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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February's End

Running--42 miles . . . a little bit more than January, which surprised me since the first week or two of February I was kind of hit/miss (the snow and all . . .).  I've officially started a training regimen and this month saw the addition of 3 and 4 mile runs.  I finished off the month with a 4-miler. I drove myself a nice little gravel route complete with some *lovely* hills and really large footprints from some sort of four-toed animal.  Four miles is doable, but once I'm done I constantly wonder, "How will I ever do thirteen!!?!" I don't run with any music (I figure I don't need to add to my hearing impairment) and instead found myself composing this little number:
"I am Sweaty"
 (sung to the tune of "I Feel Pretty" --Westside Story)
I am sweaty, oh so sweaty,
I am sweaty and so very red!
And it's a pity, that this hill makes me feel quite dead.
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-lalalaaa!
Who needs a running play list when you have a sweet little ditty like that running through your head? ;o)
Reading--technically I only finished two books, Washington's Lady by Nancy Moser and Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin (although I have two nonfiction ones I'm slowly plugging through--one about homeschooling, one about photography). I enjoyed both of them--Wonderland Creek was my favorite with all of it's literary references and the gentle fun it pokes at people who like to read. Then there are  the kids--over the course of January and February they have really been hitting the books hard--
Marissa has been on a "Redwall kick"--she has read over 4000 pages.
Isabella has been steadily going, and lately it seems her reading pace has picked up--over 800 pages.
And Jackson, with the lure of a Lego prize to read 100 (Bob) books, officially completed his goal today!  I never thought I'd hear him ask, "Can I read you these 12 books?'  But it is music to my ears.  We changed his prize to $10 to spend at the Lego store in Denver (although if you look closely at the red sheet you'll see he penciled in a suggested $20 reward if we felt so inclined). ;o)
Watching--part of the reason I didn't read very much was due to the discovery of Downton Abbey.  LOVED IT!!  I watched season one on Net.flix while Josh was gone for state wrestling.  I then decided I would not be able to wait until season two hit Net.flix and watched all of them on my computer.  How will I ever make it until next year for season three?  Josh and I are still making our way through Bones--I think we're in season five now.  Josh likes it for all the science stuff.  Me?  When will Booth and Bones realize they love each other?!?  I've never seen a show draw out a relationship tension like  this one does! 
Listening--aside from Psalty and Suzuki?  I've been enjoying this--
I must say it made excellent background yesterday on my drive to Kearney, through wind and rain and rainbows!  (And tornadoes . . . not that I had to deal with that though!)  I really think spring came early.
Crafting--I pulled out the sewing machine this month to work on a few doll dresses and a tote bag.  I have lots of little projects cut out, but I haven't made very much progress.  The last two days I've spent organizing my 2011 photo album.  I've got all the pictures in!! I think I'm really (really, really!!) going to enjoy Project Life.

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I must conclude this is the best February I've had in a long time!  Usually February is so blah--but school-wise we're still going strong and the winter was one of mildest ones we've had in a long time. No sickness, no major bouts of cabin fever--yippee!! None-the-less we're all looking forward to the fun that spring will bring. ;o)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

February 19-25

What Josh brought back for me after being gone four days for the state wrestling tournament--a nice little hunk of some caramel chocolate fudge.  Sometimes those small gestures are the most special, no?  He arrived home around 9:30 on the 18th . . . I'd like to tell you that being the self-disciplined person that I am it was much too late to devour fudge. But you know, after four days of being a single parent I will admit--without shame--I devoured a good 2/3 of it right then and there.  The remaining 1/3?  It made a nice little pre-breakfast treat the next morning . . .
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You've already seen a form of this picture.  It was one of those evenings where I glance out the window, find my camera, and yell to Josh, "I'm leaving to try to get this sunset!" then flee out the door.  The light was too good to take it from my back stoop (and have yet another pic with a water tower).  Instead I got one with some sort of sign in it . . . I would love the picture to pieces if it weren't for that sign.
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Spring has arrived!!  At least, that's what it looks like to me (we will just ignore the fact that it is still February).
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My little guy dressing himself (tank top, shorts, mismatched shoes) so he can go to Awana with Daddy and the kids.  Oh, how he cried and cried to find he was being left behind with Mommy yet again.
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I happened upon this line-up of happy erasers and it just made me smile (Jackson's handy-work).
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What the kids did after being informed that we would be taking a mini-vacation to Denver next weekend.  We're officially going to celebrate the end of wrestling!
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Oh, this picture . . . it might be my favorite!  So Josh arrives home from the IHCC men's retreat--I see his vehicle pull up and yell to the kids, "Daddy's home!"  Marissa comes running and leaps up on the couch--I think the plan was to land on the upper part of it and gaze happily out the window at the welcome sight of her daddy.  Somehow she managed to clear the back of the couch completely and go head-first right into the window!  I saw it happen, I heard the thud, I watched her crumple to the floor behind the couch.  I was a bit concerned.  Thankfully, no concussion. ;o)  Daddy was able to bend her glasses back into shape, and her eyebrow bone is a wee bit tender, but no permanent damage.
We had a  pretty good laugh.  Lately Marissa (poor girl) has been displaying a bit of my pubescent klutziness . . . To make her feel better I told her of the time I walked into a Mc.Donald's with my friends (I was probably 17 or 18!) and somehow managed to get my feet tripped up in my wide-legged jeans (I was going though a bit of a "retro" phase . . .) and I completely wiped out, sliding across the floor of Mc.Donald's right in front of the ordering counter.  I even left a skid-mark from my blue nail polish on the floor! My friends ran out laughing hysterically and I scraped up whatever dignity I could muster and hurriedly followed.  Thankfully, I've (mostly) outgrown that . . . But Marissa, I think she's just getting started . . . ;o)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

American Girl Dress Tutorial

If you happen to be the happy owner of an American Girl doll you will agree with me that they are huge money traps.  Oh, do they know how to appeal to young girls (and mothers living vicariously through their daughters!).   However, you can spend mere dollars on cute little dresses, and save your cash for clothing purchases that actual humans will wear. ;o) I'm going to attempt a tutorial of how you can make a dress without having to purchase a pattern.
What you need:
--1/4 yard of fabric (you can use a fat quarter, but you'll have to shave a few inches off the width of the dress skirt--I've done it both ways, and it doesn't make a whole lot of difference)
--coordinating thread
--any extra trimmings/ribbons you might want to add
--velcro/snaps/your choice of fastener--but you can skip this altogether
--sewing machine, fabric scissors, pins, needle for hand-gathering, ruler

Cutting:
Spread out your 1/4 yard of fabric and measure an 8 inch by 24 inch rectangle--this will be the skirt.
Cut that out.
With the remaining fabric cut--
Those cuts will give you all the pieces you need!
Next you will cut spots on the bodice pieces where the arms will go--find a small circular item in your home.  For me I found something pefect in the play-dough container. ;o)
Cut out a little quarter circle so that your pieces look like this--
(I like to lay out my pieces--bodice and the facing--with wrong sides facing each other to make sure I cut on the correct corner of the back bodice/lining pieces)
Pin the side seams and stitch a 1/4 inch seam:

Next make the straps:


Now we can assemble the bodice:




Now you are going to turn what you have done right side out.  I have no picture to demonstrate the next part--if you have a doll on hand it might help you to visualize how to attach the straps to the back.  For me, I worked with what I had stitched, right side out, but then pinned the back straps to the unsewn parts INSIDE out.  In the picture you can kind of see how the strap is coming out the bottom.  Once you have this set up correctly, sew it in place.  ***EDITED TO ADD--For the comment I received about not being able to visualize this step I tried to find something that might help, perhaps this blog would give a better demonstration?  If you have ever done any sewing of a sundress for a girl/woman it is the same way you would do that, just smaller. ;o) ***


The hardest part is now done! ;o)
On to the skirt!


If you're interested in using some sort of trimming (lace, etc) on the hem, now would be a good time to add it!
To make it look a little neater, after stitching my bodice and skirt together I used a zig zag stitch to make that gathered seam look a bit more finished.
At this point you can add whatever fastener you prefer--velcro would probably be the easiest.  However, by using a nice thick grosgraine ribbon as a sash, I skipped using a fastener all together--we just tie the dress on with the ribbon and it fits great!
And voila!  Here's Felicity in her pretty spring frock that ever so nicely brings out her green eyes. ;o)
If you've ever made any sort of girl shirt or dress before I *think* my instructions should be fairly easy to follow.  If you've never sewn before, some of the things I've said might make no sense . . . I've never attempted a tutorial before, and I must say I have a lot of respect for bloggers who do it regularly (and manage to make perfect sense!).  Whatever the case, happy sewing!

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Few of my Favorite Things . . .

Just for fun, a few of my small splurges that make me happy--
Mentha Lip Shine--my dear friend Kathy introduced me to this and there has been no turning back! I'm not really a "lipstick" person but I love the shine and hint of color these little tubes have, plus the yummy peppermint flavor that keeps me licking it off once I put it on (think of it as the grown-up version of bubblegum lip gloss).  Bath and Bodyworks carries them (for cheaper than you would find on Amazon, but it is so easy to link things to Amazon).
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Mrs. Meyers Clean Day products . . . admittedly the priciest cleaning supplies you'll find down the Wal-mart aisle, however I ADORE the lavender smell.  It is the best lavender smelling cleaning product there is and just uncapping the bottle relaxes me!  Dare I say it makes scrubbing enjoyable? I only let myself get the all-purpose cleaner, and I use it on everything, from floors to counter-tops.  I think a 32 oz bottle is around $7-$8 at Wal-mart.  Yesterday I noticed Amazon had it for $6.12, but today it is $10.12.  Amazon is kind of tricky like that . . . I also noticed they have a "bulk buying" option, so I'll have to pay more attention to when they're running a good price.  If you don't like lavender scented things they also have "basil" or "lemon verbena" and a few others. 

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Colorful pens . . . for no good reason except writing in color seems so cheerful! ;o)  A great way to get a big ol' set for cheap?  Go to Hobby Lobby and use a 40% off coupon--they have a lot of the same ones you would find at Target or wherever over in their art supply section.  I'm looking forward to using these for my Project Life scrapbooks:
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And last but not least? 
Oh this stuff is dangerous . . . really I should never have it on hand.  I tried it on ice cream, I've stirred it into hot cocoa, I even made a "tiramisu styled" dessert that had it layered in between.  I've yet to find a way I DON'T like it.  But my favorite?  With a spoon, right out of the jar. ;o) (And as a side note I noticed Amazon sells an 11 lb tub imported from Italy  . . . I can only imagine what kind of situation I would be in if I had that on hand!!).

Happy Friday!! ;o)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Feathery Friends

This morning I was informed several times that the Downy Woodpecker was back.  I rush to get my camera only to be told he has flown off again. I have been trying unsuccessfully to get a picture of him (maybe her, because I see no red marking) for several weeks.  But our woodpecker friend has been too quick. And then finally:
(woodpecker on right, enjoying the suet)
And while I was snapping away, look who flew in and touched down for just a few seconds:
A male cardinal!!--and here I was just feeling sad we hadn't had one visit us all winter!
The woodpecker appears to be looking a him like "What are you doing??"
Anyway, it was a great morning for bird watching!  Our finch variety continue to be the most frequent visitors but we do so enjoy the surprises of new birds!  We've noticed the goldfinches' coloring is really starting to perk up--spring can't be all that far away! ;o)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

February 12-18

My sad Sunday afternoon reality.
My dishwasher was having draining issues beginning Friday, and Josh had two days of wrestling meets and no time to take a look at it.  I suppose I could have hand-washed everything . . .
In the end I waited for my hubby to have a few spare minutes--it was a quick fix--and I spent the beginning of the week trying to get a handle on the "dish situation."
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Fun cards we made and mailed to friends (in between loads of dishes . . .). ;o)
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Cookies!!!
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The joys of a gravel driveway--just give it a bit of gas and hope for the best!
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Some cheery looking lemons that make me feel happy after the mud. ;o)
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Two heads of long blonde hair that I adore.
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A gathering of some happy little things that rather serendipitously looked so nice together.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Afternoon Miscellany

The afternoons have been spent doing a bit of this--
Consequently, I have quite the pile of excessively dirty laundry this evening.  Not at all helped by the fact Jackson ended up with three clothing changes.  After burning through his jeans, he was quite distraught to discover no more jeans to wear when we went to the park.  I told him it would be okay if he wore a pair of dark khaki cargos that we normally reserve for church.  It took 20 minutes of sobbing (on his part) and "WEAR THESE PANTS!!" (on my part to) get us out the door.  You see, it is incredibly embarrassing to wear church pants to the park. MORTIFYING.  I won that battle though . . . Although he did disregard my suggestion for a more casual shirt and opted for a dressier sweater (it would also be so embarrassing to be caught in a casual shirt while wearing "church" pants . . . if we're going fancy we're going fancy all-the-way!).  Oh, that boy.
We were heading over to the school playground so that I could use the track to run.
You see that chain-link fence there?
That's the fence that goes around the school track.  I'm standing on the back stoop of my house taking the picture.  All that to point out, it is really close and convenient.  And while I put in my 12 laps (which didn't end up feeling quite as tedious as I though it would!) the kids played on the playground, also located within the fence.  It was nice to have a little cheering section of "Hi Mommy!" as I completed each round.
The fresh air was good for all of us and we returned home to enjoy some sort of red bean/smoked sausage soup (it started as an actual recipe but kind of evolved from there--kind of similar in flavor to a ham/bean soup) and some fresh-out-of-the-oven cornbread.
Jackson and I had another discussion about finishing the beans in his soup.  You see they were "cracked" which made them ugly and gross.  I tried to explain the whole soaking beans process which satisfied him enough to take a few more bites.
However, in our hurry to eat our cornbread I didn't give it sufficient time to cool, and in spite of hot pads ended up with this on my table--
That white-ish spot?  Not supposed to be there. :o(  I did find a you.tube video demonstrating rubbing ashes into such a spot and removing it.  At the moment I am lacking in ashes, so I'll let you know if that works.  In the meantime I am rather mad/disgusted with myself.  Anybody else have a miraculous cure for me?
The evening rather disintegrated from there . . . the girls' shower drain plugged and began leaking into the basement, I dropped a light bulb from the dining room fixture, shattering it across the table (poor table is not feeling the love tonight), Owen broke a jar . . .  Can you tell my "relief crew" is missing?  
But we're redeeming it all . . . Sound of Music part one now playing.  It felt about time to watch that again--just never gets old, you know? We've just reached the part where they're wearing their curtain clothes. ;o)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On Valentine's Day . . .

We made cookies--

And had a heart-y lunch--
(Oh yes, I so did snip most of a bag of pepperonies into little hearts.  A wee bit neurotic tedious? Yes.  But the kids loved it.  And nothing went to waste--I had many children more than happy to eat the scraps.  And did you know strawberries are easily turned into hearts?  Just cut a "v" when you are taking off the top.) ;o)

***
That was pretty much the extent of our celebrating. I was missing my sister and her bunch as we seem to always do something together with the kids for Valentine's Day.  This year packages in the mail had to suffice on both ends. Of course, mail is always fun, but I do so wish we could have partied in person. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

February 5-11

My favorite of all the snow pictures . . . and I saved it just for the weekly round-up. ;o)
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Owen BEGS to peel potatoes, so after I got done with supper prep I gave him the peeler and one potato.  It keeps him busy for a very long time.  (On and unrelated note, can anybody tell me how I managed to make that yellow-ish circle thing in my photo?  I took several pictures--all with a window to the right, afternoon sun--and they all have some version of yellow blob in it).
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Circus practice time, directly following showers/baths
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A slow picture day . . . I broke into the emergency stash of mac n' cheese because we were dreadfully low on groceries after being gone all weekend (and having no violin lessons this week).  I thought I might note that three boxes feeds five children.  All of the sudden it seems ALL of them have experienced a growth in appetite.  Some nights a 9x13 of whatever can barely feed the whole gang! I sense scary amounts of food consumption ahead . . .
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The kids have been putting on plays.  I have no idea where they come up with this stuff.  The first one was "George and Rosie get the Turkey." George was played by Jackson, Rosie by Isabella, the Turkey by Emmett.  Owen was probably the turkey's apprentice.  Marissa was the director, soundtrack, special effects and narrator.  This picture is of "George and Rosie at the Beach."  A similar idea except the youngest brothers were sharks.  And that duck hanging from a stick?  Why a seagull of course!  I must say it was NOT a relaxing beach vacation . . . surprised by sharks, pooped on by a seagull, and bit by a crab--oh my! ;o)
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I know, I know another sunset, but I loved those streams of light. ;o)
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Baked Potato Soup (recipe here) and some homemade oatmeal yeast rolls for supper--so yummy on a rather chilly February day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Girls' Room

 In honor of the room purge the girls and I did these these last two days and the fact I never got around to posting any pictures after we moved in I thought I'd do a tiny little tour of the space they call home. ;o)  If I'm being honest, I still have loose ends to tie up all over the place--lots of small projects that haven't met their completion.  But if I wait until the room is "done" I will never post any pictures.  What I do have--
~A bright blue paint that was a rushed decision at Walmart . . . The girls like it and it works fine with the colors but if I did it again (which I won't since we rent) I'd probably choose something a tad softer.
~The beginnings of an embroidery hoop fabric collection.  I kind of like how it looks like big polka dots on the wall, I'm planning on doing some more to fill up that space a bit better.

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~The bunk bed with the $30 bedspreads I found at a store in Omaha that is like TJ Maxx but I can't remember the name.
~The fun pennant banner I was working on last summer

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~A cozy little corner to stick the desk that was supposed to be mine but I had no room for in my room and the girls desperately wanted some sort of desk.  It works great.  The chair was a garage sale find a long time ago, and although the picture doesn't show it is literally falling to pieces.  I'll need to find something else shortly.

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~Curtain-less window . . . I took down the awful old green "weave" that was up there and then have done nothing. We'll probably just stick some blinds on the window. I'd love to do a floor length yellow damask panel, but that wouldn't work here because that is the only wall to fit the dresser (and we wouldn't be able to close the panels). I thought of making them shorter, but then I don't want to put the effort into sewing something for here that most likely won't work in another house.

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~Wall with the closet and other bookshelf. Most of the "kid book" collection resides in the girls' room because there is no room elsewhere for it.

And there you have it!  A fairly simple "cottagey/vintagey" girls room that my girls are quite fond of--it's a happy and cheerful little place.  And also for the moment, CLEAN. ;o)