New Bedroom Hideout: Kura Bed Into Fort

Jax got a new bed last weekend and after a quick sewing project, it is now also a secret hide-out!


Bed: IKEA Kura
We weren’t fans of the blue, so we built it with the white side of the boards showing.

Fabric: IKEA Vitaminer Rand, 100% cotton

Curtains are attached to the bed with Velcro Décor Tape

Basic Construction:

1. First I hemmed the bottom of the entire piece of fabric I used. This helps insure that the stripes will line up, since the bottom seam will be identical on all curtains made from the fabric piece. Next, I held the fabric up to the bed and decided where I’d like it to hang, and marked what would be the top of the fort curtains. Adding 2 inches for the top seam allowance, I cut the whole strip of the fabric so it was even in height.

2. I measured the length of the bed (75 inches), divided by 2 (37.5 inches) and added a 1/2-inch seam allowance for each side, which meant I needed two panels 38.5 inches wide. I measured and cut two such panels from my hemmed piece and sewed the side seams. Ironing before pinning and sewing makes this process go smoothly.

3. I sewed a 1-inch seam into the top of the piece (the red band in the photo below) and then pinned a strip of velcro (the soft side) along the entire top seam on the right side of the curtain. I sewed the Velcro to the fabric along each edge of the Velcro, including vertically at the ends (picture one big, long, rectangular seam on top of the Velcro).

4. After wiping down the wood, I attached the self-adhesive side of the Velcro in a strip onto the inside of the bed frame.

5. Voilà, the two curtains attached to the bed using the Velcro strips. I somehow ended up a couple inches short (I say 1/2-inch seam allowances and then don’t actually measure) but I find it doesn’t matter at all. You can play around with the curtain placement and keep them open by stuffing the corners into a space you make with a finger in the Velcro (my method) or by wrapping it around the top frame a few times (which looks more like a valance).

In action!

6. Finally, I feel compelled to note that the top of the bed is completely open and we remove the curtains entirely at bedtime. Jax is a pretty calm sleeper, but you never know if there could be some sort of entanglement risk at just 19 months…

The beauty of this project is that it is inexpensive, easy, quick, and open to interpretation. You could add appliqué elements to make it look like a castle or a fruit stand, change striped curtains for starry blue ones, or get the child involved in making it into any kind of structure he imagines. My sister even had the idea of suspending several yards of fabric from the ceiling and around a hoola hoop, to make it into a circus tent. As time goes on, we are sure to play around with some other ideas for Jax’s bed. In the mean time, we’ll be playing in our new striped fort.

Sheep to Shawl Festival

Yesterday Jax and I went with friends Amanda and baby Grace to the annual Sheep to Shawl festival in Sleepy Hollow. It’s an event held at Philipsburg Manor, a 17th-century Dutch farm which now serves as a living museum, with a working mill, cows and sheep, and costumed tour guides who are actually really quite fun to speak with.

The first stop was the all-important sheering of the sheep demonstration. The 17th-century trimming scissors made us a little nervous, but this woolly sheep got his winter coat removed without any harm.

The last time we went to Philipsburg Manor the cows were all inside, so it was fun to see them grazing in the field.

The sheep herding demonstration was one of the most exciting for Jax.

“Dog. Doooooog.”

Next up was spinning: I learned in chatting with this guide that we’d only see knitting and weaving in the 17th century, as crochet hadn’t been invented yet: Crochet arrived in the States in the mid-19th-century and it had only been developed in late-18th-century France.

The dying of the wool was done in boiling water over this open flame.

On the left, onion skins are dying the wool a bright yellow. On the right is a deep red produced by tree bark.

We took a quick stop into the mill.

Weaving demonstration

The guests of honor! Jax was so excited to look into the barn and see these guys. He kept shouting “baaaa!”

Then one sheep stuck his head out and yelled “baaa!” back. I don’t know if Jax ever thought that would be coming.

A tour of the stable

The walk back

Sunday at Sunnyside {now with more photos}

Last Sunday we put our Historic Hudson Valley membership to use and spent the morning at Washington Irving‘s riverside retreat, Sunnyside. The author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Irving is still quite the local celebrity, putting Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown on the map (there is now a neighboring town called Irvington as well). In his time, he was a world-famous best-selling author and was also supposedly the first author to live off of his writing alone. We (OK, Seth) can relate to that feeling of accomplishment!

After spending the first 52 years of his life crashing on other people’s couches (he was a traveler), Washington Irving built Sunnyside to mirror places he’d visited, with influences reminiscent of Amsterdam, Spain, and England. He had to add on to it, too, since he was living with an entourage of something like 7 unmarried nieces (he never married either, his fiancé having died of yellow fever leaving Irving heartbroken).

I particularly loved the vines and hope to visit in the next month or so to see them all in bloom. Its’ a great place for a walk and a picnic, too. Next time we’ll make a day of it! I wish I had remembered to bring the battery for our camera so I could take more shots than just these, especially of the view of the Hudson and Irving’s pond…

It was a fun way to spend the morning and reminded me I’d like to read Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. We all are familiar with the stories, but I’ve never actually read them!

This weekend the fun continues: a friend, our babies, and I are heading over to the old Dutch Philipsburg Manor for a “Sheep to Shawl” festival, a day combining costumed tour guides, old breed sheep, and yarn. Can it get any better? More to come!

~Updated~  Photos from Seth’s camera:

A Day in Cold Spring

We spent yesterday in Cold Spring, our go-to destination when we want a taste of something different but don’t want to travel too far and have nothing more than a spare diaper or two on us. In other words, our plan when we haven’t planned.

Cold Spring is lovely for so many reasons. It’s a little town with a sloping hill of a main street ?? lined with casual restaurants, cafés, a few galleries, and several antique shops ?? that leads to the Hudson River.

There are plenty of shops of all kinds, and the general mood is pretty laid-back. One of our favorite places to eat or have a drink is called Silver Spoon. We didn’t make the stop there this time, but it’s been great for catching sports games, grabbing a quick bite (and not just the typical bar fare either), and pretend you’re a local (seems to be filled with regulars). It’s also kid-friendly. Whew.

This storefront is for rent and I hope whoever rents it will keep this cool painting on the facade. It depicts the Hudson River just north of Cold Spring, and that building on the little island is an old over-grown abandoned armory I’ve only seen pictures of.

Once you reach the bottom of the hill, an old passageway leads you under the train tracks and over to the water side. But first, we had to stop at one of our favorite low-key, kid-friendly outdoor restaurants.

The old Cold Spring train station is now a restaurant called the Depot. Every 15 minutes or so a train passes by on the tracks right next to the terrace. At first Jax was scared, but then he and Seth made looking for trains into a game.

This table and little walkway are actually part of the adjoining park. We took a stroll through this passage to take the underpass (that brick structure in the back left of the photo below).

Out on the other side is a pretty jetty with spectacular views of the mountains across the Hudson. It’s remarkable how high ?? and how close ?? they are at this spot.

More train-related fun: a long cargo train passed us along the other side of the river.

The ducks were a little too friendly and had Jax running for cover.

There’s also some more green space along the river.  This is a great field for flying kites or watching the sun set over the mountains.

Good bye for now!

Welcome to the World, Leif!

I’m an aunt! Leif Charles was born April 5 at 4:36pm.

8 pounds 5 ounces (3.78 kilos), 20.5 inches (52 cm)

Look at his hair – so blond! I love his little ‘do.

How about a little flashback to what Leif’s sweet parents looked like as babies?

Baby Jeff

Baby Monica just days old, which looks like Leif in this picture:

Leif Charles is named after my dad, Charles. The musician of the family, my dad is teaching Monica all about the recorder.

We are all so excited to meet Leif at the end of the month, when we’ll travel to Minnesota to visit.

Easy Coconut Birds’ Nest Cookies

My mom makes these cookies around Christmas time, but I thought they’d be lovely for spring as well. The combination of the sweet coconut nest and the bitter chocolate center is one of my most delicious memories from childhood.

With only four ingredients and no baking time, these birds’ nest cookies are an easy treat to prepare in a flash. And because they don’t involve any raw eggs but do allow you do get your hands messy, it’s a toddler-friendly kitchen project, too.

1 bag coconut, 14 oz or about 5 cups
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup (1/2 of an 11.5-oz bag) bitter dark chocolate chips (the less sweet the better to balance out the sugary nests ?? I used Ghirardelli 60% Cocao Baking Chips, but feel free to go even darker!)

In a large bowl, combine coconut and powdered sugar with a large wooden spoon.
Melt the butter and drizzle over the coconut mixture. Mix to combine.

Using a teaspoon as a scoop, form 1-inch balls of the mixture in your hands, lay on a cookie sheet, and while still holding with two fingers on the outside, poke your finger into the center to create a little crater for the chocolate. They’ll feel crumbly, but they will hold together once they’ve sat for a bit.

Once they are all laid out, melt the chocolate over low heat, stirring until fully melted and smooth. Using a teaspoon, drip the mealted chocolate into the center holes to fill.

Let the centers harden about 30 minutes, and then store in the fridge until ready to eat.

This recipe yielded 30 nests. Three days later, we are still enjoying them!

Easter Brunch

Hope you are having a wonderful spring weekend! We hosted an Easter brunch this morning with friends. On the menu:

~ Broccoli quiche
~ Asparagus in a delicious vinaigrette (brought by friends Amanda + Jon)
~ Fig + goat cheese crostini (also brought by A + J)
~ Salad
~ Coconut bird’s nest cookies
~ Sugar cookie eggs to decorate yourself

Bunny finger puppets greeted each diner.

We filled Jax’s eggs with fruity bunnies (by Annie’s) to distract him from the chocolates. Not that cereal that is basically fruit loops is that much better, no matter how organic the whole grains it’s made with! Jax got his hands on some candy anyway, and would not have any of the other real food – and he only picked at the special bunny-shaped macaroni and cheese! *But* it turns out, he is a huge fan of goat cheese. I’m constantly surprised by his taste in strong cheeses. He’s napping now so I hope some of that protein is sustaining him through his sugar high and inevitable crash.

Jax’s cookie egg creation. We didn’t dye eggs, but I thought this was a more age-appropriate egg decorating project anyway.

We walked to the playground after eating to burn off some of those chocolate-peanut-butter eggs Jax got his hands on (and chewed like crazy, foil and all – fun times fishing that out).

He now goes down the big slide all by himself!

Back home: time to water the plants

I’m proud of the flower box I put together yesterday (I found the box in the garbage last fall – you know how I can’t resist wooden trash!).

I put new geraniums into the hanging basket by the door. Geraniums survive the winter in Paris, but apparently do not in New York.

Even the yard is perky these days.

Happy Spring!

Poisson d’avril!

I love that in France the fish is the symbol of April Fool’s day. Back in high school my French teacher went all out (as she did every day, for that matter), sneakily taping a paper fish to someone’s back and seeing if they caught it before class was over. During our time living in France, I noticed that a lot of the Easter/spring candies were in the shape of fish in addition to eggs and bells. I wonder if the symbols all became associated with Easter, or if the fish takes on new meaning for the Christian holiday (fish on Friday during Lent perhaps?). In any case, I have fully embraced the fish as our springtime emblem.

With fusible interfacing and an iron, it took me about 5 minutes to enbellish this shirt last night. I was going to zigzag stitch around the borders of each fish, but I’ve got job applications to write and a chapter to finish, so this will do for now!

Pause for quick photo…and…he’s off!

Because Jax loves fish and all things water, I thought I’d perfect my recycled crayons method using an ice cube mold we picked up at IKEA. Now, the tray said “for water only” but I thought it would still work well for crayon melting since the oven is only set to “warm” for this project. I had tried this with a heart mold for Valentine’s day but neglected to grease the mold first, so I thought that would solve my problems this time.

The greased mold with broken crayon bits

After 10 minutes, they started to melt, but I soon noticed the bowing of the tray was going to pose a problem…

Some spillage, but using the potholders to weigh down the sides, I straightened out the mold and let the crayons cool and harden this way.

And then the removal: disaster as I carefully popped the fish out. Only two fish survived with tails (out of twelve).

The mold didn’t fare any better with the greasing, either. Oh well. We can always remelt and try again with a different mold. In the mean time, we still have some fun multi-colored ovals to color with!

Happy April Fool’s Day!