September/November Sewing: Corn! In Sacks!

(I’ve fallen pretty far behind on my sewing posts over the past few months.  So look for a bunch over the next few days!)

If it wasn’t for corn sacks, Nik and I probably would have gotten rid of our microwave long ago.  But we just can’t make it through the winter without having that steady source of portable warmth available at all times!  For those uninitiated in the joys of a corn sack, it’s just a bag filled with feed corn that you heat up in the microwave.  Especially when thrown under the covers at your feet in bed, it stays warm for a long time and makes going to bed in a cold house a much nicer prospect!

In September, I made one for my friend’s mother as a commission.  I was told that she “liked blue” but that was it.  So, applying that broadly, I designed this little yellow and blue case to go with the blue sack of corn.

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In November, I sewed this corn sack as a thank to a neighbor friend of ours who oh so generously gave us four blueberry bushes and four pots of rhubarb.  I didn’t know her tastes in fabric but figured that you can’t go wrong with green and leaves for a gardener, right?

007 (800x533) 002 (800x533) (2)003 (800x533)Why single-stitch when you can triple-stitch, right?

Corn sacks are something that I’ve been contemplating making to sell.  Let me know if you’d be interested in buying one!

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November Sewing: A Bag for A Dear Friend

One of my friends from church is currently recovering from hip replacement surgery.  A week or so before her surgery, she asked me if I could come up with something to hang on her walker so that she could move small items with her from room to room in her recovery time.  I set out intending to just make a really simple bag but I love making bags so much and rarely have a chance to make them.  I couldn’t help myself and ended up making a super cute one that now I want to make more of!

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The strap needed to be split in the middle in order to  be able to be strapped onto the walker.  I used two pieces of Velcro, hoping that would be strong enough for her phone, water bottle, etc.009 (800x533)

And, just for fun, I densely quilted the straps and the accent strip at the top.  010 (800x533)

I love that blue/green color combination.  I used the blue fabric in my sister-in-law’s Christmas present two years ago and was glad to find the perfect project to use up the leftovers!

I hope this bright little bag makes the next few weeks just a little bit easier for my dear friend as she pushes herself through physical therapy and on towards an easier life with a new hip.  Anyone else need a bag for a walker?  I have fun making them.  I could even take some commissions! :)

*I used the dimensions from the medium bag of the Oh Fransson “Little Shopping Bag” tutorial. I can’t find the blog post on her site now but the PDF still seems to exist.  These were the bags (along with the Buttercup bag) that introduced me to the fun of sewing bags.  Outside of the dimensions, the rest of the design is my own.

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A Fond Farewell to My Dearly Loved Oregon Mug (and my Montana one too, sniff, sniff)

My favorite souvenir to buy while on a trip is a hand-thrown pottery mug.  I have several and LOVE using them.  My dad even brought me one back from Scotland last year.  I love the feel of them in my hands, the different signatures on the bottom, the memories of trips taken and enjoyed as I’m sipping my tea. I had never broken one until last Friday morning.

The night before had been a rough one (Mark is sick and nursing a TON) and so I was staying in bed as long as possible while the kids were up with Nik.  All of a sudden I heard a strange noise, followed by Ellie saying, “Mark! Mark! Be careful! Put on your shoes!”  I called out for Ellie to come and tell me why Mark needed to wear shoes at 6:45 in the morning and heard the sad news.  I’d enjoyed a cup of tea the night before and had neglected to move it to the kitchen before falling into bed.

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The mug they knocked off the side table was one that I had found in Cannon Beach, Oregon* when Nik and I went there in 2009.  I somehow managed to only blog a couple of silly pictures of that trip so here are a couple beautiful ones, only five years late!

IMG_6401 (800x533) pre-kids for both couples! :) (two for us and three for my sister and brother-in-law)

IMG_6378 (800x600)Haystack Rock

When I realized that my beloved mug was broken (the favorite of all of them), I had two immediate reactions:

  1. I’m going to replace it!
  2. No one is ever going to touch my mugs again.

Upon a bit more reflection, and after, tragically, two days later, managing to drop my Montana 2013 mug in the sink and break that too, I came to my senses.  Clearly, it’s not just other people who are going to break “my” mugs.  What’s the point of having something if not to be used and loved?  It’s fairly antithetical to what Nik and I believe to acquire stuff just to have it.  When our kids do this (i.e. when they are accumulating toys just to hold them and to keep others from playing with them), we call it “being a dragon”.**  We don’t want to be a dragon who finds joys in counting and exulting over our stuff.  We want it to be useful or beautiful or both, and in any case, used.

And should I replace them?  I don’t know.  I loved, LOVED that red mug.  I know this probably sounds weird but I really enjoyed my tea the most when drinking it from that mug.  I just searched the web for the potter who made it (having taken a picture of the name on the bottom of the mug before throwing it out so I wouldn’t forget) and she has retired.  I can’t replace it.  More importantly, I think, I can’t relive that trip again.  Do I really need to replace the souvenir?  Probably not but I really do want to.

217 (800x800)So alas, my red mug and my blue mug are both gone.  I’m still drinking out of my other mugs though, hoping that I won’t break another one but still drinking tea.  The kids and I have “milky tea” almost every afternoon these days.  It helps make the long afternoons slightly more bearable! :)

124 (800x533)sipping her “tea” (mostly milk) from her great-grandmother’s mug, because I know my Granny would have loved knowing that her great-granddaughter was using her tea cup and because, what’s the point of it just gathering dust?

*Please, all you East Coasters, repeat after me – “Or-eh-gun” (NOT “Or-e-gone”).
**I take no credit for the “dragon” idea.  I read it in a parenting book, most of it not particularly useful but I did like that idea!

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Yet Another Weird Sleeping Position

Mark just seems to find them all!

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How We Spent Our October 31st (and why we didn’t go trick-or-treating)

As is true with other parts of my life, my thinking about Halloween has moderated in my adult years.  When I was younger, I probably would have told you that I didn’t think there was any way to partake in Halloween festivities and still be a Christian.  I don’t think that now, thanks in large part to many friends who have helped me see in shades of gray, rather than black and white.  So please know that this post is not meant to indict you in any way for how you celebrated on October 31st.  If you haven’t read my KIOS disclaimer in awhile, go read it because it definitely applies here.

That being said, Nik and I have decided to forgo celebrating Halloween with our family for several reasons.

1. I have very limited creative energy and sewing time.  I am NOT about to squander it on coming up with costumes for my children that will only be worn for one day (or at best for a few times).

002 (800x533)2. I know we could also just buy/borrow costumes for our kids, but we also have some serious ethical concerns with the the amount of money spent (wasted) on costumes by society at large.  To us, it’s a waste of resources, both monetary and environmental.

3. Our kids don’t even really know what candy is. (Remember Ellie’s pencil candy?)  We don’t see any reason to let them acquire the taste for it any time soon.

4.  For a variety of reasons (no sidewalks on our street, our front door is difficult to locate, etc., etc.), we get little to no trick-or-treaters at our house.  We see plenty of them in our neighborhood but they just don’t come to our house.  Therefore, Halloween isn’t even a fun night for us at home anyway.  We’d be sitting around with a bowl of candy with no one to give it to.  What fun is that?

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5. One of the true evils of Halloween?  All that chocolate tainted by child slave labor.  It’s hard to forget once you know.

6.  Last but most important to me, I just can’t do scary stuff.  If someone could promise me that Halloween would just be cute babies in bumble bees and little girls as princesses and boys as firemen, I might be OK with it.  But I’m just not OK with dripping blood, glorifying evil, and celebrating death.  I don’t see any way to separate the cute from the horror and so we’ve chosen to separate ourselves from it.  We know our children will need to learn about the very real presence of evil in this world but it doesn’t need to happen when they’re young.

014 (800x533)“geese!!”

You can’t just say, “NO!” right?  Eespecially now that Ellie is old enough to understand that something is going on, that other kids are doing something fun and she’s not, we knew we needed to have a family tradition for October 31st.  Last year, we went out to eat on a whim and this year, we decided to just do that every year.  We super-rarely eat out as a family just by ourselves (maybe 2-3 times a year?), so it’s a big treat, especially FOR ME!!!, to get to eat in a restaurant (no cooking! no dishes!).  We decided to combine it with a trip to Loch Raven Reservoir to see the geese, and there you have it!  A fun family tradition!

019 (800x533)One of these things is not like the other!   Somewhere, a farmer is sad, missing her duck.

025 (800x533)035 (800x533)At this moment, Ellie would only consent to being in a picture if we were being silly.

039 (800x533)my precious, growing-up-so-fast daughter

049 (800x533)063 (800x533)stomping to scare away the geese, who clearly have been fed too many times

I’m not sure what will happen once our kids get old enough to have their own opinions about trick-or-treating, costumes, and Halloween.  When the time comes, I hope that our willingness to listen to their deep desires and concerns will inform our conversation about how to live ethically and responsibly in all areas of our lives.  If that involves one child or the other wanting to celebrate Halloween, then we’ll just have to work together to figure out how to do that in a thoughtful, responsible way.

In the meantime, Ellie was thrilled to eat the biggest piece of pepperoni pizza she’d every seen and I don’t think she missed the candy at all!

How about you? How have you solved the Halloween issue?  Maybe it’s never been an issue for you?  If you do go trick-or-treating with your kids, what in the world do you do with all that candy? :)

Posted in Ellie, Mark, parenting, reflecting | 4 Comments

A REALLY Big Whale

For our second year, my friend Emily and I are doing a homeschool-preschool co-op for our kids.  (Somehow, I don’t think I’ve blogged about this at all but it’s been a great part of our week for the past year and a couple months!)  Today, we were learning about blue whales and as part of that, we went outside to mark on the street how long a blue whale actually is.  They can grow up to 100 feet.  This turns out to be REALLY big!  I couldn’t find any sidewalk chalk so we improvised with rocks and pink paper every 25 feet.

IMG_0209 (600x800)I’m at the tail, the girls are at the head.

Walking from head to tail, you will notice that all four children declined my request to say “hi”.

It also takes a long time to run the length of a blue whale.

We also made blue whales out of cups, complete with blow hole spray.

009 (800x533)Although I avoid Pinterest almost all the time (too mind-messing, too time-sucking), it definitely came in handy for fun blue whale activities!

P.S. Lest you be concerned about the safety of all our children, rest assured that we were on a one-way street that has very little traffic, which comes from the tail direction.  We were A-OK! :)

Posted in Ellie, friends, Mark, school | 2 Comments

He Sings! He Talks! He Runs! Oh The Cuteness!

Mark is daily amazing us with his leaps and bounds forward in talking, moving, and generally just being super adorable.  Here’s three videos to let you experience the cuteness too. Sadly, two of them are upside down.  I’m still getting the hang of taking videos with my smart phone (because oh yeah, by the way, I have one now) and I just keep managing to hold my phone the wrong way.  Annoying, it plays them correctly on my phone so I don’t figure it out until I download them.  Anyway, if you’re a dedicated Mark-admirer, I suppose you’ll put up with the upside-down-ness of them because they are OH SO CUTE!!

First, he loves to sing and has a remarkable grasp of tune already.  Here is he singing in the car.  He usually chooses the “Twinkle Twinkle/ABC” tune for his chosen melody! :)

He is talking oh, so much.  He’s starting to make  three and four word sentences and comes out with new words all the time.  Most of his words, he drops the first consonant sound, which makes understanding him a bit tricky.  Duck and truck come out “uck” and plane and train come out “ain.”  He also loves giving kisses as you’ll see if you watch to the end!

Finally, he also loves to run.  We don’t even take the stroller with us on walks around the neighborhood any more because he doesn’t want to ride in it.  He says, “Un! Un!” and just takes off.  I’m so sad this one is upside down because I just love how he vigorously swings his elbows from side to side.  I hope you can get a sense of it at least!  Sometimes we do take our wagon with us so you’ll hear it rattling along in the background.

Also, don’t you love the classic “run but get totally distracted by something” behavior?

We’re so glad this precious boy is in our family!  I don’t know what we’d do without him!

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