Monday, June 28, 2010

S'mores, Swimming Pool, Snakes...Summer!

Summer is here at last! And I don't mean by the calendar... I mean that our wet weather seems to have finally made an exit. We have warmth and sunshine, and we celebrated this weekend with S'mores...

a new ($17!) swimming pool...

and checking out the snakes in the strawberry patch (now if only the berries themselves would ripen)...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oz Dress

I'm doing it! Im really and truly sewing clothes! Okay, so maybe I've only finished two things, but hey, the fact that I have another two projects started, and one of them is actually for myself says a LOT about my growing confidence.

I made this dress using the same pattern (by ManiMina) as the last one, but with elastic at the neckline, lengthened sleeves with elasticized bell cuffs, a lengthened hemline, and a bit of vintage crochet lace at the waist. The fabric is called "Oz Dizzy Black" and is by Moda.

When Katie saw it hanging there on the cupboard knob, she ran over saying, "My FOWER DESS!" and proceeded to kiss it with big exaggerated "Mwuh, Mwuh, Mwuh" sounds, then said, "Oh, Mama... I wear it? Fower dess?"

My little blue jean baby ASKING to wear a dress? I guess I got this one right.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Local Talent

Recent additions to our growing collection of original work by the Resident Artist, I give you...

"Big Blue Monster Robot Alien Attacking the Island of Sodor"...


"It's Raining on My Head, That's a Flower that Eats Bugs, and the Ladybug is Walking Right Toward It... Oh, and the Flower is Katie".

My Son, I can hardly wait to see what comes out of your brain next!

Monday, June 21, 2010

What We Did to Celebrate Father's Day

Had a yummy dinner at Newport Seafood Grill, followed by chocolate sundaes which the kids were forced to share with their parents...

Then, even though it was already past bedtime, and we had a long drive back to the country ahead of us, we stopped along Marine Drive beside the Portland International Airport and watched a few airplanes land.

I love that guy!

Someone Got a Haircut

Happy Chickens

I just realized that I never showed you the (nearly) finished "Chic Chalet". I say nearly, because there is one triangle-shaped piece of chicken wire yet to go up. But the growing girls are moved in and loving their new play yard. We even convinced our remaining layer from last years' gaggle to join the babies; she clucks and complains a lot, but that's because she doesn't realize the move has most likely lengthened her lifespan by a few years.

Their first move-along by the tractor went without a hitch (get it... hitch? hahaha...ahem.) We thought they would be in a frenzy when their home started to move, but they seemed to think it was great fun and ran right along with it, pecking at the fresh new grass.

Keep eating and growing, chickies, I'm really ready for some of your fresh eggs.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sewing Clothes

All of my school years were spent attending private schools. Not that we were wealthy... quite the opposite, actually. My Dad was a teacher in the elementary grades, and chose to work in private faith-based schools, so all 5 of us kids were able to attend the schools where he taught for greatly reduced or even free tuition.

Anyway, that's not the point of my story today. The part that I disliked the most about private school was the quite restrictive dress code. Specifically, we had to wear dresses or skirts every day, and the hem had to touch the floor when we were on our knees. My more petite friends were able to find fashionable clothes in the department stores that worked just fine, but my slightly taller than average frame (I'm 5'8") was just a *tad* too long for many of the styles of that time, and if I tried to get away with a store-bought skirt, I was often found out. The result was that I was either wearing my skirts "low-rise" (way ahead of the trend on that one!), or I was wearing some home-sewn frock which I really didn't like. Sewing my own clothing was one of my most hated tasks- deciphering the instructions, dealing with tissue-thin pattern paper and almost always ending up with a product that didn't fit quite right and looked hokey.

Needless to say, although I have sewn a few quilts and lots of curtains and pillows in the years since, I have not had even a *slight* urge to sew myself a piece of clothing.

Then a few years ago I started browsing etsy, with its shops full of amazing hand-crafted and unique clothing articles, and I began to view home-sewing with interest. But with two young rascals to care for, and a remaining dread of commercial patterns, I resisted quite easily.

Meanwhile, I was growing frustrated with the clothes available locally, finding current styles either too young or too matronly or too fitted or too low or too blah, blah, blah... And when I did find something that I really liked, it was almost always well out of my budget price range (can anyone say single-income-family-in-a-down-economy?), and besides, the kids continue to grow and need new clothes, so it was hard to justify a new wardrobe for me just for vanity's sake.

But finally, I am taking the plunge. And I plan to let you all in on the process, whether it be good, bad, ugly, or perhaps even fabulous.

I used some birthday money that I had been saving, along with some of my recent earnings from a wedding cake to buy a serger to be used in conjunction with my old hand-me-down sewing machine.

I also bought this book, because I would love to one day be confident enough to branch out beyond patterns to craft my own clothes:

and a few adorable patterns for little girls from ManiMina on etsy, which I chose because of their simplicity and potential for adaptation.

My plan? To practice on Katie, because even badly made clothes look cute on 2 year olds, right?

Now, after sticking with me for that long explanation, you deserve a small reward. Want to see my first attempt?

Not wanting to mess up brand new fabric, I first made a "muslin" out of a thin cotton fabric that a friend's parents brought back from a trip to Africa.

Super easy to make, with clear instructions, and way cuter than I expected.

Little Missy's favorite part was the re-purposed tie from an old t-shirt of mine. She kept stroking it saying, "Dess, Mama make pretty dess".


Stay tuned for more adventures in sewing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Feeling Dry/Hot/Dusty?

Tired of watering your garden?

Humidity got you all worn out?

Come to Oregon, where the rain loves to dwell, and the grey, gloomy skies linger long.

You'll never have to water your garden for fear it will wash right off the face of the earth,

and although you will still find plenty of humidity, it won't be the kind that makes you want to go naked.

Here, even the Poppies are smart enough to keep their hats on.

The Lambsear regularly wear diamond tiaras in defiance of the gloom,

and the people have webbed toes (sorry, not going to show THAT photo).

If Etsy Was My Closet

This is what I would be wearing today:

Mohair Shrug by reflectionsbyds
Raw Silk Flare Pants by kalilalove
Equinox Flat by HydraHeart
Carved Bone Bird Necklace by FrenchSentiments

And I would be drinking endless amounts of piping hot Cafe Rojas out of this mug by SimplyDaisy:

And I am!... Well... (ahem), actually... I sadly don't own one single piece of the outfit, and endless mugs of Rojas would make me as jittery as a jackhammer, but at least the Mug is really and truly mine...

Its the little things, you know.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Pattern Release... Oh Teach Me What is Good (A Faithfully Reproduced Antique Sampler)

When I spotted this antique sampler on a certain well-known auction site, it was love at first sight. I dawdled, I hemmed and hawed, I pondered, and I decided to pass on the opportunity. Then I woke up the next morning and practically raced to my computer to see if it was still there! You know the end of the story already, for indeed, this little mis-fit of a sampler came to my home to live.

Undated, unsigned, stained, faded, worn, but so full of appeal to this country girl. I guess it to be not much older than the turn of the last century, and possibly a bit younger. The person that I purchased it from told me that she found it in an Idaho antique mall.

In my attempt to find out any information possible on the sampler, I entered the first eight words of the quote into a certain well-known internet search engine, and was pleasantly surprised to immediately find a link to the original author’s poem.

“Winter, A Poem” was written by James Thomson, a Scottish poet and playwright and was originally published in 1726. Quite a long poem, and just part of a larger body of work titled “The Seasons”, the portion partially quoted in this sampler, interestingly, was also quoted in Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. The stanza in entirety reads:

“FATHER of Light, and Life! Thou Good Supreme!
O! teach me what is Good! teach me thy self!
Save me from Folly, Vanity and Vice,
From every low Pursuit! and feed my Soul,
With Knowledge, conscious Peace, and Virtue pure,
Sacred, substantial, never-fading Bliss!”

I may never know any more about the maker of this charming sampler, but I love the search that she/he has led me on, and I will treasure it for years to come.

I am ever grateful to my friend Merrie for not only offering to stitch the sampler model, but then also completing it in record time. This may be partially due to an unusually wet Spring here in Oregon, which kept her indoors, but I think I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say that she is one of the speediest needlewomen I have ever met!

Stitch Count: 159 x 150

Model stitched on R & R Reproductions 28ct. Old Mill Java

Using flosses from The Gentle Art: 0120 Pine, 0430 Summer Meadow, 0460 Grecian Gold, 0530 Pumpkin Patch, 7014 Antique Rose, 7049 Lambswool, 7057 Roasted Marshmallow, 7060 Picnic Basket

And flosses from Weeks Dye Works: 1171 Dove, 1201 Putty, 2241 Chrysanthemum, 3363 Kudzu, 3940 Okefenokee

Frame by Valley House Primitives.

Now available in my etsy shop, and on its way to my distributors soon. If you don't have an etsy account, you can always contact me directly to purchase the pattern at:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In the Absence of Anything Profound to Say...

One can always rely on photographs to convey the Sweet...

the Sublime...

and most definitely the Silly...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Move-in Day at Last!

Quite a lot of progress was made on the new Chicken House (I need to come up with an official name for it) on Saturday, but then we were plagued again by a very rainy Sunday. Good thing for the quickly-growing chickens that Matt had Monday off from work and the sun came back out.

By evening, it was finished... at least mostly... the chicken wire has not gone up yet, to enclose the play yard, but at least the house was ready and those teenaged birds could be moved from their cramped brooding box.

There was a lot of love and attention to detail put in on their behalf, so before showing you the move in, hows about a little mini-tour?

It has a large picture window looking out the back and is sided with reclaimed wood. The chicken door has its very own grand stairway which can be raised and lowered if necessary. The rails and poles came from small cedar trees harvested from our woods...

There are three nesting boxes along one side wall, each with its own hinged door for egg-gathering ease...

The large front door is vented at the top for fresh air flow on hot Summer days, and allows easy access for cleaning...

Mr. Tractor-Operator says that it pulls easily, that "the tractor didn't even know it was there". This is a very good thing, in my opinion. After SO many hours of labor involved in its construction, it would have been really lame to discover that it was too heavy or that it put gouges in the earth as it was being pulled along.

Finally, time to see how the girls like their new luxury suite, they were loaded into a box and carried by yours truly to their new home site (undignified, I know, but they are too unruly to try to herd all the way from the barn, and likely to run off and be eaten- at least I used a cool box- its the one my reel mower came in).

Just after this photo was taken, a silly Jack exclaimed, "Mama! I see an eyeball!"

And here they are at last, exploring their new digs, fresh shavings in place. They were a bit freaked out at first, but soon were pecking at the walls and scratching at the floor.

Here's to a long predator-free life full of fresh greens and grubs, my Girls.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Sunshine at Last

After living through the third wettest May on record, this first day of REAL sunshine (not overcast, not sunbreaks in between rain showers, but real all-day-long sunshine) feels simply amazing.

Reading all of your blog posts from the East coast and Middle states about eating fresh strawberries, and escaping the heat, and drinking lemonade, has been a tad bit depressing.

I am hopeful that the worst is over and the warm weather months will commence.

As of right now, 12:45 pm, I have made breakfast for my family and cleaned the kitchen, ran 2 loads of laundry through the washer, have 2 loaves of bread on their last rising and ready to bake, mowed the front lawn (by hand... with my reel mower),

and filled an entire wheelbarrow with weeds.

Now the kids are eating their lunch, and just as soon as I get them down for their nap, this is where I'll be...

I must be a solar-powered battery, because this sunshine has me Energized!