Tuesday, March 31, 2009

1. Wash screens 2. Clean out gutters 3. Plant garden...

I like the to-do list that comes with spring. Though it is long and often intimidating, it gives me a sense of satisfaction. When it is a year such as this where we aren't moving I feel especially motivated. I love envisioning the summer sprawling ahead full of hot days knowing we worked hard all spring to reward ourselves with laziness.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Books are Heavy

I will never own enough books. Pops, if you're reading this I know your eyes are rolling as he is the only person outside of this book loving bunch that has seen the boxes of books we have in the house, in the storage unit, the bookcases that are stacked beyond their capacity scattered in corners of our home. I love to read books, any books really. Even Dr Seuss. I can read them here or there. I can read them anywhere.

Except in the back seat of a low car. That would make me barf. Isn't that the worst? When you are in someone's car and feel nauseated and sweaty and just want to hang your head out the window and let the wind blow your flappy cheeks around like a dog does?

I'll get back on track...
Yesterday was a great book sale. Sam and I went and spent leisurely time looking at every title. Y'all know this is not true. The truth is I got him all excited about going, we skipped into the building together, he made his rounds in about 11 minutes and showed up at my side while I had just perused only .000052% of the books I wanted to look at. He patiently carried my book bags and acted excited on cue. He did this for nearly 2 hours. He is a good boy.
This morning he saw this picture on the front page of the paper:

That's us in the top left corner. He really liked this. I of course noticed that even though I am the size of an ant my butt looks huge. oi.

Jemm... thanks for the awards you gave me! I found this book yesterday and thought of you:

For those of you that perhaps aren't crazy for books I shall leave you with a picture of three rabbits.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

T-shirt sewing

These shirts are super easy. It wasn't until my third child was toddling around that I attempted to sew with knits. I was tired of seeing his long torso only partially covered by his shirts. T-shirts are either hit or miss--they can be too boxy, too short, the neck too tight....

To make a decent tee I took apart a favorite shirt that was stained, using it as a template I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make. I have been making shirts this way for 11 years now and have come up with a few shortcuts.

Decent interlock knits are hard to find. For a child's shirt I scout out yard sales and thrift stores for extra large adult interlock polos or T- shirts. I used a Ralph Lauren polo for this red striped shirt. Sam drew the whale for me and I made it into an applique.

Most fabric stores have limited knit selection and the quality usually isn't too good. This time of year is when they have their best selection when the warm weather fabrics are in stock. Occasionally I will find a rainbow selection of rib knit (the neck lining) and will pick a few 1/8 yard colors to have on hand. If I can't find the appropriate coordinating colored rib knit I will buy a thrifted T shirt and cut the neck off and trim the rib knit to size.

Are you bored by this?

Henry will wear these shirts until about August when his two year old mock beer gut pokes out and/or they are covered with grape popsicle stains. Three of our kids have really long torsos and short legs, one has her Nana's really long chicken legs and the other has absolutely no butt. All the same it's fun to dress them when they are young. Around age 12 this changes and it is no longer fun to dress them. I was thinking of that show "What not to Wear" and it would be great to see a child's version. I have some contestants all lined up.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome, Spring with Open Arms

Dear Spring,

How you never fail to let me down. Amidst the ice and gray skies of Winter I shudder never letting myself anticipate your arrival. This is a disservice to you as I know Winter is your friend, without her your entrance would be so ordinary. Your bulbs would appear weak and pale without the months of slumbering beneath Winter's cold, cold ground. Even though I am impatient year after year, you burst forth in the most magnificent manor. I am humbled by you, Spring. You are so forgiving and so kind. Thank you for your gifts of color and life. It is a magical sight to see new, soft woolly lambs and the teeny, twitchy noses of baby bunnies. I have watched my own young children take in your splendor, studying newly formed buds on the tree, peeling the petals off your vibrant daffodils with ill regard. They take this renewal in one big gulp, time will change this as they grow and like their parents they will marvel at your gift. We love you, Spring. You are always a welcome friend here.

Page from Tasha Tudor's "The Springs of Joy"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Talking Trash with Holly Hobbie

Holly Hobbie has always had a soft spot in my heart. I don't purposely look for her when I am thrifting but more times than not I will find myself handing over pocket change for a bit of her quaint nostalgia. I found this trash bin at an old farm estate sale that literally had seven barns full of manly rusted out what-not and a teeny tiny house with mostly goose figurines. Which by the way a woman bought every single one while I was there. And not to be mean or anything but who would pass up this HH trash bin for a gazillion 1990's geese? Oh, the insanity!

Anyhow on my way out of barn #7 I saw a corner of stacked boxes marked "magazines". This makes me happy! Lots of magazine's, books, and kids workbooks from the 50-60's. If you are ever sitting in a train station, airport, Dr's waiting room and smell an old musty cellar kind of smell, it is probably me reading an old magazine. I have been doing this for years. Is this weird? I'm trying to think if I saw someone reading a an antiquated copy of "The Farmer's Wife" such as this:
Would I think this is strange? Of course not! I would immediately recognize that we are kindred spirits and after digging through my handmade-with-vintage-Holly-Hobbie-fabric bag I would produce this:
And we would giggle over the results. I, of course, was meant for John Boy Walton and would only be laughing with her to be nice.

What a dream boat.

Actually John Boy is okay...he wears his pants up a little too high, how about his Dad? Now he is just about perfect. But wait--is this weird, too???

Sunday, March 15, 2009

time well spent: a quiz

Can you guess how we have been spending our time these last few days?

If you answered...

Eating Sausage Pie (mostly sausage and cabbage in a pie crust.)

Driving to Lubbock. We had never been, it was pretty though the drive was three hours each way and there was nothing in between only horses and cows-- which is okay b/c horses and cows are pretty unless you need to pee and there is only a shack with one pumper for gas and a sign that say "gas, antiques, beer, fried catfish, and minnows".

Losing six teeth in eight days.

Eating a plum nearly naked.

Driving to Dallas. More horses and cows but I bought this 1941 book in a used book store, which makes everything okay.
Hadley studying excessively for Literary Criticism.

Training ducks who are now named Prudence and John even though we are still unsure if they are male or female. And yes that is me, brown and aqua match, eh?

They have grown really fast and are growing their soft downy under-feathers. I really love them.

Eating chicken and barley w/ mushrooms and tomatoes all simmered in beef broth and baked with cheese.

Building a ping pong table after baseball practice-- a going away gift...thanks, Dad!

Maggie is in Austin for several days on a speech/debate tournament. We miss her, especially the hundreds of headstands we watch her do in the living room. And trust me, she will love this picture.

So if you answered any of the above...wow, impressive. Otherwise I promise to write about more exciting things next time. Like the new Oliver+ S Spring patterns that came in the mail!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cleaning the house in heels only sounds romantic

Wearing a dress for no reason never fails to put a spring in my step. Recently when I went out to lunch I decided to observe the lunch crowd and see how many women were wearing dresses. Only one was. It was a woman who looked about 102 and she had on a long calico dress that made me think she was an extra on Little House. And yes, of course, I loved her. But I was a wee bit sad that the notion of a dress seems to have been left with weddings, proms and the super skinny and tall models that only wear them to introduce the Spring fashion line. I suppose I am only looking for a reason to wear a gingham checked dress and "sensible heels" to polish the furniture. When will it come back in style?????

I love the dress on the cover of this 1947 magazine. It looks cute and simple. Just like Molly, she is a no fuss kind of gal unless her sister gives her 11 new hair clips, then she will have to wear them all at once. When you combine that fact with this smile:

Then she will remind you of Ken's Bapche, who was so dear and kind and absolutely refused to wear her teeth. Now combine that fact with how she liked to wear a blond wig from the 50's while she would visit us at our little country house in Eastford and gobble up the children and bring one of our hens into the kitchen:

Well then, now you know why we miss her.

This lamb egg cozy has nothing to do with dresses, teeth (or lack of), hens (unless you count them as farm animals then they do have something in common) but I'm only sharing because I thought it was cute and seeing as my crochet skills are at about that of a fifth grader it would bring me comfort to maybe envision some of you making them for your Easter eggs. The directions are here. The directions are from Lion Brand Yarn, they have some really cute free patterns.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

So it is

The time is fast approaching when I will watch the one most dear to me once again travel far away. I don't know which is more ridiculous--how many times we have been through this or how much more upset I get with each time. It's definitely not one of those been there done that experiences for me. I anticipate his leaving with panicky irrational emotions which drag this already endless amount of time into additional months of woe. Why must I do this?

He despises leaving his family but is rational and level headed. He is well trained and embodies the opportunity to make a difference. He is an airman and very proud to be...you see, this is where I am troubled: he is my airman. Each time he flies away from us he takes my heart right along with him.

Perhaps this is a grossly selfish post. In fact I loathe the way I feel. Anxiety has always been a part of my adult life. The anxious feeling of worrying about my husband will never end. Staying positive for the sake of our kids is exhausting. And yes I know of all the support the military has to offer, they do a good job of this. I guess it is just the years of moving and adjusting catching up. I am tired of it! It is less an adventure and more a struggle. Always a struggle. Please forgive me for this! It will get easier as time passes and summer vacation nears.

I will miss him.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bring it On

In this house we are all pretty competitive. I'm not one of those mothers who thinks everyone on the little league team deserves a trophy for participating. Work hard and if you're not too good at it work harder. There will always be room to be better whether it sports or Parcheesi (my very favorite game). Last year Maggie (age 14 and 5'6") did gymnastics for the first time. She was very nervous being in the beginner class with 6-7 year olds while the teenage cheerleaders from a neighboring town were practicing at the same time. They had a glass wall so parents could observe and I'd be fibbing if I told you I didn't chug laugh a time or two. But the reality was I was envious of Maggie--her determination to try it because she always wanted to. And truthfully I think it changed her life. She does back handsprings and flippy things that look like she has been at it all along.

Where am I going with this? I'm not sure as my train of thought has vanished. I have a bad cold, the kind that makes you breathe with your mouth open and drool hot tea down your chin and not care.

Anyhow here is a contest we do each year, this year everyone wanted to play. Though Henry just wants to keep digging up his seeds to see if they are still there. There is no prize for that.

Participants can choose soil combination (chicken manure or not, rocks, shavings, potting soil), tomato seed type, and where to place their pot. Prizes are for first seedling to appear and first tomato. I like Hadley's pot with the yellow submarine.

Hmmm I wonder who will win, as the kids will forget to water then give it a gallon a day until mold forms on the soil.
Sam, why are you looking at me like that? He wants to win I think.