Monday, April 28, 2008

Progress, Progress

I have progress to share in lots of ways today. First, I added a scrappy border to my quilt for this challenge. Looks good, I think. I went shopping for the backing and batting, but left without either because I think I can figure out something cheaper, like a thrifted sheet maybe, for the back.

Next, for the first time since moving here, the snow has not had a chance to ruin my tulips and we've been enjoying them now for a few weeks! I can tell I'm going to have a good year for roses too.

I had to post some pictures of the girls for my Dad's sake. I suppose my blog has been pretty girly lately and he asked for some kiddo pics, so here ya go :) The first is of Natalie at her cousin's birthday party. After all the other little girls had ditched their jewelry (party favors), she confiscated all the rings for herself. And the last is of Layla, my little bookworm, reading a book out loud to herself. Too cute. It's very important to me to raise readers, since reading has so enriched my own life!

And, one last major bit of progress: Natalie went pee-pee in the potty today! That has really only happened one other time in the last year so I think maybe things might finally be progressing in that area! Boy, it's been so much easier after just deciding to let it go. I guess that the case with many things, though.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Easy Peasy!

When Natalie and her cousin Jilli were just babies, Casey's mom picked up two of these vintage embroidered pillow cases at the Canton flea market in Texas and said she had seen some dresses made from cases like these. She asked if maybe when the girls grew a little, I could make some matching dresses for them. SO, since warm weather is here (yay!), the girls are plenty big enough and Jilli's third birthday party is on Saturday, I thought I'd go ahead and make them up. I found a great tutorial here. There are others floating around out there and although this one doesn't have pictures, the instructions are very clear and I liked the shoulder ties rather than the drawstring neck that most other tutorials for these feature. A few tips if you decide to give it a try: If you read a few of the comments after the tutorial, there are some more specific instructions on how to cut the arm holes. And, the instructions recommend using ready made bias tape, but I had this GREAT polka-dot fabric that I felt adding a lot to the dress so I made my own. Plus, I just don't like the feel of the poly/cotton bias tape for things like this. It takes more time this way, but totally worth it, in my opinion. In the end, I made both of these today in less than a couple of hours, so they are super fast and easy. I'll try to get a picture of one or both girls wearing them on Saturday.
P.S. I tried to get a scenic picture for this, but the big ugly electric box in the background ruins it a little. sigh. It seems our house just doesn't lend itself to good still-life pics. Maybe I should take all my stuff to a park for a nice photo session and see how many people point and stare :) Ah, what we'll do for the sake of blogging, huh?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I eat a lot of salad. Since I'm on my own for all three meals most days, salads are good, fast, easy grown-up food for me. I have learned you can put pretty much anything in a salad, so there's no reason for it to be boring, eating it day after day! Here's how I like to do it: Lettuce is a given and I also sometimes add pasta if I have some cooked. Next, meat--ground beef with kidney beans, bacon or already marinated and grilled chicken left over from Sunday night, as pictured here :) Next, I always pick a fruit or veggie--tomatoes, broccoli, dried fruit, strawberries, nectarines--anything goes, really. Then, I like to add some crunch to my salad. Here I have sunflower seeds, but I also like to use soy nuts, walnuts, Chinese noodles or crunched up tortilla chips. All good! And, last but not least, the dressing. I have grown very accustomed to making my own dressings ever since last summer when I first became so addicted to salads. I now prefer homemade over store-bought. They almost always use ingredients I have on hand and just flat taste soooo much better. Plus, I know exactly what's in them, unlike dressing off the shelf! Here are a couple of my favorite go-to dressing recipes:

Marietta's Marvelous Dressing

1/4 cup honey
3 Tbl white or cider vinegar
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup oil (I normally use olive)

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake it up, baby! ;)

Honey-Lime Dressing

1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 Tbl sugar
1 Tbl sesame oil
1 1/2 Tbl Apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp lime juice

Mix and enjoy!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Quirky Boxes Update

Here's my quilt top so far! I'm planning on adding a scrappy border, but I couldn't wait to share what I have so far. While I was making the blocks, I came across this blog for the first time and couldn't seem to leave! I saw this quilt there and was able to draw some inspiration for the sashing from it. LOVE how it's turning out. Just quirky enough for me. I'm considering trying the "big stitch" method of hand quilting. This is only my second quilt and I quilted the first one by machine, but I like the big stitch look and I think it might look really cool on this quilt. I'm wondering though, any of you hand-quilters out there, do you use a hoop? And, do you have to baste by hand to hand-quilt or can you use the pins? 'Cause hand-basting does not sound like fun to me. PLEASE comment, I would love some advice, even if someone would like to try and talk me out of it. I am, after all, a busy young mother, so seriously, do I have the time for hand-quilting???? ;)

Thursday, April 17, 2008


We buy a Sunday paper every week on the way to church and this week I just got around to reading it today. My favorite section is always the Arts and Entertainment section because of the crossword puzzle and the Hobby Lobby ad/coupon on the back :) But today, I liked it even more, because it has this great article about the quilts of Gee's Bend! Gee's Bend, Alabama is a small community of African Americans that has taken free-style quilting to a new level. Their quilts are very indicative of their own heritage, which you can see in the picture. (Some of these quilts are made with corduroy. Cool!) The article states, "...compelling works can be created anywhere. To recognize this reality, it just takes viewers who are willing to open their eyes and see beyond conventional notions of what art is, who must create it and how it must look." (Denver Post, April 13, 2008)

Along those same lines, you may remember me mentioning Edith Schaeffer's, The Hidden Art of Homemaking in my recent Reading List post and I read some more great quotes last night in the chapter on decorating a home. This first one is concerning child-conscious decorating: " 'A child won't notice' is a very bad and untrue phrase to admit into your mind. A child will be affected by originality, beauty and creativity. And a child in a Christian home should connect being in communication with the Creator God with having been made creative, in His image. Rather than creativity being squashed out it should be enhanced and developed because of being brought up in a Christian home, not in spite of it!" (p.74) And this second quote struck me also: "We foolish mortals sometimes live through years of not realizing how short life is, and that TODAY is our life." (p.77) How true and inspiring!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Spring almost Sprang

The last couple of days here have been absolutely beautiful; summery even! But, we're expecting snow tomorrow. Again. Thankfully, my tulips have not yet bloomed, so this last (hopefully last) snow cannot destroy them as it has every year that I've lived here so far! Natalie and I planted some flowers yesterday. Always in style, she was wearing her crown, princess sunglasses and gardening gloves :)

AND, I got the quilting bug yesterday! I am working on something for the next inspiration challenge over at Thriftin' and Craftin', where you can see this month's inspiration piece. I don't have the Bento Box pattern, so I am doing a sort of improvisational quirky box thing. I'm going to JoAnn tomorrow to buy some sashing fabric and once I get the top done, I'll share some more. I'm really loving the colors and that almost all of these fabrics were in my stash and scrap box!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Shop Talk

I've been saying for awhile now that I have big shop news to share and now it's finally here! I am no longer going to be selling my handmade things on Etsy (it's way too vast and I was not having much success, since it's pretty hard to get noticed among so many sellers.) Instead, you'll notice in my sidebar, I have a link to I was invited by the lovely Julie Kendall to collaborate with her in opening a web shop to sell the things we make. So, PLEASE go check it out, you won't be disappointed. So far we are the only two vendors, but I'm sure we'll be growing soon. You will find these new ribbon-tag blankies (every baby's favorite, take my word for it) along with several other new things I have made for the grand opening. Happy browsing!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New Arrival!!

This our good friends' Becky and Ryan's new baby boy!! His name is Ethan Cole and weighed in at 7 lbs. 10 oz. (same as Natalie!) We got to meet the little guy yesterday and while I was holding him, he stuck his little thumb in his mouth and fell asleep! Awe! Makes me excited for my little boy to come along. About a month ago, my other good friend Angela took some wonderful belly pictures of Becky. You can take a look at some of those on her blog here. I can't wait for her to take mine in a few months!

P.S. Sorry about the fuzzy picture, I don't know what was goin' on there, as usual.
P.P.S. Do you like my new glasses? Aren't they funky?

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Reading List

Casey has been working nights at UPS for quite some time now and although I miss being able to turn in together every night, I have really come to cherish my five weekly "reading nights". I usually go to bed pretty early and then do quite a bit of reading before turning out the light. Here is a list of the books that have been enriching my life recently.
  1. Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. I know I have mentioned this book before, but I just cannot express all the ways it has changed my life, attitude and perspective about being a stay-at-home-mom. I think this is a must-read for every Christian mother at home.
  2. The Fruit of Her Hands. This book was written by my sister's former pastor's wife and she gave it to my before I married Casey. I have actually read this three or four times in our almost seven years of marriage and just finished it again. Every time, I am so blessed, challenged and encouraged. Just as I believe every Christian mommy should read the previous book, I think this ought to be read by every Christian wife.
  3. Face to Face. This is another book from my sister and addresses hospitality and friendship in two parts. A great challenge to build Christian community.
  4. The Hidden Art of Homemaking. I just started this book last night, but already I'm excited to keep reading. Here's a favorite quote so far: "Why does man have creativity? Why can man think of many things in his mind, and choose, and then bring forth something that other people can taste, smell, feel, hear and see? Because man was created in the image of a Creator. Man was created that he might create. It is not a waste of man's time to be creative. It is not a waste to pursue artistic or scientific pursuits in creativity, because this is what man was made to be able to do. he was made in the image of a Creator, and given the capacity to create." (p. 24)
  5. Living Simply. I read this book some time ago now, but still think about it often. It's written by a young mother, so I found it easy to relate. She has some great ideas about simple living.
Also, something else I've been enjoying is a sermon series by Pastor Wilson (husband of The Fruit of Her Hands author) called Loving Little Ones. You can download the podcasts here or buy the series on CD here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Yet Another Hat and Seam Ripper Stupidity

Yes, yes, it's another hat. They're just so fun and easy. This one is not for my kiddos, though, it's actually for my new shop, (Hopefully more big news on that tomorrow!) along with several other fabulous things I've been working on.

On to the seam ripper stupidity: The Purl Bee has this post on how to use a seam ripper. Now, I've been sewing for however many years (meaning I've ripped a LOT of seams) and can you believe, I have been using a seam ripper all wrong?!? Well, I was skeptical, but I had been fed up with the cheap dull seam rippers anyway, so I went out while JoAnne had notions half price and I finally bought a cute, purple, pricier, whiz-bang seam ripper! I got to work on this hat the next day and was almost excited to mess up so I could try this method. Of course, I did mess up ;) and let me tell, ya, the good seam ripper and the right way to use it made a HUGE difference. So, read the post and try it out, you won't be disappointed. The best part, is that my edges were completely intact, instead of stretched out and frayed, as they always ended up in the old days. Ah, I just love bloggers, I learn so much!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Little Miss Piggy

I made this little piggy for the shop originally, but before I could get it stowed away, Layla found it...and fell in love. She sleeps with her, she holds an ear and sucks her thumb, she even says, "piggy!" whenever she sees her. And so, since she did sacrifice one of her outgrown onesies for the piggy's shirt, I'm going to let her keep it :)
This was a very fun project to make. The pattern and instructions are in the book, Fun Dolls, and the whole book is just pure fun. All the dolls in the book are frowning, though and that just bugs me, so I literally turned this pig's frown upside down. Much better :)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

What's Up with the Weather?

Before I get to these pictures, I have to say, even as a Coloradan who knows the weather here is unpredictable, this weather is just being weird. I am used to the weather changing drastically from day to day, but recently it seems to be changing from hour to hour. I woke up to rain in the middle of the night, Natalie played outside all morning in the sunshine and now it's SNOWING! God must want to keep us on our toes.

On to our day. I was invited to spend the morning scrap booking with a lovely lady from church, while her daughter and a friend played with the girls. I expected Layla to be super clingy, but she was wonderful and Natalie had a blast and I actually got a whole page done in just a few hours. (That's unusual for me.) This picture is much clearer in real life, but when taking a picture of a finished page, I find I have to choose either the setting that makes the picture clear OR everything else clear. Ah, well.

ALSO, this here is a picture of the heating pad cover I made my friend Jenn as a happy un-birthday gift :) She is the only person I know that uses her heating pad regularly and so when I saw the instructions in Denise Schmidt Quilts, she was the logical person to make it for. She received it in the mail last week and loved it, so I'm happy to have made her happy :)

AND, totally off the subject, I have a potty-training dilemma and maybe some of you can help me out. Natalie is over 3 now and potty-training is just not happening. I am starting to wonder if she may have an issue where she literally can't feel when she needs to go. She NEVER has dry diapers over night and when I do decide not to put a diaper on her, she always seems surprised when she starts to pee-pee everywhere, as if she did not know it was coming. She is SO SMART in every other area, so I can't imagine her truly not understanding the concept. All this leads me to wonder if there is a problem here that she can't help and maybe I should take her to the doctor to find out. Any thoughts, advice or suggestions? Please leave me a comment and help me!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Another Hat for Another Kid

As promised, here is a picture of the finished hat I knitted for our coming baby boy. Although I have knitted several things successfully now, I have not really considered myself *a knitter*. Can one just have too many hobbies? Should I enjoy so many different crafts? Well, I must admit, I did enjoy knitting this hat and am closer to considering myself an actual knitter. I think I like the term *fiber artist*, it seems pretty all-inclusive, don't ya think?? Although, it does leave out the scrap booking, doesn't it. Or is paper fiber too? At any rate, this is called an umbilical cord hat and the pattern can be found in this popular knitting book. (I just can't bring myself to cuss in print.)