Wednesday, November 26, 2008

seriously good and gluten free

Okay, so Tim's birthday was last week. What does everyone enjoy on their birthday? Well, cake, of course. Easier said than done when you eat gluten-free. But a man needs a yummy birthday cake, right? So I made him a chocolate cake. A gluten-free chocolate cake. A surprisingly moist, gluten-free chocolate cake. A super delicious, surprisingly moist, gluten-free chocolate cake. Why all the adjectives? you ask. Well, because those are not common adjectives when describing anything gluten free, especially cake. Want the recipe? Here's a link... Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake. So yummy. The frosting is yummy, too. I added some cranberries to make it pretty...the girls added chocolate chips (because you can never have too much chocolate). Oh, and Janet, if you have a hankerin' for chocolate, you'll love this!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

a project of firsts

As you know, I joined the Thankful Things Swap hosted by Adrienne from Some of a Kind. My first swap...great fun! Well, one of the things I sent to Emily, my swap partner, was an apron that I made. I loosely followed this tutorial for the style of the apron. But I couldn't stop there. This apron has my first attempt at gathers. Easier than expected...and cute. Then I thought, well, I've been wanting to try french seams, and Adrienne said it was super easy, so I found this tutorial and gave it a try. Can I just say...I love french seams. It was so simple, yet the outcome is beautiful. I know, I hear you...What's the big deal? It's a seam for crying out loud, no one will see it. Oh, it does matter. I've made things without a serger, without pinking shears, without french seams, and although the finished product is good (in most cases), the inside, where the seams are, has always looked kinda, well, messy. French seams are THE, er, my solution. The other new thing I tried on this apron was the reverse applique on the pockets. An apron has got to have least for me, but plain ol' pockets just weren't doing anything for me this time around. Then I remembered seeing some reverse applique work here and here, so I gave it a whirl. Love it! So now, after making a new apron with gathers, french seams, and reverse applique pockets, all of which were successful, it was hard to give it away. But, the whole point of the swap was to share tangible things we enjoy. I sure hope Emily enjoys the apron as much as I enjoyed making it!

Okay, so I couldn't stop there. My dear friend Theresa had a birthday so I made an apron for her while I was making the swap apron. Yea, that's right, I was working on two projects at once. I used the same tutorial for the style, but I changed the pockets. I made large, square, lined pockets then folded down one corner and added a button for detail. I also did the gathers (even better this time around) and french seams. Still loving those seams! I also made her a matching travel tissue holder. As a mother of little ones I know how important and helpful it is to have tissues on hand at all times....especially this time of year. Okay, so I was so excited to give this gift to Theresa I forgot to take pictures of it first. She was kind enough to bring it to the library so I could snap a few shots in the picture book section...hence the bad lighting, but you can still see the finished product.

stay calm people

Today is November 25th. Do you know what that means? Do you? Christmas is one month away...
One month!!!! I know, I know. Now, stay calm. Take a deep breath. Okay, feeling better? There's something you should know. Thanksgiving is this Thursday, yes, two days from now. Has your turkey (or tofurkey) thawed completely? Do you have your cranberries ready for making into sauce...and the standard can of jellied, can-shaped cranberry sauce? How about pie...pumpkin pie? Oh good. Now relax. Enjoy this week. Remember that it's a time to be thankful. We are blessed. So, give thanks, enjoy time with family, watch the parade, listen to Christmas music, stuff yourself with turkey and all the fixins, linger over a hot cuppa coffee (or tea). That's my general plan for Thanksgiving 'bout you?
I do have to admit, I got a little head start on Christmas this year so I'm a little more relaxed. Yep, my tree is up. The girls had lots of fun decorating it..of course, most of the ornaments are on the bottom half of the tree, but it's a beaut! And yes, Adrienne, that's a crocheted tree skirt that my Grandma made for me two years ago.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Birthday

In the summer of 1993 Tim and I met and started dating, he was the ripe old age of 23. One year and three months later we were married...he was almost 25 years old.
Well folks, today is his birthday...
and it's a big one...
the big 40!

Happy Birthday Tim. I love you!

And as is tradition in our house, I share with you THE birthday song...enjoy!

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

thankful thursday

For each new morning with its light,For rest and shelter of the night,For health and food, for love and friends,For everything Thy goodness sends.~Ralph Waldo Emerson

As my daily routine gets a little more busy and as Thanksgiving and Christmas grow closer and closer, I am reminded of how blessed I am. I have a husband who is a wonderful provider for our family. I have two beautiful children that are healthy. I have a home that is safe and warm with a yard that my children can enjoy. I live in a country where I am free to worship God and study His Word. I am undeserving of His grace and mercy, nevertheless, I am blessed...and for that I am very thankful.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

works for me wednesday

This is my very first Works For Me Wednesday post! Yippee! I always find great tips and ideas from the list on Rocks In My Dryer, and now I finally feel like I have something worth sharing.

Preschool Scissor Practice
A wise woman (my mom...a pre-k teacher) once told me a great way to encourage scissor skills that not only builds confidence in the child but also recycles! You know all those reply cards for renewing subscriptions that are in and always falling out of the magazines you receive? Well, those annoying little cards are just perfect for those chubby little, scissor eager hands. All you need is:

those little postcard sized reply cards, a marker, and a ruler.

Draw thick lines across the length of the cards for the preschooler to cut.

Then, be brave...hand your little one a pair of safety scissors and let them have at it!

Because the cards are small they are the perfect size for little hands. Because the cards are thicker than paper they don't bend or flop around. Because the lines drawn are straight it strengthens those fine motor skill muscles. Because you let the preschooler cut up all of those reply cards it saves you from ripping them to shreds out of shear disgust because they fall into your lap every time you flip through your magazine wasting paper or spending money on scissor practice workbooks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

i interrupt this holiday season.... ask for ideas, birthday cake ideas, that is.
Okay, I understand that Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. I also understand that Christmas is coming very soon. But I need your help. With all holiday preparations and excitement aside, Miss O's birthday is the week after Christmas so my mental planning has to begin now! If I don't start thinking and planning now my brain will be filled with thoughts of egg nog, Christmas lights, pumpkin pie, wrapping paper...well, you get the idea. So what I normally do is ask her one more time what kind of cake she would like. If you know my little O, then you know that she usually chooses her theme for the next birthday immediately following her current birthday. And just so you know, she doesn't really change her mind. Last year, after her bumble bee birthday with cute bee hive cake and all, she decided that she wanted an indian pow wow birthday when she turns six. No, she hasn't changed her mind. Let the planning begin! This should be easy right? I mean, it's almost Thanksgiving so there should be plenty of, native american stuff all around. That's all good and fine, but the decorations and "fluff" are not my problem. My problem is the cake...the CAKE...THE cake! Here are pictures of previous cakes(made for O & E) so that you are fully aware of where I'm going with this.

Obviously I am not going for perfection. And also quite obvious is that fact that I'm not afraid to make a cake without a special pan. "Why are you saying all of this?" you ask. Well, I need ideas people...and even possibly links to great ideas. The cake is key. A tee pee cake? A totem pole cake? A likeness of Sacajawea cake? A pow wow drum cake? Any other ideas (which also includes your clever ideas on how to make said idea)? Bring it on people of blogland. I would love for my beautiful, snaggletooth, talkative, creative, inquisitive, almost 6 years old baby to have her cake and eat it, too!

oh, joy!

My husband just called me from work to tell me that the radio station is already playing Christmas music!!!! As a general rule in our house, I wait until Thanksgiving day to bring out the Christmas cd's, so as not to drive everyone else insane grow weary of hearing it by the time Christmas arrives. Oh, the joy of the Christmas music loophole!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

thoroughly loved and threadbare

A while back as I was painfully changing the sheets on the bunk beds I took a close look at miss O's beloved blankie. I know she's almost 6 years old, but I got that blankie at the baby shower and she has always had it with her in the bassinet, pack 'n play, crib, toddler bed, bunk bed. It's been washed a gazillion times, but over the years it has become thin and threadbare. Upon my close inspection I realized that she was soon going to have just an empty frame of blanket binding and nothing else. When I realized this I explained to her that it was time. Time to put the blankie in the box with all the special baby things. The.Tears.Did.Flow. Okay, okay, think quick...there's got to be a solution that doesn't involve serious trauma and sleep deprivation.

Ooooohhhh...Joann is having a huge sale on snuggle flannel! I explain to miss O that I will take her to the fabric store and she can choose ANY flannel she wants and I will make her a new blanket (that, by my calculations, should last until 7th grade) to have in her bed. After the initial excitement of being able to choose any fabric she wants there were more tears of saddness over the old blankie.
O: Will it go in the trash?!
me: No, never. You've had that blanket since before you were even born. We'll always keep it.
O: Will it go in the baby box?
me: Yes, with all of the special baby things. It'll be safe there and we'll know exactly where it is.
O: In the attic?!
me: Yes.
O: (more crying) I'll never see it again if it's in the attic!
me: Okay, we can keep it down here, but in a clear jar or framed on the wall so you can still see it.
O: (with tears) But I neeeeed it in my bed.

Wow, I knew the blanket was important, but I didn't realize how important. After calming down we went to the fabric store. There were at least 200 choices in the flannel section. Okay, so you know miss E wants to choose some new flannel, too, right? Of course I'll make both of them a new blankie. What joy! So now they both are excited about choosing fabric and carrying the bolt. It's genetic, I think...the love of fabric. Miss O went straight for the solid colors so I could make one exactly the same as the original. Miss E went straight for something completely "her." I convinced them both to look at every choice. There were dots, stripes, butterflies, fairies, ballerinas, puppies, pirates, fish, sharks, frogs, turtles, stars, name it, they had it in the flannel section. Oh, how difficult it was for me to resist the argyle, the ricrac pattern, the peacock feathers, but alas, I was not buying flannel for me. I was there to buy blankie flannel for my girls....and that, I did. Miss O settled on a pretty pink water color-y flannel and miss E, well she settled on her original choice, because "it's the fanciest" , a light pink with kelly green shamrocks and hot pink hearts! Oh, to be three years old! They both happily carried their bolts over to the blanket binding section. My plan: buy white or light pink. Their plan: rainbow blanket binding! They get to choose.They get to choose.They get to choose.
So here are the blankets.
When I gave them thier blankets there were several reactions. Miss E's reaction was one of excitement. She immediately retrieved her old blanket and surrendered it with joy so she could love her new fancy blanket. Miss O, on the other hand, inspected her new blanket very carefully...and approved of it.

However, the handing over of the old blankie was not an occasion I care to relive. The whole sad drama played itself out all over again. The crying, the saddness, the separation anxiety. What to do?!? Time for a compromise. With the promise to leave it alone so it won't fall apart, we agreed to keep it wrapped up like this. Still within sight by the headboard but safe from harm.

Aaahhhhh....stress-free sleep will continue and the new blanket will be loved.

the tooth fairy...

...stopped by our house last night!
That's right, Miss O lost her first tooth!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

thankful thursday

God has two dwellings; one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart. ~Izaak Walton
Every time one of my children becomes ill I am even more thankful for their health.
Every time the leaves fall I am even more thankful for the colors that God has created.
Every time it rains I am even more thankful for our warm and cozy home.
Every time I exercise I am even more thankful for the encouragement from my husband and friends.
Every time the morning alarm rings, although still tired, I am even more thankful that God has given me another day to enjoy with my family.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

my first swap, school, and a stack of books

I have always been intrigued by the idea of a swap. There are a lot of swaps in the blogging community. There are apron swaps, book swaps, craft swaps...well, you get the idea. Well, Adrienne at Some of a Kind decided to host a Thankful Things Swap. I just couldn't resist...I tried, but it didn't work. The purpose behind this swap is to gather some tangible things that I am thankful for and mail them to my swap partner, and she'll do the same thing. Exciting! I know! There is a little more time left before the deadline and my stash is nearly gathered and ready to mail...but I received the swap box from my partner already! Yippee! Oh, there were so many things crammed in the box oven mitt stuffed with recipes that I can't wait to try, a journal, some book beads, fuzzy, warm socks, a stash of fabric, beads, and ribbon, a pumice brush for beautiful feet, birthday party coasters, clever and cute recycled envelopes made from magazines, a beauty of a bird ornament, and a couple of pinwheels which the girls quickly claimed! Oh, Thank you Emily! I am enjoying ALL of thankful things! I assure you, you're swap box will be in the mail very soon!

Now for the school stuff. The girls have been doing very well with their school work. Miss O is a hard worker. She's like a sponge I tell you...always reading, remembering just about all of the details, and sharing what she has learned with anyone who will listen. Oh, I love her sweet spirit. Now, Miss E is still 3 years old but is eager to do school work, too. I've been finding great preschool things for her to working on opposites, counting, letters, using lacing cards...but there's one thing that she has been waiting for...SCISSORS! I have always been hesitant to let her have her way with scissors. She's very energetic and carefree...and I've seen bad haircuts and heard horror stories...I just wasn't ready. Well, yesterday was the day. She got to use scissors for the first time. She did a great job. She concentrated and focused and furrowed her brow with serious dedication to the task at hand.

Okay, now the stack of books. Last week at the library I actually found quite a few books for my own personal enjoyment. Don't get me wrong, I always enjoy the books that I choose for the girls, but these...oh, such good finds, such yummy recipes, such fun sewing patterns, and oh, the story of Annie Londonderry...I am really enjoying that one! Read anything good lately?

Friday, November 7, 2008

better late?

Duuuude, I totally forgot to post about my nephew's birthday. Terrible, I know....not that he would care if his aunt posted a picture or not, but c'mon, he turned 17!!!
Happy 17th Birthday
basketball playing, Duke aspiring, super-tall

Oh, by the way, that picture of him is from '05 and he's holding my little fat Miss E. No, I don't have more recent picture (that's flattering anyway). When they get that old they don't exactly send everyone a school know what I mean?

Anyway, I hope you had a wonderful birthday, Greyson!

a little birdie...

and all of her friends. It seems like they have some important things to discuss. I wonder what it could be!

Okay, now they're just showing off all of their beautiful feathers colors. I certainly hope they're not trying to make the new girl feel bad. I know she's not as colorful, she's a little lumpy, and apparently has some back problems...but she is beautiful in her own way...don't you think?

Okay, the cute little bird pattern was free! I found it here at Spool and I had to try it! The little beauties are going to be Christmas ornament gifts. Now, the manatee was a pattern that I found here and I just couldn't resist. The pattern said to use felt but I didn't have any. Instead I used what I had on hand...solid gray fabric. She came out a little crooked but still adorable.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

binds that tie

I have been eyeballin' a few sewing tutorials out in blogland for a while now and I finally decided to make some of them. The first one I want to show you is wonderful in theory but part of the sewing involves attaching some bias binding (tape) around the perimeter and making a tie closure out of the binding as well. It's called a Gratitude Wrap from Soulemama. It turned out really cute, but the binding is bad, really bad. No, I'm not just saying that. I mean it. I was making it as a gift for someone...and well, it's not gift worthy. I will try it again, without the confounded binding with some minor alterations. But for now, here are some pictures of the one I made....wonky binding that ties...and all.

Another tutorial that I just discovered and absolutely love is the camera strap slipcover from Made by Petchy. I had seen s couple of new camera straps made with fabulous and here, ...but it would have required some deconstruction of my camera strap....uuuhhhh....not ready for that. So when I came across this fabulous slipcover idea I had to try it! It was quick, easy, and it turned out oh, so, cute. Although I did forget the top stitching detail. Arg! But here it is...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

a haiku


candy temptation

I must refuse and resist

empty calories

no more excuses

Look at what my wonderful husband bought for me yesterday! After my last race in the rain, where both of my friends smoked me on the course, I decided that I needed to have music while I run, too. Having fast music really helps with keeping a fast pace and it does a good job keeping the mind distracted mile after mile. I've used Tim's mp3 player while on the treadmill and I had planned on using it during the race, but since it was pouring down rain I didn't use it. I didn't want to ruin it, ya know? So, he bought me very own, I can pick my own songs, wear it in the rain (if it rains during the next race), clip it to my shirt mp3 player. It sounds good, it's little, it's light. It'll make me faster, right?! I sure hope my time is faster because now, I have no more excuses!!! :o) I'm so excited! I can hardly wait to use it! Thanks dear!

tom & jerry....

...and a spider? On Halloween our library had a costume parade and trick-or-treating. I took the girls over there for that because we have the best library in the world. Have I ever mentioned that before? Oh yeah, I think I did here and here. Anyway, here are the girls with Mrs. Lawson! Fabulous spider, right?