December 31, 2011

Christmas in Ireland.

It's a bit late and we've all taken down the decorations, but I'm at a loss for what else to write about, so Christmas it is.

As you may have guessed from my very clever title, we spent our Christmas break in Ireland with Donal's family. We hired a car, drove across the UK, boarded a ferry, drove across Ireland, and a mere 12 hours later we were facing the Atlantic, ensconced in peat fires and drizzly weather. There's no length an Irishman won't go to get a good Guinness.

We had two weeks there. Lots of opportunities to

Visit family...


Play with friends at THE best softplay center...

Shop in Galway...

And get muddy in the woods...

I swear we even saw a leprechaun or two...

Happy 2012!

December 16, 2011

Rock Star.

Nativity plays the world round must be the same.

You have the Angel.
You have Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus.
You have the Three Wise Men, the shepherds, their animals, and the Innkeepers (possibly history's first baddies...?)

What you don't have is Elliot - The Most Rockin' Star of Bethlehem.

Seriously. The kid couldn't keep it to himself. I'm not sure where his moves came from, but he was in. the. zone. Thumbs out, hips thrusted, eyes closed, mouth snarled. 34 minutes of pure entertainment.

December 8, 2011

Felt Slippers.

I was inspired by a friend to make some felt slippers. I had a look around the interweb and landed on Martha Stewart's tutorial for Stephanie's Sewn Felt Slippers. I liked the look of them and they seemed pretty easy so I gave it a go. I'm writing about it here because where Martha excels in creativity, she lacks in explanation...

A few notes...
I made these slippers in a USA 8 / UK 6.
I can't sew worth shit.
I had a three year old "helper" and still managed to knock a pair out in under 2 hours.
I also found this blog helpful.

Thick Wool Felt (e.g. 4mm)
Heavy cotton thread (I used a matching thread because my sewing skillz are lacking in every way)
Needle with large eye
Sewing shears
A pair of shoes in the size slipper you're making
Sheet of paper
Regular scissors

Make your template
I couldn't figure out how to modify Martha's template so I made my own by tracing a pair of shoes. I used Birkenstocks as they closely matched the shape of Martha's template and I generally like the look of them.

Place your shoes on your paper. Have a look at Martha's template - see how the left and right sides of her template are straight, not curved? Put your shoes on the paper so at least one outer edge of your shoe is against the side of the paper. Use the side and bottom of the paper as the side and bottom of your template.

Draw the "T" on one side of your template. This is the opening of your slipper, so the "T" needs to be tall and wide enough to fit your foot comfortably. It's kind of a guessing game, but for my slippers (USA 8 / UK 6) the "T" was approx 6" tall and 1 3/4" wide.

Cut out your template. You can cut the "T" at this point, but I didn't as I wanted to keep the template from wobbling around.

Cut your cloth
Put the template on your felt and trace it with the chalk.
Cut out your felt around your chalk outline.

Sew the slipper
Fold your felt in half, matching up the outer sides.
Cut the "T" into your felt. (Follow your template for height and width of the "T".)

This is roughly what your new "T" opening should look like

Starting at the toe, begin sewing the upper and lower pieces together. Sew all the way down to the end of the slipper.

A couple points...

  • Keep your knot on the outside of the felt (see pics). You're going to be turning these inside out so the knot will end up on the inside, when finished.
  • Be mindful of your stitches. Try to get them as even in size and space as possible. 

Sew the heel
This is the part I couldn't get my head around when reading Martha's instructions, but don't worry - it is really pretty simple.
Take the bottom of the slipper and, where you've made your "T" cut, pinch those pieces together.

Start sewing from the top - again, be mindful of your knot; you're going to be turning this piece down in the finished slipper, so make sure your knot is on the inside this time. Sew horizontal stitches down the length of the heel. Stop when you're about 2/3 of the way down, leaving a hole at the bottom.

Turn your slipper inside out. This is pretty much how your finished piece is going to look.

To finish off the heel, take the bottom lip of the hole you've just left and fold it up. Trim the corners to get a rounded look. Now, while holding up the lip with one hand, sew it shut with the other. This whole bit is a little fiddly, but manageable.

Style it out
To finish, stitch down the edges of the top of your original "T" cut. I used a white "X" stitch, but obviously you can do whatever you want.
I've also read that these can be a little slippery, so I'm consider dotting something tacky (puffy paint? glue?) on the bottoms.

Now do it all over again for the other slipper.
Remember to make your "T" cut in the opposite side to whichever slipper you've just done. Also remember that you'll be turning the slipper inside out, so BE SURE that you're cutting the "T" in the right side. (I made the mistake so you don't have to.)

Ready to go!
(No, the slippers weren't designed to fit my son, but they look better on a model than just sitting cold and alone on my rug.)

December 5, 2011

Cool with the elf.

We're cool with the elf.

That said... One of us* is still convinced he flies around the house; one of us still maintains he's not entirely real ("his face is made of plastic"); and another one is more irritated than others being woken at 5:50AM each morning to help find the elf. The last of us is having too much fun playing with the new toy.

*In no particular order: Noah, Elliot, Donal, Me

December 2, 2011

Elf on the Shelf.

Another fantastic parenting idea.
Let's take a toy elf, fashioned straight from the 1950s, and pretend he's been delivered from Santa as a means to provide seasonal entertainment and a watchful eye for the naughty / nice list. 
Let's pretend he's real. Let's pretend we're not all a little freaked out by that idea and reassure ourselves with countless conversations on:

  • where the elf can and cannot go in the house (yes, he can go in the kitchen / no, he will not come in your bedroom)
  • if elves can fly (no)
  • how the elf manages to return to the North pole if he can't fly (magic)
  • how does the magic work (he blinks, touches his nose, and *poofs* away)
  • isn't that a little bit like Justin from CBeebies (yes, Nature abhors a vacuum and I wasn't adequately prepared for these questions)
  • the elf's social schedule (he goes to the North pole at night to party with Santa and the gang, and then returns to our house in the morning)
  • why he goes to the North pole only at night (the time difference)
  • if our friends have also had elves delivered to their houses (erm, no)
  • the elf's linguistic talents (he speaks elvish which only other elves and Santa can understand; not us)
  • whether or not he can hear us, though (yes)
  • if elves are naughty (no, but they are a bit silly)
  • if elves can fly (still no)
  • if the elf will fly into my bedroom and if I'll hear him at night when he lands on my head (oh dear... no, sweetheart, he's not a gremlin)
  • what's a gremlin (pbffbflf)

You get the idea. Basically, this seems like an ace way to either:
totally spaz out your kids by convincing them that completely inanimate objects have the ability to come alive and fly about the house. 
Or, destroy all the beautiful myths Christmas has to offer by trying to convince them this second rate toy is actually a messenger from the North pole.
Assuming there's no major nightmares tonight, I'm persevering with this. Parenting awards be damned!