Sunday, October 30, 2011

I've been a mother for almost as long as I've lived in our current home. I walk a lot, I love to walk and so does poor Ranger. We mostly walk the same route and after five years I've gotten pretty familiar with some of the other residents along our way. Having a floppy eared dog helps so does a smile. There is this one home where I've seen this little boy grow up. A couple days ago I'm on my walk and I notice he's getting bigger so much bigger, then I notice the mother and she's stressed and she's yelling.

Something like "I don't care, get in the house and do such-and-such!" I couldn't help smiling and when she caught my eye I said something like "Nice to know I'm not the only one fighting with my kids." she half smiled in agreement.  It made me picture a big football-style circle of mom's we're all swaying back and forth in unison shouting "WE ARE MOMS! WE WILL WIN! FIGHT, WIN, FIGHT WIN!" all shouting in solidarity and support.

Moms, our job is hard and we need a team. And, we need a game plan. Here is my basic game plan for surviving and avoiding the nut house, if only barely.

First, you need team mates that will support you and help you battle. I am blessed to be surround by fellow moms. Some who's kids are older and can give me advice and many who are in the same place as me. We need to be able to trade war stories and frustrations with other women who know how we feel and understand our frustrations. My friend Beki and I spend a lot of time talking about our kids and it's not because that's all we have in common it's because chances are that the story she's telling me about her daughter's attitude is going to resonate with me because I just experienced the same thing two hours ago.

Second, you need to get away. Don't feel guilty about having interests that reside outside of your home and children. You aren't just a mom and wife you are an entire being; embrace it. Both you and your spouse need to be allowed to get away and pursue the things you loved before you had kids. The father of your children can babysit for the day (he will survive) while you go shopping with your girlfriends, and if he never gets time away then hire a babysitter and you can go your separate ways or better yet go somewhere together.

Wich brings me to my third important strategy. Get a good babysitter. Brian and I spend a lot of money on one of our students who loves to babysit. She's amazing and worth every penny. The kids love her, we love her. They don't even care when we leave because they're excited to be with Mary. Sometimes we're spending all the extra money we have on the babysitter and the rest of the time we just wander around the mall or have a picnic. The point is to get out of the house and away from your children. It's worth the investment because a good baby sitter is allowing you to have a break and to focus on your marriage which does not have a price.

Go out to dinner together, go see a movie that isn't rated "G". If after those things It's still not your kid's bedtime then go to the parents non-drinking version of a bar to kill time; Starbucks. We like the one in Barnes and Noble because we order our drinks and look at travel magazines and just dream.

If after your latte your kids still aren't in bed sidle up to bar and with all the worldly knowledge you can muster in your voice say to the barristta "hit me again" and drop another dollar in the tip jar. Then wink and say "we're waiting for the kids to go to bed" to which all the other tired parents will raise their glasses and call out "HERE HERE!!".

When you get home a little too hopped up on steamed milk and sugar the baby sitter will whisper "They were perfect." to which you'll hand her thirty bucks and think to yourself, surprised, "They ARE cute."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I was asked to be a guest blogger on my dear writer friend Susie's blog. I was allowed to blather on and on about thrifting and antiques, how cool is that? You can check it out at her blog!

In case I forget to say it, she is one of the most talented and dedicated writers I've ever met. Her stuff is amazing and gritty and very real. You'll be glad you checked it out.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A New Stocking.

Years ago when I first got my sewing machine I made some stockings. A couple were for Brian and I and I sold a few in my Grammy's shop, I gave a couple away as gifts and that was that. Then I had a son and it was cool because I had an extra stocking, then I had another son and then we were short a stocking. Of course that means that mom goes with out. Really Santa doesn't always fill a stocking for me and Brian so it's no big deal but still a girl needs a stocking don't you think?

Enter Alicia Paulson's book "Stitched in Time" which you've heard me blather on about many times before. I had so much left over fabric from the dress (remember the baby hat? Still going strong) But, I thought it could make a cute plaid stocking that was just a little different b/c of the color. I got the lining fabric at my favorite sewing shop Sew Unique. The lining makes the stocking for me. I picked it because I wanted stripes and the colors were perfect.  However it's a bit unique. I'll let you figure out why on your own. Let me just say it's "uniqueness" kind of grew on me in a "Nightmare Before Christmas" sort of way.

And, why pray tell, must I make a stocking for myself in October? Well, I got bit by the Christmas bug and I thought if I did a small project it would keep me from decorating the house and getting out the Christmas CD's. It's worked so far...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Station 66.

There is this really cool place just outside of town called Station 66. People kept telling me I would really like it. We finally tried it out with my parents and just recently went back. If you know me or my blog at all the following pictures will show you why this place is so me. On top of the atmosphere, however, is the fact that it's a local business AND every thing they sell is from/ made/ grown in Michigan! How cool is that? The produce is local and changes with the seasons. They have old car shows in the parking lot, they sell hard serve ice cream (which always reminds me of my Papa who took us out for ice cream almost every evening in the summer!) and they have amazing cake donuts, amazing! This place is cool!

On the History channel show "American Restoration" Brian and I saw them restore a cooler just like this. It was originally made to have water running through it. That is just so neat, isn't it? You can see the water in the above pics. On the show they said that it makes your sodas extra cold.  And, (can you tell I'm excited) all the sodas are made with cane sugar and not HFCS (which I have an allergy to) so I can have sodas there, and there are so many kinds!! Don't you love the bottle cap opener?

The food is good but there's not a huge variety. Even the hotdogs and chips are from MI.

I bought Spys, the best apples for baking according to my Grammy, and Cider.

See the sewing machine, so cute! Next to very fragrant natural soaps... good stocking stuffers.

So yes, I'm loving this place and if you live in the area or are passing through on M-66 then stop. The prices are good it's local and it's so cool.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Original from "Posy Get's Cozy"

Remember my sewing list? Well, this was one of the things on it and can I just say this little hat was so much fun to make!  I've mentioned it so (or should I say "sew" har har) many times how much I enjoy and love the things from Alicia Paulson.  I have both her books and they're fabulous. In fact, her first book Stitched In Time is probably the main reason I fell in love with sewing.  Anyway, back to the hat, this pattern is a downloadable and ever since it came out I've basically been waiting for a little girl to come along to sew it for.
My version
That day has arrived with the arrival of my dear friend and neighbors second daughter.  What a delight to have a little baby across the street! I made this hat in the extra small and it is way too big. Big, bummer! I know babies grow fast but I'm not sure she'll be wearing it this winter... maybe, I hope so.  I think Jen was happy with it

I was happy with it even though there are a few mistakes. There always are when it comes to sewing and me I've sort of come to accept it. The embroidery was super easy I finished it during one tv show. The fabric is left over from my Rooibos dress (remember how the lady had me buy too much?) luckily Jen's favorite color is purple and the polk-a-dots are from Sew Unique (go to this store is so wonderful).  I love the plaid and the little poke-a-dots I think it gives it sort of a dickinson look which is what I was going for. Also, it's reversible.

I'm thinking about trying it again in a men's flannel or suiting and a pine cone instead of a flower for my nephew. Maybe even, in leather for a WWI fighter pilots helmet look.  What do you think about that? Could this be made to look like a vintage boys hat?

Monday, October 10, 2011

What's not to love about fall? All right, the impending snow, I don't love that (except it brings with it Christmas) and the hours of raking, and the cleaning out of the gutters (actually I like that. Something about climbing on the roof that makes me feel challenged). 

What I mean is, how can you not love the colors? It's like God knows that winter is so bleak and grey so he gives our senses a color overload right before to get us through. I love the way every thing is golden and bright and vibrant. I love how Autumn smells, I love apples and cider and pie. I love oatmeal cookies (which are fallish for some reason). I just love this time of year. And, I will admit I am already getting excited for Christmas.

What I love the most is how every year my kids are more and more into the leaf-pile-jumping. It brings back such warm memories of my childhood and my dad.  Today was our first official leaf jumping excursion of the year. It was a good one, I know because SuperH took my hand and said excitedly "This is the best leaf day ever!" 


Blech leaf in my mouth!

This is so silly!

Crazy evil toddler laughter.

leaf tickling or leaf sword fighting?

Is he planking?

Evil quick sand leaf pile.




Thursday, October 6, 2011


The Rooibos dress from Colette Patterns is finally finished! This dress was sort of a journey and luckily it has a happy ending because there were moments when I wasn't sure, let me just tell you. Oh, my.  So first my mom buys me the pattern and I have to wait impatiently for it to come in the mail. Then it comes in the mail, yea! Then I consider using this grey fabric that I have tons of, I mean tons! I can't remember why I bought so much of the mystery grey because it's been in my fabric stash since before there was even a stash.  Then after reading the instruction and different things on line I decide that this fabric is too flimsy. That was true I do think it would have not been a good choice but that also allowed me to go fabric shopping... I know I've got some problems.
The Jacket was a bday gift from my Aunt. It
was an accident but it matches really nicely.

No where in the pattern does it say you should use a solid, it says things like use suiting and wool it does not say "DO NOT USE A PLAID AS THIS WILL BE SO HARD." it should have. Maybe they thought that was obvious (the pattern is an intermediate after all). What did I choose? Plaid, of course! Then I cut out the pattern and realized there were like a million pieces (really a million) and do you know how hard it is for a not expert sewist to match that much plaid? Well, it's really hard, really, really hard.  If you were to inspect the dress you would find that it doesn't really match up at all but miracle of miracle it isn't very noticeable.

The dress took me forever not because it was hard but because I am slow and the moving of the sewing machine from table to floor for every meal is such a pain. If I hadn't had celebration sunday I don't know if it would be done now (to be honest there are a couple of things on it I still need to fix so maybe it isn't really done). But it wasn't hard. Again, Collette's instructions were clear and easy to follow.  The most frustrating part was making my own piping which was only frustrating because it was bulkier then I wanted. I usually get the best advice from the girls at Jo-Anns but this time they led me astray. (To be fair it wasn't the two ladies that usually help it was someone else and I don't think she actually knew what she was talking about and was just pretending, which was frustrating later on. She also had me buy way too much fabric).

The bolero pattern. Aren't they cute?

I also made the bolero to go with it. On the bolero I used some of the grey fabric. It didn't even make a dent in the yardage but it looks good. It's a vintage pattern from             and other then the fact that I had to sew sixteen darts, was surprisingly easy, considering my experiment with my easter dress was not so good. This bolero is reversible and I made it to go with this dress specifically because the dress is sleeveless. I thought I'd wear it grey side out but as it turns out that was so blah it sort of just blended in and the purple side looked great. The bolero covered up too much of the dress especially the cute neck line detailing but then I got the idea to bend back the corners and sort of make lapels and that looked so cute! "I love it when a plan comes together" (name that movie). I held the lapels in place with cute vintage pins and love how the pointy corners echo the pointy corners of the neck line.

On celebration sunday I put my hair in curlers but I could not get it to dry even with a blower. So I ended up taking each roller out and using the curling iron. The top of my hair looked crazy so I solved that by wearing my hat. The hat looked good, I think. I don't know if I would have ever been brave enough to wear it to church so I'm kind of glad the curlers made my hair crazy. I got the nicest compliments all Sunday especially from the older people. I imagine it brought back good memories of back when every one wore hats. I just felt so feminine with the dress and the hat. I think I looked rather smart. And, I think there are lots of options with this dress. It could be worn with a long sleeved purple shirt and tall boots for more of a relaxed look, sort of british. What do you think as a jumper with out the bolero for a more casual look?
Brian in his suit. Don't we just scream "Mad Men"?
So, all in all I'm pleased with it. Someone told me I "looked out of time." meaning not harried, but vintage. I don't know if they meant it as a compliment but I took it that way. I love the vintage look it feels very good on me. Rooibos isn't a vintage pattern but lends itself to that style quite nicely. Of course the vintage inspired bolero and actual vintage shoes and hat helped I'm sure.
Found the price for these shoes. $6 at an Antique
shop in MD. That is crazy!
Close up of the neckline details. Also the pins
Both really cheap from antique shops.

close up of the pocket and hand stitching.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Celebration Sunday.

This sunday was a big deal sunday at our church.  We were celebrating the paying off of the mortgage.  The church as a whole has been working towards this for several years with the idea being that the money spent on all the interest could be going to so much better use for ministry in our community and around the world.  It was hard work. It caused some slight divisions for reasons that seem silly now. People sacrificed and forwent raises and gave up tax returns and on and on.  So, it was a big deal.

It also gave me an excuse to finish up my Rooibos dress and get really dressed up. It gave Brian an excuse to wear one of his new suits (which might I say for the record look ridiculously good looking on him. Oh. My!). I bought new dress shirts for the boys and curled my hair.  I think our culture really lacks celebration and reasons to dress up. I mean it seems like we get dressed up for Easter and the Christmas eve service and thats it.  So you can bet I jumped on this opportunity to get really dolled up.

I wasn't the only one! The entire church was filled with excitement and electricity. It was so interesting to be part of such a big celebration that wasn't being celebrated world-wide, or country wide (again Christmas comes to mind) which leant to it a really intimate feel despite the numbers.  It's really hard to put into words what being part of something like that was like. It just made me feel knit together my soul and other souls all lifted up. All integral to the story and to each other...
The boys sitting in the service. They were actually quite
well behaved.

Some of our students.

The service was great, we did a huge praise team and trumpets and guitars the works.  There were three baptisms! Three! That is a lot for our church and it just seemed like the perfect day to usher three new lives into the Lord.  There were tears every where. Then a huge meal. I'm not sure who put the meal on because it wasn't a pot luck, great thanks to whoever did all that. They even had one of those wedding tents set up outside in the cool autumn air, filled with tables, filled with people all enjoying each other.

I have the privilege of frequently playing
beside this talented high schooler.

Finally we did a huge prayer circle outside. Brian was in charge of that so it was done old school youth group style. You all hold hands and Brian starts the prayer then squeezes the hand of the person next to him. They can say a prayer or just continue by squeezing the person next to them. There it goes all the way around until it gets to the person on the other side of Brian (me, eep) and they close. This was a huge one though, the biggest I've ever been part of. Full of so many different ages and genders and even types of praying.  So cool! We had one lady really go forth praying in the Spirit and so many good-will prayers for Gordon and Carla who mean so much to so many of us. One little girl prayed and even though I couldn't make out her words, because she was on the other side of the circle, I could hear her voice floating over all of us like a song. There was even one prayer of thanksgiving for Brian and I; that's pretty humbling. Tears all around.

It was a beautiful Sunday.