Monthly Archives: May 2010

Thursday May 27, 2010

So I ended my last blog with a peppy little speech about “jumping in with both feet”, and “just do it!” and some other such nonsense…

Somewhere in the universe the soapbox gods heard and they paid me a visit.

This sweet, darling, innocent looking dress nearly broke me.

I was fresh off my success with sewing my own dress, so this week I thought I would make Eliza a summer dress.  My husband was sweet and took the children out for an evening, so I pulled out the material and pattern, thinking I could just throw it together.  By the time my husband walked back through the door a few hours later he found my curled up in a corner, clutching the pattern instructions; rocking back and forth. 

No… not really, but I was not the relaxed, happy woman he had hoped for.  So I got the children ready for bed and he sat down to read the instructions.  He carefully and patiently explained the steps I needed to take in order to finish the neckline of the dress.  I responded by slouching in the kitchen chair, crossing my arms and saying, “That cannot possibly be right!”

He was right and before I went to bed that night I had completed the bodice of the dress.  I got up early the next morning and finished the rest.

It is FULL of mistakes.  Slip-stitching that shows through the waistline,  wobbly armholes, AND I sewed the bodice to the skirt backwards!  Yes, the back of the bodice is on the front of the dress.  Fortunately, because the neckline is round, it’s not that noticeable  Even with all it’s imperfections I still love it and have I decide to make this dress at least one more time.  That’s the key.  You have to give a pattern a second chance before you decide to write it off completely.

My other more relaxing sewing project where these little pretties~

I really do like them.  My mom gave me a bag of her raw silk scraps, so I started playing with them and this is what I came up with.  I was going to put hair clips on them and sell them on my Etsy shop, but I like them so much I think I might keep them all for myself!

In other non-sewing related news:

I was cleaning house today and I look up and saw this~

I sprinted to the bedroom to snatch the camera all the while thinking “Please don’t move! Please don’t move!”  They hadn’t.   So I tip-toed up behind them and got some great shots.

Gideon had set up the train set and was using the remote controlled train.  Eliza would lean against him and squeal with delight each time the train came sliding down the hill.

He was equally delighted to be making her so happy.  This one makes my heat melt.

And this guy… his little brain never ceases to amaze me!  He sees the world so differently than I do.  He doesn’t see what is, he sees what can be.  All the glorious possibilities, the fascinating exploration; he thinks like… well, and engineer 

I have continued my quest for a clutter free house and I had a big pile of Good Will items stacked up in the living room.  I saw Jude quietly remove and item from the pile and I was curious to see what he had planned for it.

I saw an unwanted wire rack and he saw a perfectly useful shelf.

Eliza also rescued something from the Good Will pile.

She loves this basket.  She ate most of her meals in it today.

Lastly, just some pictures I liked~

I wish this one hadn’t turned out blurry.  Oh well.

Looking forward to a the end of the week and a three day weekend!

Sunday May 23, 2010

I grew up watching my mom sew.  She made, well– everything.  Quilts, dresses, curtains, stuffed animals, Birthday Banners, costumes; there seemed to be no limit to what she could sew.   I enjoyed my hand made Easter dresses and teddy bears but I never took an interest in sewing until recently. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is… this is all new to me.  I have very little experience, only the basic skills that my mom managed to pass on to me, and a lot of enthusiasm.  Which is what it all really boils down to right?  I’m learning as I go and enjoying the process (most of the time ).  My seam ripper and I are well acquainted with each other.

So I decided it was time to venture into the world of sewing fashion.  I wanted to make myself a dress and I found this pattern…

…on this delightful website.  Meg McElwee is the author of a great book called “Sew Liberated”, and has designed quite a few sewing patterns.  Her blog is beautiful as well.   It is a nice mix of home life and sewing related posts.  I read some reviews of the Schoolhouse Tunic, and they all said it was a good pattern for beginners.  Great!  That’s me!  Jessica, Dani and Trisha bravely volunteered to try the pattern with me.

We had babies and toys scattered all around us as we sewed.  We cleared away blocks, pacifiers, and sippy-cups to make room for our machines and ironing board.  I didn’t get any pictures of me sewing as I was the official photographer for the day, but I did get a few pictures of me in my dress.  Hopefully at some point I can talk the other girls into modeling their dresses for me so I can post them at a later date, but for now here is mine~


I made a few changes to the pattern.  I added 10 inches to the bottom because I wanted it to be a church dress.  I also made a matching belt to draw it in at the waist a little.  The pattern has a dress length and a shirt length.  The hardest part about sewing clothes is taking your measurements… but you have to do it!!  Otherwise, you will put a lot of time into a dress that isn’t going to fit you, which in turn will make you upset and frustrated, and by the next morning your sewing machine may find it’s self in the bottom of a canal (at least that’s the way it played out in my head).   The good news is:  this pattern is roomy so you will probably end up making a size that is very similar to your “store-bought” size.

Jessica came up with an idea for a sleeveless version of the shirt that I thought would be adorable.  She suggested making the shirt, completely lining the bodice (the pattern only has a partial lining) and then leave the sleeves off.   Wear it sleeveless in the summer and in the fall put a plain long sleeved shirt underneath.  It was a well designed pattern that I am eager to try again.  The Schoolhouse Tunic is great because of it’s versatility.  It is easy to change it up and add on different embellishments.  Here are some fun examples of other tunics.

More wardrobe embellishments~

A few weeks ago (make that a month ago) I was trolling the sales rack at Gap when I came across a silk ribbon embroidered t-shirt.  It was beautiful, but still $19.99 on sale!  I know, I know… that’s not a lot of money to pay for a nice article of clothing, but I can’t bring myself to pay that much for a t-shirt because I know at some point, one (or all) of my children will end up using it as a tissue for their nose.  However, right next to the $19.99 shirt was a soft gray plain t-shirt on sale for $5.99.  I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this…

The next morning I started in on my own silk embroidered tee.

I started by cutting out three different sized circles from gray tulle.  I did this for two reasons; 1. To add a little bit of soft texture to the shirt, and 2. To help me keep my flowers circular.

I measured each circle to find the center and then pinned them in place.

I carefully stitched them on and them moved onto the silk ribbon.  You can buy silk ribbon online or at specialty sewing stores (it is no longer available at Beverly’s).  Fortunately I had my mom’s excellent collection to dip into. 

You thread silk ribbon just like you would a regular needle and thread.  I started in the center of the circle from the under side of the shirt; pulling the thread until it was all through.

Then you lay the ribbon flat and position it where you want your petal to lay.  You need to decide how long you want your petal and then stick the needle back down through the ribbon.

Pull your thread until it leaves just a little bit of curled up ribbon at the end and then move onto the next petal, starting again in the center of the flower.

I initially wanted to do a cluster of french knots in the center of each flower but I ran out of ribbon.  Which was kind of a relief because I’m not very good at making french knots.  So I decided to sew some small seed beads on instead.

I always use monofilament thread (which is like fishing line except a lot finer) when I am sewing beads onto an item.

I also added a few vintage applique flowers to the mix.  So there you have it; my $6.00 version of Gap’s silk embroidered tee.

I will finish with one last thought.  Wait!  Let me get up on my soap box first…

Don’t be the person who sits around saying “I wish I could do things like that”.  If something really interests you just do it!!  Jump in with both feet!   It will get messy and you will make mistakes (if your like me you’ll make a lot of them) but in the end you will have gained a whole new set of skills, and have something unique to show for all that work and mess. 

Alright, I’m putting the soap box away (for now).

Wednesday May 19, 2010

We took a fun weekend trip up North to see my Grandma.  It was her birthday and she had not yet met the two youngest members of our clan.  We enjoyed ourselves and as always Kent and Grandma were wonderful hosts who made us feel at home and showered the children with loves, cupcakes, and gifts.

During our stay we visited Glass Beach which is a rocky beach were there used to be some sort of garbage incinerator.  Now the only thing that is left are the thousands and thousands of bits of glass that tumble around in the waves and wash up on shore.  The children had fun looking for treasures and climbing rocks.

I am convinced that it is important for children to do things (especially boys) where there is some element of risk involved.  Otherwise they miss out on that feel of exhilaration and achievement.  

Not the most toddler friendly beach we’ve ever been to but she still had fun!

My parents towed their small trailer up with them and camped out instead of getting a hotel room.  On Saturday night they invited the boys to sleep over with them and they were SO excited.  My dad got Gideon to sleep by telling him stories about the adventures of: “A boy Named Gideon and his Dog Charlie”.  After ever story ended Gideon would whisper, “One more story Grandpa!”  and Grandpa would say, “Okay Gideon… just one more…”

My husband and I were excited about the sleep over too!  We knew Eliza was dead tired so we got some Ben & Jerry’s and planned on a movie and icecream night after she fell asleep.  But Eliza had other ideas~

She wanted to stay up and eat icecream with Mom and Dad!

We took some group pictures on Sunday before we left~

Great family picture don’t you think!?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better!

Dad and Grandma

On the way home we stopped and had a picnic lunch in the Redwoods.

She was very content to sit in the middle of everything and munch on everyone’s lunch.

Regan had a very cozy spot for her lunch!

Sometimes it’s the pictures that you don’t get the really stick with you.  I peeked up over the edge of one those great hollowed out redwood stumps, and saw Gideon and Benny sitting inside (knees pulled up to their chins), swapping stories about “When I was little…”

On the way home we had the brilliant idea to stop off at Ikea to pick up some furniture and storage containers.  By the time we walked out (several hours later) we both had that “Never AGAIN!” look on our faces.  Monday night the furniture was assembled.

He takes great pride in helping his Daddy.

And this is what the little ones did~

Tonight I just needed some space.  I wanted to sit without being asked any questions and without having three children flopped all over me.  I don’t sit down a lot during the day, but when I do my children seem to think that I have run out of things to do.  So in turn, they immediately begin to think up more things for me to do.  I mentioned (in a very tense tone) that I would like some time by myself.  Twenty minutes later I found them like this~

All of them huddled around Jude’s new desk making art work for me.  Silly me for feeling sorry for myself.

Wednesday May 12, 2010

Five years ago (to the day) I became a mother for the first time.

.:Jude Eli:.

When I was a preschool teacher, and newly engaged, we used to sing a song to the children as they napped.  The words were~

“Well I love my baby sweet and fair.  He’s got the sky in his eyes; the sun in his hair.  I rock him to sleep most every night, I sing him this song as I hold him tight…”

I would daydream about a baby boy “with the sky in his eyes; the sun in his hair”, and that is exactly what I got.  I remember taking him home that fine spring day.   To our little house in the peach orchard.  It took both of us just to change his little diaper.  We just couldn’t take our eyes off of him!

We celebrated Jude’s Birthday on Friday.  He wanted an “Army Man” birthday, so I did my best.

The party favors Jude and Grammy painted together.  He really wanted to be apart every aspect of the party planning.

I told my mom “I think I’m just going to make some cupcakes and put some plastic army men on the tops, maybe some green sprinkles”  She said she would take care of the cupcakes and this is what she brought!

Jude was impressed

Eliza girl; helping herself to everyone’s left-overs

Aren’t those pig-tails great!!

Lots and LOTS of happy children on the trampoline!

Uncle Rex trying to convince Regan that the chair was okay to sit on for picture taking.

I once again insisted on a group photo and everyone politely obliged me

I love this picture. 

Daddy got the tractor ready for a hay ride around the property.

Looking lovely while they wait!

Uncle Elliot made sure she didn’t get left behind and she was very grateful.

Pretending to blow out the candles.  It was so windy we just couldn’t keep the candles lit.

This picture pretty much sums up what Jude was like the entire week prior to his party.

This is the last picture I got of the night.  It got so dark my camera wasn’t wanting to take anymore pictures.

After a very long tiring day of party prep, and then party clean up; we got the children tucked into bed and this is what Jude said~

“That was just my pretend party right Mom?  My REAL birthday is on May 11th.  Right?”  That’s my boy!

Sunday May 9, 2010

The weather has been so unreliable this past month.  Sitting here listening to the wind and watching the gray clouds fill the sky; it’s hard for me to believe we started the week with warm sunshine.

We bought a new rotating sprinkler for watering the garden but Jude had other plans for it.  Monday after lunch I set it up in the front yard for the boys to have some fun in…

… and boy did they ever!

I needed to pot up some flowers I had bought for the front porch, so I put Eliza’s shoes on and we went outside with the boys.  I didn’t bother putting a bathing suit on her because I really thought she would mostly hover around the edges of the sprinkle.

You would think I would know my own daughter better than that by now~

Straight for the epicenter.

Yes Auntie Alli, that is her brand new birthday dress she is running through the mud and water in.  Needless to say it got a good long soak in Oxyclean.

The boys at this point, abandoned the sprinkler, stripped down to their undies and jumped on the trampoline.

I like those eyes.  It doesn’t seem fair that a little boy should get such thick, dark, lovely eyelashes.

Eliza decided to conquer the porch steps.

She is such a funny girl.  As a rule, if she is awake; she is on the move.  The one exception to that rule is the 15 minutes after she wakes up in the morning or from her nap.

All she wants to do is snuggle.

I love this time of the morning.  The boys never snuggled with me unless they were very, very ill, and snuggle time was always interrupted by “throw-up-time”.   I am soaking up all the morning love I can get because I know it is slipping… slipping away.

Post snuggle time; waiting for her toast to pop up.

Love this picture!  He helped me clean the bathrooms on Thursday.  No I mean it… he really did help!  He is so diligent and faithful with the tasks he is given, and is usually very cheerful about doing them as well.  He mostly likes to be doing whatever I am doing; I think that’s pretty special too.

Just a little peek at what I have been working on.  Recently, some of my blog reading led me to this fun blog, which in turn sparked my interest in trying my hand at some embroidery.  So I dipped into my mom’s wonderful collection of threads and started yet another project   Eventually, this will be a purse.

I have a big juicy post on some of my sewing projects brewing on the back burner, but I need a few more pictures of the finished products before I’m ready to post!

We celebrated a big Birthday on Friday!

But more on that later.

For now I am going to enjoy what is left of my wonderfully relaxing Mother’s Day.  A wonderful Mother’s Day that included: pancakes for breakfast, hugs and kisses, Chinese food for lunch, new backpacking equipment (for my inaugural backpacking trip, coming up at the end of June) and a restful nap time!