Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Kelby is a lazy potty trainer.  Yesterday I realized he needs some better incentive than just a Gummi Octopus (yes, it's exactly what it sounds like and they are a little squiggly going down) so I made him a potty chart. When he gets a sticker in every square, we will go see Cars 2--if it's still in theaters by then!

While I was at it, I decided to make Natalie one for reading, hoping to give a her a little nudge to even want to try reading.  And, whadayaknow, it is totally working!! She has read 6 books already and I got a bunch more at the library last night! This is big, because she is super smart, but has been a rather reticent reader, so I am very happy, as one who can't imagine not loving to read!
When she fills up her chart, we will go to the Disney Store. If I'd known she would fill it up so quickly, I probably would have put more than 14 squares ;)

Well, the girls think the chart making is pretty cool, so they proceeded to make Layla one and me a "Sewing Chart". When I finish something, I get a sticker.
Aw, adorable. But, that's a lot of squares, I don't think I'll be earning my prize anytime soon. Although, they let me put a sticker on for finishing half the quilting on this baby:
I finished the horizontal lines yesterday and hope to finish the rest in the next couple of days because I have lots I want to sew and I refuse to start anything new until this monster is quilted!!

Here's what I decided on for the back:
The red is a huge piece of vintage cotton from the lady at church. It wasn't quite big enough so I had to supplement with a couple of Denise Schmidt prints from my stash.  I think it will look very cool folded down on a bed :)  Casey is super happy about this quilt because it's longer than he is--finally one he can stretch out under!

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I feel myself coming out of a bit of a fog. Maybe because it's Summer, maybe because I am almost done with my degree (whew!), but whatever the case, I am so inspired lately! I suddenly want to resume cooking good food while dancing with the kids to good music, I want to cut flowers for the table every time something new sprouts up, I've been reading to the kids on the front lawn with our picnic quilt under the tree and I'm eager to collect ideas for my sewing room.  I'm just thankful for the ease of my schoolwork and the ease of my mind and for the time to enjoy my days again, without the anxiety of deadlines and change and the inevitable, but still hard fluidity of friendships.

Here are some things that have been a bit inspiring to me. I hope they inspire you too!

I spotted this magazine for the first time in Barnes & Noble yesterday and snatched it right up. It's European, so a bit pricier than most, but it is rich in quality! I want to read every page and try lots of the ideas!
  • Thrifting! I went to my favorite thrift shop today for some time out alone and found some great treasures. Kids books at Savers are only 69 cents, so I got a great stack of those (I find myself avoiding Disney stories, when it comes to books these days. Anyone else? Have we had enough?) I also found this awesome globe from the 60's. Well the cashier said 70's, but it looks 60's to me. 
I also scored those dry-erase boards. There was a huge stack of them, so I bought four. And the binder will be my new home notebook :)
AND, this vintage cotton fabric:
It feels very similar to the vintage cotton I made this skirt out of, of which I promised a picture :)
  • Fresh food!!! Fresh homemade pizza, specifically :)  Have you ever made pizza in cast iron? Because it's fabulous AND the crust cooks so much more easily!  Last night my friend Amanda and I put this concoction together and I just enjoyed the leftovers an hour ago. Yummmmmm. 
Ingredients: Butter/garlic sauce, tomatoes, feta, onions, cilantro, roasted red peppers and salt and pepper. 
  •  Finally, how can this guy not be inspiring?? He keeps my creative juices flowing in a very different way, ha!

What's inspiring YOU lately??

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Casey has been off for a few days! And, our friend Amanda, who is expecting her first baby very soon is staying with us while her hubby is out of town, so we have been have some fun in the sun the last few days.
Yesterday we went to the Zoo! We bought a membership this year and we've been several times already so it's paid for itself twice over by now. Yesterday I took just the girls and went with Amanda another friend Maggie with her adorable baby, Jonathan. It was hot! But fun :)
I love this picture of me and my girls! See that cute little sewing machine necklace I'm wearing? That was one of my winnings from the Spring Top contest and I really love it.
Ice cream was a must!

In case you're feeling bad for Kelby, don't worry--Casey and I will take just him to the zoo one day soon while the girls have a day with Granny!  Oh, and we did bring him home a pet snake--a stuffed one, of course ;)

Shortly after that, we went to my Mom's for dinner and a swim! Needless to say, the kids fell asleep super fast last night, ha!

Completely unrelated, but I was reminded of this while watching cartoons with the kids this morning. Is it just me, or does Dora yell all the time??

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More on knits

Yesterday I wore a dress I made last week and felt fabulous in it all day! I got Casey to take some pictures and even though he was standing downhill from me, which doesn't get my most flattering angle, I am posting them anyway ;)
This is a Cynthia Rowley pattern, Simplicity 2443, which I've actually made before.  The first time, though, I made it too big so even though I loved the fabric, I just didn't feel great in it. This time, I made the right size, left out the interfacing and the zipper, both things I feel are unnecessary in an easy summer knit dress! I especially love the racer back:
Again, not the greatest angle, but I've recently read some posts about fashion blogging and body image which have impacted my thoughts about what I look like in pictures! If you're interested, you can find these posts, here, and here.

More on sewing with knits, though: I do not have a serger, so i would like you to know that knits can be sewn with a regular machine! I have discovered that both a stretch/ballpoint needle and a walking foot make all the difference. Also, I use double-stitched seams for a finished look. Just sew your seam and sew again a 1/4" inside the seam, then trim. Very nice :) This also prevents pesky rolling problems on your seam allowances.

In other news, my little girl is officially a big girl because she now has a big girl bike! Recently Layla learned to ride Natalie's bike and so I found her one of her own on Craigslist.
Such a pretty little thing :) I'm taking this one out on a date today, I can't wait!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I have been sewing some very versatile pieces lately and guess what... they're not dresses, ha! Annnnnd, I'm happy to say, I am no longer afraid of knits. I ain't skeered!

First off, I tried on a white version of a little cardigan like this at a store which shall remain nameless.  It was $40 though, so I was very hesitant to buy it until I noticed a tiny hole under the arm (which I could fix easily). So, I thought, YAY! they'll give me a damage discount! (It was the only one left in that size). But, no! She said she wasn't allowed to sell damaged merchandise, but I could buy it for regular price. Dumb! But, it's okay, because shortly thereafter, I found this pattern:

I found this super-soft pink knit at Denver fabrics and made this!
I did make a couple of changes--rather than hemming the front band piece that acts as a sort of scarf around it, I folded it in half length-wise and sewed it on that way instead. I thought doing a narrow hem would look homemade and I also didn't really want a huge scarf around my neck on a summer cardi. Also, I added some ties to the sides because that's what I loved so much about the one I tried on in the store.  It just gave it more shape than others I've seen in this style. Above, they're tied behind, but they can also tie in the front:
It's wrinkled because I took it off when I was sewing the other day and then sat on it for about an hour, haha.

A few months ago, I was at a thrift store and while picking through the bagged fabrics, I came across a nice piece of stretch denim, tossed in with an unknown black piece. I've yet to use the stretch denim, but the black turned out to be a fabulous heavier-weight knit, which I turned into a very cute and very goes-with-everything-or-for-any-occasion skirt! (I think Casey might be tired of taking pics of me on the front porch, so sorry for the hanger pictures ;)
This is not a pattern, I just winged it. Basically, use your hip measurement as a guide. I loooove the yoga style waste band. This piece of wide elastic started out in a pair of maternity pants, was repurposed in a maternity skirt that I made and now is still surviving inside this skirt! I can see myself getting a LOT of use out of this one!

I also discovered a perfect and very versatile pencil skirt pattern that I'm sure to use a lot in the future! It's Simplicity 2258 and I used a vintage cotton that reminds me of I-Love-Lucy, which I got from the blessed older lady at church :)
This picture doesn't do it much justice, but I'll try to have Casey take a pic when I'm wearing it soon. I love the pockets!
I'll definitely be making more versions of this--may be a good use for the aforementioned stretch denim! The fit is perfect on me, so the possibilities are endless. I really want to make some cute around-the-house pants out of view D.
P.S. I did add a little length (3 inches), as the skirt in the photo is a bit short for hanging with the kids purposes :) 

Hope you're all having a fabulous week! :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I have been to the CHEC homeschooling conference. I was only there half the day on Thursday and most of the day on Saturday, but I was overwhelmed after just the first talk I attended. Now that I've had a day to think on it, I feel better equipped to post some thoughts :)

The world of homeschooling is vast, to say the very least! I was prepared for the endless array of curriculum choices, but I should have been better prepared for the wide range of lifestyles and opinions within the Christian homeschooling community.  Sometimes these types of things and even certain Christian books make me feel like I need to overhaul my entire life to be a godly woman (or successful homeschooler) and this is simply not the case. I was fighting feelings of inadequacy the entire weekend. After praying for wisdom and asking God to separate the lies from the truth, I was able to gain some perspective, I am thankful to say. I do not need to get rid of my TV and I don't need 14 children to be a successful Christian homeschool mom!!!

So, while I was all set to order Sonlight curriculum, I have decided to go with My Father's World (MFW) instead and here is why:

  • My kids are not quite close enough in age to share a Sonlight "core" in the future and with the demanding amount of reading aloud involved in each core, I was concerned doing two at once would get to be too much. MFW integrates ages in a much easier way, in my opinion.
  • MFW is a fraction of the cost of Sonlight, which means I can afford to get Layla started on the Kindergarten program (she is only four, but as she sat in on Natalie and I last year, she is ready to get going. I plan on taking two years to do the K curriculum.) 
  • Natalie despises text books and MFW is a very hands-on approach and seems geared toward creative/visual types, while focusing on godly character. Very few text books involved and everything is very colorful and story-oriented, which I think is what she will thrive on.
  • MFW balances the Charlotte Mason, Classical and unit study methods in a way that really appeals to me.  
  • Sonlight requires you to find your own math and science programs, while MFW integrates those subjects in. 
  • We get to build an ant farm! Nuff said. 
SO, how many homeschooling readers do I have?? I would absolutely love your input on this! Do you have experience with these curriculums? How do you fight the stereotypes? How do you filter out the legalistic messages? How do you fight against comparison with other homeschooling families? And most of all, why do you love homeschooling!? Please share, I'm sure many of us could benefit :)

My little artist, hard at work:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Random Summer Goings-On

We have been busy doing Summer things--I'm doing more Summer sewing (pics to come!), we are getting our deck redone, we are planning some Summer parties and the kids and I have gone to the zoo a few times and the pool a few times, etc...  That's not all, though! I have been SUPER busy with my own school work, since I doubled up on my classes for the Summer so that I can finish this degree before next homeschooling year begins! It has been a lot of work and sometimes what I have to do (researching politicians' Twitter pages) must take precedence over what I want to do. But, as I was reminded by two different people yesterday, this is only for a season. Thankfully, I'll still have a whole month of Summer break to enjoy after I finish my last class in the very beginning of August!

In the meantime, we'll stay close to home :)

Natalie helping Daddy mow...in a Princess dress, of course.
I love mowing days--because the kids go "help" and I get the house to myself. I'm pretty sure it's the only time I get the house to myself!

My baby roses finally bloomed! And then this morning, Layla picked the blooms off. Erg. It's okay, there are lots more buds.


I inherited a few vintage embroidered tea towels this weekend. I think this is HILARIOUS!
How about a pipe with that laundry? HA! So funny.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

tired of these yet?

I know. Can I make anything that's not a dress?? Lately, it doesn't appear so. Although, I bought some awesome knits today and have some shirts in the works. But, what can I say, I loooove dresses in the Summer!

I made this one last week and wore it to church and most of the day on Sunday.
I used Simplicity 2177 and it's a winner, I will likely make it again. Very comfortable and I really like the narrower cut of the shoulders.
The triangular detail on the bodice is pretty cool. Here's a close-up of mine, but I think it would be extra cool in a stripe!

Because I've been making so many clothes lately, I've discovered some great clothing-sewing sites that I want to pass along to you!

  1. Patternreview.com  I know this one's been around for a long time, but I only recently discovered its value. Whenever I embark on a project, I can first read and see pics of what other people have made with a pattern.  Great resource
  2. Fake it While you Make it This gal's blog has some great show-and-tell clothing projects! I've been inspired by her creations a several times. 
  3. Green Apples This lovely lady makes some beautiful things, mostly dresses. See, I'm not the only one ;)
  4. Idle Fancy I literally just discovered this blog today, but I can't wait to explore some more! 
Pinterest has been a great inspiration too! What FUN Pinterest is! You can find my small-but-growing style board here

Happy sewing! :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sights of Summer

Aw, SUMMER!!!! I think I get happier each year to see you.  I have been doing lots of yard work. Our yard is big and we bought our house a year ago, after the weeds had already been pulled, the trees already pruned and the rose bushes already cut back.  This year I get to do all that myself and I rather like it. Someday if I cease to like it, maybe I'll put one of the many business cards for yard work left on my door all the time to good use, haha. For now, though, I'm enjoying it and wait with great anticipation for all the dozens of rose buds to bloom!!
What to do when you have three kids and only two leftover pancakes???
Cut them up and toss them with some berries, bananas and cinnamon. Add three forks. Brilliant!

My little Cubbies on Awana awards night:

I went grocery shopping today and guess what i didn't buy.........DIAPERS!!!!! Yep, we are potty training our final child and could not be more motivated by the fact that we will be diaper-free for the first time in almost 7 years. WHOOPIE!
Look at the cute tush in those big boy undies. Aw. So far he's doing awesome. Funny story, though:
I was priding myself for the first couple of days about how much more patience I have the third time around...and then I watched my friend's boys for a few hours one day, one of which is a baby.  Kelby had a #2 accident and the little baby did not like me to put him down, so he was crying and I was trying to clean up the mess in a hurry and as my stress level rose, it hit me--that's why this is easier this time--because I don't have a baby right now!!!!! Duh.

Anyway, we have almost mastered the #1 issue, but have not had a #2 in the potty yet. Any tips on this would be greatly appreciated! Thanks :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A work in progress and color tips

I started this nine patch quilt a super long time ago. I do not usually like to have unfinished things lying around--I am a finisher! But, this one was a little bit different in that I only wanted to use scraps and didn't want to cut into large pieces of fabrics. It took awhile to build up scraps! So, I'd make some squares, put it away, save some more scraps, then make some more squares. 

Finally, over a year later (or longer, maybe!) I have a finished quilt top!!!!!!
There are 70 squares and 140 fabrics--all different! I tried not to have repeats. And it's big. 

Here are some things I've learned about the scrappy look:

  • Contrast is very important. Play with fabrics together and try them next to lots of other fabrics before pairing them up. 
  • Color matters, even in a scheme with no scheme. Even if you're going for a completely unplanned, scrappy look, don't pair two colors that just flat don't go.  
  • When choosing a solid to compliment a pattern (this is in any project, really), choose a more muted version of that color so it doesn't take away from the pattern you're trying to compliment. 
  • Only keep scraps that you love! If you have fabrics lying around that you don't really like that much, but you just want to use up, they can ruin your project for you pretty fast. 
  • One more thing and this is true in home decorating as well as sewing. If you want to use an array of colors and don't want to choose just one palette, choose a color or two to leave out. You will be surprised how much this little trick will pull everything together! 
Here's an example of this last tip. Layla's quilt is scrappy and although it does have a pastel feel to it, it contains a lot of colors...
If you'll notice, though, there is no orange at all.  Every time I chose a scrap that had orange in it, it just seemed to mess up the look. Leaving something out keeps everything looking cohesive in quilts like these. And, like I said, this applies to rooms in your house too! 

Alrighty, go color your world :)