Thursday, March 31, 2011

create:: what is better than one cherry dress?

Two cherry dresses, of course!  Last summer I made the girlie her sweet sundress from Heather Ross's fun book, Weekend Sewing.  It's the "flower girl" dress, and I had to up-size it a bit, as girlie is no longer a toddler, but the pattern is still so cute! And the joy of a sundress is that sometimes, if you need a bit of spring and it is still in the 30's, its o.k. to wear with a turtleneck underneath. 

So I was delighted when the girlie asked to make a dress of the same fabric for her doll, Jenny. Instead of repeating the sundress, which we might do when the weather gets a bit warmer, she thought that Jenny's dress should be long-sleeved. I had picked up the Simplicity 7083 pattern a while back, so we chose to use their dress pattern. It probably took an hour and a half even with the girlie helping me (which as you crafting mama's know, does not add to the efficiency of the project!).  A touch of green ribbon, and it was done. Lovely!

...And just because he hasn't been featured here lately, here is a cute picture of the little pirate in our household! The mustache cracks me up.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

spring:: under construction

 There are changes afoot.  You probably noticed some "spring" arriving on this blog. It is still in process as I am pondering color changes and whether this really is "me".

Spring means flurries this morning, and the weeping cherry tree across the street showing off its prettiest days of the year.

Spring means daffodils and dandelions in bloom.

Spring means waiting just a little bit longer to plant the early seeds in my new garden...although I'm pretty sure my patience won't last the week. 

Spring means still needing to bundle up to go outside, even though the sun is so inviting.

Spring means the farmer's market opens next Saturday and I can't wait to see what they have brought out this early.

Spring means the farm store sign saying "Chicks have arrived". (No, we're not getting any...)

Spring means pretty dresses for the girlie--this dress was mine, and the sweater also, knit with love by my Mom-mom somewhere around 1980 or so. She looks just like a daffodil.

Happy Spring, everyone!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

parenting: working for (and with) god

My Wednesday morning women's Bible study group has been going through the Beth Moore study, The Patriarchs this semester. This morning's video session (session 8) really grabbed my heart and has not let go. I thought I'd put some of the highlights here, along with some of my ponderings.

"Throughout Biblical history, God has strategically sought to place His representatives in positions of...influence."  Beth may have been talking about politics, the business world, etc. but moms, this is for US!  God had put us in our position.  He has given us these children...sometimes adorable, sometimes messy, sometimes loud, sometimes cute, sometimes obnoxious...but always LOVED!  He has put us in an amazing position of influence to raise them to follow Him and to meet all their growing potential.  I am humbled and awed by this seems overwhelming, doesn't it? 

But Beth also reassured us that we are capable of doing more than our own abilities will allow...when we are allowing God to work through us.  She reminded me that God is giving us his Spirit to be with us...the same Spirit who hovered over the waters at Creation, who brought order out of chaos...this Spirit also is with us to make order out of our chaos too.  He helps strengthen us, give us endurance, and all of the "fruit" of the Spirit, come, of course from Him, too:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  God also gives us discernment and wisdom, which I need so much.  His word and His Spirit provide me with help again and again when it comes to training, disciplining, and teaching my children.  I have a partner in my daily work of mothering my kids: God. I don't think I could ask for a better partner! But He waits for me to ask for His help. I must remember to keep asking!

Lastly, I want to leave you with this challenge.  Beth asked, "Do you live your life waiting for the work day to be over?"  Whether your work is parenting at home, or working in an office, tele-commuting, home-making, being a student, whatever it is you work at, ask yourself this question.  I personally work mostly at home, parenting my kids and making my home, but also spend some time in an office each week.  This question hits hard. I am often impatient...for the day to be over, for Daddy to come home to "relieve" me, for bed-times to be here. I am challenged to be more present in the work I have to do.  

John 15:8 tells us that God is glorified when we bear much fruit.  He wants us to be productive at our work. I am challenged this week to work, as Beth put it, "with excellence, enthusiasm, and a whole lot of Spirit!"  Will you join me?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

dirt under my fingernails

Yesterday my wonderful hubby and father-in-law spent many hours completing these awesome raised beds for our new vegetable garden. Please note the beautiful moon rising in the background of the "finished" photo!  As you may recall, last weekend they (and some neighbors) spent the weekend smashing up the concrete pad where we used to have a shed, and then over the course of the week, hauled the concrete away, making room for these beauties.

We used 2x12 pine boards, after agonizing about what to use.  Everything I read said that pressure treated lumber or treated railroad ties leach chemicals into the garden...eww. So even though untreated wood will rot, and we'll have to replace it sooner or later, hopefully it will be later! We installed a layer of hardware cloth (metal mesh) on the bottom due to our vole issues, lined the insides with plastic, and used some Thompson's wood sealer (like you would put on a deck to resist rain). 
The dirt was all purchased in bags, mostly due to ease of getting it to where we were putting it in the back of the yard...Papa's pickup could make it back there but not a dump-truck. And hubby thought it money well spent not to have to lug umpteen full wheelbarrows up the driveway hill to the backyard.  I ended up going with a mix of about 1/2-2/3 topsoil mixed with locally produced bagged compost (because I don't have any home-made) and some peat-moss. We'll see how it does.

I'm thinking of starting a separate page or separate blog for the garden, so I don't bore most of you with all the details, but so I can keep track of how things go this year...what I plant, how they do, etc.  I'll keep you "posted"!

showtime--the curtain goes up!

At long last, the boy's new curtains are completed and hung! It took a lot longer than I anticipated, mainly for two reasons: 1. I couldn't manage to work on it in chunks of time any longer than 45 minutes, and 2. I spent most of the last week like a slow-moving sloth (redundant?) due to a rotten cold.  Regardless, I am so very happy. Happy that they turned out just like I imagined them, flat-felled seams and all. Happy that the boy enjoys them.  Happy that they darken his room even a little bit more for nap-time (I'll take all the help I can get). Happy that I can now move on to other projects.  I think a little sewing for Eva and Jenny (the girlie's 18" dolls). Something quick with a bit more instant satisfaction.

So, without further ado, here are the curtains:
I'll try to get a close up to show you the cute pattern on the upper panels, they're from an out-dated set of Pottery Barn Kids sheets I snagged at consignment. If I get a good image, I'll add it here later!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

read:: broadening my horizons with 2 new books

The advantage of having a horrible cold and cough is that I get a lot of reading done. And I love to read. So while the little guy's new curtains are languishing on my sewing table, and chores are piling up, here is what I've been reading this week: Queen of the Underworld by Gail Godwin, and Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez.  It's been a week of new horizons and new locales. 
Kabul Beauty School is a non-fiction memoir of a fascinating lady who went to Kabul (Afghanistan) after 9/11 with a relief organization, and later established a beauty school as a way to support women in that male-dominant culture. She draws you into the life and daily struggles that she experienced there, and it was an amazing read.

Queen of the Underworld is my current read, and I am about half-way.  All that I've read from Gail Godwin has been wonderful, and this novel has not disappointed.  Different from most of her works, this book is not about a small-town insular society, but instead takes place in Miami during the 1950's, and it deals largely with the emigration of Cubans as Castro took power.  I find myself woefully ignorant of much of this history. My sister-in-law's family come from Cuban roots and so I am entranced by this portrait of what that time was like for many wealthy Cubans, coming to Florida to start anew with nothing--that they would rather have the nothing that comes by their choice to emigrate, than to have nothing that comes by force when Castro seized land and property. I am anxious to see how things turn out in the novel.  

What are you reading lately? I'd love to hear...I'm always looking for a good book!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

signs of spring

Spring must really be on its way. My early jonquils are blooming, and as we spent
the afternoon in the backyard, I found it full of the early signs of spring, including this crocus which was not planted by anyone, and just appeared. Enjoy!

opening the sandbox
outdoor knitting...
 This is my vegetable garden! Can't you see it? OK. So right now it is the rubble of the concrete slab that used to be under a shed. But in a few weeks with good weather and good luck, there will be two 4'x8' raised-bed vegetable gardens getting started here! Lots of my plans and dreams going into this space...and lots of the hubby's hard work (along with neighbors, and father-in-law pitching in to help too...).

I'll leave you with this forsythia, which is just on the edge of blooming. Spring is coming!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

read:: 52 loaves

This has been a slow week...feeling like I'm moving in slow motion. Lacking energy and waiting for spring. So I spent most of the weekend reading 52 Loaves, by William Alexander. If you like bread like I do (which means...its one of your top 3 food items in the world...ok, maybe one of your top 1!), or like baking, then this book is for you.  If you are a Food Network junkie, or have America's Test Kitchen on your DVR and watch it just about every night like we do, then this book is for you. And hey, if you just want to read about one guy's crazy idea for a year long project, that just happens to send him on a "field trip" to a baking school and monastery in France, then, again, this book is for you. 

I dabble in bread baking, having found a recipe for sourdough that really works for me, in Lovina Eicher's The Amish Cook at Home.  I love the yeasty smell of the starter as it develops, and the dough as it rises.  But I'm also a friend of my breadmaker. So I have to say that the best way to read this book, is laying on the couch, under an afghan (preferably made by your Mom-mom, or other such relative), while smelling your breadmaker slaving away on garlic-herb bread. Yum.

Gotta go...there's some bread calling to me....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

create:: sunshine in sadness

One of our friends from our home group (weekly Bible study group) is relocating to England with her job. We are sad to see her go after only having known her a few months...but know that God has great things planned for her in this new adventure! In that spirit, I got out the paper and scissors, and all sorts of scrapbooking goodness for a little good-bye gift:
It's a little bit hard to read, the verse is Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV):

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him
and He shall direct your paths.

Choosing to trust in Him is hard, but always best, my friends.  Who will you trust?