Monthly Archives: May 2014

We make pancakes

 

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He’s my early riser.  The first one to shuffle down the hallway with sleepy eyes and tousled hair.

“I wish we could make pancakes this morning momma.”

So we do.  Because it’s summer and we have no deeds to do, no promised to keep.  We make pancakes; just the two of us.  It’s not often that my second born son gets me all to himself.

I dig through the bottom of the pantry and unearth the griddle.  He gets the Bisquick box out and reads the ingredients.  I measure milk.  He reenacts Chip & Dale cartoons for me.  He doesn’t really know which one is Chip and which is Dale (neither do I for that matter) so he calls them “funny chipmunk” and “funniest chipmunk”.

The pat of butter drops, sizzles and slides across the black griddle.  He grins.

We make pancakes in all different sizes.  He makes “baby pancakes”. I attempt to make a “G” and fail miserably.  We make heart pancakes.  We’re good a heart pancakes.

The rest of the house starts to wake up.  The kitchen is smelling good.  But for a little while it was just the two of us, making pancakes on a slow summer morning.

As the dust settles

 

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When I met my girlfriends for dinner last week Trisha leaned across the table and asked, “Is May trying to kill you?”.  I laughed because that’s exactly what it felt like.  May was trying to kill me.  My house had become a place where we dumped our things, got more things, and ran out the door again.  I’m not a person who can handle that for very long.

But what started out as a hectic month has eased into a deliciously slow pace.  School is out for the year, most of our weekly commitments are ending, and my brain has finally stopped buzzing.  The mornings are wonderful.  We wake up slowly, eat zucchini bread with a generous helping of butter, turn on the music, and stay in our pajamas.

I’m really looking forward to summer!  Trips to the library, swimming, maybe a little camping, Miss P’s 1st birthday, summer fruit, and fireworks… it sounds perfect.  The flower garden is on the verge of taking off which means bouquets all over the house!

So how will you idle away your summer?

 

Working out the kinks

For months now I’ve been pattern searching.  Looking for the perfect dress to make for Miss P’s first birthday.  I wanted it to be simple, summery, and carefree looking.  Nothing too fussy or flouncy.  The fabric I chose for her party dress is a gorgeous bright floral pattern, so I wanted to stick with a dress that had clean lines.

I decided on McCall’s M6944.  A sweet summer dress with coordinating bloomers peeking out from under the skirt.  The finished measurements listed on the pattern were vague, so I decided to make a practice dress just to get the feel for the pattern and work out any sizing kinks.   And this is the finished practice dress-

McCalls M6944 | In An OrchardI love the pattern!  The directions were clear, and it truly was easy to sew.

McCalls M6944 | In An OrchardI added some trim to the waist line just to break up the busy pattern (and to hide some sloppy seams)

McCalls M6944 The bloomers I made in a contrasting fabric.  The bloomers gave me trouble, which seems counter intuitive… they should have been the easiest part of the dress.

The crisscross back was what sold me on the pattern.

McCalls M6944 back

The straps are adjustable and simply button on the inside of the bodice.

McCalls M6944So now we get to the nitty-gritty details.  Just because a pattern sews up nicely and looks good hanging on a hanger doesn’t mean you’re home-free.  Fitting is everything!  And that’s were things started to unravel for this dress.

While I was cutting out the bloomers a little voice inside my head kept saying “Man those look big.  They’d almost fit me.”  But I pushed those thoughts aside and kept sewing.  Sure enough…they’re huge.  MC Hammer’s got nothing on these pants.

McCalls M6944 bloomersThe dress is just too big as well.  It is supposed to be loose fitting, but this has a really big pucker in the back right were the straps crisscross.

McCalls M6944

You can see from this picture how much it sticks out in the back.  Sizing is the most frustrating element of sewing.  Pattern companies all size differently.  The store-bought size your child usually wears is not necessarily the size you will end up making for them.  Miss P is a tall girl and a bit big for her age.  She’s been wearing 12 month clothes for several months now, so I was a little surprised when the size 1 (as it’s called on this pattern) was so loose on her.

McCalls M6944Now I have to decide what to do next.  The pattern has a 6 month size (or as they call it 1/2 size…which is just dumb), but I’m worried that it will still be too big.  The bloomers are just ridiculous and not even worth trying again.  I think I’m going to cut out the smaller size, and make another practice top out of muslin.  I’m going to scrap the bloomers all together and use See Kate Sew’s, bloomer tutorial.  If that doesn’t work, I’ll make her birthday dress using Rae’s tried-and-true Geranium pattern.

I still haven’t given up on the pattern!  I just think she might need to be a little older and a little bigger before it will fit right.

So, the moral of the story: listen to the voices in your head, and make the practice dress out of cheap fabric instead of darling fabric you actually like.  Hopefully this will fit her next summer!

EDITORIAL NOTE:  After reading this post, my friend Aliya, cleared up some of the sizing problems I was having.  The sizes on the pattern are listed like this: 1/2, 1, 2, 3, 4.  I assumed that the 1 was equivalent to a 12-month size.  Aliya explained that the 1/2 is actually the 12-month size.  Which would make the 1 approximately an 18-month size? I guess?

Basic Flower Arranging

 

Basic Flower Arranging

Don’t you just love the flower section at the grocery store?  All those colorful bunches of flowers, packed into buckets of water.  They look so happy and fresh!  So you bring home one of those cheery bouquets, and plop it down in a vase of water.

Basic Flower Arranging

Somehow the effect is always a little disappointing.  That pretty little bouquet that caught your eye in the grocery store suddenly looks a bit disheveled, haphazard, and not quite as charming as you had hoped.

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But not to worry!  It’s nothing that a little bit of arranging won’t fix.  I know it looks like the flowers come pre-arranged but they still need some help.  So here’s a little step-by-step breakdown of basic floral arranging.

Start by opening your bouquet and laying all the flowers out onto the table.  Then sort them into the following three categories~

Basic Flower Arranging Most store-bought bouquets come with some greenery (all the leafy stuff that doesn’t have any flowers), several stems of small “cluster” flowers (meaning multiple-head small flowers), and a few big “showy” flowers (those are your large single flower stems like roses, lilies, large mums, etc).

Once you have them sorted, you want to take each stem and strip away any leaves that are on the bottom section of the stem.  If you can help it, you don’t want leaves submerged in the water.  It makes the water get yucky fast… flowers don’t like yucky water.

Basic Flower ArrangingI also pull off any damaged petals while I’m at it.

Basic Flower Arranging

Now you’re ready to begin arranging.  Start with your greenery.  This bouquet didn’t come with very much greenery, so I placed it all around the lip of the vase.  The rule of thumb with greenery is;  put any drooping greenery around the lip of the vase, and any tall, straight greenery in the center of the vase.  The straight greenery in the center of the arrangement should be slightly taller than the rest of the flowers.

Basic Flower ArrangingStarting with the greenery is important because it will give you the bones of your arrangement. It provides structure for the rest of the flowers.

Now you’re going to choose one kind of the smaller cluster flowers, and start adding them to the greenery.  I chose the purple Status flowers because I have the most of them.  As you add each stem be sure to trim a little of the end off.  The shorter stemmed flowers should go at the base of the arrangement and the taller ones in the center.

Basic Flower ArrangingOne at a time, add the rest of the cluster flowers.  You want to keep the bouquet balanced.  Don’t group all of one type of flower together, spread them out evenly.  Trim the stems as needed.  You want your bouquet to be nestled down into the vase, not standing two inches above it.

Basic Flower Arranging

Once you’ve added all your smaller cluster flowers it’s time to move onto the last type of flowers.

Basic Flower ArrangingNow it’s time for the fun part!  The showy flowers!  Again, add one stem at a time, keeping the taller flowers in the center and the shorter ones around the edge.  You don’t want any one flower to stick out too far, just have all of them nestled together.  It will take a little fussing with.  It’s a good idea to occasionally step back a few feet to see how the arrangement looks over all.

Basic Flower ArrangingAnd there you have it!  Not too hard right?

Here’s a little side-by-side comparison-

Basic Flower ArrangingI think the extra effort is worth it but maybe that’s just me.  I like playing with flowers.

Another bonus for the extra TLC; it helps your flowers last longer!

Basic Flower Arranging

Although if I had to choose, I think I prefer the carefree look of garden flowers, spilling out of pitchers or Ball jars.  No fuss, no particular color scheme, just lots and lots of pretty blooms!

Garden Flowers | InAnOrchard

But my most favorite of all, are the little arrangements that are picked with small grubby hands.  The flowers with the stems that are almost too short to get into a vase, the ones that a may or may not be weeds… but are given by blue-eyed boys with lots of love.

Favorite Flowers