Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kiting in the Snow

When I first started sewing the picnic quilt a week or two ago, Scott & I told Gillian that we would take our new picnic quilt to the "Cherry house" and we would have a picnic & fly kites.  At that time, we thought we had about 3-4 weeks, until we would leave for Scott's Nursery Stock planting in Macdoel.
I was cranking along on my quilt. Then we find out, we are leaving in less than a week. Ack! I didn't think I could finish it in time.  But, I did.  I finished sewing the binding around the edge & we left the next morning.
But, we haven't had that picnic yet.  It is rather cold.  And rainy.  And, even some snow. 

The daddy was brave against the snowy cold & flew kites with the kids anyway.  I stayed indoors, except to take a couple photos.

It wasn't too easy to fly kites in such intense weather. 

The Picnic Quilt details - 60" x 60".
Canvas is the main material on the front, with small patches of standard lightweight cotton.
The back is all canvas.
The binding is 2 1/2" strips of cotton of various prints.

I pieced the front by making 9 blocks that were roughly 20" (very roughly!). 
I just sort of cut & measured & sewed & ironed & repeated that again & again.
I pinned my top layer, batting layer & back layer together with saftey pins, as my friend Paisley & Lace taught me to do. 
You lay you bottom layer on the floor & tape it down with painter's tape.  Then you lay you batting on that & stretch it tight & tape again.  Finally, do the same with the top layer. 
Now put safety pins all over it, to keep everything straight & in place.   
Once the layers were all together I machined stiched random blocks throughout the quilt.

After quilting, I ironed down my binding strip & sewed it on, with the aid of the Angry Chicken. 
This video was so enlighting for me.  Wow.  I never knew about sewing the inside first & then folding it over. 
The video is also hilarious, I think.
You may want to watch it, even if you don't give a rip about bias tape or binding.

On our road trip to Macdoel, I embroidered words on the top of the quilt, just for fun.

Maybe next week we can have a picnic?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Don't Feed the Monsters

There are these little monsters, that can sneak into your home & wreck havoc on your marriage.  I know one if called Bitterness; there is one called Offense-not-dealt-with.  Misunderstanding is another one.  There are more, but I can't think of their names right now.

I am pretty sure these guys will come poking their ugly heads into your house from time to time.  BUT, don't let them stay.  You've got to fight in order to keep your marriage monster-free.
They can be sly.  You may be tempted to let them in the door.  You may encourage them to stay a while.  And then, you start to feed the monster...

 Whatever you do, don't do that.  Don't feed the monsters.  They won't leave you alone.  They'll follow you everywhere.  The monsters will follow you to bed.  They may hide under your bed.  Although, they will most likely get right into your bed and sleep right in the middle, all night long.

The longer they stay, the harder it is to get rid of them.  They may tell you that no one else will notice they are there, and that they won't do any harm or be any trouble.  None of that is true.  Don't believe them!  They will rob your marriage of intimacy & peace & joy.

Consider these truths about love from 1 Corinthians 13 -
"...Love is not provoked, it does not take into account a wrong suffered..."

Ephesians 5 offers a lot of relationship wisdom.
verse 26 says "Do not let the sun go down on your anger."

If there is something ugly between you & your spouse, deal with it.  Maybe it has only been there for a day, maybe a week, maybe 5 years.  It doesn't matter who started the ugliness.  Go & deal with it & restore your fellowship.  I think things will get a little sweeter.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Picnic Blanket Quilting

I'm so close to being done.
I have some blog posts in my head.  But, I don't want to be here, at the computer.  I want to be at the sewing machine.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Guest Blogger for Thrifty Thursday: Mama Mia McMasters

My friend Linda is a frugal living mother, who has some ideas to share with us.  
When you are done reading her guest post here, check out her blog - Mama Mia McMasters!

Well, I have learned a few things from Erin about creative ways to save a few bucks. I think Thrifty Thursday is a great idea considering there are so many other ideas on the internet about buying rather than saving! Go Erin!

My idea for this week is actually two in one and even more than that, a lifestyle choice. I think what it really boils down to is community and sharing. I was really struck a few years ago by the passage in the beginning of Acts where the believers shared everything in common and gave to each other when there was a need. It made me really think. I threw around the idea of a 'common purse' with a few friends we were moving to Santa Cruz with. We didn't go all the way to sharing the same bank account or anything, but I feel like that season of my life God really impressed on me some great values about sharing and taking the word 'mine' out of my vocabulary as much as possible.

Okay, okay, get to the point. I hear you. This is Thrifty Thursday and you want a little tip about how you can save a few bucks. I'm getting to it! The tip is this: share!

One specific way I have implemented this in my life is buying bulk and splitting the cost. It works great at Costco where we get a big bag of apples and share half of it with a friend. We have roommates, so we all pitch in for groceries and Costco works great. We even split a Costco run with our neighbors about once per month. I share with them (a really young couple) our list of things we are thinking about getting. They look at it and say, "Yeah, that sounds good." Then I go shopping. When I come home I split it all up and bring them over a great box of groceries and they pitch in to pay their share.

Another thing I have done that I really want to continue is pot sharing. No, not that kind of pot, a pot of sauce or soup! I think I make a pretty mean spaghetti sauce. Since I shop bulk I get the huge can of tomato sauce and spice it up with sausage and things to make a huge batch of yummy goodness. We love it. But it's a lot even for my family of five and our two hungry man roommates. So, I called a friend and told her I'd trade her a pot of spaghetti sauce for a pot of her soup. I love her soup and really miss it since we don't live together anymore. It was a really selfish trade and I think I got the better deal. But in reality I think we both got the better deal. We made a dish we are really good at then ate good food the next day that only needed reheating.

There are lots of things that are amazing about living in community (even if it's not in the same house). I have had times in my life when we did live in the same house or on the same property with people. The benefits are amazing. But even when seasons change there are so many things I can incorporate into my life that keep the same value of community. This value is my inspiration for today's Thrifty Thursday, as well as so many other things in my life. Thanks for letting me get on my soap box here. I guess that was a bit more than frugal advice. My thoughts don't always fit in the nice categories and boxes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

We moved to the neighborhood in which we live almost 3 years ago.  At first we "met" our immediate neighbors on each side.  You know, "Hi my name is ---------" & that's about it.  Slowly, but surely, we met some neighbors a few doors down.  We started the sort of neighborly relationship in which you can say, "May I walk your dog?"  "May I borrow an onion?"  & stuff like that.  

We've met neighbors by going for walks.   
We bought artwork for our front yard that everyone can enjoy.  
People stop to talk to us about it.

By knocking on the door & asking about their flowers.
By bringing Christmas treats to them, even if we didn't even know their names before.

Slowly over the last 2 years, we've been building some neighbor bonds.  We love this neighborhood.  We want to stay here for a long time.  We want to learn how to work at making it a better neighborhood.

Last weekend, we went to a neighborhood bbq.  
Some neighbors are starting up a little neighborhood Bible Study that we are going to part of.  
We are now moving beyond just knowing peoples names.  We are really getting to know people.  We are so excited about this!  

Now, what else can we do?  I've thought a lot about neighborhood associations.  
What makes a good one?  What makes a bad one?  
How do you organize something to get people working together to improve the neighborhood, without making them feel like you are infringing on their private space?

We want to inspire & aid neighbors in creating good curb appeal.  Practically how is this done?  

It would be nice to have a venue where people can be reminded of neighborly courtesies & hopefully lessen the need to call the police or the animal shelter.

I'd like to organize something so we can all know what sort of work & businesses people have, so we can try to "keep it local".  

I want to get to know people well enough, so that we can be a real blessing to them in their need.  

Tell me your neighborhood experiences.  
What do you think our next step should be in improving our neighborhood?

Saturday, April 17, 2010


My friend Linda did this sweet interview for me & my business!  Check out her blog.  It's pretty cool.  But, not as cool as she herself is.

Picnic Blanket Underway & Boy Apron Complete

I've been doing some sewing this week.
Currently my living room looks like this.
It's going to be a park/beach/picnic blanket.  Most of it is fairly heavy canvas.  I only spent a few dollars on the fabric for this project.  I have had the yellow & green canvas sitting around for a couple years.  They are leftovers from a couple of Father's Day gifts I made for my dad & husband.  I have tons of the gray.  It is leftover from the couch slipcover.  

My friend Julie gave me some of her leftovers - the long printed cotton strips.  The gift of her leftover strips is actually what inspired the picnic quilt.  Seeing them, I thought, I have some cool canvases that match these really well!    
I purchased a quarter yard of the golden floral canvas for a few dollars, just because it seemed totally perfect!

Project complete this week - boy apron.  Peyton has always worn one of Gillian's aprons when we bake.  (She has 3.  That seems like quite a collection for a 3 year old!)  I got this tea towel fabric remnant for $2.  I didn't know what I was going to do with it at the time.  But, one day, it spoke to me.  And, I knew what to do with it.  The straps are from some discarded curtains that another friend gave to me.

I think Peyton looks kinda like a butcher or something now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

All of Them Did it

I've let my other babies play with grungy, needy, patient Murph dog, too.  Not just Moira.
  Look how gross Murphy is.  But, very patient as little Gillian hugs & hugs.
Peyton played with him, too.  He was a little more rough in his affection.  But Murphy's patience remained.
He wants love & affection that badly, that he will put up with just about anything.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cute, but a bit Nasty

Moira loves to snuggle in the dirty dog bed.  It's pretty cute.  
And, pretty gross.  All at the same time.

Smash Your Toilet Paper

I have been reading some grocery budget tips over here at this Raising Olives blog.  I started implementing one of her tricks.  You know when you are in a public restroom and the toilet paper is not a roll, but a flat thing?  It's really annoying, because it is hard to get very much off of it.  Well, now we try to mimic that idea in our house.  Before I put a new roll of toilet paper out, I smash it down flat.
I have a few little ones here who take pleasure in grabbing a hold of the toilet paper & pulling & pulling & pulling.  I am trying to slow that process down & give myself more time to catch them, before the whole roll is wasted.
Oh.  Here they are.  They were going on a morning "boat" ride.  In a bassinet.  They can play like this for a few minutes, happily.  And then, someone pushes someone else or in some way infringes on another's space.  And, screaming ensues.
The boat ride was fun, while it lasted.
When your mom is pinching pennies by being strict with the toilet paper, you have to be even more creative when in search of something fun to do.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Call it What it Is

I recently read a little book by Jay Adams on the Christian Home.  I want to share a summary of the first chapter.  I found it simply profound & profoundly simple.
He compares a Christian home with a non-Christian home.  Every one has problems & issues that they are daily facing.  They may have the same exact struggles & problems.  The difference is what is done about the problems.
Christians must admit their sins.  Call them what they are.
If we believe the Bible, we know that no one is perfect!  I am not.  You are not.  Your spouse is not.  Your kids are not.  We are all sinners.  Don't let it shock you.  Admit to it.  And call it what it is.
Don't try to just brush off a harsh word as, "I was having a hard day."
 "I was just tired, that's why I ignored you & your needs."
 "If you had been nicer, I would've been nicer, too."
"I love you, so it shouldn't matter to you if I did something hurtful; I try my best."
If we make excuses, shift blame & re-name our sin (to somehow sound pleasant), then where is the hope?
Expect there to be sin; in your own life, and in the lives of others.  No one is perfect.
If we can identify the problem as sin, then there is good news!
Jesus Came to Save Sinners
Confess it as sin.  He died to pay the penalty.  And He lives again in victory.  He saved you from your sin & He is saving you from you sins.  Because of Jesus, you have hope.  You don't have to dwell in your live of sin.  He gives victory.  If the Spirit of God is working in you, then He will give you the grace & power to live rightly.  Never perfectly in this life.  But, there will be a progression in righteousness.

He sums up the chapter saying, "The Christian home, then, is a place where sinful persons face the problems of a sinful world.  Yet, they face them together with God and His resources, which are all centered in Christ.  Sinners live in the Christian home, but the sinless Savior lives there too.  That is what makes the difference!"

Friday, April 9, 2010

Our Family History of Baby Carriers

What's new?  Not baby carriers like this one.  They've been around.  
If a parent of teenagers tries to tell you, "You have it so easy now, with these baby carriers & such.  We didn't have stuff like that when my kids were young."  Don't believe them.

Me & Moira 2009

Me cozy & carried by my Momma back in 1980.

My mom made this one.  She did an amazing job with all the buckles & padding & stuff.  It is way more complex than the ones I make now.  The lining fabric is tiny strawberry print.  So cute.  The main fabric is a burgundy corduroy.
I think the brand name type that was similar to this styling was called the Snugli.

Scott on his dad's back - 1976.  

Yep.  Way back then.  They had baby carriers.  And, this one looks nearly identical to the style I use & make now--the Mei Tai Carrier.

Middle Eastern Flavors - Salad

This is a salad we created last week for the Passover Seder meal we attended.  We tried to do something with a Middle Eastern flair.
When I say we, that is because Scott created the dressing in his head, told me about it & I created it for real.

Middle East Inspired Spinach Salad with Creamy Dressing

Creamy Spiced Yogurt Dressing
1 cup Plain Yogurt
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
Splash of Vinegar (Use something subtle; I used champagne vinegar.)
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Dry Mustard
3/4 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1 clove crushed Garlic

Pretty much just whisk all this stuff together in a bowl until well combined.  If it is a little too think, add some more Olive Oil & Lemon Juice &/or Vinegar.
Taste & adjust seasoning, if necessary.  (The We comes into play here, too.  Scott does the tasting & advising as to whether it is good or not.  I am not a taste tester.)

Salad Ingredient Ideas
Spinach (my main green in this salad.
I mixed in other salad greens that I happened to have, too, though)
Sauteed Asparagus
Cherry Tomatoes
Sunflower Seeds
Pine Nuts
Feta Cheese
Red Onions
Roasted Bell Peppers

Throw it in a bowl & eat it!

For another good salad this week, check out Nini's Recipe Rodeo .

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Amy Butler's Comfy Baby Jumper Dress Review

I just completely finished sewing the Comfy Jumper Dress  - out of Little Stitches for Little Ones by Amy Butler.  This is my experience & review of the pattern.  (I hope it's okay to review a pattern that you didn't read all the way...)

I love the way this dress turned out.  It looks really plain & simple in the photos in the book.  But, it has more detailing than I expected.  And there are pros and cons to that!
Don't think that the dress is hard.  It is not.  But, the thing that I found challenging was that some of the little details, that make the dress really cute, weren't shown in any photos or sketches throughout the pattern.  So, I had a hard time understanding them.

Like I said, I didn't read the pattern throughly.  Some parts I just kinda glanced over, cuz I figured I knew what to do.  Some parts I read & read & re-read, and didn't get it.  Here's my experience.

First -
I didn't follow the direction to line the interior with muslin.  I lined the interior in such a way to make the dress reversible.  This is the inside of the dress.  
In the sewing of the bodice, I faced much confusion.  The book has no frontal photos.  So, you don't see this cute little slit neck.  I had never done a neckline like this & was so afraid to go forward with it.  I couldn't fully picture it in my mind.  It was only because of the courage that my friend Tina (of Paisley & Lace) gave me, that I could go forward with the making the frighteningly large cut required.    

See the photo here & be bold.  When she says to sew along the neckline & then follow the sewing line down to the dot & pivot back up; just do it!  But, don't let your stitching lines touch.  When you get to the dot point, make a clean pivot back up.  My lines ran together for a moment just above the pivot point.
If you click on the yellow dress photo above, you can see how that left a little pucked at the bottom of the slit.  This is because, when you clip your seams to prepare to turn the bodice, you must cut all the way down the neck slit.  All the way to the pivot point.  I couldn't quite cut all the way, because I had a couple stitches running in a straight line together, prior to the pivot point.  Oops.  Not a big deal, though.  I just left it.

Next issue with the bodice is the call for sewing a 2 inch band around the base.  I did not get it.  And, decided to forget about it.  I went forward without the band.  And, I am so glad I did.  I love the way it looks without the band.  Maybe it would be cute with a different fabric?  But, with the bands already in the fabric I used in the bodice, it seemed to detract.  Skipped the bodice band.

In keeping with the making the dress into a reversible dress idea, I just ironed the skirt hems to be even with each other (skirt & skirt lining) & hand stitched them together.

The bloomers.  So darn cute and easy.  Amy Butler gives measurements for the elastic.  I would recommend measuring your child, if you can.  Her measurement for the waist band elastic turned out quite loose on my little Mo.  (And I took into account the smallness of my 11 mo old girl by sewing size 6-9 mo, instead of 9-12.)

This dress for a crawler...  maybe not the best match.  One thing is the length.  Long dresses don't always work good for a crawler.  You could shorten it bit, if you want to make it for a crawler.  

The other thing is the shoulder buttons.  (Please note below.  She crawls to me & then pulls herself to standing, catching her foot on the bottom of the dress, hence pulling the snaps at the shoulder.)

My extremely bad choice was to make this dress for a crawler, keep it long and put snaps on the shoulders, instead of a button.  I still think that a long dress with button shoulder connections will be strained too much by a crawler.  But things probably won't get this crazy - 

Oops!  I think she is close to walking.  So, I'll just save it in the closet for the next month or so.

Now, lastly, I will explain the green ribbon.  On the inside & back of the waist band, a small piece of elastic is sewn down to gather that section a bit.  I couldn't figure a way to easily sew this elastic inside the fabric to allow for my dress to still be reversible.  So, I sewed this lovely green grosgrain ribbon around the waist, and over the elastic.  I love the way it turned out.

I do recommend this Amy Butler pattern.  It is really cute.  But, it is lacking in sketches & photos.  Some of us need a little more help picturing things!

The Way She Is

I've been meaning to write some stuff about my eldest daughter.  She is 3 1/2 years old.  She talks most of the time.  If you ask her what her name is, she'll tell you "Gee-in Bythe".  The way that we say that is Gillian Blythe.  
She likes to help around the house & yard.  See her shelling peas.  Her favorite helping job is doing yard work with Daddy, or baking with Mommy.
I've been having a hard time taking good pictures of her lately.  She generally doesn't stop talking.  And, even if she was formerly still, when she sees the camera, she figures an action shot will be best & starts doing something hyper-crazy.  I'm not sure what inspired this dance, other than seeing than the camera.

At the beach yesterday while I was trying to take pictures, she was constantly doing something.  (As her brother was most often pensively watching the goings ons.)  Here she runs excitedly to me, to show me the "lobster plant" she found  

My daughter, Gillian, usually prefers "kid" songs, to most any other music.  It can get tiresome for an adult to listen to only kid music, day after day.  Other than kids songs, she really loves Elton John (Melton John to her)  and Billy Joel.  Here she is singing leave me alone over & over again, from the song, "My Life".

She's a good observer.  She remembers a lot.  I need to watch what I say & all that.  
She asks questions all the time.  She's learning about people being different.  She is always concerned when she sees people without kids.  "Mom, why don't they have kids?!"  I tell her that not everyone has kids.  "Oh! So.  Some people do & some people don't."  That seems to help her.  She states that a lot.  Some people do & some people don't.  It applies to a whole lot of things.
She is a lover of a good paradox.  She tells me, "I'm sick, but I'm not sick".  "That person is patient, but she's not patient."  "I'm tired, but I'm not tired."
If the dogs are smelly from being out in the damp yard, she usually screams like crazy, "Get out of here!  Go away from me, you stinky dogs!  Mom, make them go outside!"
But, sometimes, she doesn't care.  After snuggling with Murphy for a good while, she tells me, "Mom, I still love Murphy, even though he is so smelly."

She is enjoys make believe.  She got a box of Easter treats from Nana.  It included Pez toys.  Gillian has fallen in love with her lamb Pez.  She named her Archeesi.  She talks to her & tells us how Archeesi is feeling & tells Archeesi how much she loves her.  
She likes to play princess & tries to get her brother to be her prince, and dance with her.  
A couple days ago, she was playing something make believe & kept declaring, "It is my destiny!"  

We love our little character!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Forever a Student

It's Monday. Here's my thought on marriage relationships.  Keep learning new things about your spouse.  Don't start believing you know it all!  You can never know everything about someone.  A few weeks back my friend Melissa said that good ways to ignite conversation is to ask a question.  I think that is a great point.

A lot of the time my husband & I may be able to guess what the other one is thinking.  Often one of us will say something, and the other will say, "I was just thinking the same thing!"  And then we'll say something really cheesy & romantic, like, "that's because we are one."  

But, really, the truth is, we can't read each other's minds.  That's good.  Only God knows that much about us.
There will always be something new you can learn about your spouse.  I am sure of it.  Even if your married to someone really boring.

Ask him his opinion.  Ask him stuff about his childhood.  Ask him about his dreams.  Ask him how you can pray for him.  Ask him what excites him.

Sometimes your studying can be silent, too.  You don't need to always ask questions.  That may get annoying if you ask too many questions.  Listening is something that a student needs to do a lot of.  Listen to your spouse.  And learn!

If you want to be positive that there will always be something new to be learnt about you, then keep being a student in all of life.  Be a student of your spouse.  But, be learning other new stuff, too.  That will make you that much broader of a person for your spouse to learn about.  They will have to study you harder.  I think it will make the school of your marriage relationship more exciting.

Alright.  Go do your homework.

Easter Outfits

Taking pictures before we left for church...
I still can't tie the bow tie very well.  It's complicated!  
But, this little tie I made for Easter has little airplanes, helicopters & rockets on it.  Really cute fabric!
Check out Moira's little bloomers!

The skirt I made Gillian is really full, so she loves dancing & twirling in it.  

Moira's face cracks me up!

It was a Happy Easter