Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Scholastic $1 Sale

Just a quick post to let my readers know about a fabulous sale going on this memorial weekend.  This seriously is a sale too good to miss!

For a limited time, you can buy hundreds of Scholastic E-Books for only $1.  To see the books eligible for this sale, you can go here.

Fans of the Ultimate Alphabet Craft Collection, might be interested in some of their alphabet craft books.  For example, they have Learn the Alphabet Arts and Crafts available for download for only a buck!   (The regular book costs $18.87 on amazon right now!)  And many other Alphabet books available too.
Fans of literature based learning, might be interested in some of their "Teaching With..." books.  For example, their Teaching with Favorite Jan Brett Books is available as an E-Book for only a dollar.
They also have Teaching with Favorite Leo Lioni available for only a $1.

They also have a great MathART book available as a download for only $1.

I am not sure what I am going to get yet.  I am considering buying a handful to keep as resources on my computer.  How nice would it be to be able to print off some extra workbook pages when you need them?  (Like the ones from this Pre-Writing Practice Book?)  

Disclaimer: The Attached Mama received absolutely no compensation or gifts from Scholastic.  I am in no way affiliated with Scholastic or this sale whatsoever.  I just know a good sale when I see one! :) 

Thanks for reading!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Nature Study: Birds of Spring

If you drive past my house you might notice some horrible looking Christmas greenery still hanging up on my porch.  No, we are not just procrastinators who forgot to take down their decorations from Christmas!  
Picture of our Ugly, Brown, Dead-Looking Christmas Hanging Baskets aka The House Finch's Perfect Home

OK, I take that back.....  Perhaps we do tend to procrastinate a bit when it comes to taking down Christmas decorations.  However, that is not the only reason we have left our Christmas stuff out.  This year we have a very good excuse for leaving those baskets up.   Inside those ugly, dried out baskets is a family of house finches. It has been a wonderful experience for all of us observing those beautiful birds this spring...and right outside our front door no less!
Photo of The House Finch courtesy of IBC Bird

Hollywood Comes to Visit:
Late winter/early spring I started to notice this pretty pair of small birds scoping out our hanging baskets.  They would kind of hang out in the tree next to it, checking out the scene:  Watching how often we came in and out of our front door;  Watching the baskets to see if they were sturdy;   Landing on them and popping their heads in and out of the leaves, etc.  So I left the baskets up with the hunch that perhaps the birds were looking for a nesting location.  I had no idea what kind of birds they were at the time.  I just thought they were pretty--and I felt it nice to give the poor creatures a home seeing that my suburban-housing-development probably took up a much of their natural nesting spots.

I got out my favorite bird field guide and the kids and I looked the birds up.  We discovered that we had a family of house finches moving in.  The kids were eager to learn more about these "new pets"---so I we started to research them and learn more about them.  It turns out these simple little birds have an interesting history.  House finches were originally only residents of Mexico and the Southwestern United States.  However, in the 1940's the birds were illegally sold as "pets" marketed under the name of Hollywood Finches.  The name was a marketing ploy given to make the finches seem more posh and exclusive. order to avoid procescution under the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918, the owners and distributors of these birds started releasing them into the wild.  The birds did not die when released into the wild and infact, the "Hollywood Finches" thrived.  So much so that they are displacing the native purple finch and house sparrows.

Range Increase of House Finch:  Photos from Wikipedia

Beautiful Soundtrack:

These baskets hang inches from my front door.  So when I would have the door open I can hear the little male just singing his heart out trying to establish my porch as his territory.  The house finch has a beautiful song.  You can click this link to hear their songs.  I will sometimes just open my front door so that I can hear these little finches singing as I am cleaning up our living room.  I have to admit that I did feel a bit like snow white cleaning my house with birds singing to me in the background.   I am a firm believer that all mothers should have birds serenade them as they clean the house!
Birds should always sing to you as you clean the house! 

The Babies Arrive!
Seemingly overnight, the female finished building the nest.  The male didn't seem to help much.  Unless you call singing noisily nearby helping, and tweeting loudly at everything that pasts the nest. ???  However, the nest was built very quickly and effeciently by that mother!  Almost a week after the nest was constructed the mother begin to sit on her nest.  I didn't take any picture of this since I didn't want to spook her.  I could tell she wanted privacy and as a mother myself I respected that.  :) 

Around Easter time, the female begin leaving the nest for short periods of time to visit our bird feeder outback.  I did sneak a picture inside her nest and this is what I found:

Picture Taken 4-23-2011:  Inside the nest of a House finch.  Two VERY tiny baby birds and one egg left unhatched.

I didn't take too many picture because I could tell the poor things were frightened for their lives when they saw a HUGE person standing over their nest.  They would shake and shiver when I would come near them.   I would also try and sneak and take a peek into their nest only when the mother wasn't around.  I was afraid that she might not come back to her nest if she saw me messing with it.  (I don't know if that was a valid concern or not.  However, I didn't want to risk it.) 

A few days later I snapped another picture and to my surprise, the third egg/bird was missing.  (At least I couldn't see it all in the nest.)  I looked around the ground and I didn't see any broken egg shells or eggs.  So it is a mystery to me what could have happened to the third egg/chick. 
Picture Taken 4-26-2011:  Inside the nest of a House Finch.  What happened to the third egg/bird?
Empty Nesters:
At this point, my little baby "Hollywood Finches" have fledged the nest.  We are officially empty nesters.  I have seen multiple small House Finches at our feeders and I like to imagine that those are the babies that were in our nest.   (There is no way of knowing for sure though.)  The mother and father finches still hang out in the tree outside our perch.  And I even caught the female bringing a little piece of fluff over and stuffing it into the empty nest.

Thanks for reading!!

Links to become Attached To:
The Handbook of Nature Study Spring Bird Series
Preschool Corner

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sewing: Petal Party Dress

I am not 100% sure on this latest creation.   It is a bit loud.  (Some of you are probably laughing when I say a bit.)   It is a lot of print, and a lot of BOLD print at that.  However, I love print...and I love pretty fabric.   So being able to walk around in pretty fabric does lend a smile to my face.  I will admit it.

Fabric Information:
Petal Party in Pink by Sandi Henderson for Michael Miller Fabrics (Part of the Farmer's Market Collection)
Vintage Dot in Pink by Sandi Henderson for Michael Miller Fabrics (Part of the Ginerblossom Collection)

The shape of the dress, however, is not my favorite.  Usually, even when sewing with a bad pattern, I can mess with it enough so that I am able to get it looking at least half-way decent.  Well, I messed with this dress A LOT.  I fussed, I fiddled.  I re-drafted.  I cut.  I tore seams.  And after all of that work, this was the best I could get the dress to look.  
Back of dress
The dress doesn't look too bad when I stand.  However, when I sit, the tummy area kind of baloons out a bit doesn't make me feel very great while wearing it.  And no matter how I fussed with the waistband and skirt, I wasn't able to get it to stop doing it.  I will probably wear it again---because the fabric is very fun.  However, I will not be sewing this same dress pattern again. 

Ignore the wrinkles.  I have been wrangling children all day.  :)

Pattern Information:
This dress is a bit of a Franken-dress.  
It started off as New Look 6774.  But don't pick up New Look 6774 thinking you are going to get a dress that looks like this.   Because I made some major modifications to this dress in order for it to even become a wearable item.

New Look 6774 Cover
New Look 6774 is a "mix and match" pattern that allows the seamstress to design her own look by mixing various skirts, bodice, and waistbands together.  The cover makes the pattern look really cute and fun.  But don't be deceived my friends! 

I cut pieces I+J+K, which is basically that knee length coral dress in the photo above.  But using the pieces as-is, you will never get a dress that fits like the cover picture above.  The bodice pieces are just funky looking...and no matter how I fussed, re-gathered, tore out, and messed with the bodice, I just couldn't get it to look right. 

I should have listened...
Before I sewed this dress I kept reading pattern reviews online where other seamstresses WARNED me that this pattern did not fit well.  However, did I listen?  NO!  That would have been way too easy.  I threw caution to the wind and I just decided to cut the pattern as is---and what did I learn?  I learned that I should have LISTENED to you fellow sewing bloggers!   It would have saved me several hours worth of frustrating trial and error with sewing this dress.

I ended up completly scraping the bodice as is.  After I messed with it for several hours, I came to the conclusion that it didn't even have "good bones" in which to modify.  So I ended up drafting my own front and back AND waistband.   So really the only part of the dress that is original to New Look 6774 is the skirt...and I have to admit that is my least favorite part of the dress. 

I also modified the skirt by adding in pockets.  Really deep and nice pockets.  Because every mama needs pockets.  (Am I right? Or am I right?!) 

De-Stashing My Fabric:
I am also trying to use fabric from my existing fabric stash before I buy anything new.   I didn't have enough of the Petal Party fabric so I compensated with adding a contrasting waistband and a contrasting hem band in order to actually get a dress out of the little fabric I had.

I actually think that that makes the dress much more interesting.   However,  I can't even begin to tell you how hard this dress was to cut out because I had to scrape and use ever bitof the petal party fabric in order to get the dress to work.  I even used the bias as hem allowance in order to make it work. 

Special Little Touches:
One of the fun things about making your own clothes is that you can add special little touches which make your clothes extra special.    One touch that I started to add was adding a special trim to my skirt linings.  I saw this idea out there on flikr and have been using it on all of the dresses I sew. 
Little detail added to the hem line of the lining.
Thanks Everyone for Reading!!


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