Thursday, October 16, 2014

freehand embroidery

Recently I was given a huge stack of pre-cut vintage quilt squares. I know, right! So awesome. I immediately thought of how fun it would be to embroider some of them to make some personalized soft baby blocks. So I just went for it (the embroidery, that is... I have yet to sew anything. Ahem). I knew I didn't want to find letter patterns, because I just wanted to be able to sit and not really think about what I was going to do and just feel free to go with the flow... whatever that means. 

Turns out, I love it. What a fun way to just relax and enjoy the process without the pressure of getting a "perfect" result. If you're thinking about embroidery, or even if you've previously enjoyed embroidering patterns, I would encourage you to give freehand embroidery a try. 

Such a great way to experiment with new stitches and play around with different thicknesses of floss without the commitment of a large piece. I'm thinking about how fun it might be to do a patchwork pillow with some of these squares, too. Maybe a wedding or house warming gift for some friends?

This one reminds me of sprinkles on a cupcake. And now I'm hungry. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

our homeschool adventure

So... I've been intending to write about this for a while now, but haven't gotten around to it yet. We are homeschooling this year! Super exciting. We actually started after Christmas break last year, just as an experiment and it quickly became clear that it was something our family needed to do for at least one more year (and we've promised to just take the whole thing one year at a time). I've actually wanted to homeschool ever since Madelynn started kindergarten, but I was still working in between having babies, and it just wasn't the right time for our family. Why are we homeschooling you ask? For no reason other than, why not? Karl and I figure we have this time while our children are small for only a short period and would like to make the most out of family time. We also want to be able to give them an environment free to experiment and find out who they are a little bit in the safety of their own home, and allow them to develop their own love of learning by exploring their interests in a depth they are satisfied with. It also has been an amazing way for our family to find healing in togetherness, after a bumpy year, and to solidify our core values with one another. We are thoroughly enjoying this time, knowing it won't last forever!

Here's some handy info I've found:
There is a plethora of information for homeschooling on Pinterest. Super fun to search for.

Here is a site I found that includes a curriculum you can buy (I didn't), but she also has a ton of free printables that we used last year for Max, who wasn't yet in Kindergarten, but insisted on doing school time with Madelynn.

These guides are awesome to use. We ended up using the ones that go with the books The Courage of Sarah Noble and The Great Kapok Tree, both of which were great for Madelynn in second grade, and Maximus got to do many of the projects right along with us. But they are also available for many of the Magic School Bus books, which look super fun. What I liked about them is that they include language arts, some math lessons, as well as social studies and art.

This year we are using the Moving Beyond The Page curriculum and are loving it. After doing the units I mentioned above, I decided a literature based approach would be right up our alley. I also realized that piecing together my own curriculum, while doable, isn't how I want to be spending my time these days.

Friday, October 10, 2014

quick and easy paper bunting

So I've been wanting to sew a fabric bunting forever, for everything, but mostly for my sweet Madee girl's room. But I haven't. Yet. I still might do it someday... maybe as a housewarming gift after she grows up and moves away (waaaaaaah!). But what I did do was so easy and is perfectly what I was going for. 

On the eve of my darlin's birthday I was beating myself up about not sewing up fancy decorations--she LOVES decorations--for the 8th anniversary of her birth, in between nursing a newborn, and keeping three others alive. And then I was wishing I had a whole stash of vintage floral fabrics, instead of just a couple pillowcases. And then I remembered that I've had a 4x6in stack of scrap booking paper that hasn't seen the light of day since I bought it, put in my "craft drawer" and promptly forgot about for 5 years. Ahem. 

All I did was cut out triangles, 4 inches wide by 6 inches long, hole punched them and strung them onto some raffia ribbon I've also been holding onto for far too long. SO easy, and she loved it. And I plan to hang it up in her room when (if??) we finish painting it, so she can feel fancy every day. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I am super thrilled with this latest sew, mostly because I finished it. This is a dress I started way back when I was barely pregnant, but didn't account for things like a growing bosom and a gianormous baby condo, so I just kinda scrapped it. Lately I've been too flakey to follow a sewing pattern, but am not patient enough to try and learn how to actually make a pattern, so my sewing strategy has been to cut fabric sew some seams and pray it works... it's definitely not a frustration-free approach. But I finally had the gumption the other night after the kiddos were in bed to revisit this dress and see if it was something I could make work so my post baby body would have something to fit into for church.
I still have a lot to learn about fabric drape and such, and this probably wasn't the best fabric to use for this dress, as it wants to kind of poof out more than I had envisioned for the skirt. It's a light weight cotton that I picked up a few years ago on the cheap at JoAnn, and I love the subtle navy/purplish print. AND since I had to redo the side seams about 17 times, by the last time I did them I got a wild hair and decided to try adding pockets. They are SO easy, you guys!

I thought it was fun to pair with my favorite scarf and belt, and think it will go pretty well into fall if I layer on a cardi and some tights. 

Here's the pocket detail. I'm sure I didn't do it right, but I did my best to figure it out based on a plethora of tutorials I've read along the way. I was happy to find a fat quarter of a gold geometric print I had forgotten about in my stash, and love the fun of having contrasting pockets!

And finally here's the sweet baby who inspired the dress in the first place. He was just chillin' while daddy snapped the photos of my dress and I LOVE that Karl snuck in a couple shots of Nash. Cheeks! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

hello again

Once again a whole month (ok, two!) has passed by and I couldn't be bothered to write a post. The truth is, I've been quiet, but God has been stirring my heart. I feel like I've had words in my head and on my heart for quite some time now, but just haven't been able to get them out in the right order. 

I feel like I need to revisit that terribly uncomfortable topic again, this time, talking about the work that God has done in me through it. I have said before that through my husband's affair, I have been spiritually and emotionally stretched in ways I couldn't have imagined before, and its true! And here are the words that until now I haven't been able to figure out how to say: 
God called me to forgive my husband, not for his wellbeing, but for mine. 

I didn't realize that completely at the time, but looking back, I was called to do what I had always thought of as impossible: to forgive the unforgivable. I couldn't wrap my head around doing this alone, I had to trust God. I had to trust that He would change my heart, and increase my capacity for forgiveness. I knew that I was called to forgive, whether our marriage was healed or not, so that God could heal me. I held so much anger through the whole experience, and felt God leading me to let go of it through forgiveness. I realized that anger can be useful to point us to areas of our lives that need work, but if held onto, anger turns into bitterness. It was humbling to realize He didn't intend for me to live my life in bitterness. Instead, God is love. If there is bitterness and anger filling my heart, there is no room for love. Wow. And I am truly lucky that Karl also allowed God to do a work in his heart, so that our family could be healed and grow spiritually healthy. 

Honestly, God is good. I can't even imagine (nor would I want to) what my life would look like without forgiveness, without God's grace. It blows my mind when I think about what we went through and how it brought us to where we are--in our new(ish) home, in an amazing community, and involved in a great church where we have made some real life friends, and above all together. We have learned so much (some of which we naively thought we already knew) about what it means to put God first in our lives and in our marriage, and what it means to trust in His plan.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

recycled t-shirt baby quilt

you have no idea how happy this makes me, guys (because, sewing!). i started this quilt about three years ago and had completely given up on it until last week. i decided i'd better buy myself a walking foot and finally finish this quilt even though i was convinced it wasn't worth it. i had sewn the sweet zig-zag front, and even quilted it, but just couldn't bring myself to bind it. but now i wish i'd have been more careful with it, because i LOVE the way it turned out.

the quilt top is made of thrifted t-shirts i cut up and patched together (unfortunately i didn't know about quilting with a walking foot three years ago). you can also see here if you look closely that i did a little bit of hand quilting which looks kind of cool in real life, especially on the back. 

the backing is a soft, lovely flannel, and in the middle is natural cotton batting, making this a lovely little quilt that a baby can play on outside or on hardwood floors. i used just a regular quilting cotton for the binding, and i adore the way it pulls it all together.

man my front porch needs to meet a pressure washer. can we just call it "rustic"?  ;)

i'm feeling like i need to hit the thrift store and revive my etsy shop!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

three-year blankie

I call this the "three-year blankie." Not that it actually takes that long to crochet, but when you move twice in two years, the final move into a gianormous fixer-upper with a never ending to do list, and then have a new baby while wrangling three big ones, the crochet blanket tends to get put on the back burner. And then left there. For three years. But its done! (Nevermind that its only "done" because I turned it sideways and decided it should be smaller than I originally planned because I really want to get started on that granny square afghan instead!) I do love this little blankie though. I used the Granny Stripes pattern and some lovely discontinued cotton yarn from Knitpicks. 

My project page is here. 
I only got one picture of the blanket before I got entirely distracted with this cutie. 
LOVE these sleepy smiles!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

breaking my unplanned silence

To say: Welcome Baby Nash!
photo by: Kirsten Grace Photography
Nash Thomas arrived safely into the world on May 6th after an awesome labor and delivery, at a whopping 9lbs, 10oz and exactly 21 inches long! He is currently enjoying long naps in the sunshine (jaundice be gone!) and snuggles from his big sister and two big brothers. Mommy and Daddy have never felt more blessed!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

mini muffins!

whew! i'm still here folks. fatigue hit me like a truck a couple weeks ago, and i kept on truckin' through it thinking it was just the result of growing this sweet little number four, building a backyard fence, and helping my husband get ready for his first trip out of the country since his youth. then the sweet nurse at my doctor's office called to tell me that my glucose test came back all awesome (so i can actually eat these muffins!!), but my iron is low. oh! that explains a lot! so besides upping the iron and munching on spinach, i've been napping and knitting and forgetting about this here space. but then tonight after having a too-early dinner, the kids and i decided we needed to put our mini muffin pan to use and make something that tastes as good as that dang maple sticky buns candle that's been burning all afternoon smells. enter the mini pumpkin cream cheese muffins! i had found a couple different recipes on pinterest, but nothing that appealed to my laziness, so i sorta combined a couple different things and i'm diggin' the result. 

i remembered seeing back around thanksgiving the recipe for easy pumpkin cake, where you just add a can of pumpkin to a cake mix, but i decided to just let the pumpkin substitute some of the eggs and the oil. so i still added one egg and a cup of water to the mix. note: this would have rocked if i'd have had a spice cake mix handy, but since i didn't i did throw in a couple teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice and i'm glad i did.

for the filling i used a 8oz block of cream cheese, a tablespoon of all purpose flour, 1/4 c sugar, some vanilla, and an egg... just pretend that one in the background rolled up to be next to these guys.

then i just put a little blob of filling on top of the semi-filled muffin liners.

and topped that with a final blob of cake batter. toss them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15-18 minutes and enjoy!

this made 4 dozen mini muffins. 

1 cake mix (spice would be best, or yellow with pumpkin pie spice added)
1 can pumpkin
1 egg
1 c water

Filling: (just beat these things with a mixer until completely smooth)
8oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c sugar
1 Tbs flour

Monday, February 17, 2014

another shirt that fits! {maternity sewing}

Yay for another shirt that covers the belly! I followed this tutorial over on DIY Maternity using one of my thrifted button-ups and am SO happy with the result. I also added some cap sleeves, using this tutorial from Suburbs Mama. I'm not sure yet whether to keep them as they are or take them off and try again. I'm wishing they were slightly more fitted, I think.

Unfortunately I don't think this shirt is going to see it to the end of my pregnancy, since I probably won't stop growing for the next 3 months...

But the button front and the general shape of the shirt is making me think I could definitely use it after baby arrives as a shirt that's handy to nurse in. *fingers crossed* I always seem to have a hard time finding tops that don't cost a zillion dollars that are convenient for nursing. I usually end up just layering up tees with stretchy camisoles, but that doesn't lend itself well to all occasions.

29 weeks!

Not too bad for about $4 and a couple hours of sewing therapy. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

thursday already?!

How on earth did that happen? Karl didn't work at all last week due to the weather, and we spent all day Monday buying a new (to us) car. (Yay for being a two car family again!) Needless to say our schedule has been all thrown off with daddy home and we are just now getting back into real life again. Boy did we enjoy our time though. It is lovely to take a few days once in a while to just be. We had nothing scheduled and didn't yet have the means to get our to-do list rolling. Instead we enjoyed a lot of reading, a couple family movie nights, playing together, and family naps. Luckily, after a lovely weekend full of snow and nighttime snowball fights, the weather warmed up and Karl made it back to work before we all got too used to being home together--turns out that just doesn't get the bills paid!

Hopefully I'll get another boost of energy soon now that I've hit the third trimester (!!) and get those maternity shirts finished so I have more than one shirt that fits again.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

new post, old dress {maternity sewing}

I decided this dress needs an updated post. It has been on favorite status through two pregnancies, and was amazing after Milo was born, since the deep V neckline lends itself well to nursing attire. I used this tutorial with a super light weight slub knit that I doubled over. The arm holes and hem are left raw, since the jersey doesn't fray and I dig the look. The style of the dress works well as a layered piece with a long sleeve shirt and leggings, works as a cute spring church outfit with flats and a cardigan, and can even be paired well with heels for a date night. LOVE it. Pretty sure I'll be making another one as soon as the right fabric finds me.

Here's what it looks like with no belt, which is getting to be more comfortable these days.

And here's the belly!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

in progress.

Thanks to my ever-expanding belly and the attempt of all three children at various times through the night/early morning to crawl over me into our bed, I am up before the sun this morning, enjoying the chilly quiet. And chilly it is! This is our first winter in our OLD and drafty house, and we are still getting used to figuring out the best ways to stay warm. Wool socks, hot water bottles, and throw blankets thrown everywhere are feeling especially cozy right now. And I can't forget knitting. Knitting feels especially cozy this time of year, especially with a new babe to knit for kicking around in my belly. Right now I'm working on a BSJ for Little No. 4 (see the one I knit for Milo here). I decided not to hold the yarn double this time, and using some Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Pacific on size 4 needles, I'm crossing my fingers he'll at least get to wear it a handful of times before its too small!

Also! I took a trip through the thrift store a little while back and found a couple goodies to make into maternity shirts, using a little inspiration from DIY Maternity--such a great site for tutorials and inspiration! If these work out, I'll have two new shirts for under $6. Score! I'm thinking one of them will turn into another peasant top, and I might piece together a couple different tutorials for the other. 

I love the fabric on that front shirt. You can't tell from far away, but the print is little birds. 

I'm linking up to Frontier Dreams today, for some more inspiring progress posts.

Friday, January 31, 2014

about that other post

Maybe you know the one I mean, or maybe you'll take a moment to read it now. I don't mean to beat a dead horse, and I hope it doesn't start to feel like that around here, but honestly, I feel like this is such an important story to share. Back when I first found out about my husband's affair, after I was rocked by the shock (that sometimes I feel hasn't entirely dissolved), after God put the idea of forgiveness and reconciliation on my heart, and while Karl and I were still in separate houses, I felt so alone. I was afraid that anyone I told would immediately take sides, which I knew wouldn't be healthy if we were going to end up staying married. I found out Karl had support. He had some great people to pray with him, identify with him--some people we have known for a long time told him about their experiences with infidelity, but never did I get to hear from the spouse hurt by it (I know now that in every case, BOTH spouses are hurt by it, but I wasn't willing to admit it then). 

I turned to google, desperate in my search to read a story written by the betrayed spouse, a story of forgiveness. Again and again all I could seem to find were resources for the person caught in the affair, and a whole lot of unhelpful advice. Save for one story, which by the way, I found weeks before I knew about my husband's affair, but during the weeks that followed I read it again and again. I was so thirsty to hear a story written by someone who was hurt, but was able to find forgiveness. I needed to know it was possible. Probably not a surprise, but a marriage on the rocks is incredibly messy business, and trying to make sense of anything during that time was extremely difficult. Between wondering who would get the kids, how would I support myself, what if I stay angry forever, what if they're in love, what if? What if? What if? There's so much room for anger in those questions and not much room for hope. Add to that the exhaustion of keeping a "game face" on--for the kids, for the parents, friends, family... It's tough.

 It was rock bottom for me. I said in that last post that I fell on my face in prayer, and it's true. I had no energy to do anything else, and in that time alone with God, I found hope. In that story I read on the internet, I found hope. When I finally had the courage to reach out to a friend, I was overwhelmed with hope. Not necessarily the hope I wanted--I didn't find the promise of my saved marriage online, or in a single prayer, or through email conversations with a friend, but I did find hope in knowing I wasn't alone. And that's a damn fine first step. And that is one reason why I need to share this story. 

Just in case someone out there somewhere needs to know they're not alone...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

my favorite food (for now)

Ladies and gentlemen, I have to confess. I cannot get enough of these.
Call them salad rolls, spring rolls, fresh rolls, whatever. But they are gooooood.
And a much needed change from the fried food and potato chip addiction I have had as of late.

Here's what I put in mine this time. You always need the rice papers and some sort of noodles, but the rest can change every time. Sometimes I use rice sticks noodles and sometimes I use bean threads. No one in my house seems to have a preference. This time I put in mung bean sprouts, bell pepper, carrot, cucumber and plenty of fresh cilantro.

Just slice your veggies into thin matchsticks, prepare the noodles according to package directions, and you're good to go.

This is what the rice paper looks like right out of the package. My small town has a local grocery store with a great selection of Asian foods--shout out to Shop'N'Kart, if you're local!-- but I have also seen them at Fred Meyer and sometimes Safeway.

You can see that it is pretty thin and brittle.

Just soak them in a pie plate with about a half inch of hot water for a few seconds and they soften right up.

I have found that the time it takes me to roll up my first roll is the perfect amount of time to have the next rice paper soaking.

They're hard to hold flat with one hand while taking a picture with the other hand. It will stick to itself, so try not to let that happen. I think I was able to save this one before it got too crumpled up.

Just flatten it out the best you can on a plate.

Then top with whatever you're putting on yours. If you look really closely you can see that some green onion snuck in after I had taken the photos of the ingredients up above. Good stuff. I always pile the noddles on first, then the sprouts, followed by whatever else you have. Don't forget the cilantro!

Now you fold over the two ends that are perpendicular to the fillings, and stick it down to the flaps that are still open. That will help you get a nice, tight roll.

Then just roll it up burrito style.

And of course dip it in plenty of peanut sauce. That's the best part. There are tons of recipes out there on the interwebs for this stuff, but I'm much too lazy for that these days. This one is my current favorite. A little spicy, and I'm pretty sure it'd be awesome with an ice cold beer... I'll keep you posted on that in about 3-4 months.  ;)