"Lo, Children Are An Heritage of the LORD: and the Fruit of the Womb is His Reward" - Psalm 127:3

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Berry Picking & Harlequin Progress

It's been a good, productive day...

This evening we went up to the campground at Fremont Lake and picked Oregon grapes. They are tiny berries that grow in clusters on plants that are no taller than 6 inches or so. It takes a lot of stooping and bending. We will be making jelly out of these. They do not taste like regular grapes. They are tart and not good to eat alone. The jelly is a lot like grape jelly though.

There are lots of places where they grow in thick patches and you can reach 10-15 plants without moving. The good patches have double clusters on each plant and the berries are big and plump ... well, relatively big compared to the scrawny berries :)

If you look closely there are three plants loaded with berries in this picture growing at the base of some Aspen trees.

This will give you some idea about how big the berries are - and how juicy and red.

Not a bad haul for just an hour's work. By the time all my daycare kids went home and we got up to the lake and had dinner with my in-laws, we only had about an hour of daylight to pick them. We're hoping to get some more picked Saturday morning, but this is really quite a lot, so even if we don't we'll have plenty.

We ended up with about a third of a Walmart bag full of berries.

Now for a quick harlequin quilt update...

I again had a chance to do a little stitching while the munchkins rested. It's one of those "sew a couple minutes, check on the kids, sew a couple minutes, etc." situations, so I don't get things done very quickly and my sewing time is limited, but at least I do try to get some in each day if possible. That may change soon as I'm taking on a one year old in September who naps on his own schedule. If his nap times don't line up with everyone else's, my sewing will be very limited.

I did learn about the importance of pinning though, as you can see from the picture above. I have to confess, I almost never pin anything. It's just so much faster without the pins - both putting them in and taking them out. I don't usually have any problem with not pinning things, but this little bugger slid as I sewed it. I had already done 3/4 of the quilt top without any problem, but once I did this one, they all seemed to want to slide, so I gave in and pinned them.

I may not like to take time to pin, but I hate taking time to rip out seams. So, I only made that mistake once.

The middle sideways pin was the one I put in yesterday when I was making my rows. I thought that would hold it well enough, but I would have been faster just to put two pins in them to start with.

I wanted to see what the finished product would look like, so I laid the rows out on the floor to see. These are sewn in diagonal rows, but the rows are not connected to one another, and I didn't put a lot of effort into making sure they all lined up just right on the floor. Clearly, I still haven't cut out my edge pieces, so like it or not, that will have to be done tomorrow. I love to sew, but don't love to cut, so if there's something to sew, that always wins out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Harlequin progress

Okay, so these two pictures have nothing to do with my harlequin quilt, but I had to share them. My six year old got ahold of the camera and took some self-portraits ... 40 of them to be precise. These crack me up.

Not only did he make every face he could think of, he also did an entire series of photos where he pretended to be asleep, then slowly waking up, annoyed with someone waking him, and then this final one, about which he says, "This is where I'm completely awake."

Okay, on to the quilt...

I didn't have a lot of time to sew today, but while all the kidlets napped, I did manage to get all my dark blue dinosaur diamonds sewed onto a turquoise diamond. Then I worked on pinning them into rows. So now I just need to sew my pairs together, which should go quickly since I have them all pinned, then sew the rows together and the top will be almost done. Well, actually, I still need to cut my border pieces and attach them to the rows. I just wanted to get some actual sewing done today, so I skipped the cutting for now :)

I think it's going to be a cute quilt when it's done, and it is working up really fast too, which is a bonus.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Duct Tape Dressform

A long time ago, I bought a dressform on ebay. I was more concerned with price than size, so I figured I could pad this one enough to make it my size. (Nobody makes dressforms in my size, so it wasn't going to be possible to get a "real" one.) Well, that's been several years ago, and here the body sits - more of a decoration to my sewing room than useful. (Usually she's stylishly dressed). I've wanted to try draping garments and figured with a dressform I would be able to see what styles look better on me.

So, I figure if you can make a prom dress and a wallet out of duct tape, why not a presonalized dressform? Actually I stumbled across this idea online and thought it was a great, affordable solution, so I enlisted the help of my wonderful husband. This was really simple - just use trash bags wherever the tape would touch your skin (I didn't want to have to ruin a piece of clothing) and have your husband tape away. There is no way on earth I would have ever done this with anyone else!

I thought it would be helpful to mark where I preferred my neckline. I'm very particular about not having it too low, so I marked both the comfortable highest and lowest places. I also marked the place where I wanted my shoulder seam. I had my husband bring the tape down on my arms as far as cap sleeves so it was hard to tell where the top of the shoulder should be.

To get me out of my mummy wrap, my husband cut down the spine on the back of the dress. I put this over my original dress form and then taped down the spine. This was easy to match up, because each row of tape had to line up and worked as a guideline so I didn't end up lop-sided.

It was easy to tape up the back, but not so much when I was also trying to take a picture - ha.
You can see how the wrinkles and individual pieces of tape work as guidelines.

Once I had the taping done, all that was left to do was to stuff it and tape over the arm and bottom openings. If you do this, don't tape the arms shut until you've stuffed it completely. It's a lot easier to get the stuffing in the top with the arm holes open. This is mostly stuffed with recycled grocery bags.

Sorry, no picture of the finished product. I debated over putting one on here, but decided that would be too much like standing here naked. I will say it came out surprisingly realistic and I think it will work well for what I need.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Home Place

Yesterday we had the privilege of taking a tour of the area where my mother-in-law grew up. This area is between Pinedale and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the scenery can't be beat. It's pretty much in the middle of nowhere, which makes it even better.

Our first stop was the home of her aunt Mamie and uncle Judd. It was in very good condition, considering.

Here are my Mother and Father in law surveying the house. We were able to walk around inside ... carefully.

Our next stop was a homestead known as the Franz place. They were Germans who originally homesteaded the area. There are a lot of buildings around, including this nicer house.

The house was very interesting. Here is my 17 year old daughter in the kitchen. She loved it because it seemed to be made just for her - the bottom counter was probably under 3 feet tall. She is 5' 1". We also both loved the stove, which is a combination of wood and gas burning.

Here is a closer view of the wallpaper. I just love old wallpaper!

And here is the amazing kitchen sink. This whole unit (the top section) is one solid piece. I'd love to have that sink!

This is a cook stove that was in one of the bunk houses. I'm sure glad we have modern conveniences, but I would love to try cooking on one of these old stoves.

These flowers were growing out behind the main house. If you look close, there are at least 5 butterflies in this picture. They were all over the place in these flowers.

Then we were on to my Mother-in-law's place. This is all that remains of the house. They removed the logs and reused them to build a different house closer to Pinedale ... the ultimate recycling.

This was all part of the house, and there are some bed frames in the middle two. My Father-in-law is on the right, and my husband is farther is checking out the end.

Here my daughter is appreciating the modern convenience of washing machines. This old one would have been a lot of work. The wringer is on the ground in front of it.

This old car was there when my Mother-in-law lived there. She was born on this ranch when her grandparents lived there, then her family moved in when she was 3 and lived there until she was a teenager. She tells about playing on the old car with her older brother.

This stock chute was another original. She told of playing a lot on there too, so of course my six-year-old had to play on it too.

Can you see this amazing view? It doesn't come out as well on the camera, but the Wind River Mountains are big and visible from the front porch of the old homestead. They are clear and much bigger when you are there. Pictures never do them justice.

Out the back is another great view of the Hoback range and Sawtooth mountains. If you go in that direction, you get to Jackson Hole - about 45 minutes up the road.

It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. I'm so glad she took us out and showed us around. I love family history like this. By the way, her brother now has all of this land leased for his cattle and haying. The homestead is basically on the edge of a hay field, and is mostly grown over, so it would be difficult to treasure hunt. Not much left there to find, but a lot of fun to see and hear her stories of where they played and how they entertained themselves. Oh and by the way, there were never any modern bathroom facilities here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Busy, Fun Weekend

Today the Boat Club hosted a kids' fishing derby. The fish were planted yesterday by the Wyoming Game and Fish ... 150 of them. They clipped some of the fins, and depending on which fin was clipped, the kids could win between $20 and $150. My 6 year old did really well, catching 5 fish, but wouldn't you know it, none of them had clipped fins. He did win a door prize though, and now has his very own tackle box, which came with a few goodies inside - hooks, bobbers, sinkers, a stringer, and power bait. Not a bad haul. There was no entry fee because we are already boat club members. If I remember to take my camera next weekend, I'll show you my personal favorite benefit of being a member of the boat club ... the annual picnic. The picnic is a feast of crab legs, fresh salmon cooked on an outdoor grill, peel and eat shrimp, corn on the cob, steamed artichokes, salad, and cake.

Here he is with his new tackle box. It looks pretty pink in the picture but it's really a purplish maroon color.

Here he is catching one of his 5 fish.

Last night, my 17 year old daughter, six year old son and I went to the rodeo. Our little one has a bad cold and my husband was exhausted from going to work every day at 6 this week and working late each night, so he was ready to rest. They stayed home and went to bed early. My 6 year old's favorite rodeo event is the calf scramble.

Here are the unfortunate calves with ribbons tied onto their tails.

And here is the crowd of kids taking off to grab a ribbon. All for the reward of ice cream. He didn't win, but came pretty close.

This rodeo had an event I'd never heard of before, though we love rodeos and have been to several. It was called Team Doctoring. It was mayhem, which made it very exciting. They started with 4 local ranches represented. Each ranch had three cowboys, all with ropes. They released four of the biggest steers out into the arena, then ran them to the opposite end of the arena from the cowboys. When the signal was given, all 12 cowboys raced down to the other end, with the goal of roping a steer. It was a free-for-all, and each ranch had to pay attention to their teammates. Once one member of the ranch team had a steer roped, then the next goal was for another team member to rope the hind feet. Once that was accomplished, the third cowboy had to jump off his horse, wrestle the steer to the ground, remove the rope from the head and use it to rope the two front feet together. Then he had to make sure both back feet were in the rope at the back. He then raced back onto his horse. The time ended when the final cowboy was back on his horse. It was crazy and a lot of fun.

Today, after the fishing derby, we took a drive out to see my mother in law's home place. It was really interesting and a fun afternoon, but I have too many pictures to put them all in this post, so I'll save that for tomorrow.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Beginning Baby Harlequin

Recently, I "took the process pledge." You may have noticed that button on my right hand sidebar. Basically the process pledge is an encouragement to blog about the process of doing projects (sewing or otherwise) rather than just posting the finished product and a blurb about it. The idea behind it was that it sets unrealistic standards, pushes people to think they have to finish something before they blog about it, and can be discouraging. There is a wonderful post about it if you follow the link above.

Anyway, I think I have been posting my process most of the time anyway. I completely agree with the thought behind it though, so I took the pledge. I also will say that I find blogging very motivating. I do feel pushed to accomplish more, and in my case I think that's a good thing. I've gotten way more projects completed than I ever used to, but I can see where that would be discouraging to some.

Here's what I've been working on this week...

My first subscribed issue of McCalls Quick Quilts came in the mail early this week. I had picked up one of these in a store and loved several of the patterns. I don't have any other subscriptions because I hate to waste paper, so I usually just buy an issue if I want to read it, or more likely, just read it at the library (that works well for magazines they get). I told myself that if I subscribed I would try at least one pattern from each issue. If I wasn't able to do that, I would not renew my subscription at the end of a year.

So when I went through the book, I loved this pattern. It looked simple enough that I thought I could do it. One of the points either in the process pledge article or the article she linked to made the point that people are switching to easy patterns in order to have a finished product to blog about. There seems to be a "lost art" to doing the more difficult patterns. I totally agree. However, I am fairly new to quilting, and self taught, so I give myself a little leeway here :)

I loved this pattern, but I knew right away that I didn't want to use so many fabrics. I thought I would prefer two or maybe three fabrics. So I numbered the rows so I could easily calculate how many diamonds to cut in each color.

Then I picked out two of my stash fabrics and got to work cutting while all my daycare kids napped, and my six year old worked on his math. These are flannel fabrics, which I think is perfect for a snuggly baby quilt. I was able to cut all my diamonds for the quilt except for the border pieces in about an hour - probably less, but this also included the time it took to go through the stash and decide which colors to use.

This is kind of what it will look like. I only laid out a few pieces to see what it was going to look like. The finished quilt will be 9 dark diamonds wide and 13 rows tall, not including the border. I'm going to do the border in the solid turquoise color.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Shelves Are Done!

I've been working on and off for about two weeks trying to get my shelves installed. Not that the project was difficult or should have taken that long. I have a lot going on - ha - some would say that's an understatement. Anyway, here's the saga of the built in shelves...

Remember this odd shaped gap at the end of my hallway, next to my bedroom door?

I bought some 1x2's and 1x10's and cut the pieces into the lengths I needed. The wood in the picture above is for the bracing under the shelves.

Here is everything all cut and ready to install. From the bottom up, we have the 1x10 shelves, then long 1x2 brace pieces for against the back wall. These were cut the same length as the width of the shelves. On top of that, (and in the picture above this one) are the shorter brace pieces - two different lengths because of my oddball space I built the shelves into.

Here's the beginning of progress. The bottom shelf is in. I rested this shelf on the trim that was already there. I left a big enough gap that I could vacuum under the shelf with the hose attachment.

I started by installing the long support boards along the back wall. I wanted to make my shelves different (but very specific) heights - some 9 inch, some 12 inch, one closer to 13 inches and another around 11 inches. Once I measured the height from the shelf below to where I wanted the bottom of the next shelf, I lined up my brace, then leveled it and screwed it into place.

I had a little help along the way, which may explain why it took me *two weeks* to complete this very simple 2 hour project :)

There is not a lot of extra space in this little book nook, so when Mr. Helpful moved in, all progress came to a screeching halt.

I pre-drilled the boards and started the screws to make things a little easier and to keep the wood from splitting. If you look at the brace on the wall in front of the baby, you'll see that I originally started with a drill bit that was too small and the board ended up splitting. Once I switched to a larger bit, things went smoothly (apart from Mr. Helpful removing my screws!)

Here, a day or two later, I have my shelves all installed and partially painted. I actually painted one side of these boards before installing. I had my 17 year old daughter finish painting them while we were on our weekend getaway. She did a great job. I'm not sure whether you can tell from the picture or not, but the left side braces were the longer short pieces (if that makes sense) and the right side had the very short pieces. The wall angles there so that the bedroom door can sit at an angle off the hallway. The shelves are wider than the wall, which I did by design because any narrower shelves would have been difficult to get books to stay on ... especially the larger books.

Here's what we came home to. Perfectly painted and cured shelves, ready to be filled.

So that is what I did Monday. I wanted this shelving unit to look nice as well as being functional, so I chose mostly book sets for these shelves. We have millions of books ... well okay, maybe more like a thousand. I'll let you know when I eventually get them all listed in that library registry I wrote about. Don't hold your breath. That is going to take a LONG time to do.

So here's what I put on the shelves, starting at the top. Shelf #1, at the top, is holding a set of Moody Science DVD's. These are creation science dvd's. There are also a few other dvd's and a set of seminar cd's from this year's Baby Conference hosted by Vision Forum in San Antonio, TX.

Shelf #2 is tall homeschool books - mostly just extra stuff we don't use all the time. This may change, because I have an entire, enormous bookshelf full of just homeschool books in the garage and it isn't making much sense to me to keep some inside and some out other than the ones we are currently using. And this isn't a good place for the ones we are currently using either as it is too far from where we actually work on school.

Shelf #3 is full of books on Christian Womanhood. These are books my daughter is in the process of reading, and only a very small portion of the books I have in this category. They are sort of the "best of the best" in this category.

Shelf #4 (the top of this picture) holds my growing collection of Lamplighter books, a full set of Ralph Moody's Little Britches series, and a set of the Elsie Dinsmore books.

Shelf #5 contains older hardback books I purchased at a recent library book sale - great old classics by Louisa May Alcott, and other great classics. I love these old books!

Shelf #6 is filled with the Lucy Maude Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, a boxed set of Laura Ingalls Wilder books, the Daughters of the Faith series by Wendy Lawton, and Patricia St. John's books.

Shelf #7 holds several years' collection of Highlights magazines we picked up at a yard sale earlier this summer, and a set of books containing short stories on numerous topics - all very old. The series is called "Through Golden Windows" was published in the 50's. They are full of wonderful graphics and fun stories.

Shelf #8, the bottom shelf, is filled with library books from our public library. It is common for us to check out more than 50 books at a time, so this is a good place to keep them all together.

As you can see, we have some great book sets - and this is a mere fraction of what we have. I have always believed that access to great books - quality books with good moral content - is essential for kids to learn to read and to love to read, as well as for developing good morals. I've linked to several of these books and sets so you can see what they are. I don't think I have paid full price for ANY of these books. I watch sales and have a fund for when I find books on discount. Probably 75% of the books we own are pre-owned, some from yardsales, amazon or half.com. I also really like libraryanded.com but you have to qualify to purchase from them (homeschools qualify). Overall, yes, we spend a lot of money on books. But to me, it is priceless, and I just figure it as part of the cost of homeschooling. Well worth the investment. Besides, remember, "someday" I'm going to have a whole room dedicated to a home library, and I'm gonna need books to fill it :)

So that's the story of the shelves, and what's on them. Hope you enjoyed and are inspired!