Monthly Archives: February 2011

Friday February 25, 2011

{like the clever title}

Yes my Midwest, East Coast friends… spring has arrived in sunny California.  The almond blossoms are out in full force, the wild flowers are blooming, bulbs are sprouting and the hill sides are oh-so green!  Don’t worry though, we’ll get what’s coming to us come October.  You will all be enjoying the beautiful fall colors, and crisp cool weather, while we are still sweltering in a parched, brown valley.

Justin had Monday off so we went for a picnic and a hike in the foothills.  Knights Ferry is a small historic town located not far from were we live.  It has a beautiful picnic area next to a river.  On the river is the remains of an old mill as well as the longest covered bridge in Northern California.


We went with Grandma and Grandpa W.


I know someday I will look at this photo and think “Look how little he was!”, but now I just look at it and think how grown up he is looking.


The Sierra Nevada Foothills are stunning this time of year.


This is what is left of the old mill.


Inside the Knights Ferry covered bridge.


We took a small hike along side the river.  The boys had so much fun scampering over the boulders. 


Eliza girl kept up so well.  Justin and I only needed to carry her a couple of times when the path got rough. The rest of the time she was trotting right behind her brothers.  It was a beautiful day and the kids slept hard that night

Speaking of spring~


Tee Ball fever has hit our house hard!!  Justin and I took turns fielding ground balls until the sun went down the other evening.  Jude’s shiny orange bat, and box of fresh balls have been his constant companions this week… and he hasn’t even started practice yet!  I can’t imagine what he’s going to be like then

Justin is bringing home take ‘n’ bake so my weekend is looking very promising!!

Tuesday February 22, 2011

I have always made an effort to keep my blog lighthearted.  I stick to the simple things in life, what we are doing, humorous stories about the children, the occasional recipe or sewing project…  I have never been very comfortable expressing my personal or spiritual thoughts ( and even as I type this I am reluctant).  The written word is so stark and unforgiving, but I’ve had something on my heart for a while now and I haven’t been able to shake it.  So I will speak plainly and quickly.

Generally speaking, when I hear women discussing other women it is usually done in one of two ways. 
{Obviously these are exaggerated a bit for the sake of example}

“Oh she is SO wonderful!  Everything she does is so perfect and effortless.  I wish I was more like her.  I feel so guilty and inadequate.” 

OR

“Can you believe her?!  Who does she think she is?  God’s gift to motherhood?  I’m sorry but nobody’s that perfect!”

So often these conversations are laced with guilt, envy, suspicion, or anger.  We look at these woman and we put them on pedestals, or we frantically look for the chink in their armor… not to protect, but to expose and rejoice, “SEE!  She’s not all that she’s cracked up to be!” 

If you don’t hear another word I say please hear this:
Do not waste another nanosecond of you life ridiculing or envying another woman’s life. 

She is running her own race using the gifts that God has given her, and carry with her burdens and sorrows that you know nothing about.  As wives and mothers our days may seem filled with laundry, dinners, sippy cups and diapers, but the truth is everyday we stand on a battlefield.  We know the enemy.  We know he is real.  Satan wants our marriages to fail.  He wants us to feel alone and defeated.  He wants our children to wander this earth faithless and hopeless.  We will not make it by ourselves.  We need each other.  Together and united we are unstoppable.  Not only are we a force to be reckoned with now but we are raising the next generation of saints.  But when our focus is taken off of the enemy and turned on each other we leave the most vulnerable among us exposed.

I could list the scriptures about envy, anger, jealousy and strife.  I could call them for what they are, but I won’t.  I’m a practical woman and the bottom line is: we don’t have time for this nonsense.  We have been given this one life, this ONE chance, and we have to make the most of it.  The road is long and difficult and the stakes are high.  We don’t have time for pride or apathy.  I have wasted too much precious time and I don’t want to do it anymore…

You are my sister.  I will not idolize you.  I will not despise you, but I will run with you.  I will protect you, and together we will finish strong.

Saturday February 19, 2011


Ever since I was a little girl I have loved embroidery.  Both my mom and my grandma did needlework.  I loved watching them make neat little stitches along the lines they had sketched on the fabric.  I would sit and arrange the thread; red, orange, yellow, green, blue…

When I was young; Mom let me trace my own pictures and taught me a basic back stitch.  I would sit and stitch to my heart’s content.  Over the years my skills have not advanced much.  I’ve learned a handful of other basic stitches and they have served me well.  Lately, I’ve been exploring some of the embroidery blogs on Blogspot and wishing I was more adept, but a hobby that involves sitting down for long lengths of time with needles and scissors, is not compatible with small children in the house.  Someday…

However, for the last few months I have been working on these~

Jude loves drawing and I am smitten with his pictures.  I have saved a lot of them in a folder but I wanted to take a few of my favorites and embroider them onto cloth.  I chose a selection of drawings that wouldn’t tax my embroidery skills to much :)


When I am finished with them all, I’m going to frame them and group them together on a wall in the house.


This one is particularly special to me.  It was the first picture Jude drew by himself.  Not just random scribbling with one color, but he took his time and drew little men in all different colors all over the page.  I had the picture hanging up on his bedroom wall but it was already getting a bit tattered and faded.  That’s when I came up with a more permanent solution for the picture.  As you can see I’m only half finished with this one.


I start by making a photocopy of the picture and I darken the color.  Then I tape it to the window and then  tape the material over the paper.  I lightly trace the drawing onto the fabric with a pencil.


This is the latest one I am working on.  It was Tuesday after breakfast when Jude pulled out his paper and pencils and wrote out his entire alphabet.  I fell in love with all the loopy letters.  Some capitalized, some lower case.  I wanted to capture that perfectly imperfect alphabet forever.  I can’t wait to see it all done!

The storm clouds have been rolling over the valley all week long.  I am trying to take advantage of being indoors by cleaning out, and organizing closets.  It is such a slow, tedious process but I am determined to rid our house of clutter! 

One of those rainy mornings Grandpa came over to play.  Work has been slow for my Dad for the better part of a year now.  Unemployment has it’s drawbacks… specifically the “not getting a paycheck” part, but it also has it’s advantages too.  Like the undying adoration of a little girl who lights up every time she sees her Grandpa’s car coming down the lane!  He has been able to spend so much time with the children this past year and I am so thankful that.

They read all the of the library books.  “Weed one more Gampa!”, she would say.
 

They put every puzzle in the house together.


I would walk by the door and see my Dad sprawled out on the floor playing with cars and Little People.  He stayed all the way through lunch and shared sandwiches, yogurt and pretzels with them.  These are the memories that are building strong foundations.


She played so hard  I found her passed out in the middle of her room


Amidst all of the other projects I have going I’m also in the middle of making church totes for the children.  I’ll try to post pictures of them when they’re finished!

Have a happy weekend!  Our weekend is extra long, so hopefully we can find something fun to do before it is over.

Monday February 14, 2011

It has been a week of celebrating~


Jude’s first school Valentine’s Day party.  I was volunteering that day and I felt like an excited 5-year-old all over again!  Heart “mail boxes” hung on the wall stuffed full of cards, candies, and trinkets.

Mrs. Boone even managed to teach reading, language and math that day… even with a very distracted class.

They ended the day with cupcake decorating and a small party on the playground.

Saturday night Grandpa and Grandma W. watched the children so Justin and I could go out for Valentine’s Day.  Justin offered to take me to a movie and dinner downtown.  He threw out a variety of suggestions, until I bashfully admitted I fancied a trip to Ikea for shopping and meatballs.  So that’s what we did!  Hung out, laughed, shopped, and ate our fill of Swedish meatballs.  We made it through the whole store with only a small cart full, but as we walked up to the checkout I said “Hey, let’s take a look at the ‘as is’ section.”  There’s almost never anything good in the “as is” section but not this time.  This time we scored!


Justin spotted this table.  I’ve been looking for a new kitchen table.  I wanted it to be simple.  No fussy finishes that have to be pampered, no ornate carvings that will only end up housing gooey crud… just simple and tough.  I think this fits the bill nicely.


My Valentine’s day flowers!  I could get use to having a massive bouquet sitting on my kitchen table.


We found some lamps to help brighten our dimly lit living room.

We also found a new bed frame for our room.  I didn’t take a picture because the bed was so heaped with laundry you could hardly see the new frame

And today Grandma W. hosted a Valentine’s Day lunch.

The tables were set beautifully!

 
She made strawberry playdough and set up a play area out in the garage.


The meal was delicious and the boys were impressed with the heart-shaped sandwiches and jello.


After lunch they all ran outside to play with their mini pinwheels. 
 


Grandpa got a warm reception when he came home for lunch


Remember the lovely table setting in the previous picture?  This is what it looked like when they children were done with lunch

It’s been a great Valentine’s Day!  We are home tonight enjoying a warm fire, each other’s company and brownie Sundaes… yum.

Oh, just a little side note:  two of my favorite sewing blogs (madebyrae and made) are teaming up to do their annual “Celebrate the Boy Month”.  They put together a full month of awesome projects and tutorials for boys.  I love it!  If you have boys running around your house… you should stop by and check it out!

Wednesday February 9, 2011

After a whirlwind week of meeting so many new friends on Xanga I thought I should use my manners and properly introduce myself; tell you a little about me.


This is my husband.  My high school sweetheart.  His father married us on a perfect day in June, back when I was a 22-year-old slip of a girl (but that is a story for another day).  He sings hymns at the top of his lungs, he is fiercely loyal, and he makes beautiful babies.

   
These are the faces I wake up to every morning.  What can I say about motherhood?  It has made me strong.  Stronger than I ever thought I could be.  It has also made me vulnerable in a way that sometimes overwhelms me.  It has forced me to come face to face with my weaknesses and failings.  It has made the world around me a brighter and better place.


This is our home.  We bought this double-wide trailer and 3 acres of dirt almost 2 years ago.  We signed the papers in the hospital the day after I gave birth to Eliza.  It needs a little work.. okay a lot of work.  But we are having fun, playing in the dirt, building memories~


I spend a lot of time here.  Thinking. Praying. Brainstorming.


This is one of my favorite rooms in the house.  This is were the creativity happens.  This is how I keep my brain from turning to mush.


Be still my beating heart!


I collect cake plates.  All kinds.  If there’s a more frivolous thing to collect, I don’t know what it would be

I love daffodils, and getting my hands dirty.  I’m a doer. I am most happy when my hands are busy.  Give me a task, give me a chore, but don’t ask me to sit around twiddling my thumbs.

The name of my blog, inanorchard, was chosen when I first started blogging and we lived in our little house in the peach orchard.  I love this house.  So many precious memories.  

Bringing Jude home from the hospital on the first warm day in May, and 20 months later (on a cold raining day in December) we brought Gideon home too.


We took countless walks through the peach orchard.

 
Puddle jumping and first birthdays… so many good times at that little house. 

Once upon a time I was a preschool teacher and then a nanny, but now I stay at home with the children, and I feel tremendously blessed to be with them each day.  My blog is really quite simple.  Just the everyday hum of our little world.  Recording all the  things I don’t want to forget, celebrating milestones and small victories, and occasionally I share some of my own projects.  So there you have it… that’s me in a nutshell… a little look into my world.

Monday February 7, 2011

You would think that after working on Valentine’s day projects for the better part of a month, that I would be tapped out.  But no, we’re still going strong, havin’ a ball!  Besides, I just had to try Rachel’s Valentine’s boxes.


We emptied our matchboxes (and incidentally I will not have to put “matches” on my shopping list for a good while).


They went to town with these little boxes.  Eliza mostly ate glue… and I think probably a few stickers as well.


Gideon was in heaven.  He loves little things. He loves little candies, and putting little things inside of little boxes.  I could just see his little heart going pitter-patter


Then again, my heart’s kind of going pitter-patter too.

 
And lastly, just for fun… a few shots of “Super Baby”.  Justin had gotten her ready for bed the night before and decided to save me some laundry by leaving her in her leggings and, what do you call those?… bloomers?  underwear covers?  I don’t know.  Anyway, she looked like some sort of tiny Caped Crusader, running around my kitchen, ready to rid the world of injustice… right after a good nap.

Sunday February 6, 2011

Here’s a quick peek back at the week’s fun~


Valentine’s Day Treat boxes from Rachel

Now here’s were I pretend like I’ve accomplished something truly monumental and give my “thank you speech”

All teasing aside.  While I have no problem poking fun at myself, I would not want to take away from the sincere delight and gratitude I feel at this moment.  All I can say is “thank you” from the bottom of my heart, to each and every one of you who took the time to stop by and leave a kind, encouraging comment.  And recommending my posts to others (that’s a first for me).  Thanks to Jessica who saved my Conversation Flower Pots, and to Amber (grace2be)  for sending so many people my way.  Last but not least a big thanks to Rachel (foreveranoatneygirl) for the lovely tutorial she put together for Valentines Week.  I am looking forward to getting to know all of my new Xanga friends better!

And that’s a wrap!  I’ll see you next week
~ April

P.S  I would be tickled pink to see pictures of your creations!

Saturday February 5, 2011

I’ll be honest.  I’m not entirely sure what a tea towel is, or if these towels meet all the “tea towel specifications”.  I mostly just like saying “tea towel”.

I like having nice kitchen towels to hang up when company comes over.  Not the everyday towels that have crusted cheese sauce, and burn marks on them… but pretty towels.  So I made these Valentine’s Day inspired towels.  I used plain white cotton towels that I purchased from my local fabric store, but you can use any kind of kitchen towel you prefer.

To make the red and pink pieced towel, I raided my fabric stash and pulled all of my red and pink scraps out.  I like using a variety of hues and patterns.

 *I apologize for the quality of these pictures.  I made these towels while we stayed at a cabin and I didn’t have a lot of natural light to work with.*

First I cut all of the fabric into long strips.  They ranged in width, from 1.5 inches to 3.5 inches.


After that I cut all of the strips into 5 inch lengths.


As you can see from this picture, the pieces are different widths but all 5 inches tall.  I arranged my pieces in the order I wanted to sew them together.


Starting from the right side, I picked up my first two pieces and laid them right sides together.


I carried them over to the sewing machine and made a 1/4 inch seam on the right side of the blocks.


Iron them flat and keep adding pieces (right sides together) to left side of of the fabric.  Be sure to iron each piece, before you add another.


Keep going until it is just slightly longer than your towel.  It needs to be at least a half an inch longer than your towel.


It should look like this.


Next fold the top and bottom edges of the material down 1/4 of an inch and iron it flat.


Fold the right and left and sides under as well and iron them.


I used my ruler and pencil to trace a line along the bottom edge of the towel (it’s about three inches from the bottom).


Then I lined up my strip of pieced material with the line I had traced, and I pinned it in place.


Topstitch all around the edges of the material.


I used a variety of embroidery thread and and hand stitched down the length of each individual piece.  If that sound unbearable tedious to you, then I give you permission to use your machine   I do think this step is necessary though.  Otherwise, after a few washings your material might start to droop and pucker.
 

I  wouldn’t mind having these hanging on my oven when company arrives

I didn’t do a complete tutorial for this towel.  But if you are interested in making this version, it’s super simple.  I gathered up about a dozen different coordinating fabrics and ironed a 5 x 5 square of
Heat ‘n’ Bond (just like I used for the heart clips on day 2) to the back of the material.  Then I cut heart shapes out of fabric, and ironed them in a row along the bottom edge of the towel.  I hand stitched around each heart using embroidery thread, but again, you could simply use your machine to stitch around each heart (I think a zig-zag stitch works nicely for this).  I also added a row of teal rick-rack just below the hearts. 

I also thought it would be fun to turn these into aprons.  Add a calico sash to the top and you’ve got a spiffy looking apron!

Have a great weekend and happy sewing!
~April

Friday February 4, 2011

 

On a cold, gray January day I was walking between the clothes racks at Marshal’s, admiring all the beautiful spring tops.  Long, flowing, lacy tanks and tees in the yummiest rose, cream, and peach hues.  I wanted to pile them all into my cart but I was supposed to be buying church shoes for Jude, so I pressed on.

When I got home I raided my drawers and dipped into my “lace stash”.


A few months ago my friend Susan dropped off a bag of lace at my house, much to my delight it was full of hand crocheted lace, doilies, and lots of other “vintage” style laces.


I also found some tanks and a t-shirt to dress up.

I started with my rose colored tank top. 


I folded it in half and made a crease in the center of the neck line.


I centered the doily and folded it over the neckline and pinned it in place.


I stitched right along the curve of the neck.


Then, I pinned the bottom of the doily and stitched that in to place.

 
It doesn’t get any simpler than that!

For my next “Romantic top” I used some of my extra wide lace.

I cut it into 5.5 inch strips.


On the unfinished edges I did a narrow double hem, by folding it once and ironing it, then folding it over again and ironing one more time.


I carefully top-stitched the hem and repeated these steps with the other lace strips.


On two strips of lace I simply zig-zaged the top edge but on one piece I did another double hem.
Next, I did a basting stitch along the top edge of each lace strip.  To do a basting stitch, you simply adjust the length of your stitches to the longest stitch, DON’T back-stitch, and leave plenty of thread at either end.
 

Take the basting thread and gently pull on it.  This will gather up the lace and make it ruffly.


Pin your lace ruffle in place and stitch it onto the tank.  I pined my first layer about two inches from the neckline.


Place the next piece of lace on top of the first, and stitch that into place.  The last piece of lace will be pinned right under the neck line.  Make sure you use the lace that has the finished edge for the top piece.


All finished!


For this one I simply placed lace along the neckline of the shirt and stitched it on.


Have you met this girl?  I call her “mugshot April”.

 
I love the way they look tucked under a sweater!

I made these for myself using shirts and lace I had on hand, but they would be a lovely Valentine’s gift for a sister, or a girlfriend.  Check the clearance racks for plain colored tees and tanks and add your own personal touch to them.  It’s a simple, easy, unique, and cost-effective gift!

If this doesn’t get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day, then I’d say you a hopeless cause

Thursday February 3, 2011

A special guest post from~  Rachel, of- foreveranoatneygirl

Rachel is one of my favorite Xanga bloggers.  I love the easy and sincere way she communicates her thoughts.  I have smiled and laughed at her many adventures in motherhood, been inspired by the hospitality her extends to those around her, delighted with her sewing and decorating projects, and admired her strength of character which is easily mistaken for sweetness. 

And when I cooked up this crazy idea for a week of Valentine’s Day projects, I immediately thought of Rachel.  Who in turn, put together this excellent Valentine’s Day project to do with your children.  I LOVE it!  I’ve already got my list of supplies together so the boys and I can make them next week.

Now, I will turn it over to Rachel

So, when I was thinking about what my children would give for their little
Valentines to their friends, I wanted something new.  Something original.
Something cute.  Something we could make ourselves.  Something they would be
excited about the prospect of doing.

One day in some blog surfing, I came across a site, and instantly knew this
was going to be what we would make. (that said, this is not my original
idea, just one i borrowed and made ‘us’)

The supply list is quite simple:

matchboxes, paper, crayons/markers/ stickers if you want, string, glue,
scissors/paper cutter, and some holiday colored candies.

Empty the contents of the matchboxes.

Cut paper strips the width of the boxes, and about 6-8″ in length.

You can use colored paper, scrapbook paper, or just plain white paper.  We
used a variety of both plain paper and scrapbook papers.  The kids loved
making little designs, writing little messages, and coercing mommy into
drawing a few pictures and hearts for them to adorn.  They used some
stickers on some of them….

After the papers are decorated/colored to your liking, glue them onto the
outside of the matchboxes, and let them dry.

After the boxes are dry, fill them with your candy of choice.

Tie them up with string, and TA-DA!!

Cute little Valentine’s Day boxes for your little ones to share with their
friends.

Rachel