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Archive for November, 2008

on the road again

I’ll be blogging away from home the next few days.  Please know I haven’t disappeared…just busy and in the car much of the time. 

I do have to say, the I spy bottles were a huge hit!  It isn’t often that I find something all four girls like.  The older two (ages 6 and 7) love the thrill of the hunt and the twins like the noise it makes as well as the different things they see sifting around in there.  The twins each had a small round one (courtesy of the fancy ornament shaped Coca-Cola’s you can buy during the holidays…pitty to pour $1 worth of soda down the drain!)  The older two each had a 1-liter sized one.  I found springs, hair pretties, pieces to old games and toys, rubber bands, and pom-poms.   We also were gifted a REAL I Spy bottle by a wonderful aunt who reads my blog.  Thanks Jodi, the girls loved it and are frustrated at the items they have yet to locate! 

Anyhow, just checking in to say I am still blogging, hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

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I have a few “UnFinished Objects” hanging around here.  Let’s start by talking Christmas cards.  For years I sent handmade cards out to my entire list of people.  Then 2006 came along and this is as far as I got.

Keep in mind this would be the December I spent in Hanoi adopting the second half of our family, so I had good reason.  The following year I had high hopes.  Instead of designing my own I bought a kit.  It was a cute easy card that would take no time at all.  Here’s how far I got on it before deciding to buy a box of card for close friends and family:

This year, I would love to finish either set of cards.  I used to make lots of paper crafts and miss doing it.  Of course, I look at the calendar and see that Christmas is less than a month away, I’ll be on the road starting this weekend for about 10 days, and that there is still Christmas sewing to do.  Who wants to take bets on me using the last half of the box from last year for close friends and family?

There are other odds and ends of projects; a free-form quilted jacket, various home decor, and even the trim in three separate rooms of the house.  The thing that bothers me the most, though, is a quilt I un-earthed awhile back.  It was a quilt I was making for myself, the colors are so pretty and the fabric is super soft.  The quilt top is done.  I have the backing fabric.  I have the batting.  It needs quilted and there lies the problem. 

I can do small bits of handwork, but the thought of quilting and entire quilt by hand makes me feel a bit panicky.  I do not want to tie it as it is just not the right look for it.  I am scared to even think of machine quilting it.  Not that I do not have a good machine, but I have no clue where to start!  I think I need to sit down with some scraps and see what I come up with.  When it boils down to it, though, I just need to start and get it done.  My goal is to have it done by New Year’s….a little year end “gift” for myself three years in the making. 

I would show you a picture, but to be honest, the last couple days have been way to cold to hang a half finished quilt on the clothesline for a photo.

Which brings me to a challenge for you.  Find that one item you really want to finish and make some plans to finish it.  Do this one little thing for yourself this year.  Your worth it, aren’t you?  So, tell me, what object is it that you are going to finish?  I expect a full report on January 1st!

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I spy

Has anyone ever made an “I spy” bottle for their children? 

I am wanting to make these for the girls for a road trip we are taking next week and am curious what others put in them.   From what I understand you take a clean water bottle or pop bottle, put odds and ends of trinkets inside, fill with rice or birdseed and then glue the lid on.  I’m hoping it will provide some good entertainment in the car for the twins (2 year olds would like this wouldn’t they?)   I’m also planning on making lists of what is inside for the older two to use as an activity.  The one example I found of these they actually colored the rice to make it more difficult.  I would love to be able to make two plain ones and two colored ones.  

Here’s my list so far of trinkets:

  • rubber bands
  • keys
  • hair clips
  • buttons
  • coins
  • legos
  • pom-poms
  • Barbie shoes

If you have made one or can think of a household item that would fit inside leave me a comment!

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Ilean

Yes, that is an awful nickname for our dog, I feel mean at times, but it is slightly humorous.  Our little hairball is the emotionally needy one in our home and she is loved on constantly.  Some may wonder how we ended up with a three-legged (get it I lean, Ilean!) Shih Tzu fur baby.

It started back in 2005.  Our older two were age 3 and 4 and I thought it was time for a dog.  Forest did protest, though.  He was always more of a cat person and besides who wanted another mouth to feed and body to care for?  I looked anyways, knowing with the right face he would come around. 

One day, I was on the website for a Humane Society in a neighboring county.  On their front page they had listed a sweet little dog with special needs.  Who could resist her adorable face and when I learned she recently had a leg amputated I just couldn’t believe she looked as good as she did.  I called Forest and he gave the okay to go check her out. 

OH MY GOODNESS was she ever adorable!  She hopped around on that little back leg like no one’s business and was so curious and sweet.  Guess who got all teary eyed and called her husband sniffling.  Yeah, I’m a sucker for a cute face something awful.  Really, though, who could resist this:

So a part of our family she became, and ever since she has been the baby of the house.  Love on, snuggled in warm spots of all sorts: 

Taken here, there, and everywhere…adored no matter where she goes. 

Then one day (well, okay it was a month) I disappeared to the far-away land of Vietnam.  Poor Ilean!  What happened to her baby status?  What happened to the endless loving and cuddling?  And please someone, what are these two noisy little things? ***

At first, Ilean was not pleased.  The noise, the lack of a lap to sit on, and the interruption to perfectly good naps was more than a dog could handle.  Though, the two newcomers did come with a few new toys

and while those first few months were abrupt and hard, turns out the newcomers weren’t much different than the older two.  Full of snuggles, kisses, pets, and rubs…who would have thought that the two newcomers could turn out to double the little girl lovins she gets!

Thankfully there has always been one rock-steady place to rest her litte head.  The same old familiar lap, hands that find the spot the leg used to scratch, and always adoring human that Ilean has wrapped around her little, um, back paw.

It didn’t take but a day or two to convince Forest that Ilean was much better than any old cat and Ilean is quite protective of his most adoring fan.

Guess who’s side of the bed she sleeps on.  Guess who she goes crazy for when they walk in the door.  Guess who adores her like another kid.  Yeah, so much for being a cat person.  Really, though, who could resist!

***ugh, I look awful in that photo.  Please give me credit though, I had been home for about 12 hours after flying ON MY OWN with the twins all the way from Hanoi to Hong Kong to LA and then into our state.  To say I was jet-lagged, exhausted, and happy to see the rest of my family (including our dog) would have been the understatement of the century!

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weekend observation

my house is a mess most of the time (as in “hello, I have four kids, a dog, I homeschool, and have lots of family local that need assistance” mess)

This weekend I worked two shifts at my parent’s restaurant…now my house is REALLY a mess

sigh

Thankfully, I am married to the most amazing man on Earth and when I got home he had already started laundry and ran the dishwasher, every bit helps.  I feel bad even saying anything.  My older two usually unload the dishwasher, feed and water the dog, and each clean a bathroom (minus the toilet and mirror.)  The twins, well…we feel like if we keep the twins from making another mess while we are cleaning messes up we are doing good!

Speaking of the twins, they are really getting to the age where they want to do what you do.  My husband was playing a football video game earlier with all four girls climbing all over him (I was at work, remember.)  Apparently to get the twins to settle he handed them each a controller that wasn’t hooked up to the game system.  Every time the sacked the quarterback (I’m so not into football so pardon me if I mess up the terminology) or scored a touchdown the team celebrated on the screen.  When this happened Brie would say “yaaaaaaay, Brie!”  She really thought she was doing well I imagine. 

Is anyone else a bit freaked out that next week is Thanksgiving?  I still have so much I wanted to have done BEFORE Thanksgiving!  What is everyone cooking?  We are making a green bean dish I found over at The Pioneer Woman and the “Bean Dip of LaMancha” (ten points to anyone who knows what that is…not that points mean anything, but still you get 10 arbitrary points!)  The one good thing of lots of local family, or bad thing depending on how you look at it, is the multiple meals at Thanksgiving.  We are going to one at 1PM and another at 5PM with me only having to bring dishes to the first one.  I love it when others cook for my family, it’s like a mini-vacation or something.

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Handmade Holidays

I’ve mentioned before that I was going to be making a few Christmas gifts this year.  When I went with my best friend last Friday to sew I had visions of many projects complete.  Well, I finished the three hardest.  Here’s some photo’s of those and a few other things I’ve finished since. 

These little portfolios are sew (ha, I’m funny…not really) cute.  They weren’t too hard to make and I really liked being able to customize them for the little girls I’ll be giving them to.  Inside there are spots for twistable crayons, markers, or colored pencils as well as a drawing pad. 

I’ve not done much applique, so the fronts really were the hardest part for me.  Of course, I couldn’t have picked something easy.  Sure, this guy is cute:

but man were his little legs difficult to maneuver around!  Worth it though as I know it will be treasured.

That was all I go done besides eating and visiting at my friends house.  Since then I’ve been working on these:

I’m scared of zippers.  This has helped my zipper fear.  I found the pattern at this tutorial that was linked from Sew, Mama, Sew (one of my favorite spots for crafty goodness.)  These are my dollar gifts for my dad’s side of the family this year.  The fabric is all from my scrap pile so the only thing purchased was zippers for about $1.22 each.  I have about 5 more to do, I’m burnt out on them, but plan to finish them before Thanksgiving. 

I have a few other things I would like to sew including mom and I working together on the older two’s Christmas dresses (red satin with black piping.)  Everything else is odds and ends for friends, gift exchanges, and teachers.  My sewing machine has had more action this last week than it has had in a year.  It feels really good to be doing something for myself. 

Speaking of that, I’ve been exercising while Jane has swim practice and it makes such a difference in my temper.  So much so that I am thinking of adding a Yoga class in there.  I’ve never done yoga, but figure it’s worth a try if it will help with my stress levels, well-being, and fitness.  Advice?

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that can be good, or it can be bad.

For instance, sometimes a day to think on something brings clarity in your mind as to what direction to choose.  Or after a long few weeks of winter a sunny day can really “wake” you up. 

Sometimes, it isn’t so good though.  Here’s a story for you:

I went Friday to my best friend’s house to sew, eat junk food, and chat.  She used to live in the same small town as I do, but now her husband manages a pig farm well outside of another smaller town.  Part of his income on the new farm was a new home on the property.  It is a stunning home, and though it isn’t “their” home (it goes with the farm) in five years that have made it into their home.  I don’t mean stunning as in that it has marble counters or fancy anything, but it is well laid out for my friends and their three children and she decorates like no one you’ve ever seen.  Her style is primitive, but not the cutesy kind of primitive….the old, authentic kind.  The entire house has bits of pewter her husband has given her over the years, old beaten up cabinets she’s found for next to nothing, samplers, wood bowls, etc.  She is truly an artist with a gift for creating amazing pieces of art.  There are two rooms in her home that lack the homespun and earthiness of primitives.  Her living room and bedroom are more shabby chic, yet not to glitz…still so warm and comfortable.  It sounds like her home is a museum, but it’s not.  People constantly are saying how comfortable you would be to take your shoes off and put your feet up on the coffee table…it’s just that type of home.

I’m getting off track. 

Last Friday, we crafted, I finished three projects from start to finish.  She’s much more with it than I and finished six (though five of those she already had cut out and pinned!)  We talked, we laughed, we ate tasty food (homemade Snickers’ bars and no-sauce pizza that was great.)  I was able to visit with her kids, a teenage boy just entering college and twins (boy and girl) that just entered the teenage years.   I’ve watched those kids grow since the ages 7 and the twins 2 on up until now….I can’t believe they are young adults!  We had such a good time, I always feel like family there.  One thing I did notice was that her husband was very quiet and darn near avoided us.  Very odd as he usually is right there talking and what not. 

He lost his job that day.

With that goes their home.

Sorry excuses, economy/production, but when it boils down to it, his new supervisor had plans that didn’t include my friend’s husband, rather an old buddy of his instead.  So here they are a family of 5 trying to figure out how to pack up and go a week or so after Christmas, where he will work, what to do about the holidays, and how on earth they will be able to afford someplace to live.  Parent’s aren’t a option to live with, if we had a guest room they would be staying here if need be.  It’s rough.  He didn’t tell her until Saturday morning…wanted to sleep it off himself, not ruin the day, figure out how to even say it, etc. 

The difference a day makes.

This is where you, dear readers, come in.  I need a bit of advice.  I mentioned that my dear friend is an artist.  She has, for a few years now, been making amazing pieces of primitive and shabby chic art.  I’m wanting to help her set up shop somewhere to help bring income.  If any of you have any advice so far as an Etsy shop or other options, please let me know!  She has sold quite a few pieces at a local store, but they take a 30% cut and right now that 30% cut needs to go directly to the family.  All advice is welcome and I’ll share a photo.  It’s not a good photo, we were in the basement with 9 projects going at once.  This is something new she made this year that I love.  I really wish now that I’d taken the time to prop her up and get a better shot and there are others just as cute if not cuter than this one:

I know not everyone is into the primitive or shabby chic style.  BUT, if you are…I told you, she’s an artist!  I’m hoping a few people reading will have an idea or two to help.  Please comment if you have suggestions as any advice is welcome!!!!!

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