Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Church Outfits for the Girls

I know I haven't been on here much recently. My sewing pile has been getting whatever time I can give it. In the last week and a half I've finished 3 skirts, and 3 blouses. Each of the girls have a new spring/summer church outfit now. I'll make them each another skirt out of whatever material I have for another nice outfit, but at least they have something seasonal to wear now.

The tops are made from the Regency Blouse pattern by Ringger Clothing. The skirts are my own design.

I'm now working on two slips for each of the girls, which are pretty quick and easy, and then it is on to the May Sewing List.... Birthday gifts and a wedding quilt. Whew!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Secret Love

I'm finally admitting it. I have a secret love. I don't remember when it all started, but I saw one blog here and another there, off and on over the last several years. My interest has grown and I finally took the plunge to indulge.

Vintage dresses.

I just love it how "back in the day" (and I mean '30s, '40's, even 50's era) how women weren't afraid to be women, know what I mean? I don't do my housework with heels and pearls on, don't worry. But whatever happened to a nice "work dress"? Maybe it is just me, but being dressed went from looking clean and neat to frumpy. I know, it's my own personal taste. As a home schooler I am at home a lot, and can easily slip into the "it doesn't matter how I look" syndrome. I'm not a sweat pant type person, so it's never gotten that bad. My usual attire is denim skirt with a nice top, or one of my corduroy skirts with a decent top.

I have always had this psychological effect as to how I am dressed. When I want to have a productive day, I dress it. I don't wear my grundgie gardening clothes. I put on a decent skirt and top, some earrings, make sure my hair and teeth are brushed, and tackle the day.

In contrast, after I have had a baby, I've learned that for those few days you are supposed to take it easy I have to dress it. In other words, I stay in pj's. If I am in my pj's, then my brain knows to slow down, and take it easy. I know, I'm weird, but I'm not afraid to admit it.

I've been visiting The Opulent Poppy blog. First of all, she is from Maine. Love her already. :) Second of all she is a very talented seamstress. I love to see the patterns she drafts and executes with panache. Thirdly, she loves the 1930's vintage type dresses and can copy them convincingly.

I'm not very good at drafting patterns, so I turned my attention to Ebay. I window shopped for a long time, then finally took the plunge.

With all the family sewing and wedding quilts I need to do right now, these patterns will just have to simmer in the back of my imagination until later this summer when the opportunity arises to do something with them.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hello Long Lost Friend

13 long years. Actually it was longer than that, if you count the several months of rapid gaining. However, almost 13 years ago I gave birth to twins. And while they have been a joy and a blessing, there was something I lost when I went through that pregnancy.

My waistline.

Most of you know that in January 2010 I started living a healthier life style. I don't diet. I choose to live healthy, day by day, with treats scattered throughout. I exercise regularly.

I don't consider myself a fanatic, and everything I do now is basically for two reasons.
1.) To be able to keep up with my kids.
2.) As preventative measures against adult onset diabetes and heart problems, both of which run rampant in my family.

At any rate, I recently bought some new ribbed sweaters for the girls and I from Chadwicks. They were on clearance, and we indulged. I hadn't worn mine yet, and when I put it on this morning and looked in the mirror, I saw something I haven't seen in almost 14 years.

My waistline!

Okay, it isn't tiny, or Twiggy-like, but it is definitely there. I was actually giddy over that.

Oh, and by the way, the sweater I had on was a Medium. I hadn't seen that size in a long time either. I keep forgetting that I don't have to look in the 1X or XL sizes anymore. I have a pair of exercise legging that literally fall off me all the time because they are 4 sizes to big. I wear them for pj's now, but I wore them when I first started down this road a little over year ago, and they fit fine. Now... well, let's just say I'm not sorry.

While Dale was on lay off in February and part of March, I did a closet cleaning. I got rid of 2 garbage bags full of clothes that were too big on me. I had held on to them for a bit, for "just in case". I decided that was foolish. I don't want a safety net. If I fall off the wagon and start gaining weight, my medium sized clothing getting tight will be enough of a reminder to get back on track. So, out the big clothes went. That was a very good day.

I've hit a nasty plateau, but I'm okay with it. The weather is improving and I'm getting in all different kinds of exercise, and even if it takes a while, the principle is the same. No matter what the scale numbers say, I'm doing the right thing. There is no doubt in my mind about it.

Just want to encourage the many others I know who are on the same journey. Keep up the good work, and don't stop, no matter what! Even if the scale isn't moving doesn't it feel good to know you are making healthy choices that will benefit not just you, but your family?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Going Green

Well, no more than usual...

Just so happens we had an opportunity this week to expand on our usual "greenness".

We recently had the van inspected, and though it passed, there were several little things that needed attention. The horn hasn't worked for a while, the power steering had a small leak, and it was time for a transmission flush.

The mechanic's, called Finish Line, is about 5 miles from our house. We are still a one vehicle family, and it seemed like no one was available to get a lift from, and the work they had to do would take most of the day, so Dale decided to bring his bike down in the back of the van and ride home after dropping it off. Now, 5 miles on a bike isn't too bad, especially as it is easy riding from here to there, or there to here,as it were. However, Dale ended up taking Elizabeth's bike because his was buried in the way back of the shed, and the tires needed pumping, etc. Not a big deal except Elizabeth's bike is a tad small for his 6'2" frame, and made the ride home a bit more challenging than if he was on his own 10 speed. He made it however, in 27 minutes, and could still function throughout the rest of the day.

Time went on. This week we have been doing standardized testing, which we finished up Tuesday. There was a time of near panic when Isaac came over to the table and managed to spill my FULL cup of tea all over the testing materials. After calming down and looking it over, the damage wasn't near so bad as I had imagined, and we were able to get the testing done. The brunt of the spill was soaked up by two of the test books, and we were able to dry them with a hair dryer, and still use them. One answer sheet was hit, but not too badly, and after a light ironing, looked good as new. Well, maybe more like good as "used", but it should be okay still.

Yesterday I devoted the day, since Dale was home and I could concentrate on what I was doing, on ordering new school books for next term. Everyone seems to have a sale on right now until tax day, so we wanted to take advantage of it. We are doing things a little bit different next year, but I managed to plow through it all and was done by 3:30 or so.

We still hadn't heard back from the mechanic's. By 5pm or so, Dale was wondering if he should just plan on riding down in the morning to pick it up. He called and they said that they should be done by around 6:15. Our Wednesday night church starts at 6:30, and that was cutting things way too close. I mean seriously, when has anyone working on any vehicle ever gotten done by their estimated time? So, I volunteered to ride down and wait. Benjamin asked if he could go with me, and I figured the company would be good, so we bundled up against the mist (it had been raining all day off and on lightly) and we were off. I told Benjamin to time us.

Before we left they had raised the seat to Elizabeth's bike a bit. That makes for easier peddling, and tilted the seat back properly, as it was loose before. It was a nice ride, and I quite enjoyed it. If the seat was a tad more comfortable I could have biked a lot longer. Anyway, we made it to the mechanics in 21 minutes.

As we walked in I told him we were there for the big van and he said "Oh, I just talked to your husband... it's going to be at least another hour." No problem. Benjamin and I made ourselves comfortable. I doled out the trail mix bars I packed in my fanny pack for such a time as this. We read magazines, chatted, and Benjamin got a kick out of watching them work on the few vehicles in the shop through the big windows in the waiting area. It was 7:30pm before they were done. We got home 5 minutes before the troops came in from church.

The point of this is that I realized how "freeing" it was to be able to bike to where I needed to go, instead of relying on a vehicle that burns money, um, gas. Living out in the boon docks like we do, we end up having to drive pretty much everywhere. But it was fun to NOT have to do that for a change.

We do try to do what we can to be kind to the enviornment. We do believe we should be responsible with what God has provided for us. We don't go overboard, and what we do has to be within our finicial abilities... in other words, no going in debt to go green. We use cloth napkins a lot, cloth diapers, real plates MOST of the time (though there are times we use paper, just not our normal SOP), recycle, and try to "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without". We have 7 children, one in diapers still, and I have noticed that our trash pick up is no more and many times noticably LESS than our neighbors, who have only one or 2 children. Plus we put out the trash for the church, as well. Not too bad, I'd say!

With all the brain work and leg work going on this week I haven't made much progress on my sewing. The Spring Fling quilt is almost ready to be sandwiched. I worked on piecing the back, using up the scraps from the front some, and just have a couple of easy seams left. They are pinned and ready to go, then I can sandwich and baste the quilt together, and get quilting!

I'll be finishing cutting out the twins' birthday bathrobes, and starting to cut out our spring/summer church outfits. I'm trying to make the bathrobes on the sly, even though they picked out their own fabric. While they are outside, I can work a few minutes on them. Meanwhile, I have a wedding quilt to finish. I'm nowhere near done with that! That is due at the end of May. YIKES!

I'll post pics of the Spring Fling quilt as soon as it is done. MY hopes are by the end of this weekend, but the way things are going here, that may be an unreasonable expectation.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Baby Girl Quilt and Spring Fling update

Just wanted to say a "CONGRATULATIONS" to my dear friend Shellee (who comments here frequently) on the arrival of their newest blessing! We are so happy for you my dear friend!

Also wanted to "jeer" a certain man with the initials D.W. for a misleading Skype status message while we were waiting with bated breath to hear the good news. Shame on you! LOL!

I hadn't posted a picture of the baby quilt made for her yet, as I was waiting for them to get and open the package. I got such confirmation yesterday afternoon, in the same email that let us know she was in labor. Major KUDOS to the postal service. It took only 3 business days to get from here to there. Impressive! And... just in time!

Just for a little surrealism, Dale talked to my friend's husband... the naughty D.W mentioned above, around 9:30 pm, April 5th, our time (last night). He was given the stats and name of the baby girl, and told she was born at 5:31am, April 6th.

You may have to have more coffee and reread that to get it. Don't you just love time differences?

Here is the baby quilt I sent. It is made with leftover material from the flannel nursing gown.

Why is it cats think that every quilt is for them? Don't worry, I never let him get on the quilt. And no, even though Dale encouraged it, I didn't send the cat with the quilt to Japan.

The Spring Fling quilt is coming along nicely. I hope to have the top done by this weekend. I may even be able to spend Sunday afternoon quilting.

Here is the first block. I love the twirly design!

I'm hoping to get all the secondary blocks pieced today.

I was blessed to meet up with a friend yesterday and go for a nice long walk and chat and catch up with her. She is a fellow quilter, and it is fun to "shop talk" with her. But more than that, she is a good friend, and our conversations always leave me feeling invigorated and uplifted. When I got back, Dale informed me that his mom and called and they had a nice long conversation. She told him that our neice, Sara, who got married a year and a half ago, is expecting! You know what that means.

Yup, another quilt.

She isn't due until the middle of November, and I'm planning to wait until we know what the gender is before I even start, so I have plenty of time.

For those keeping score, that is 3 wedding quilts and a baby quilt, along with all the other sewing I'm doing, to make this year.

So why am I taking time to make the Spring Fling quilt?

Beats me. I just love the colors and want it for when we can sit out on the swing in the cool spring evenings.

So there.

This has nothing to do with anything, but I took this recently when I went in to wake Isaac up from a nap. He looks so cute and peaceful!

Enough rambling for me. Time to get to some sewing!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Girl's Day Out

The twins and I recently had an impromptu, fun, "girl's afternoon out". It started by us having to go up to the mall to pick up their new glasses. After we did that little errand we walked around the mall a bit. I'm not much of a mall rat, but it was fun to just hang out for a while with my oldest girls.

I am NOT a shopper. I don't usually like to just go to the mall to hang out. That just isn't my thing. However, I did need some new shoes for church, so when we went into one of the kazillion shoe stores, the girls got a kick out of watching me trying to pick out a pair of black dress shoes. Honestly, you would have thought that it effected the state of the Nation. I didn't realize how long it was since I had had to buy shoes!

Anyway, I wasn't going to pay full price, so I stuck to the clearance aisles. That can be complicated. You find something you like, but all they have left are some rather odd colors. Or they have every size but the one you wear. Or there are two left shoes in a box, and no one seems to know where the right foot shoe may be. Or you try on the perfect pair only to find they are horribly uncomfortable. All the while I was hunting for a pair of decent black shoes that didn't look hideous, I kept eyeballing a really cute pair of brown shoes. I just couldn't keep my eyes off them!

After an eternity of hunting, I finally found a really cute pair of black shoes. A right foot and a left foot in the box, and in my size! I tried them on and ... they fit and felt wonderfully. Mission accomplished.

There was just one little problem.... those adorable brown shoes. They kept calling out to me. Is it my fault that they leaped into my arms as I walked by with the black shoes? What is a body to do?

Dale just rolled his eyes as the girls told him about my adventures in the shoe store. I told him... "Look on the bright side... they were both on clearance, so it was like getting two pairs for the price of one!" Somehow, that didn't impress him.

While we were walking the mall, we stopped in the Gertrude Hawk candy store. If you want some sinfully delicious chocolate, this is the place to go. They have a lovely assortment of all manner of delectable treats. I treated the girls, and myself ( naughty, I know... but I had skipped lunch and we WERE doing all that walking, so it got burned off, right?) each to a candy bar. I got mint chocolate, Esther got Krispies Krunch, and Elizabeth got Almond Toffee. We traded bites, and enjoyed our treats until, just as Elizabeth and I were stuffing the last bites of our candy into our mouths, Esther said in her sweet way, "I think I'll save the last section for Daddy."

Elizabeth and I stopped mid-chew and looked wide-eyed at each other.

"Mmmfm mfmfm ffmfmgmf ."
Translated: That's a good idea.

Of course, it was too late for us to follow suit. But I was proud that at least one of us and been so generous. I mean, this IS chocolate we're talking about!

After the mall we drove across the main road to T.J. Maxx, one of my F-A-V-O-R-I-T-E places to go. If you have never been in one, you should. They have overstock from other stores at discounted prices. And their inventory changes constantly so if you don't see what you want there one time, then go back a week or so later. I guess it is what they call a rotating stock, or some such thing. Anyway, the girls found some cute tops for wearing while we are out and about this summer. Not good for gardening, but good for when we are out shopping or something like that.

While the missionaries were here a few weeks ago, we made beaded necklaces. The girls got on a roll and made a boatload of them.

I made just one, but I really like how it came out.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY April 4th...

Outside my window... Woke up to a veritable deluge and our first set of thunderstorms! It is just very gray and very wet, and threatening to rain again now.

I am thinking... of the many projects on my "To Do" list this spring, and trying not to spin my mental wheels on certain trials going on right now with our church.

I am thankful for... Those times when we see God working in ways we never imagined possible, and seeing the evidence of His working in someone's heart. So precious!

From the learning rooms... Normal round of academics this week, plus standardized testing later in the week.

From the kitchen... Menu planning, and bread making.

I am wearing... brown corduroy skirt, rust colored shirt, belt and my slippers. :)

I am creating... a general schedule for the week, and starting to plan our garden.

I am going... to be getting lots of sewing done this week... I hope!

I am reading... Uncle Tom's Cabin, and John Adams ( a biography by David McCullough).

I am hoping... so many things on my heart today, but most of all hoping for God to put his arm around my shoulders and hand over my mouth.

I am hearing... Some music practice going on, Jerusha's history video on Alexander Graham Bell, and Isaac walking around jabbering in toddlerese, and making race car noises.

Around the house... Tackling Mt. Washmore, and general picking up after a busy weekend.

One of my favorite things... a leisurely stroll on a sunny day with the family.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Tackling some quilting with gusto, yard picking up if the weather cooperates, and just being about the normal business of living life.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Feline indecision. On the couch? Or do I fully commit to the window?

For guidelines to join go to:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Snippet

I don't usually get on the puter much on Sundays. My favorite thing to do is curl up and read and nap and just generally lay low. Dale usually has studying to do, so we tend to make our plans at home, to be quiet as possible for this tribe, and just enjoy a day of rest.

Here are some snap shots of our day today, thanks to Elizabeth, our resident shutterbug.

For dinner we had Chicken Elegante, corn and fruit salad, with a blueberry cobbler for dessert. I also made some special coffee for Dale and I and served it in my favorite fancy tea cups.

After eating our nice dinner, while Benjamin and Josiah were doing kitchen clean up, the rest of us went for a little stroll around the neighborhood. We wandered up to the stream and watch the water for a few minutes on the bridge. The kids were racing sticks in the water. They would drop sticks at the same time on one side of the bridge, then see which one came out on the other side first. While we were watching one of the races, a HUGE fish suddenly made an appearance right under us! I was surprised to see such a large fish in our little "crik". I think it was a trout, but I am not fish savvy, so I couldn't tell you for sure. I wish I could have gotten a picture of it, but it was too quick for us.

A little while later we walked down by a cow farm, and one of the neighbors was out with his binoculars. He was sighting a baby eagle across the field and creek and pointed it out to us, then kindly let us use his binoculars to see it better. We couldn't see much of it except a flash of white in the crook of the tree where it was nesting. The neighbor said he had been watching that particular eagle for a while, and pointed out where it liked to roost.

(I just realized I had my apron on! Sorry about that!)

When we got back it was time for the littles to take naps. Dale went to his studying and I felt all refreshed from being out in the air so I spent the afternoon listening to an audio book, and knitting. Just for fun I started working on my River stole, using the lace weight mohair yarn, "Aloft", and realized that it isn't going to be as easy as I thought. The yarn is luciously soft, but a pain to work with because it is so fuzzy! I've never worked with lace weight yarn before, and mistakingly assumed it wouldn't be any harder than using sock weight yarn. Let me assure you, it was totally different! The Seaweed Cardigan I am working on has a lace pattern, but it is not lace. The River stole is actual LACE, and I'm fining it difficult to adapt to the very thin, delicate yarn and using larger needles meant for worsted weight. The lace pattern in the cardigan is easier, I think, because the yarn is worked with needles of proper size proportion the yarn weight. Since I am a novice lace knitter, the very light weight yarn with size 8 needles seems cumbersome. I'm sure I'll get used to it. I had to frog out my stole a couple times, but I think I am finally on the right track. However, now I am back to my cardigan. I am working both fronts at once to hopefully save time and get it done! I've also started a pair of socks for Elizabeth, but my priority knitting right now is my Seaweed cardigan.

Now, if you made it through all that rambling, give yourself a reward!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools Day

Here is the educational part of this post.

Unlike most of the other nonfoolish holidays, the history of April Fool's Day, sometimes called All Fool's Day, is not totally clear. It is not like Halloween, where despite an interesting history, most people just put on Halloween costumes, get candy, and leave it at that. There really wasn't a "first April Fool's Day" that can be pinpointed on the calendar. Some believe it sort of evolved simultaneously in several cultures at the same time, from celebrations involving the first day of spring.

The closest point in time that can be identified as the beginning of this tradition was in 1582, in France. Prior to that year, the new year was celebrated for eight days, beginning on March 25. The celebration culminated on April 1. With the reform of the calendar under Charles IX, the Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year's Day was moved to January 1.

However, communications being what they were in the days when news traveled by foot, many people did not receive the news for several years. Others, the more obstinate crowd, refused to accept the new calendar and continued to celebrate the new year on April 1. These backward folk were labeled as "fools" by the general populace. They were subject to some ridicule, and were often sent on "fools errands" or were made the butt of other practical jokes.

This harassment evolved, over time, into a tradition of prank-playing on the first day of April. The tradition eventually spread to England and Scotland in the eighteenth century. It was later introduced to the American colonies of both the English and French. April Fool's Day thus developed into an international fun fest, so to speak, with different nationalities specializing in their own brand of humor at the expense of their friends and families.

In Scotland, for example, April Fool's Day is actually celebrated for two days. The second day is devoted to pranks involving the posterior region of the body. It is called Taily Day. The origin of the "kick me" sign can be traced to this observance.

Mexico's counterpart of April Fool's Day is actually observed on December 28. Originally, the day was a sad remembrance of the slaughter of the innocent children by King Herod. It eventually evolved into a lighter commemoration involving pranks and trickery.

Pranks performed on April Fool's Day range from the simple, (such as saying, "Your shoe's untied, or I accidentally stepped on your glasses!), to the elaborate. Setting a roommate's alarm clock back an hour is a common gag. Whatever the prank, the trickster usually ends it by yelling to his victim, "April Fool!"

Practical jokes are a common practice on April Fool's Day. Sometimes, elaborate practical jokes are played on friends or relatives that last the entire day. The news media even gets involved. For instance, a British short film once shown on April Fool's Day was a fairly detailed documentary about "spaghetti farmers" and how they harvest their crop from the spaghetti trees.

April Fool's Day is a "for-fun-only" observance. Nobody is expected to buy gifts or to take their "significant other" out to eat in a fancy restaurant. Nobody gets off work or school. It's simply a fun little holiday, but a holiday on which one must remain forever vigilant, for he may be the next April Fool!

(This was taken from an article by Jerry Wilson.)

You Know What They Say About Fools...

It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and leave no doubt. --Mark Twain

However big the fool, there is always a bigger fool to admire him. -- Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux

[Politicians] never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge. -- Thomas Reed

He who lives without folly isn't so wise as he thinks. -- François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools. -- Herbert Spencer

Sometimes one likes foolish people for their folly, better than wise people for their wisdom. -- Elizabeth Gaskell

Looking foolish does the spirit good. -- John Updike

Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed. -- Mark Twain

A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees. -- William Blake

A fool must now and then be right by chance. -- Cowper

It is better to be a fool than to be dead. -- Stevenson

The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year. -- Mark Twain

Here is where I drop the prim and proper school marm act and admit to what we are really up to today.

First thing I saw when I went to the kitchen for my coffee this morning was this:

And this...

All the calendars in the house seem to have the same sense of timing. With the same day circled.

I went to get my coffee, and noticed the milk was a little strange looking.

Then I fell for this gag. I applauded this one.

The result of that was that my arm got a bath. Hahaha!

I went into the living and saw this... notice anything missing?

And this snarky note caught my attention:

I have some plans of my own. For breakfast we had purple pancakes.

I am washing sheets today. Normally the kids make their own beds, but later I will be so kind as to do it for them. I think you can guess what that means. Mwhahahahahaha!

Since the kids are so stuck on Christmas I have in a silly CD that is all Christmas music, done with tools! It is actually pretty interesting, but they got a kick out of it. Tonight we are going to pop in our Three Stooges DVD and make some popcorn and have a fun family night. Dale loves the Three Stooges. I don't care for them, but will work on some knitting while sitting with the family. My eyes will be sure to get a good workout from all the rolling they will be doing.

I have a few other tricks up my short sleeves, if opportunity arises. All of it designed to say one thing.

Don't mess with the Mom.

Amidst all the tomfoolery around here, we are doing some cleaning and schoolwork, and I'm hoping Isaac will nap well this afternoon so I can get some sewing or knitting in. I have a simple lap quilt ready to go, but I looked at the backing and noticed I managed to baste in a nice big tuck, so I need to rebaste it. Drat! I hate basting, but what is a body to do?

I finished the back to my Seaweed Cardigan yesterday and casted on for the fronts. I will be knitting them both at once. I had planned on getting a lot of the ribbing done, but Isaac simply refused to sleep at nap time and I lost a lot of my creative time.