Sunday, December 27, 2015

Strega Nona Returns

A holiday gift -- an idea for all year.

Just before the holidays I learned that my toddler grandson's father had a very favorite tale as a child.  That story was Strega Nona.  Just by chance Tomie dePaola (the author of Strega Nona's books) had just released a collection of the Strega Nona stories.


I was able to order a signed copy of the book from Morgan Hill Bookstore.   http://www.morganhillbookstore.com/book/9780399173455

I had this book inscribed to my grandson but wanted to make it special for his father as well.  Then I went searching for fabric that might coordinate with this book.  Unlike some other favorite authors such as Eric Carle and Dr. Seuss there does not seem to be any illustrator created fabric, but generally I am pretty good at finding fabric that will provide coordinating images -- I envisioned perhaps some fabric with white doves, ... but then I remembered...

In the late 1980s, a reading organization obtained sketches from many illustrators, and permission to reproduce them.  one of the items was tote bags.  I had several in a stash that I have been saving. Saving for what I don't know but now I had an idea.  At first I was going to create  a blanket to use as the two cuddled up to read, but the one image did not seem to lend itself to being included in a blanket of any sort.  So a pillow idea was born.

The tote bags were made of a sturdy cream colored twill.  I cut off the seams, and the top hem which left a piece of 12 1/2 inch square fabric with the Strega Nona image.



The image was printed with a very dark blue ink so I choose a very dark blue twill fabric to use as the border fabric (I wanted an 18 x 18 inch pillow), and used the same fabric to create the envelope style back so the cover could be removed from the pillow form for laundrying.


We gave the book and the pillow to father & son as a "read aloud" kit.  Hope his daddy does read and share the book (and other stories) with him.
But I liked it so much that I made a set for myself too.  My pillow is going in the "reading" guest room.

~~~

Do you have a book package that you'd like to order -- suggest something special just for you...  Visit Greenfroggifts on Etsy for the latest choices. 
Order cookie cutters, aprons, and baker's cloths from Green Frog Gifts -- unique gifts -- many $10.00 or under.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Book a Baby Gift

Creating Gifts that Help to Build Readers...  

Found some lovely fabric that features The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle.  I purchased mine at a favorite fabric shop in Iowa -- Connie's Quilt Shop in Marion, Iowa.  However, you can find the fabric online at the Eric Carle Picture Book Museum Store.  The caterpillar fabric is on page one (Very Hungry Caterpillar Holes Fabric) and the firefly fabric is on page two (Firefly blue fabric), and the color dots fabric as well.
Since these two blankets were going to be gifted with books to a new brother and sister (twins about 2 months old) I wanted them to be different but have some common element so I bound each blanket with a common fabric - the color dots.

Here are the projects. 

I used a mottled yellow flannel fabric for the backing on the Very Hungry Caterpillar blanket.  I cut the flannel into 6 inch wide strips and then strip quilted it to the holes fabric.  Trimmed the edges and bound with a binding of dots fabric.












For this Firefly blanket I used a light blue flannel that had a very thin dark blue scroll design.  This flannel I also cut into 6 inch strips and strip quilted it to the firefly fabric.

Each blanket was paired with a board book by Eric Carle, packaged and delivered to the young ones along with a brochure for the parents about the value of reading aloud.

Download your own copy of the brochure, if you would like.  Read Aloud Brochure [PDF].  Print it both sided on brochure or photograph paper.


Do you want to book a gift for a new baby or a toddler already here ... 
Check out other book packages for catching young readers at http://greenfroggifts.blogspot.com/2015/05/building-readers-one-baby-at-time.html -- Green Frog Gifts helps to build readers -- one baby/toddler at a time.
~~~
Do you have a book package that you'd like to order -- suggest something special just for you...  Visit Greenfroggifts on Etsy for the latest choices. 
Order cookie cutters, aprons, and baker's cloths from Green Frog Gifts -- unique gifts -- many $10.00 or under.



Friday, September 4, 2015

Caught Another Baby -- Building Readers One Baby at a Time

Catching Babies -- Creating Readers 

A few weeks ago I was sewing a baby quilt.  My 2 1/2 year old grandson wanted to know what I was doing.  So I explained that I was making a baby blanket for a baby.  He wanted to know "Why?" So I told him that I liked to make baby things and to put a book with them so that the mommies and daddies would read to their babies.  So who was the "baby?"  I didn't have one yet but I told him I had to find one and when I did I would give the blanket and book to the baby.  Well three weeks or so later, I found a baby.  A new baby boy that arrived to join two young but older sisters.  So I packed up the blanket (featuring farm animals, added a soft plush pig, and a book - If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff) and got it ready to send.
 
I also prepared gift packets with a book and plush animal for each of the two sisters.  When the grandson arrived to eat breakfast and have me take him to his "school" he spotted the gift bags with the books and animals peeking out.  "GG," he shouted, "you caught three of them."  It took me a while to figure out that he meant I had caught THREE babies to give gifts too.  He was as excited as if the gifts were for him.  Some of the gifts are shown here -- http://greenfroggifts.blogspot.com/2015/05/building-readers-one-baby-at-time.html

My grandson knows the value of books.  During a recent trip with his mother to Chicago the presents he picked from the aquarium were little books about various sea creatures and a current favorite Good Night, Chicago by Adam Gamble and Joe Veno (Good Night Books, 2006).  He had visited several of the places featured and "We need to go there, Mommy" with several others.
 Clearly - reading aloud to this grandson has made him a young learner who loves books and chooses them over other things (but its a tough competition between books and balls).  In any case I just CAUGHT him as a reader and continue my quest to find or catch more babies to help their parents focus on reading aloud to their child.  Here's one of my latest gifts meant to entice readers.
One baby caught -- and now I found another one.  This new baby is a soon-to-be born little girl and I have been dying to use some Peter Rabbit fabric in pink that is so pretty.  I found bright pink minky (very soft) to back the quilt I pieced from the Running Peter Rabbit on pink fabric.  Bound it with a cream colored cotton with small miniature pink rose buds.  The same binding was used on the flannel blanket featuring Jemima Puddle-duck.  That blanket was backed with minky as well -- a large white polka dot on pink.

This quilt features Jemina Puddle-Duck with a soft flannel top and a large polka dot minky (super soft) backing.  The center is a nine piece panel with sashings of the flannel.
 This is the quilt -- you can see the polka dot back, serving as a back drop for the Wedgewood set of dishes (saucer, bowl, and cup).  A book with the complete collection of Beatrix Potter Stories, another quilt with the Running Peter Rabbit against a pink back ground - two burp cloths and one bib are included.


I made a lace trimmed bookmark to mark the Jemima Puddle Duck story, and added a custom made quilted gift card.

So hopefully these gifts will help catch another baby and create a reader.  Hope the parents take the hint and read to their child every day.








Check out other book packages for catching young readers at http://greenfroggifts.blogspot.com/2015/05/building-readers-one-baby-at-time.html -- Green Frog Gifts helps to build readers -- one baby/toddler at a time.

~~~

Do you have a book package that you'd like to order -- suggest something special just for you...  Visit Greenfroggifts on Etsy for the latest choices. 
Order cookie cutters, aprons, and baker's cloths from Green Frog Gifts -- unique gifts -- many $10.00 or under.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

More Books - More Readers

Continuing with our initiative to provide welcoming gifts to babies and toddlers in order to help build readers throughout our community.
For a couple of toddlers Green Frog Gifts created a themed bag to hold a new book and a stuffed animal.
 and then it's spring by Julie Fogilano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook Press, 2012). 

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead, and illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook Press, 2012)

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel Books, 2013)

A sequel created by Daywalt and Jeffers could also be paired with this crayon themed package.  The Day the Crayons Came Home (Philomel Books, 2015).









Check out our other book packages for young readers at http://greenfroggifts.blogspot.com/2015/05/building-readers-one-baby-at-time.html -- Green Frog Gifts helps to build readers -- one baby/toddler at a time.

~~~

Do you have a book package that you'd like to order -- suggest something special just for you...  Visit Greenfroggifts on Etsy for the latest choices. 
Order cookie cutters, aprons, and baker's cloths from Green Frog Gifts -- unique gifts -- many $10.00 or under.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Creating a Hat for a Proper Tea

I needed a hat for a proper tea.  I wanted one with some deep red - perhaps a touch of pink.  My tea party attire would be black palazzo pants, a white lace top, pink lace scarf, pearls -- and my hat.  Finding a hat proved problematic -- sooo...
I found a hat the color that I needed.
And removed the beige -- that would not do.
Got some flowers in the shades / colors that I wanted.

A hot glue gun ... but when I took the flowers off the stem I had to glue the layers of petals to one another to keep some of  them from coming apart.  
Added layers of flowers onto the right side of the hat, and trailed them around to the front.
When this hat was worn the left brim was tilted up.
I ended up liking it a lot.
And then I went in search of an appropriate hostess gift ... a tea cup filled with carnations and other color appropriate flowers was what I wanted.  
Now to plan another tea party and begin searching for other vintage tea cups to create more flower arrangements.

Want to plan a tea party -- check out some of the book recommendations at McBookwords' A Proper Tea Party post.

Order fun gifts from Green Frog Gifts -- unique gifts -- many $10.00 or under.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Building Readers -- One Baby at a Time

Books and Babies

"Research shows that reading aloud is the single most important thing you can do to help a child prepare for reading and learning," and "More than one in three children arrive at kindergarten without the skills necessary for lifetime learning." ~ www.readaloud.org
These two statements alone should convince parents (and the village that surrounds these children) that reading aloud is important.  All children need a village to encourage them in their pursuit of lifeskills.  Reading and all things related to literacy is important.  To that end whenever I give a baby gift, I include a book, sometimes a stuffed animal, and often a flannel blanket that I have made.  Books are an important part of the present.  Including a gift for the child sends a message to the parents to affirm their own idea that books are important - -and to the child who will be the recipient of the gift.  Make a statement -- reading is important -- give a book.  So here are some ideas...
Lee Bennett Hopkins is a poet who is so respected for his own poetry collections as well as an anthologist, this 2015 collection Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby; with illustrations by Alyssa Nassner (Abrams Appleseed, 2015).  This book has a velvety soft cover, and a board book construction -- very well suited to young hands who will enjoy hearing this book read aloud time after time.

The bear motif cloth seems to be just right for this lullaby collection.  Soft green minky fabric was used for the back of the blanket, and the quilted blanket was edged in a darker green, white polka dot binding.  The back of the burp cloth and the bibs are a small white dotted green flannel.

In most cases, if I know the name of the baby, I create a small tab with the babies name and sew it into the binding making the blanket one that can be taken to daycare without any further marking.


These books and animals were chosen because I just liked the books. The baby chick fabric is a Robert Kaufman fabric - Urban Zoologie Mini Birds Spring in 100% cotton flannel.  Several stores carry this fabric.
The backing for the blanket is a rosette minky officially referred to as "minky swirl fabric."  I purchased the fabric in the hot pink minky rose swirl fabric and the light pink minky rose swirl, as well as a lime green minky swirl fabric.

I found a 100% cotton pink flannel with large white polka dots which I used to back the bib and burp cloth.  The bib pattern is included at the end of this blog; but the flannel burp cloth is simply a rectangle -- with flannel front and back finished at 8 1/2 inches x 17 inches.  So cut the rectangle to accommodate the seam that will need to be sewn.  I generally sew the items right side together, leaving an opening to turn the item so that the right sides are out, and then top stitch the outer edge of the seams.
With this gift, I actually included a very small blanket for an older sister's doll and included the second animal and book set, for the older sister.

The bird theme would lend itself to connecting the fabric gifts to favorite bird books.  Suggestions: You Nest Here With Me and Where Do Birds Live?








 Packaged and ready to be given.  I have started to create quilted cards to accompany the packages that I send.  The cards are created by sewing small pieces of the cloth used to create the gift.

I actually purchased the boxes I am using as the packaging but think I will attempt to use sturdy shoe boxes to decorate and wrap for the next gifts.  I'll see how that goes.

 If the child is a little older there might be some other items that could be gifted.  In this case a sundress created from a purchased t-shirt (to coordinate with an organization the parents were involved in), added fabric shoulder straps, ruffles, and matching bloomers.  I made a quilted card to coordinate with this gift and added a book.  Thematic books celebrating the patriotic Red, White, and Blue philosophy would be another good choice.  Janeczko's Firefly July, with illustrations by Melissa Sweet would be a great choice.  The book of poems provide poems that can be read during several sittings or all at once.  And Ryan's Flag that I love is an information book about the symbol of our patriotism -- a win-win in terms of books that celebrate our country and literacy.


The next time you find a baby in your life - consider giving a book with your gift; and with every other gift that you organize for any child in your life.

If you are interested in making a bib - you might wish to use this pattern.  When you download the pattern the square should measure 1 in x 1 in.  The x is where you will attach the velcro fastener strip.
As mentioned above the flannel burp cloth is simply a rectangle -- with flannel front and back finished at 8 1/2 inches x 17 inches.  So cut the rectangle to accommodate the seam that will need to be sewn.  I generally sew the items right side together, leaving an opening to turn the item so that the right sides are out, and then top stitch the outer edge of the seams.  The larger blanket is a square made the width of the fabric - two coordinating pieces quilted or tied and bound.  Obviously if you do not sew you might wish to select a purchased gift and find a book that coordinates with the theme -- or just enclose one of your favorites.
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Order cookie cutters, aprons, and baker's cloths from Green Frog Gifts -- unique gifts -- many $10.00 or under.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tuffles for Valentine's Day

I love chocolate truffles -- here is a friend's basic recipe.  Use the basic and experiment with white chocolate chips, white or dark chocolate almond bark, crushed nuts, or coconut.

Jean's Truffles 

  • 6 cups semisweet chocolate chips (recommended: Ghirardelli baking cups)
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese at room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet red wine 
  • 16 ounce bar of almond bark (or more if you want white and brown chocolate)
  • coconut, chopped nuts, or whatever you might wish to garnish the truffles with.
Directions:
  1. Step 1: In a very large mixing bowl, beat the 16 ounces of cream cheese with an electric mixer until soft an fluffy.  Gradually mix in the confectioners' sugar until completely incorporated.
  2. Step 2: (Melting the chocolate) Melt semisweet chocolate in a double boiler (or if you don't have a double boiler set a heat proof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.  Make sure no water gets into the chocolate or the chocolate will seize).  Stir occasionally until the chips are melted and smooth.  Remove from heat.
  3. Step 3: Add the wine, and stir the melted chocolate into the cheese/sugar mixture.  Once all is stirred together into a dough like mixture.  Cover and refrigerate the dough for one hour or until firm.
  4. Step 4: Shape the mixture into 3/4 inch balls and place on a baking tray lined with parchment / waxed paper.  
  5. Step 5: Melt the almond bark.  Dip the individual truffles in the almond bark to coat the outside, or simply drizzle almond bark in a decorative design over the truffles.  Use you imagination.
For Valentines day -- Use white chocolate chips, make the truffles, dip into the almond bark, and coat the truffles with the white almond bark, and then drizzle white almond bark tinted pink.





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Order cookie cutters, aprons, and baker's cloths from Green Frog Gifts -- unique gifts -- many $10.00 or under.