Monday, February 28, 2011

quilt in progress


Two Saturdays ago, I finished sewing together the last of my log cabin quilt squares. (There are 80 of them! Well, actually 82 because I miscounted.) And last week I trimmed them into predictably even 11 3/4 inch squares.

It's so rewarding to reduce the uneven blocks into a piles of little scraps and perfect squares.
When that was done, I recruited my mom and an artist friend to help me the squares for the first half of the quilt.
And I sewed them together. I opted to work with quilt halves for a couple of reasons. The first is that one half of a large quilt fits much better in my modestly-sized living room than the whole, and the second reason is that I need to have the quilt blocks sewn together and off of the floor before the end of nap time. : )

Today I laid out the other half and sewed it together. It is looking even more beautiful than I imagined it would! Now all I need to do is press the halves, sew them together, piece the back, get it to the quilter (there is no way I can quilt a queen-sized quilt on my little machine!), and bind it. It's still quite a process, but the end is in sight. And that's a very good thing since we leave for my friend's wedding in two-and-a-half weeks...

Friday, February 25, 2011

monday menu


M-chicken-fried steak, gravy, biscuits, fruit
T-stew and rolls
W-chicken based on this recipe, rice, corn
Th-chicken tacos (made with leftover chicken)
F-grilled T-bone steak, garlic-lemon roasted potatoes, salad

Monday, February 21, 2011

big boy helper

After observing his fascination with the process of snow removal, my parents purchased a tiny snow shovel for Little Man. He simply loves using it and is quite proud of being able to help.

Friday, February 18, 2011

love like a mustard seed?

now is the season
of celebrating love

as i think about
love for my husband
love for my sons
love for my family
i ponder God
the facets of His love
the privilege of loving Him

to me
God and love are inseparably twined
after all
i am only capable of love
because of His love
in me

i love
i do love
i love God
i love those near me
i even love strangers to some degree


yet my love is so imperfect
it falls short in many ways
it's forever incomplete

i fail to allow God-love to consume every area of being
forget to converse with Him
neglect to read His word
i even willfully choose to embrace
what He has told me to shun

i slump into ingratitude
make choices based on self's desire
snap at my men
shut my eyes to needs around

instead of being a portrait
of God's perfect fearless love
in a warped twisted world
i become part of the wreckage

yet i have faith
that the perfectly loving God
who planted the seed to this God-love in me
will continue to transform me
until the love i wish to embody
is mine

after all
i do love
even if it is imperfect

and perhaps love
like faith
has great unexplained power
even in mustard-seed size


thinking about Matthew 17:20, parts of I John (especially the end of chapter 4), and Philippians 1:6

Thursday, February 17, 2011

celebrating

Ever since I was young I loved celebrating Valentine's Day. I would spread my crafting stuff all over the table and make elaborate valentines for those I loved. I have been thoroughly enjoying passing on valentine traditions to the boys.

We made and sent valentines (complete with excavator and dump truck stickers!) to grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. We also enjoyed receiving some in the mail in return.

My parents helped with the celebration by giving the boys valentines cups and plates at breakfast as well as a few treats. The boys were, of course, delighted with everything.
Then later in the day we made a special delivery to Daddy's work: cards from all three a us (the card I made for Benjamin is pictured below) and some of his favorite snacks.

I also splurged and got a new espresso maker which I gave to him a bit early. (I kinda broke the last one, and we've really missed it!) This year Benjamin skipped the traditional obligatory flowers and chocolate (which, incidentally, I don't mind at all) and gave me a gift certificate for a one-hour massage! I'll probably save it for later in the summer when I'm huge and waddly and desperately in need of one. : )

We had such fun celebrating valentine's day that I'm a little sad it's over. Oh, wait. It's not. I still have a festive valentine tree in my living room!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

one-and-a-half

Brother is one-and-a-half today! He's still more cuddly than his big brother, but he is not a baby anymore. No, this running, climbing, chattering, singing one is definitely a little boy now! Here are some highlights of his life right now.

Brother is:
only taking one nap a day now
indicating that he wants to sleep in a big boy bed
loving his blankets (he's rarely far from at least one of them)
going potty in the toilet on command
eating huge amounts of almost anything in sight
(though he is more picky than his big brother)

babbling almost all his waking hours
saying more and more words
(some of his favorites include:
go, ball, bear, dog, eat, poop, hey, hu-un [no],
boo, look, poke, broke, and mama)
making so many impressive sound effects that I'm often amazed
recognizing and naming facial features

singing along heartily with music
(he even sort of follows the melody line of the ABC song)
playing drums with ever-increasing vigor

playing intently and intelligently, exploring his world
(some of his favorite toys right now are:
cars, balls, kitchen toys, mom and dad's shoes, stacking cups,
my old fisher price little people house,
brooms and mops, stuffed animals, and blocks)
"reading" books out loud and pointing at pictures
painting and scribbling pictures
loving stickers (especially stars)
kidnapping technology
(he loves phones, computer mice, wii remotes, etc.)

walking when we go around the block to burn energy
running fast, fast, flapping his arms
climbing up and down anything and everything
(couch, chairs, stairs, table; if it's elevated, he'll try to conquer it)
trying for all he's worth to jump
laughing so hard when we play chase that he can't run
getting in on Dad and Brother's pillow fights

Oh, I love this little boy, and I can't wait to see what the next months with him will bring!

Monday, February 14, 2011

photobooth fun

Last night we attended a Valentine's banquet raising funds to help local Christan college students go on missions trips this spring and summer. The food was good, the company was great, but perhaps funnest of all was the photobooth set and whimsical props provided by a local photographer for the evening.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely and even made it to the top of the photographer's blog post about the evening!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

good gifts

"Every good thing given
and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation
or shifting shadow."
James 1:17

Ripe fruits and vegetables (I'm especially enjoying tiny tomatoes sprinkled with salt this week) in the middle of winter are certainly good gifts, are they not?

Friday, February 11, 2011

valentine cookies

Yesterday I had such fun making special peppermint valentine cookies with Little Man. The fact that he is getting to be such a tidy and dependable helper combined with his charming humor and fresh perspective make him a truly enjoyable baking buddy.

Unfortunately I didn't snap any photos of him crushing the peppermints into cookie-sized chunks with a hammer; I was too busy keeping an eye on nearby fingers and surroundings. It was sure cute, though!

Of course we had to cut the cookies into heart shapes...
and arrange them carefully on the cookie sheet.
Look good? It gets better!
I was a little concerned about the mess of chocolate drizzling with a three-year-old, but Little Man was actually tidier about it than I was! Of course, though, if it hadn't been for me, the cookies on the edges would have had a very scanty amount of chocolate drizzles, and that would have been unthinkable! ; )

We finished our valentine cookies with a sprinkle of red sugar.

Mmm...delicious!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Aunt Mary's handbag

Benjamin has a lovely aunt (quite possibly my favorite of our combined aunts) who loves food photography as much as I do and cooking more than I do. We love comparing notes and sharing ideas. Anyway, last winter when Aunt Mary saw my black-and-tan Elinor bag, she wanted one of her own, and this fall she commissioned me to make a custom pink and brown Elinor bag for her.

I finished and mailed her bag last October, and I snapped this photo of her modeling it when we saw her and her husband a few weeks before Christmas. She simply loves it which makes me oh, so glad.

Aunt Mary was very specific that she wanted a purse made with pale pink and chocolate brown polka-dots and stripes. I thought it would be a piece of cake to find pink and brown polka-dotted fabric since both polka-dots and pink and brown are all the rage right now. I was wrong. After searching unsuccessfully in three fabric stores, I gave up and looked on Etsy for the perfect fabric. And sure enough I found it. (It's Michael Miller's dumb dots design, in case any of you wanted to know.)

Once I found the pink-and-brown polka-dot fabric, making the bag was a breeze. I loved adding the careful details that make custom work so special: pretty top stitching, perfect sized pockets to fit the things she likes to carry, a coordinating flower pin, curly-written care instructions...

As much as I love the detail work, I think my favorite aspect of custom orders is having my tastes and opinions expanded. I think I've mentioned before that I don't really like polka-dots even though Martha Stewart assures me that I should be in love with them. I would also tend to find the candy pink palette a little over the top. However, as I talked with Aunt Mary, her enthusiasm was contagious. And while I still wouldn't choose this combination for myself, I actually enjoyed using over the top pink and brown polka-dotted fabric to create a very pretty perfect bag for her. It's very rewarding, really.

Monday, February 7, 2011

brother's Christmas present

When I stumbled across this adorable tutorial, I just knew I needed to make a little fabric barn for one of the boys, and I stashed it in my to-make-for-Christmas list. I chose to make it for Brother even though he'll most likely appreciate and enjoy it most as he gets a little older.

[front of the barn]

I would have loved to add more embellishments and appliqu├ęs, but I had to face the fact that not only was I making it for a one-year-old (it needed to be durable and simple, with no small choking hazard pieces) but also I was running out of time (I had three days before Christmas, I think, and two more gifts to go). In the end I was satisfied with how it turned out. (I just love that red-and-tan plaid!)

[back of the barn]

[open barn]

Along with the barn, I gave Brother the farm animals with which I spent hours playing as a child. They're now vintage toys (yikes! am I getting that old?) but still have plenty of life left in them. I have enjoyed seeing the boys' joy in playing with them and am so thankful to my parents for saving so many of my childhood treasures for me to pass on!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

happy february

I have been having such a hard time just sitting down and writing lately. I'm not sure why since I have plenty of ideas. We have been busy, though, and I think I'm already beginning to get to that restless part of winter where I just don't feel like settling down and focusing. Today, however, I'm going to write an overdue and probably much-too-lengthy update.

~I'm recovering from another cold. I'm so thankful that while I've been uncomfortable and cranky (sad but true), I have not been nearly as sick as I was before. I haven't developed any antibiotic-worthy infections, and with my entrance into the second trimester, I've been able to avoid throwing up anymore.

~Benjamin has officially accepted a position as part time worship director in one of our local churches. We finalized the transition from our old church to our new one near the end of January. The transition was gradual (we've been moving toward this since September) and peaceful, but we are still adjusting to such a significant change.

~As the end of January loomed closer and I still had not taken down the minimal Christmas decorations, I decided to turn the Christmas tree into a valentine tree with the boys. Not only is it pretty and fun, but we are also going to use the valentines the boys made to give to grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

~I am teaching two flute students and am loving it more than ever. I'm hoping I will soon have a third, but we'll see what actually happens.

~Benjamin is planning on running a marathon in July. He has been busy training, planning researching, and collecting the necessary gear. Thankfully the weather has been warm enough the last couple of weeks for him to do some of the longer runs outside.

~I've always wanted to make a traditional, scrappy log cabin quilt. The log cabin heart above is made of just ten of the eighty blocks I'll need. My current square count is thirty down, fifty to go. I'm loving how it's turning out! This quilt is going to be a wedding gift for one of my closest friends who is getting married in March, so I'm on a bit of a time crunch and am spending most of my spare time working on it right now.

~This week I made my very first Etsy sale to someone who is a complete stranger! I have made other sales, but they have all been commissioned projects from friends or friends of friends. I was so excited.

I think I'll take off for now. Brother is napping, Little Man is being sweet, and quilt squares are calling. : )