Friday, May 28, 2010

She's a Graduate

Please indulge me baby finished preschool. She's all grown up and ready to start kindergarten in August. Her school had a program at the children's museum here. We all had a blast and were thankful that Jim could take the morning off to join us.

The kids put on a great program of which I have a lot of poor photos of. I was too far from the stage for the flash to really work and there were too many heads in the way. Perhaps it was just best that I sat back and enjoyed the moment anyhow. But certainly I wasn't going to miss her getting her "pa-doma", as she called it last night.

After the program we got to spend a few hours in the museum. I posed for Rachel in the art area, we got to see the new traveling exhibit "Gross-ology" the impolite science of the human body (it was gross), we played on the roof, avoided the gift shop and had a good time.

Sarah's two years in preschool were such an important time for her. The first year was rough - really rough, but we are all so proud of how much she's grown and matured and learned during this time. I am thankful for her teachers as well, and the love and patience they have shown her. Still, it hardly seems possible that she will be ready to start kindergarten in a couple of months. They really don't stay babies for long at all. Sniff sniff....bring on the water works!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Peace Out

If you want to know what seven year old little girls are into right now, at least at our school, it's peace, love and happiness. Especially when illustrated with a peace sign, heart and smiley face. They are drawn on everything. I have yet to find them drawn on my car door, the walls, or other places where drawings have previously made their way, but I'm sure it will happen. There are worse things to be digging though, I'd say. If only we could spread some of the peace, love and happiness around and share it with our younger sister when school lets out. That is neither here nor there though, but this t-shirt is here. I picked up a cute t-shirt for Rachel at the Goodwill by my parent's house at Easter that had peace, love and ice cream on it (also good). It was a hit at school and one mother lamented that she could not find any shirts with peace signs for her daughter that weren't crafted out of skulls or age appropriate. I told her to bring me a t-shirt and I'd hook her up. The above shirt is the result.

I attached the peace sign with Heat 'n Bond Lite and then stitched around the symbol to ensure that it was secured. This way, if the Heat 'n Bond starts to give, the worst that will happen is that the edges will take on a slightly frayed look, which I thought would also be cute. When I stitch on t-shirts, I always back them with freezer paper for stability - it works great. My critic told me this morning that it needed more stuff (the same critic who once told me that her "style" was "fancy"). I found this tutorial on making fabric flowers and decided to add some embellishment. I made the flower into a pin, so that if the friend doesn't share the same fancy style, she can remove it. Probably removing it for washing would be smart as well.

And while I was initially searching my shelf of fabric for just the right one, I remembered my recent thrift store scores. The fairies have kept me in mind, as I scored the above just recently. The bottom two are sheets and the top piece, which I ended up using on the shirt, is several yards of a vintage print. I love all three. I'm thinking that the bottom soft yellow floral will be the back for my sheet quilt, but that is on hold while I wrap up baby gifts. So here's wishing you a peaceful weekend full of love and happiness. We'll be busy celebrating just about every occasion worth celebrating except for a wedding - two birthday parties, a baby shower and a graduation. Busy weekend!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What Are You Up To?

This is what I'll be up to for the next few weeks. I picked out the fabrics for my next baby girl quilt. The jumping off point was the dress on the right. I bought it for Sarah last summer, hoping that she could wear it this summer. No dice. I knew it was a risk and one I was willing to take because I was already waffling between giving it to her to wear and just cutting it up right off the bat. And because I love to find my girl's clothes at the thrift stores, the dress only set me back a buck or two. I pulled the other fabrics from my stash and hopefully will not have to go buy any more. Pattern will be similar to the elephant quilt I just finished, although I plant to have a good bit of bright white in it to really make the other bright colors pop. I'm excited to get to work on this, just as soon as the little people go to bed tonight.

And when I'm not sewing, or running around town doing this or that, or at the girl's schools, or taking little people to emergency dentist appointments, I'm out in the yard, bent over picking mulberries. Yes, it's that time of year again. I am so eager for them to come, but after about five days of obsessively picking them, I begin to wish that they would hurry up and all fall off the tree at once. It is tedious work, makes my fingers look like I'm a grease monkey and has, in the past, been an obsession. I'm proud to say that this year I'm not obsessing about it. I will actually let the kids play in the grass, even if I haven't just picked berries. Maybe that has something to do with the two gallons I still have frozen from last year. But now it's time for fresh berries in pies and muffins and jam and oh my, there goes my waistline. Oh wait, it's already gone. Very well then, dig in!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

One Week

I was able to get this quilt done in just one week, start to finish. It's not that big (30" x 39"), and probably not a monumental accomplishment, but I am happy with the results and the time frame. The baby shower is this Saturday and I also need to get right to work on another one, as there is another baby to say welcome to coming in June. I think I will use a similar sort of random pattern for that one, but it will definitely be calling for pink.

I'm glad I added the elephants. They were fun to do, and go with the baby's nursery theme, so win-win. This was fun to make but not fun to quilt. That bummed me, as I hadn't quilted anything since the girl's Christmas quilts and was looking forward to the machine quilting part of it. The lack of fun was my fault though - I didn't pre-wash the backing fabric and it had a finish on it that prevented it from sliding over my sewing machine. Rather, it sort of stuck, which was not convenient at all. Also on the not convenient list would be running out of white thread, completely and utterly out, with about three more inches to quilt. Argh!! But it's done, will be on time and now I can get into a very girly pink mood. Until then......

Thursday, May 13, 2010

And Baby Makes Four

Four for a friend's family, that is - no more babies for this family. There is a baby shower in less than two weeks for this baby. On Monday or Tuesday I said to myself, "Maybe I ought to make this baby a quilt.". I am not exactly a speedy quilter, nor do I have a lot of free time on my hands, but I decided to go for it anyway. The above picture is where I am as of today. I think I will keep it that width and add maybe two more rows to the length. It's measuring 33" x 30" as of now. The mother said that, what she really needed were boy blankets, as she already has a little girl and is set on clothes, so I think keeping this on the small side would help fit the bill for blankets as well as enable me to get it done in time. The nursery theme is sage green and brown with elephants. I have plans, if there is time, to embroider silhouettes of elephants in some of the larger blocks. The inspiration for this quilt came from Lottakind on Flickr. I loved the simplicity of it and the way it incorporated several fabrics. Of course, nothing is as simple as it seems and I think I typically end up cutting too many small pieces and doing more piecing than is necessary. Hopefully I'll be able to wrap up the piecing in the next couple of days and quilt it this weekend. Stay tuned for status updates.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


These are so so good, I have to share the recipe with you! But first, their history. I just finished Beth Moore's Esther Bible study. I loved the depth at which we studied the book of Esther and the history of the Jewish people at that time. These cookies are typically made during Purim and are called Hamantashen or Haman's Ears - Haman being the "bad guy" in the story of Esther. They are also said to represent Haman's the cornered hat. Google them, you can learn lots more, I bet! So, bad guy = good cookie! Here's the recipe:


2 sticks butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 tsp. baking powder
4 cups whole wheat flour or 2 cups whole wheat & 2 cups white flour

Filling: Traditional fillings are poppy seed and prune. I used homemade strawberry and blackberry jam. Fruit butters or pie fillings would also work.

1. Cut butter into sugar. Blend thoroughly. Add eggs and vanilla, blending thoroughly. Add baking powder and then flour, 1/2 cup at a time, blending thoroughly between each addition.

2. Put the batter in the refrigerator overnight or at least a few hours.

3. Roll it out to about 1/4" thickness and then cut circles with a cookie cutter or glass. Make sure they're at least 3" in diameter so you have room to fill them and fold the edges over.

4. Put a tablespoon of filling in the middle of each circle. Fold up the sides to make a triangle, overlapping the sides as much as possible so only a little filling shows through.

5. Bake at 375 for about 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

I opted for the half whole wheat, half white flour variation for my first attempt. I love the nuttiness of the whole wheat - the cookies are still plenty sweet and they don't taste overly whole wheat. The dough is similar to a sugar cookie dough, but in rolling it out, I found it to be a bit more crumbly. It also didn't need much (if any) flour on the rolling surface. Perhaps I started with too much on my surface and that's why it crumbled. Regardless, these are buttery and sweet and oh so yummy. I really do suggest you give them a try! And check out the cute plate and mug I picked up at the thrift store the other day as well!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunts and women that mother when we need it. I'll admit to choking back tears at Mother's Day for a few years, while we were trying to get pregnant with our first child and I wanted so badly to be a celebrated mother. Now I can think back on the tears of joy I cried as both my precious girls were put in my arms. I realize now how much my mother loves me and that my girls will not know the depth of my love for them until that little bundle is placed in their arms. A love that knows no bounds. We are truly blessed.

I'm not wild about photos of myself, but thought I ought to include one of me and my girls. The Mr. was behind the camera this morning and likes to experiment, so either there is a girl with her eyes closed, a hand in front of her face, or a hazy rainbow across the photo. You take what you can get, I guess.

The girls wore dresses like this one today. A friend asked me if I could make a pillow case dress for her daughter. In exchange, she bought enough fabric for me to make them for both my girls as well. I followed this tutorial by Anna Maria Horner. I didn't start with a pillow case, but cut my fabric and assembled it into a "pillow case" before starting. As with most patterns, it doesn't make sense to me as I read it, but if I just do as I'm told, it all works out in the end. Once you have your fabric in the pillow case form, this takes just about an hour to make, which is some pretty quick instant gratification. I think they looked pretty darn cute on the girls as well.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Seasonally Inappropriate

So what do you sew when the temperature reaches into the 90's? Me? Apparently I bust out the flannel and wool and get to work making a winter muff. What the heck, you say? I know, it seems odd, but there's a reason to my madness. This winter a friend's little girl was given an outfit by her grandparents that included a muff. The friend mentioned that she wish she had a muff. I was reminded of the muff pattern in the Fall 2009 issue of Stitch magazine that Erin Harris of House on Hill Road had contributed and thought I might just be able to make her wish come true. This friend's birthday was last month and I shall be seeing her for a girl's dinner out this week and wanted to be able to give it to her as a birthday gift. You know, so she can get lots of use out of it now. Or not.

Plaid had been mentioned in said fantasy muff, which I happened to have a large piece of. I was going to mimic the one in the magazine, but swap out the plaid flannel for the wool on the ends and have black velvet in the middle to echo the bands of black velvet ribbon. That was the plan until I could find no black velvet in town and even when I thought I had, I came home, cut it, sewed all the basting stitches down both sides and then decided I had dark brown on my hands. Enter plan B, which used the plaid flannel, but wool down the middle. The wool lending itself from an old suit of Jim's that had been cast away. It worked perfectly! The instructions didn't make full sense to me as I read over them, but I am much more of a learn as you go kind of gal, so I just did what they said and figured it out. And in the end, I'd say it worked out. Now I just hope I haven't spoiled the surprise and that she loves it when she receives it. I think I'll go back to the summery sheet quilt now and put the woolens away for a while.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Playing in the Dirt

The little one and I went to get some plants for our "garden" the other day. Our poor excuse for a yard is an even poorer location for a garden. While we have fabulous trees that shade the house and keep it very nice and cool in the summer, those same trees allow for precious little sunlight in the yard, which is really just the side of a hill. Last years selected location for the tomatoes was a poor choice, so I've opted for the only place that gets a good expanse of sunlight - smack dabby in the front yard. I will now (hopefully) be able to give directions to my house by mentioning that it's the one with all the tomatoes and snap peas in the front yard. I have high hopes for little plants, as I do love fresh tomatoes in the summer!

I'm also trying out some squash and cucumbers in the tomatoes old location, as cucumbers did well there last year. Only time will tell at this point, but this little zucchini plant looked pitiful when I put it in the ground and just a few days later it's doubled it size and looks like it's happy for now.

Not planted this year, but equally anticipated are the mulberries. Did I mention last year that we had lived in this house for 7 (I think) years before we realized we had a mulberry tree? And it's not like it was tucked away in some hidden drops juicy, dark purple berries all over what little flat(..ish) yard we have and also all over the driveway. This one tree will yield gallons of berries and I will spend a week and a half obsessed with gathering them.

And another new neighbor in our yard. Honestly, this summer marks nine years in our home. Surely we would have noticed these vines before, which have leaves resembling grape leaves and seem to be forming clusters of.... could they be muscadines? Or scuppernongs. The same thing, I believe, but isn't scuppernong fun to say? Only time will tell for these newbies. And if they do fruit, what to do with them?

I spent an hour tonight working on a birthday present. I got as far as cutting the fabric and sewing four rows of basting stitches to a very long piece of fabric (I hate sewing basting stitches) and then I finally concluded that my "black" fabric is really not black at all, but dark brown. That is not a good feeling, especially since I went to two fabric stores looking for this particular kind of black fabric and still ended up buying brown. Bugger. That's what I say.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Bunting Kind of Weekend

I'm back at the buntings again. Or should I say, I'm back at making birthday presents, although we shall call these belated birthday presents. These are pretty straightforward to put together, but I have found myself a little short cut and a big time saver. This week I picked up a pinking rotary blade cutter and have left the edges of these buntings pinked. Previously, I was sewing the triangles wrong sides together, turning them right side out and top stitching them. With the pinked edges, it eliminates a couple steps, one of them being my least favorite (turning all the triangles right side out).

These buntings are going to good brother and sister friends who have birthdays just a week apart (....and in April. Ahem). I was struggling with which fabrics to use for the girly one when I looked down on the floor and saw my pile of floral sheets that I've cut into for my summery quilt and realized that those would be perfect. I've opted for colors to match the boy's room and am hoping that something with your name on it will be cool enough for a now seven year old boy. I suspect my days of making him birthday gifts are just about over and done with.

My next challenge is getting these packed up and mailed off. Oh how I do not enjoy that part. In the meantime, have a lovely rest of your weekend. I think we're going to be a bit soggy here tomorrow. A good reason to spend the afternoon inside with the family.