Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cherry Picking

My new favorite jam now happens to be Sour Cherry. A dear friend of mine canned herself some last summer and was generous enough to share a jar with me. (Had it been my batch of jam, I am unsure whether I would have shared a whole jar with her...this is some mighty good jam. I've got some good friends!)

Anyways, I knew after my first bite of this jam on bread that I would be making as much of it as I could this summer. Last Friday we packed the kids into her minivan and set out to the farm to pick cherries.

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An hour later we each had two bags of cherries. Yum.

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Two bags amounts to about 12 pounds of cherries. Yes, I picked 12 pounds of cherries. What do one do with 12 pounds of cherries? Let me show you...

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One makes 4 batches of sour cherry jam. That's what any normal person with a considerable affinity for cherry jam does, right?

And this afternoon I will be making a cherry pie with the leftovers. If you have never tasted sour cherry pie, you are missing out on one of life's most delicious delicacies. Nothing beats a sour cherry pie in the middle of summer. Nothing. Well, maybe except a sour cherry pie topped with homemade vanilla ice cream. That is, if such a treat entices you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Growing Up!

I love silly bands. I know its a fad that will soon pass. I also realize I detest fads with a passion. But this is one fad I can't very well pass by without taking some bit of notice.

What's a silly band? Its simply a rubber bracelet that comes in a myriad of shapes and colors which can be stretched, twisted and yanked to your hearts content only to revert back to its previous form time and time again. Clever, no? I would say so.

And the best part is, this fad comes cheap. Do you think I could find something useful to do with these? You can bet your bottom dollar I could. Can you say incentive awards???

Ah yes. Perfect.

So, today after dinner, I headed upstairs to lay down for a few minutes. I suffered a headache today and I needed a few minutes down time. The rest of my family finished up their meal and met me on my bed upstairs. A bit later I walked downstairs to begin washing the dishes. Do you know what greeted me on my kitchen table?

NOTHING!

That's right. My daughter cleared her dishes off the table without my reminder. I grabbed a pink, glittery, bunny-shaped silly band and set out to find my little girl. I asked her if Daddy told her put her dishes on the counter. Her eyes widened in fear as she thought she was getting in trouble. (Am I evil, or what?) "No! He didn't tell me to do that." Daddy confirmed that no, he indeed did not remind her. Again, her head turned to me with a look of fear in her eyes. I looked her dead in the eyes for a few seconds and then said, "Chloe! You put your dishes on the counter without a reminder. Wow! Good for you." And I handed her the silly band.

This is one fad I will be implementing around my house for as long as it holds its value.

Daddy smiled and asked Chloe, "Do you know what this means, Chloe?"

"No. What?"

Daddy replied, "It means you are growing up, Chloe. You are becoming a big girl."

I couldn't agree more. As parents, we measure our child's height. We track their babyhood accomplishments. We celebrate their birthdays with gumption. We scrapbook their first haircut, their first lost tooth and their first day of school. But the big milestones are often the ones that go unnoticed. The milestones which mean our children are truly "growing up." I think these milestones are worth at least a silly band, don't you?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bug Bites Again

While I do have mosquito bites up and down my legs and arms, I am not talking about those kinds of bugs. Nope. You are not going to believe what I am about to type. I assume that you are sitting down in front of your computer desk to read this but just in case you are standing in some random spot reading this on your phone or something, I ask you to please sit down. What I am about to type will most likely shock you silly.

Ready???

I brought my 10 year old quilt out from my closet this weekend to start quilting.

WHAT?????

Yes, you read that right. The hand-quilting has commenced on the queen-size quilt I sewed together over 10 years ago.

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I feel quite daunted at the idea of hand quilting this entire quilt. James politely informed me a couple of days ago that I need to resign myself to the fact that it is just going to take me a LONG TIME (and then asked me yesterday if "HIS" quilt was finished yet because he was ready for a nap).

Anyways, I have three blocks completed at this point and at this rate I could have the quilting done in about two months. I know I won't be able to hold up to that kind of pressure though as my middle finger on my left hand feels tender and sore. Oh well. Like James said, its going to take a loooonnngggg time.

In other news, I knitted my tenth square for my sampler afghan. WooHoo.

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Now I am working on square number 11! This means I am a hair over halfway done! I am quite pleased with the fact that I knit much faster than I did 5 years ago when I started the afghan. That and my tension has improved dramatically. Who knows...this afghan might look semi-good!

Chloe begged me for two weeks to make her some jammies with this ballet fabric, so I did.

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They turned out super cute. I made them in a size 6 for two reasons. One, that's the smallest size the pattern came in. Two, I figured Chloe could grow into them and wear them two, possibly three years. Lo and behold, they fit her just fine. Yikes! Since when did I give my little girl permission to grow? She didn't ask me...that's for sure.

And just to keep me inspired to keep working on my quilt, I've been cutting out peices for new quilts from my scraps.

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That will be a king-size quilt for my bed. I also cut out some cute sunbonnet sues to applique for a twin-size quilt I would like to get done for Chloe's 6th birthday. I dream big, I know.

I took a break yesterday from the knitting to put up a batch of strawberry jam. I am sad this year because we didn't get the usual amount of strawberries. I think it had something to do with all those blizzards. I just wanted one batch though and am very pleased that I was able to get it.

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Tomorrow I am heading out with a girlfriend to pick sour cherries. If you've never had sour cherry jam, then you are missing out on one of life's best mini-pleasures. I hope to have a couple of batches made up tomorrow afternoon.

Well, I must be off now. Got a lot to do and not enough hours in the day. Happy Thursday everyone!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

About Time For a FO!

It's about time, don't ya think? I finally finished, not one...but TWO projects since yesterday afternoon. WOOO HOOO! I am thrilled. And not only thrilled, but suddenly I feel motivated in a way I haven't felt for months. I feel as though I could conquer the world. Or at least the projects stash in my sewing/craft room.

So, first off...I finished the Watermelon Razor Cami found over on Oh My Stars.

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I didn't like the edging portion of the bodice. The pattern called for the lace pattern stitch clear to the top on the front, but then called for 3/4 inches of ribbing for the back. I didn't think this would look uniform so I added an inch of ribbing to the front as well. I like how it turned out.

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I modified the edging substantially. I couldn't fathom picking up all those stitches around the entire edge of the tank and then binding them off, so I grabbed my trusty crochet hook and crocheted me an edging. And instead of attaching the straps on later, I went ahead and crocheted them right into my edging so they were completed in one round. I also added in two straps on each side instead of one. I believe the straps in the pattern are slightly bigger. I crocheted a chain where I wanted the strap and attached it to the opposite side with a slip stitch, then slip stitched back down the chain.

I found after trying the single crochets in each stitch that it the ribbing on the tank rippled. Lo and behold, after frogging my first edging attempt, the entire ribbing portion rippled and the tank wouldn't lie flat across the top of my chest. Time for some creative thinking. I changed to a sc dec around the top edge and that solved the issue. Now when I wear the tank, it lies flat like it is supposed to.

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Since I was in the mood to finish projects today, I pulled out a cabled clutch I started a few months ago. The pattern is found in One Skein Wonders. Unfortunately, I needed two skeins of yarn to make this clutch. I love it though. I made a few changes to this one too. Instead of using a dowel rod to wrap the upper edge of the purse on, I attached handles to the purse. I haven't added the ruched ribbon either. I am debating whether I want one or not.

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In other news, I am babysitting one of Chloe's good friends Jackson this week. What a blast we are having. Yesterday, I asked the children to make the most creative thing they could with our bucket of tinker toys. I told them that the one with the most creative invention would receive a lollipop. (I already knew I would give them both one.)

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We also baked cookies. The children loved my cookie cutters and picking out which ones they wanted to use.

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I am off now to scrounge up some dinner for my family and then I am out the door to book club. My first book club adventure and I am quite excited about it. Have a fabulous evening...all evening long.

Staying Put

At least for the next year. Shooosh! What a relief to know where I will be living for the upcoming year. I can make some plans. I will be able to can food. I can plant a garden (although its a little late for that this year).

You have no idea how difficult its been living in limbo for the past year. The up and down emotional roller coaster of thinking we were moving and then having them say we are not...then having them say we are...and then having them say we are not. Its done! For a year. I am staying in my house for a year...possibly more.

James still wants to move. He longs for that overseas assignment. Me? I just want to be with my family. So, I believe he is still going to push for orders for next summer. That's okay. Really. I am fine with that. But for now I am going to live it up where I am at. Bloom where I'm planted or something like that. And the good thing is...I like it here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer 2010 Book Reading Challenge

I first thought I would challenge myself to read 50 books this summer. Then I realized it would be probably be just as challenging for me to fit in 25 books. Realistically, I can probably only get 15 books read and so I settled on 20 for the final challenge count. My goal is to read 20 books this summer. I have until school starts. Anyone want to join me for this challenge?

1. The Storekeeper's Daughter by Wanda E. Brunstetter
2. The Winding Ways Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
3. The Quiltmaker's Daughter by Wanda E. Brunstetter
4. Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers
5. A Gift of Grace by Amy Clipston
6. The Master Quilter by Jennifer Chiaverini
7. Broken Wings by Terri Blacstock
8. The Cat Who Talked Turkey by Lilian Jackson Braun
9. Lo, Micheal by Grace Livingston Hill
Now Reading...
10. The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis and David Cross
11. Twenty Things Adopted Children Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge
12. Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray
13. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
14. The Preacher's Daughter by Beverly Lewis
15. The Fireman's Wife by Jack Riggs
16. and the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers
17. Storm in the Village by Miss Read

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I think I shall start this post with the ugly and end on a good note. What do you all say? Always a good thing to look up, right? The glass is half full…or something like that.

So, would you like to see something ugly?

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Told you it was ugly. And it gets uglier too. That needle is my Crystal Palace size 3. Yup. Horrifically and mortifyingly ugly. I can’t bear to look at it another second. I will have to frog the sweet baby hat and start all over again. Its such an ugly place to find myself in that I fear I shall not even attempt at the same hat a second time.

And, moving on up the goodness ladder to “bad”.

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Alas, and I have run out of yarn to finish this wonderfully lacy skirt. ACK! I don’t know if maybe it’s an error on the patterns part or if I should have known I needed to buy extra yarn. I bought the amount called for and it wasn’t enough. And to make matters worse, the pattern is nowhere near my ankles which is what the photograph portrays. I am adding another 3 rows (when I get another skein of yarn) to the bottom in hopes the skirt will lengthen itself to my ankles. So, the darling skirt must sit in a bag until payday when I get a bit of spending money in my pocket and can purchase a skein of yarn. (That would be tomorrow…so I don’t have that long to wait.)

Now for the good news. I did not allow the Ugly nor the Bad to put the damper on finishing up projects. I finally settled down and plugged through the portions of my linen skirt that I didn’t feel like doing (gathered pockets, pleats and such). I finished it! Hooray! I am so pleased with it too. I wish I could have finished it earlier so I could wear it in the spring, but oh…it will still be just as lovely in this summer heat. I will have to wear a slip underneath it though.

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The only downer to this goodness is that I failed to switch to brown thread on the pocket bands and the edge-stitching on the carriers and belt. James said he loved the skirt (which is NOT normal for him…for ANY of my sewing projects I make for myself) and that he actually liked the stitching details on the brown and thought it was supposed to be like that. So, not really such a bad mistake after all.

And now I must be off to clean and clean some more and clean again. I shall attempt to chat at you again later today as I have a lot of stuff on my mind. Hope you all have a blessed Monday.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

No Baby In Mama's Tummy

My heart broke...again. I thought I was past this. I believed I was past this. I felt I had moved on and came to terms with things. I felt I had reached the place of contentment with my life.

Until this week.

The wound reopened in a new way I never would have dreamed it could. It ripped apart at my carefully sewn seams, leaving my soul bare and raw.

Chloe recently posed the question to me, "Mama? When is Jesus going to put a baby in your tummy?"

Choke...

...gasp, gulp...inhale...

sigh...

The thing is, we are surrounded by babies. We are at a place in our lives where pregnant ladies abound. Everyone, it seems, is having babies. Everyone that is, but us. Chloe loves these babies. She asks about them. She wants to hold them, draw pictures for them, make cookies for them, take them home with us. She wants a baby. She sees everyone else having babies and wants to know when we are going to have ours.

I pray for wisdom how to answer my darling's sincere, yet heart-wrenching question. I look into her eyes and begin the explanation...

"God has different ways to give babies to families. Sometimes, He puts a baby in Mama's tummy, like He did with you. But sometimes He doesn't. There are Mama's out there who have babies in their tummies and they can't take care of those babies. God gives those babies to families like us so they become our babies."

Chloe looked at me with a smile and asked, "and then He puts that baby in your tummy?"

"No," I quietly explained. "God gives us the baby after it comes out of its own Mama's tummy. It never goes into my tummy. We would get the baby after it is born."

Chloe gets it. She gets it better than most five year old children would, I surmise. The heart-wrenching situation I find myself in is now listening to my daughter ask every lady she sees if they have a baby in their tummy. I believe she is on the hunt for our baby. She is searching for that Mama who can't care for the baby in her tummy so we can adopt the baby for our own.

Oh, my heart is breaking all over again.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Weaving My Own Spiderweb

This skirt has long sat on my WIM (Work in Mind) list or PIM (Project in Mind) list, whichever you want to call it, for quite some time now. I would have to say approximately 3-4 years to be perfectly honest. I have dreamed and longed and drooled and exclaimed and anticipated and drooled some more for plenty long enough now. Its time to get this baby done.

I purchased some lovely teal bamboo yarn while in NYC on my yarn shopping spree this spring, but lo and behold, I could not obtain gauge with it. The yarn was too small and if I went up a couple of hooks sizes to obtain gauge, the top portion of the skirt would be too "holey" and show my undergarments. Nope. No can do. Not gonna happen.

So, I headed to my LYS and picked up some of this lovely Berroco Weekend cotton yarn. Not quite what I had in mind but lovely, none-the-less.

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Progress is being made daily on this bit of lacy goodness and I should be done in a couple of days if it continues this way. Oh boy oh boy, I can't wait! I really can't. And the wrist is holding up okay for this too...as long as I don't sit and crochet for more than 2 hours a day, I can handle it.

I must be off now. Chloe and I have a puppet show presentation to create today. We will be showing it to Daddy tonight and if we get lucky, maybe he will videotape it so we can show you all too. Have a fabulous Friday everyone! I'll chat at you again soon. Maybe even today if I can get some recent card projects photographed.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Rebellious By Nature

Why am I so rebellious? I have no idea. Can someone please explain this to me?

I set out today on a mission. Returning unwanted items to stores. Uggg. One of the top 10 worst chores I hate. Anyways, I set out with that mission in mind and began the tiring work of trudging to this store and that, facing those clerks to ask for my money back.

Upon entering one store and relinquishing the receipt for some shoes I didn't need, the lady asked me for my phone number. I willingly spouted off the numbers to her and a few seconds later she handed a slip to me and told me, "You have to fill in all the lines between here and here." (Emphasis hers, not mine.)

Okay. Rebellion set in. I knew in my heart that I must fill in the form if I wanted my blessed $20 back in my pocket. There was simply no way around that. But could I possibly scribble my information illegibly? Hmmm. I couldn't be quite that rebellious, could I? No. The clerk controlled the money which I desperately wanted in my grimy paws.

You must understand one thing about me. The moment I hear the words, "You have to" my heart comes to a screeching halt and I think to myself, "Oh yea??? Watch me not."

Why is that? Why do I do this? Sometimes I just don't understand myself

So,I wrote my name, legibly. (Aren't you proud?) I even wrote my entire address including the zip code. (All of it.) But right before I signed my name to that slip of paper to release the money, I skipped right on past the phone number line, leaving it completely blank.

Ha! I showed her!

So, now I feel a tinge of remorse...like I should go back into the store and ask for my slip of paper back so I can sign my phone number to it. But really...what good would it do? Oh why oh why am I like this? Why can't I just be a nice, sweet quiet girl who gets along with everyone and does what she is supposed to. Please, can't someone tell me what is wrong with me?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Beach Day

All winter long, Chloe's picked the book "Beach Day" from her bookshelf to read every night before going to bed...and every day before naptime...and every time I offered to read her a story. You get the point. She loved this book. Why?

Well, looking back, I now believe it had something to do with a dream she held in her heart. She missed her Daddy and in this book, the girl's Daddy took her to the beach with her Mama. They did things together as a family and they had a wonderful time together at the beach.

So, its no wonder that Chloe decided one of the things she wanted to do when Daddy returned home from Afghanistan was to visit the beach.

We finally headed out this past weekend, much to Chloe's delight. What a blast we had. A cold blast since the water pretty much numbed our extremities, but a blast none-the-less.

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We are taking it easy this week. No running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Just a relaxing sort of week. The perfect start to summer, if I do say so myself. I have to say, its been nice. Really, really nice. Hopefully you all have been having some relaxing time as well. What are you doing to kick off summer?