Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer Reading

Top Ten {Tuesday}

1. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Rhoda Janzen: I laughed out loud.

2. The Ametuer Marriage, Anne Tyler: I've read other Anne Tyler that I didn't like so much but I liked this; my heart slowly broke with the marriage.

3. What's so Amazing About Grace?, Philip Yancey: "The Christian life . . . does not primarily center on ethics or rules but rather involves a new way of seeing. I escape the force of spiritual "gravity" when I begin to see myself as a sinner who cannot please God by any method of self-improvement or self-enlargement. Only then can I turn to God for outside help - for grace - and to my amazement I learn that a holy God already loves me despite my defects." (p. 272, italics mine)

4. Grace-Based Parenting, Tim Kimmel: I was not really aware of the amazing nature of God's grace until recently and find that it's, well, amazing, and so applicable to parenting.

5. I Will Carry You, Angie Smith: Liz loaned this to me and at first I thought it was just re-hash of the blog. Had I started at the beginning and read it straight through (like, say, a normal person), I would have found out differently. But I picked it up, read some, cried, put it down, picked it up another day, read another part, cried . . . finally on Sunday I sat down and read it start to finish. Yes, there's a lot there that's already in the blog, but she also has pulled the story together with some wonderful themes and the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. It's beautifully written and inspiring. You will need tissues, even if you know what's coming.

6. The New Strong-Willed Child, Dr. James Dobson: I was holding out hope that Kate wasn't actually strong-willed but 8 pages in it became clear . . . she's a pretty classic strong-willed child. I didn't think this book presented much more than I'd already read: be consistent, pray, know your child and discipline accordingly.

7. Night Lights, Phyllis Theroux: I started reading this awhile ago and finished it this past week. Such good writing; insightful, flowing, sweet.

8. Small Wonder, Barbara Kingsolver: I have loved other books I've read by her. I picked this up for $2.50 and was disappointed that it's essays and not short stories. Readers with a higher level of reading comprehension would notice that it says that on the cover, but not me. Overall I have been enjoying it (OK, OK, I haven't finished it yet) but sometimes I feel like her tone is overbearing and demanding. We don't all have the luxury of a yard and a garden and eating only fresh veggies we've grown ourselves, or two houses and (clearly) having someone take care of the empty house's garden while they're at the second home . . . I mean, it must be nice for you but don't make me feel guilty that we have to shop at a grocery store. I do what I can and what I think is best but easily feel guilty for areas I think I'm failing in.

(oh good grief. What other book did I read? I know there were 9 "grown-up" books and then I was going to add a children's book to make 10 . . . oh, I remember . . . )

9. Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger: I thought The Time Traveler's Wife was hard to get into but then I loved it. So when I saw this in paperback at Target, I snatched it up. I really liked it, although I found the "inciting incident" to be a little weak. It made me want to visit Highgate Cemetery, or just London in general.

10. Goodnight, Lake, Adam Cooper: Love how every page (except the one about the Great Lakes) is something we do or see at our lake.

So now, either head to your library for these books or over to ohamanda for more top-ten lists.

(update: After I posted this, I remembered one more.)

How could I forget Kate Braestrup and Here if You Need Me? I have been wanting to read this for forever and found it for $1 at the book bin at the grocery store. It was fantastic, so well written and interesting. She talks about wanting her husband back but knowing that all the amazing things that have happened in her life since his death would not have happened . . . she can't have both. They are two different things, held in two different hands. Oh. heartbreaking. I told Craig I wanted to get lost in the woods so the wardens would come look for me and she'd come so I could meet her . . . there must be an easier way because I for sure do not want to be in the Maine woods.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


It's hard to believe it's been four years since we met her.

She's vivacious, loud, funny, talkative, curious . . . a "hot ticket."
I love her personality. I love that God made her zesty and chose us to be her parents.

We are abundantly blessed to have her in our family.
Happy Birthday, sweet girl.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Nursing Cover

I started this post on June 17 and just finished it now.

A friend from church asked me to make a nursing cover. I looked at directions on a website or two and it looked really easy. She was going to get some fabric but I was really "chomping at the bit" to try it out so I took some fabric from my stash and made this:

I was really happy with how this turned out, and she liked it so much I gave her this one.

I basically followed the directions here.

Right. You will notice almost no similarity between what I made and what's on the website. I did use her dimensions (38" x 28" give or take) and the neck strap is 30" as she suggests, but basically I struck out on my own. (By the way, the solid fabric on the one above is a really pretty pale yellow mini-wale corduroy. It doesn't show up yellow in the picture. I don't know why I had it other than I thought it was pretty and might use it someday . . . I had that clever thought 3 years ago. It must be so happy to be out in the light of day. And that pattern? I have a good four yards of that. I don't even remember buying it.)

I did not take process pictures because, well, I figured you could go to the link and read the directions yourself. Basically I cut my fabric, then cut it again to get it right, then pinned them right sides together and sewed almost all the way around. I cut the strap 4" x the length of the fabric; I cut the long strap to 30" and the short one was the remainder (about 15" or whatever). I doubled the short one over and threaded it through the D-rings. Then I sewed close to the bottom of the D-rings.

I fought to get the straps turned right side out and then when I was at Joanne's I found this fantastic tool that does exactly what its name says: quickly turns tubes of fabric.

Then, because it was so much fun, I made two more. One was commissioned as a gift (I got paid for it!)

and the other I gave as a gift.

There it is, the fabric I used for the camera strap. On these last two, I used a flannel for one side and just a regular cotton for the other; on the first I liked how the corduroy was soft and I wanted that soft/plush feel for the others. I need to find out how these stood up over time and washing . . . and then wait for someone else to have a baby so I can make more.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Feeding Frenzy

I just wanted a Jimmy Buffet shout-out. As far as actual eating goes, there really haven't been any feeding frenzies.

Unless you count popsicles.

For the most part, they've been eating what we eat, something grilled with some sort of carby side . . . but then there's the nights they just don't and it's so hot and I can't. Apparently there was something inedible about the ravioli I bought in Maine so I finally threw the rest of the bag away. They're always up for frozen waffles, though.

The night I didn't feed them until 8 PM (don't ask), Kate downed 2 pieces of pizza without blinking. Sam ate too, so maybe the key is to have them hungry . . . and overtired . . .

Overall, Sam's been eating more food but he still pulls out the "I don't want/like this" often.

So yes. The whine production is still going strong.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

First Fumbling Attempts

A few shots with the new camera . . . attempts at "arty" shots, not my typical need to record this event for scrapbooking or my child looks really cute/crazy/cool today use of the camera.

This one didn't really capture what I was going for . . . the light peeking through and hitting only some of the needles looked so cool. Also the wind was blowing and moving the branches and not cooperating with my aperture settings . . . I think . . . you know. Something like that.

I'm sure this one could be better but even so, I like how it turned out.

I wouldn't have minded taking several more of these . . . but I was feeling self-conscious taking the ones I did. This is my favorite.

I really like this one from when we went to the shore with my sister. I saw some of our beach gear stacked and thought, great 'end of day at beach' shot . . . I did the monochrome to reduce the visual dissonance of the red, white, and blue bucket and the different colored shovels.

Belle's shoulder. I would have liked to have taken 18 variations of this, but she sat still for just this one . . . well, I managed to snap it before she moved, not that she was involved in any way in purposefully sitting or cooperating. I think it would be better with less of her back showing . . . if I could figure out how to copy a picture in our photo program (not iphoto) , I'd crop it and play with it some. I also like how her adorable profile is sort of showing up in the shadow, another thing if I'd have purposely tried to include if I had the chance for more shots . . . but overall this does fit in the vision I had for this, when I saw her covered with sand.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"vintage" is relative

Last week when my sister was here, we got a sitter for the kids and went out by ourselves. We went to Peterborough, NH for chicken burritos from 12 Pine (we promised one to Liz but she left before we got back so Craig ate it. sorry).
Back in the day, like 11 years ago, there wasn't much in Peterborough. But now there's some cool shops. Clothes and gifts, and at the end of our circle of Depot Square, some really fun & pretty antique shops.
We spent a lot of time prowling and digging in those two shops. I found a little bundle of vintage-looking lace-type trim (are they really old? or just raggedy and dirty?). I had been thinking I wanted to try making hair bows out of vintage trim, if I could find some, and for $3.95 I saw my chance.
I even took lots of pictures from the start (which felt a little optimistic, like I already thought it was going to work and I'd want pictures for a post and it could really be a waste of time disaster that I'd have wasted my time taking pictures of) for you.

I didn't take a picture "before" I oxy-soaked them and washed them. I thought they were kind of a pale ecru, but in reality, they are white:
Then I sewed a running stitch and gathered them (by pulling the bobbin thread) in to a circle.
Then I stacked them and sewed them and puzzled about what to do with the big piece.

The couple things I tried with the big piece didn't work and this is what I ended with:

I hot glued it and sewed it to a barrette and put more hot glue on it.

I'm really happy with how it turned out and wish I had gotten more . . .

seeeeeeriously . . . I've tried quite a bit to fix the spacing and it won't fix.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sometimes I get a good idea . . .

. . . and can't sit still until I try it out.

(Let me begin by thanking my sister for inspiring and helping me to clean up my craft space so now I can drag out all manner of new crafts to clutter it up.)

I was looking online at personalized shirts with monograms or numbers (for birthdays) and while they were wicked cute, couldn't bring myself to spend $35 or more for a shirt. (Oh, you want links? well, I'm tired and don't want to do it now).

So I thought up this:
Super cute, huh? I didn't even buy a new shirt. I used one Kate already had. Of course the fabric came from my legendary stash. It was a bundle of coordinating fabrics I bought years ago.
I even too a picture of the project in progress:

I cut 2" squares from the fabric and patched them together. I didn't line up the seams to enhance the patchwork-y feel. Also because I didn't feel like getting up to get my pins to pin the seams together.

I ironed on the fusible web and then printed a "4" (arial block, at 550 font size), which I traced onto the paper backing. I cut it out, peeled off the paper, and ironed it onto the shirt. I tried really hard to make it straight but it looks crooked to me.

Then I did a zig-zag stitch all around the edges to help it stay on.

Then I did this:

(made a camera strap cover)

There are many things I would do differently next time, among them measuring with a ruler, looking up directions online, and not telling Craig what I'm doing (I was literally about to put it on the strap and he said, "now I can never use it, it's too girly." good grief. It's blue, for crying out loud).

But hind sight is 20/20, isn't it?

Do you recognize the dot fabric? It's from one of the nursing covers I made. Oh. I never finished that post. The navy gingham is from the binding of Sam's quilt. Both pieces were already cut.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I {heart} this

I decorated this jar of Maine memories for my sister and her little girl. Belle is 2 1/2 and had a blast filling it; I had a great time decortating it. I just love how it turned out.

I did yank the ribbon off the lid and put it on so the "seam" is in the back.
I'm also really happy with how the things in the background are blurry . . . that's the new camera for you!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Blueberry Boy Bait

We picked the blueberries from Blueberry Hill (not the Blueberries for Sal Blueberry Hill but love it for having the same name).

Then I made Smitten Kitchen's Blueberry Boy Bait.

I did not take pictures. I'm not going to post the recipe (click on the link). But I do have to tell you, it was fantastic.

Really, really, really good.

Super yummy. I might add a few more blueberries to the top next time, but other than that, make it as written.