced Pumpkin would smell super yummy too!

Are you ready for fall weather?

Etsy Love // The White Pepper

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I have a deep love for many virtual boutiques set up on Etsy from vintage to fiber arts and I visit them whenever I'm on the web and have a little extra in my pocket. The White Pepper has been one of my favorite vintage stores since I joined Etsy and it's always so fun to see all of the new products they have in stock. Do you love all things Retro and Mid Century? The White Pepper is your place! Besides being beautifully photographed there are pages and pages of wonderful vintage items to chose from, you could browse forever. I've featured many of the products from The White Pepper on my Kitsch Krazy segment so I thought it was time that this fabulous shop got it's own spotlight!
Here are some of my favorites in stock!
One // Two // Three // Four // Five // Six // Seven // Eight

There is so much great available, how could you ever pick just one thing?
What are some of your favorite Etsy shops? Have you ever stopped by The White Pepper?
Let me know!

Make It // Daisy Stitched Pot Holder and a Kitchen Towel Transformation.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Recently I picked up some cute new tea towels for my kitchen, but when I brought them home I felt like they needed a little extra something. I remembered that Meredith from One Sheepish Girl posted a crochet edge tea towel tutorial awhile back to I decided a little craftiness was in order. This project is super easy if you have basic crochet knowledge and it's the perfect project for using up your extra yarn!
 What You'll Need:

towel //
 Tea Towel
 Embroidery Needle
 Yarn Needle
 Yarn of Choice
 Crochet Hook

potholder // 
Yarn Needle
Yarn of Choice, 3 Colors
Crochet Hook

note: For these projects I used Knit Picks Comfy Worsted Yarn in Marina, Carrot, and Creme Brulee. This yarns work up nicely and are super soft and light. They are 75% Pima cotton and they are easy to care for.
 To get step by step directions check out Meredith's post! I decided to use a size E crochet hook for my edge so that it was a little more dainty, but that's up to you!
 All in all it turned out really cute and I think this would make the perfect holiday gift, especially if you embroidered initials on it. Everyone likes personalized handmade gifts!
Now that I had really cute tea towels I definitely needed a matching pot holder. I had been wanting to experiment with the daisy crochet stitch for awhile so this was the perfect project to practice. The stitch looks pretty confusing at first but once you get it down you will see that it's a breeze. I started this pattern from reading this really helpful daisy stitch tutorial and then watching the video provided on the site. The video is so wonderfully shot and it really make sense of the stitch for you.
To make this pot holder I started off with a G hook and made a total of 32 chains with my first yarn choice (orange) then I followed the video provided and made three full daisy stitched rows with my orange yarn. Three full rows means bottom and top of the daisy stitch (you'll see what I mean after watching the video tutorial)
After reaching the last stitch of my orange row I joined my second color choice ( yellow) and began one full row of daisy stitching. Make sure that with each color change you are either working in the tails of yarn or you are weaving them in along the way. You don't want a big ole mess of yarn while you work!
After my yellow row wad complete I joined in my third color choice (teal) and then slip stitched over each of the stitches in the previous row to create a thin stripe. The picture below shows how the teal yarn sits in front of the yellow stitches. Make sure that when you join with your first color again for the next stripe that you only work your "yellow" loops. Do not work through all of the stitches, just the two behind.
The following stripes are as listed.
One full orange stripe
Two full yellow stripes
One full teal stripes
One orange stripe.
You can change your pattern however you please once you have down the basic concept.
Now on to part two!
Once you've completed your striped daisy stitched piece pick out a color to use for the solid backing of your pot holder, I chose yellow. 
Ch. 30, DC down each stitch in row.
Ch 2, Turn.
DC down each stitch in row.
Repeat until your piece is the same size as your striped front.
Weave in ends.

Put both pieces together with their nice sides facing outward and use the color you decide as a boarder, teal in this case and slip your hook through both corners and create a slip stitch over the top. This will hold the two pieces in place. 
Ch.1 Yarn over and HDC in the corner twice.
Then HDC in each stitch around the pot holder making sure that you are going through both pieces of the holder and matching up the stitches. This will create your boarder and hold it all together. 
When you get to the beginning slip stitch to join, Ch 1 and single crochet in each stitch again.
At the very last stitch instead of joining the row ch. 12 and double crochet down the chain to create your pot holder's loop. leave a long tail to attach it back to the corner.
Make sure you weave in all of your ends and then you're done!
I really hope you like these little projects and that the patterns are clear to follow. If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below and I'll get back to you.
Have a wonderful Tuesday!

*p.s. the original post was accidentally deleted so if there are any mistakes or changes to the above that's why. feel free to contact me with corrections.
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