October 23, 2014

A Change of Seasons

It's been awhile. How are you?
  Life has been busy and busier.

 We are settling in for fall. What's your favorite season? I love early summer and  fall. But once the gray and  rain starts, it gets tough for me. I just like to be dry and warm. So that's why I'm inspired to make some beautiful things to get me through till the sun graces us again.

Foggy mornings, golden sunlight, pumpkins,  crisp autumn colored leaves. Fall really is beautiful. 

July 31, 2014

Little Offerings

 There is so much going on the world right now that needs our prayers and sacrifices (Colossians 1:24.) So much pain, loss and suffering.

  I was just reading an article about Sarah, a pregnant mother who died yesterday from multiple bee stings.  And it made me hold my nursing baby closer, and shower her golden hair with extra kisses. I'm grateful for the time I have with my family and loved ones. I try not to take any of it for granted. Please keep Sarah, her husband, and her four children in your prayers.

 Yesterday was our 9th wedding anniversary. We had a slow, relaxing dinner gathered around the creaking table. It sounds like home.
 From the table we looked out at one of our raised garden beds where a delphinium and a sunflower are growing, both of which we did not plant. It's funny because I meant to plant sunflowers this year, but never got a chance, and the birds must have known and dropped a seed from the feeder we hung in the corner of the garden. We watch the sunflower follow the sun first east, then at midday it stretches straight and tall, and by dinner it's facing  west. So simple and beautiful. It's just another reminder to me to smile more and grow impatient less.

July 16, 2014

Summer has Begun

 It's officially summer. It's hot and we just finished school (mostly) for the year, so that makes it official. I'm loving the slower pace. June was a whirlwind of company and hosting and camping and fun. But to be honest, I'm ready to slow down a bit and relax. I have plans to sew and hike and work out in our much neglected garden.  

  On my birthday, we made a trip to the Portland Rose Garden. I try to go every June when the flowers are perfectly in bloom. 

  These artists make me wish I could draw. Dang it. I've come to accept it's not where my talent lies. Let's just be honest!

 One of my favorite birthday gifts was this act of service from my father-in-law. He put up the bead board I've been planning for the kitchen. Thanks, Gramps!

  I know this is random, but I had to share these flowers from the garden. The top photo is a flower my neighbor gave me from his garden last year. They are so vibrant and amazing. The second pic is of the limelight hydrangeas my hubby got for my birthday our first year in our new home. So, I guess this isn't random. It's all about flowers and birthday gifts!

I hope you guys are enjoying some sun and good times with family and friends. Ahh, summer. Please, stay a while. We've missed you! 

June 18, 2014

Anna Maria Horner's Piece of Cake Dress

 Things have been busy around here. We just got back from a wedding in Park City, Utah. I can't stop daydreaming about the beautiful scenery. Incredibly beautiful. But here we are, back to work, and in a whirlwind. Like always. At least lately. My checklists each day seem to get longer and longer. Let me show you what I've been up to. 

 First on the list: make a dress for Evelyn to wear for the wedding. The last two sewing projects I tried, following my own patterns, did not turn out as I hoped. Both are awaiting readjustments. So when I chose to make a baby dress, I decided to follow a pattern rather than risk wasting time and fabric. I usually don't like following patterns. But Anna Maria Horner's Piece of Cake Dress did not fail me.  It's a quick sew, and what's even better, she has a video on You Tube you can follow if you get stuck. I was excited about this one. 

 Second on the list: make raspberry muffins with raspberries from the raspberry forest in our backyard. 

 Last cool thing on the list worth mentioning: loads and loads of laundry. One of my least favorite chores. And these pants were both grass stained. To remove them, I used some powder Oxy Clean, and some liquid gel Resolve. If a grass stain is dry, wet it to reactivate the stain. Then treat and let sit a few minutes before washing according to the garment's instructions. Here's the thing. When in doubt, I air dry any items in question. That way I won't set any stains in the dryer and can treat them again if necessary. This time, it worked like a charm. Two pair of pants were saved! On to the next. list of chores. It's seriously a challenge to keep up around this place. 

June 2, 2014

From the Garden

 I've been waiting months to make Roasted Veggie Tacos with Avocado Cream and Feta. Seriously nummy. It's easy to make, just takes a little time chopping all the veggies. Since I'm eating foods that won't trigger another gallstone attack, I substituted red quinoa for the tortilla. 

So fresh. I love spring. It's pretty much awesome. 

  We spent the day working outside, and still, there's so much to do. And we're on just 1/4 acre. Some days I think I'd love to have a small farm with a white farmhouse, and some open fields lined with evergreens. We'd grow lots of dahlias, geraniums, hydrangeas, pumpkins, tomatoes, kale and zucchini. There'd be lots of fruit trees and chickens. And then I think, "You're crazy." When would we have time? And I love our yard, imperfect as it may be.

So we just keep working on it. And I love it. It's so relaxing working in the dirt. Today I planted more salvia to replace the ones my shasta daisies insanely took over. And harvested all the rhubarb. I'm planning on more strawberry rhubarb crisp and  rhubarb jam. I just have to learn how to make it first. Anyone have any pointers on canning? Or good resources?

May 14, 2014

Sewing Basics: Grain of Fabric

Getting started in sewing can feel a little overwhelming. I'm still learning how to read patterns and often prefer to come up with my own design. But whether I am following someone else's directions or my own, there are some things to know before cutting out a pattern.

You've probably heard the terms grain and selvage.  Fabric works best when it's cut correctly in relation to the grain, so this is how to find the grain. 

Selvage edge
First, fabrics usually come in 44/45, 54 or 60 in. widths. They are measured from selvage to selvage. Selvage is the finished, uncut edge of fabric. If you've purchased fabric with a print, you might notice a white strip along the edge with all the info and coordinating color circles along the edge. Or there might be tiny holes along a solid colored fabric. This is the selvage edge. 

The grain of fabric refers to the threads used to weave the fabric together. 

The straight, or lengthwise grain runs parallel to the selvage. Sometimes it is simply referred to as the grain. The threads running in this direction have been pulled tightly while the fabric was woven, so it doesn't have much stretch. 

The width is called the crossgrain. It runs perpendicular to the selvage and has more stretch. 
So if you purchase a yard of 45 in. wide fabric, you will have a cut piece that measures 1 yard (36 in.) in length and 45 in. in width. Okay, one more. 

Bias is cut at a 45 degree angle to the grain (straight) or crossgrain of fabric. There are no threads woven in this direction, so cutting along the bias will give you the most stretch.

  Hopefully this will get you started, either in reading patterns or creating your own!

April 26, 2014

Spring Cleaning, Naturally

 We planted some seeds several weeks back, and the parsley, peppers, and kale are sprouting. My echinacea doesn't look like it's going to grow. I think we took the starters out too soon. Oh well, we're learning. 

I made this Easter gift, which I call "The Beachcomber's Skirt," for my 7 year old sister-in-law who lives minutes from California beaches. The large pockets are designed to be filled with shells and sand dollars. 

And, the other spring related news is that I have been experimenting with my own homemade surface cleaning spray. I've tried just vinegar and water or vinegar, water, and essential oils. Around Christmas time I used peppermint oil, but for spring I love grapefruit. But the trick, at least for me, is to mix in a little rubbing alcohol so it doesn't have such a strong vinegar smell. And the combination of white distilled vinegar and the rubbing alcohol makes a great disinfectant. 

In a spray bottle I mix about:
1 c. white distilled vinegar
3 c. water
1/4 c. rubbing alcohol
about 20 drops Grapefruit essential oil

And that's it. We buy the baking soda and vinegar at Costco, so it's pretty inexpensive, especially considering what I would pay for store-bought natural cleaners. The oil I purchased at Chuck's Produce, but you can find them at Whole Foods as well. I've smelled lots of different oil scents, and my favorites beside grapefruit are the lemon and lavender. 
When I clean sinks, the shower and the toilets, I first sprinkle in baking soda and then spray the surfaces before wiping it clean. I use the spray almost daily on the counter tops in the bathroom and kitchen to keep things clean. And I know its safe around food and babies. They usually come along and spray everything for me. Just make sure if you let the kids help they don't take a full bottle and jar of baking soda or your supplies might disappear. I'm just saying! 

Happy Easter!