Monday, October 13, 2008

A Visit to Sylvan Hollow: Magic Rocks

I was fascinated by this little project Clare did with her daughter: she took a bunch of broken crayons and mixed them in an old baking pan with ordinary pebbles, and put them in the oven. The crayons melted all over the rocks and made these "magic rocks" that Anastasia enjoys playing with in her sandbox. What a fun idea!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

October Costumes!

I had to interrupt this visit to Sylvan Hollow to tell you about some beautiful homemade costumes now available for sale from Our Coat of Many Colors. If you are looking for a saint's costume for All Saints Day, a Halloween costume, a Tolkien reenactment costume, or just a general dress-up outfit for your child, I encourage you to investigate the lovely garb available from this cottage industry company. Our Coat of Many Colors is run by Debbie and Maria, two friends who love costumes. As Debbie has a family member with a serious illness (please pray for him), Maria's been helping out with orders. She invited me to review their costumes, and my daughters had a hard time choosing, but finally settled on the pretty Saint Rose costume. For those of you who know Saint Rose, she ended her years living in a little hovel outside her family home, so our Saint Rose stands at the door of our playhouse. The costume includes a beautifully-trimmed blue dress (with room for a turtleneck or t-shirt beneath), red shawl, and white mantilla.

I have to say my son fell instantly in love with their Saint George costume. It was quite comprehensive: black pants, silver "chain mail" shirt and hood, and plastic "dragon armor" breastplate and helmet to be worn on top. Not to mention the shield and cool silver sword. So if you're on the lookout for a quality costume for All Hallows or a Christmas surprise, please check out the website: they have an amazingly large selection, and they take orders as well!

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Visit to Sylvan Hollow: Small girls' bedroom

Since I started this post, I've learned that Clare and Nick were blessed with the birth of little Isabel. (Click here for the post!) So it seems fitting to post about the sweet bedroom Clare created for their daughters.

I forget where Clare said she had acquired this cheerful Japanese-inspired picture of white rabbits, but she admits she created the entire bedroom color scheme around this picture: pale robin's egg blue, red, spring green, and white.IKEA provided the foundation, as Clare purchased her curtains, bedroom drapes, rug, and accessories from their children's collection, but added her own homemade touches of pillows and quilt. The changing table provides print-covered storage, and the window features a quintet of paper stained-glass cutouts made by Mommy.

The salvaged bookshelf features different colored shelves and a wallpaper background to provide a happy home for fairytale-themed books and toys, and someday it might grow into a dollhouse apartment building? There's room for expansion indeed in this little girls' room.

Friday, October 03, 2008

A Visit to Sylvan Hollow: Kitchen

Our family was recently gladdened by the return of an old friend to our area. Nick has been a favorite family friend for years, a juggler-aikido master-tea-loving Catholic with a deeply serious faith (some readers will note his resemblance to my character Paul Fester from The Midnight Dancers: it would be more proper to say that Paul Fester resembles him). Several years ago, Nick moved away, but he recently returned to our area with his bride, Clare, and little girl Anastasia. They have acquired a charming little property near our area, which Nick has appropriately dubbed Sylvan Hollow. We were delighted by a recent visit, and I wanted to share some photographs of their little cottage home, which (like ours) is a work-in-progress.
Clare and Nick were enchanted by the cottage's numerous homey details, such as the shelves over each kitchen window for storing baking good and Nick's teapot collection, which sweetened the realization of how much extensive work the cottage required. One project should come to fruition soon: installing a real woodburning stove in the kitchen chimney.

Though the kitchen cabinets already in the cottage are small, and a little worse for wear, Clare is inclined to keep them simply because of their time-worn charm. Somehow new cabinets off-the-rack from Lowes would not seem as comfortable as these unique handmade ones.

Even I, the perennial plastic-hater, was charmed by these vintage red Tupperware dry goods pins and quirky egg accessories Clare has poised on a window shelf.

PS: If you'd like to visit a little longer at Sylan Cottage and see some adorable handmade toys, be sure to check out Clare's blog.