Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Hardest Labor of Love

Does anyone else struggle with balance? I spend so much time juggling the day-to-day, I often find other areas of life lacking.

I've been practicing yoga quite a bit lately. I go to a studio a few times a week and it brings me more clarity and purpose than any other form of exercise. However, when I take this time for myself, the laundry is left unfolded.

I spent the better part of my 3-day weekend removing wallpaper from our bedroom. I did not even get half the walls done, and the rest of the house looked like a tornado had come through. So much effort, and so little tangible results to show.

I work hard to make sure my kids feel loved. We read together at least 30 minutes each night, and we sit and do homework, art projects, piano lessons before this. And then I am left with no time/energy for meal planning and grocery shopping.

How do we do it all and still manage to sleep 6-8 hours a night? I started to beat myself up because I'll be missing my workout tonight. Instead I'll be spending some much needed quality time with my girlfriends.

Self love is hard. Putting love and energy in one thing often leaves other things undone. So what if we're having another frozen Trader Joe's dinner tonight? At least we are getting fed, and at least the kids feel loved and nourished.

If you're feeling stretched thin, know you are not alone. Keep loving on yourself and your family. Whatever that may look like today. The dishes will be there tomorrow. Feed and nourish your soul today.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Simplicity Pattern 2788 - A Purple Cat Costume

Lawd knows how much I love a good Halloween. And a good Halloween we HAD.

This year Everett's costume was store-bought, since I had no desire to tackle the whole cosplay thing. Alice wanted to be a purple cat, so we went to Joann and let her pick out her favorite fleece fabric. Her arms and legs were kept warm by purple leggings and a long sleeved shirt from Primary.com.

Her costume pattern was Simplicity 2788, and I substituted a cat ear headband for the hat options. The cat face was freehand work. I cut felt pieces out of fabric left over from costumes of years past, then did a whip stitch to secure them in place. I prefer this hand sewing method over gluing or fusing, since I find those other methods tend to peel at the corners.

I wrapped the headband (one with cat ears I found at Joann) with random purple polka dot fabric I had in the basement (also used for the cat's pupils). To do this:

  • Cut fabric in 1/2" strips using pinking sheers (to avoid frayed fabric). Ribbon could also work.
  • Use a hot glue gun on about 1-2 inches of the headband.
  • Carefully wrap the fabric around the headband and over the glue.
  • When the glue cools a bit, press the fabric down.
  • Add another 1-2 inches of glue (depending on how fast you work), and keep wrapping until you reach the end.
  • To finish, put some glue on the end of the fabric covering the headband.
  • Tuck end of fabric strip and place over the glue. Hold until firmly in place. 
  • I also added some little pieces of pink fabric to the ears using hot glue because I knew it would make her happy.

And there you have it. My little purple cat! 

Is there anything more fun than trick-or-treating? 

So you don't think this all went over without a hitch, Alice was DEVASTATED to discover I had used green felt for her cat's eyes. She wanted PURPLE. Even though the pupils were purple, she did.not.want that green. I explained to her that cats' eyes are green or yellow. She didn't care. So I reasoned. Iiiif there was time, I would change the green to pink. But, Mommy might not have time to fix it, ok? She was completely fine with this, and we (surprisingly) moved on with life.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Ocean Air

Last Monday, I was lucky enough to have a full day to myself. No kids. So in true parent fashion, I went out for brunch, downed a mimosa, then came home and got to work painting our TV room.

Can you tell I have an issue with beige paint? Beige paint and I have a complicated relationship. I know the whole idea is that messes blend in better, but I hate thinking there are fingerprints and little bits of grime hiding in those walls. When something is white, I know it's dirty, I clean it. With beige, everything is just so unpredictable.

For example, Alice apparently squished one of the tomatoes on our windowsill against a wall, and I had NO clue until I went to paint the wall! At any rate, beige is not for me.

Here is a picture from the house listing for comparison.

Beige really is such a nice, warm color. I immediately felt colder after the new paint was on the walls. BUUUUUT then I realized this was because I forgot to turn the heater on. Go figure.

Isn't this the cutest rainbow artwork Everett made? I love how his smiley faces always look just a little insane.

So now we have a happy color that makes the room a little brighter. Alice is disappointed that we didn't paint the room purple. Maybe next time sweetie.

I chose the color like I always do. I sit and stare at it for weeks before committing. It's a lot of work to paint something a color you don't love. We landed on Ocean Air by Benjamin Moore, mixed by Sherwin Williams in the Harmony paint.

We have artwork for the room, but I just need to take the time and $ to get it professionally framed. For now, Everett wanted to collect some leaves from the yard and frame them. I love how his little brain already recognizes space. He is asking if we can make a third frame to fill the space between the other two. I only had these two frames, and we just used the nails there from the previous owners. Ha!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Another Year, Another Icelandic Sweater

Who has two thumbs and just made herself a sweater? 

The girl who is perpetually cold (pictured above) had some major jealously over Jeff's wool sweater. When my friend Katelyn told me Tolt Yarn and Wool has an entire month devoted to Icelandic knitting, I immediately hopped over to their website and ordered some pure Icelandic sheep wool and my favorite pattern. If you're a knitter and not already following Tolt, I hiiiighly recommend at least signing up for their email newsletter for inspiration.

I began this project on our way to Yellowstone/Grand Tetons this summer. Here I am pictured in the car covered by a child's blanket. It was 90 degrees outside (I did mention that I am perpetually cold). There was probably also Raffi music playing.

You'll notice that I knit the two sleeves at the same time. I attached post-it notes labeled 1 and 2 to keep track of where I was. I did this because I was too lazy to count, my children are constantly distracting me, and I wanted to make sure my tension was even on both sleeves. A lot can happen to knitting tension over the course of a project!

I told Jeff that my goal for our summer vacation was to relax and enjoy nature. "I just want to sit outside in the hammock and knit." Mission Accomplished!

It always feels strange to be knitting on the hottest days of the year, but I love having something ready for when the weather turns. And turn it does, seemingly overnight in the Pacific Northwest.

After a laid-back two months of occasional Netflix knitting (about an inch per TV viewing), the sweater was pretty much complete. A more enthusiastic knitter could probably finish it sooner, but I have lots of hobbies in my life.

While the plumbers were working away at our mess of a plumbing situation, I cast off and wove in ends. It was a glorious ending with lots of stressful noises happening in the background, but I am happy with the end result.

My other discovery and recommendation from this project was the Very Pink Knits YouTube channel. I learned her stretchy cast off method, acquired knowledge on spit splicing and other joins, used her methods for increasing rows, learned to wrap and turn, then pick up the wraps, and searched her videos at least a few more times over the course of the project. I love how short and precise her videos are.

In conclusion, knit yourself a sweater! At the very least it will give you something to do while watching TV.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Candy Corn Halloween Dress

When your niece sweetly asks if you will make her a Halloween costume, you wipe a little tear from your eye and quietly whisper, "Yes. I'm not crying. You're crying."

She specifically did NOT want it to look like a costume. She wanted a dress. She's stylish like that. We went to Joann's together, and I showed her how to look at the pattern books to see if anything spoke to her. She settled on Simplicity 8101, but she did NOT want a pocket. She then went to the fabrics and picked out what she wanted, and declared that she would be wearing bright yellow leggings for the bottom yellow portion of the candy. Isn't she the best?

When getting the bias tape for the neckline and hems, she discovered the magic of rick rack and had the idea to add fun accents to the contrasting fabric. She's such a gem!

I can't wait to see it on her. Yellow leggings were ordered from Primary.com. She's going to be the belle of the Candy Corn Ball*!

*Not a real event. It only exists in my mind.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Curb Appeal Part 2

More updates on all our hard work from over the summer! 
Behold. The fruit...I mean SQUASH of our labor!

  • Flower pots are the ones I got for free and spray painted earlier in the summer.
  • Mums from Home Depot.
  • All squash was harvested from our heirloom seeds. 
  • Halloween wreath made using instructions from Martha Stewart's craft book (purchased during a time when Pinterest wasn't even a thing).

We put the most time and effort into our backyard area this year. I am ever so thankful for my sweet husband for building the raised garden beds for me. I think growing a garden is an important way to connect with the earth, and makes for wonderful lessons for children: hard work, chores, cultivation, birds and bees, etc.



The biggest change in our backyard was made when we painted our fence. After months of wanting to paint this eyesore, I randomly stopped by Sherwin Williams on my way home from church and picked up some stain. They also happened to have a sprayer available, so I spent the $50 on that rental as well.

I don't think we have ever completed a project that has resulted in such dramatic change. The fence is old, but this breathed incredible life back into it. It took us about 4 hours to finish the project.

Jeff also surprised me this summer by making another area for my herbs. This is closer to the house and sheltered from the elements, so I can run out to grab some herbs while the kids play inside. The plan is to eventually rig this to be useful in the winter months too.

Finally, I decided that since we were updating the fence from brown to black, we should also do the same for the garage trim. This has given it a much more sleek, modern look, and it now matches the color scheme on the front of the house.

Why do I care what this area looks like? When I come home from work, I love parking in the front so I can admire all the flowers and trees out front. However, I prefer to park in the garage area, but the sight of chipping brown paint everywhere was a bit of a downer. Call me crazy, but this was enough to inspire me to work.

And now we are enjoying the harvest from our garden. 

Green tomatoes will ripen in a sunny window. We've been eating about two of these a day. What on earth will we do when they are gone?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

Life has finally settled down to the point where we can reflect back on our summer vacation. There is nothing quite like spending time in the mountains. What a cool experience to hear footprints next to your tent, knowing for certain that it is not human.

First stop: Yellowstone National Park

Watching the sunset and enjoying a local IPA at the Lodge.

Easy hikes for the kids, with the hope of spotting bison.

Looking for wildlife in the car while Daddy hikes and Alice naps.

He loved looking at the sites through his binoculars.

Another night at the Lodge, another IPA.

Our sweet little cabin. Breakfast on the front porch. They loved watching the chipmunks.

Alice was looking forward to this adventure with horses for weeks.

This dinner is worth every penny.

Jeff's face...

And then we headed to the Tetons.

I forgot the kids' hats at home, so Alice kept herself busy while I shopped.

So excited to get in the canoes.

They were so in their element.

The hat I found for her was a little big.

Collecting rocks and watching the sunset.

So tired.

Solo canoe trip.

One of my favorite hikes EVER. The kids loved it too.

Take me back!

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