Speak Softly and Carry a [REALLY] Big Stick

This morning, on our way home from our “catch the cool while we can” visit to the playground at our neighborhood park, Ellie found a gigantic stick to bring home.  At first I said “no” because, really, what’s the point?  Then, realizing that I should save my negative replies for important things, I told her that she could bring it as long as she didn’t ask me to pull it for her.  To her credit, she pulled it the whole way home and never complained, even when climbing up the steep hill just before our house!

Here she is, telling you about it in her own words:

009 (800x533) (2)It’s tricky to hold up such a long stick!

Bonus Feature: 013 (800x533) (2)(In the foreground, that’s an apple tree in desperate need of some pruning.  It nicely escapes all the shade from the other trees!  We planted it and its neighbor this spring – a Fuji and a Macintosh.)

Here’s our front yard, which has turned into a forest.  We planted the red bud (middle) and the maple (right) in April 2008 and they’ve just gotten big enough that they touch each other.  Add in the old dogwood touching the red bud and we have a veritable forest growing.  Our front yard always has lovely shade now.  I’m scheming about ripping up our whole front lawn and planting an edible forest permaculture. That, however, would take far more time than I have right now.   Although this book’s promise of low maintenance sounds intriguing, it’s more the initial setup work (i.e. ripping up lawn, building beds) that I can’t see finding time for right now.  Maybe in a few years?

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July Sewing: Surprise! TWO Sundresses

Back in July, I posted pictures of the sundress that I made for Ellie.  Sneaky me actually made two identical dresses at the same time, one for Ellie and one for her cousin Violet so that they could be matchy-matchy in Alaska.  They’re both three so they should match, right? :)

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Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig!

After a wonderful two-week vacation in Alaska, we’re home!  We got back Thursday afternoon after a surprising fast and easy flight back.  Ellie and Mark happily restarted their mulch excavations, a favorite pastime of this summer.

alaska 695 (800x534)And, like last year’s trip to Montana, here’s a picture of the souvenirs we came home with:

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  1. ak starfish co. sweatshirt for me, long-sleeved T-shirt for Mark*, short-sleeved T-shirt for Ellie (just like when she was 18 months!)
  2. lots of fun fabric for future color books (coffee beans! potatoes! fireweed! strawberries! forget-me-nots! ants! nails!)
  3. yarn for Mark’s doll’s hair (fabric and yarn from The Quilt Tree)
  4. a puffin cookie cutter for future fun cookies
  5. From my mother: eight large white damask napkins that belonged to my Granny (her mother) – to be used in a future sewing project!
  6. Mom was also super generous to give us one of her bars of dark chocolate from England.  My brother and his family just moved from there to Northern Ireland so our days of getting this amazing chocolate are over.  On the plus side, now we have an excuse to go to Northern Ireland!
  7. Not pictured:  two more ak starfish co. long-sleeved T-shirts for Ellie and Mark, with salmon on them, from Yiayia, and a fun book to sing about Alaska. 

Unlike our trip to Montana, I’ll do my best to post more pictures of our trip before over a year has gone by.  And don’t feel too sorry for Nik – he says he didn’t want any souvenirs anyway! :)

*Only Alaska ravens around here (neither Ellie nor Mark like the Baltimore Ravens)!

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July Sewing: A Crayon Roll for Ellie (as designed by the girl herself)

Last week, my friend Kim emailed to thank me for the crayon roll that I’d made her for her giveaway prize.  This reminded me that I’d intended to make Ellie one.  Thinking it would be fun for her to pick out fabric, I let her choose.  She, of course, wanted to look at the pink stack first and then fixated on one piece of fabric that is indeed beautiful but of which I only had scraps. Then she wanted to look at the blue prints and chose the blue/orange giraffe print from Mark’s quilt.  Friends, I just COULD NOT make myself put those two together.  I had decided in advance to go with whatever she chose but I just couldn’t.

So I convinced her to choose a couple more pinks, made a patchwork panel and this is what we came up with for the outside.

048 (800x357)She wanted the green/pink print – appropriately from the “Santorini” fabric line (Santorini being an amazing Greek island that Nik and I visited in 2008).

I talked her into another blue print for the inside and this is what we made:

047 (800x280)The giraffes fit perfectly along the strip! :)

She also insisted on baby blue bias tape for the straps.

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All in all, we ended up with a finished product I never would have designed on my own but she likes it and that’s what counts, right?  This is probably the Lord’s way of helping me learn to give up absolute control over my kids! I’m just practicing for when they’re teenagers and really have their own opinions.

(I was inspired by this tutorial for the crayon roll, although I just used her measurements and a bit of the construction advice and ignored the rest of it.)

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Classics Club, Book #6: Jane Eyre (from June 2014)

This is my sixth post for The Classics Club (just a month late).  I’ll be reading one classic book a month for the next 4-5 years.  Track what I’m reading for the Classics Club here.  I’ll try not to include too many spoilers in my review but I may need to discuss some in order to fully review the book. I’ll warn you if I’m going to mention one.  

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

014 (800x533) (2)Mark shares my love for Victorian literature.

  • Year Published: 1847
  • Reread? Or new to me?:  reread (I think because I’ve owned this book since I was fourteen) but I didn’t remember much.  Proof:

001 (800x533) (2)the front blank page in my copy

  • Number of Pages: 552
  • Date Finished: Somewhere in the middle of June, I forgot to write it down.
  • Number of Days it took me to read it: 6 (???)
  • Page/Day ratio:  92:1 (I read this fairly quickly but the font size is also large in my editions so don’t be too impressed).
  • Would I have wanted to read this in English class?: I’m not sure I would have pushed through it had I been forced to read it in English class.  Then again, I was “that girl” in high school/college who basically read everything assigned to me.  So I probably would have read it through but maybe not loved it.


I enjoyed reading Jane Eyre.  The story line was interesting and kept my interest at the end.  I’m glad I read it but I did not love it.  I don’t have any burning desire to read it again.  I didn’t find Mr. Rochester a particularly compelling, fascinating or likeable man.  I had a hard time understanding Jane, particularly her fascination/love with Mr. Rochester, a man who seemed to mistreat her.  In short, I felt like I was missing something.  I’ve heard so many people profess their love Jane Eyre, swoon over Mr. Rochester, and obsessively reread it.  What did I miss?  Did I need to fall in love with this (and particularly Mr. Rochester) when I was younger, more impressionable, or less cynical?

I did enjoy reading my particular copy of Jane Eyre because it’s an illustrated junior edition.  I enjoyed looking at the illustrations and liked not feeling guilty for not reading all the critical essays that are so often at the beginnings of classics.

How about you?  Have you read Jane Eyre?  Did you fall in love with it as a teen?  Should I reread this and maybe fall in love with it on the second reading?


Had I posted this at the end of June like I should have, I would have invited you to read Austen’s Emma with me.  But, I already read it (and will blog about it soon).  Perhaps you’d like to join me in reading Middlemarch by George Eliot in August? (You may have figured out by now that I’ve decided to read only classics written by women in 2014.)

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Cutest Family Ever (and the dress in action)

Yesterday, Ellie decided that she wanted to wear her new dress so I took the opportunity to take a couple pictures of her in it.

024 (800x534) twirling fun!

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I also decided to wear my matching skirt, particularly after realizing I had a hot pink shirt to wear it with.

033 (533x800)When Nik came out to take the picture of us, we realized that if we changed Mark’s shirt, he and Mark would be twins also.

044 (533x800)Sadly, we didn’t get a complete picture of “The Cutest Family Ever” as we were calling ourselves, but we did have fun going to church in our matchy-matchy outfits! :)

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July Sewing: A Little Sundress for Ellie

Chalk one up in the “I didn’t obsess over this too much and so actually completed something quickly” category!  My friend, Kristen, mentioned to me that Oliver&S had a free, easy pattern for a sundress.  So I downloaded it, and sewed it for Ellie last week!

She didn’t want to have anything to do with modeling it for me today so I’ll have to be sneaky about getting a picture of her in it!  In the meantime, the chair was a good stand in.

021 (533x800)Kona solids in two different pinks, a thrifted blue and white IKEA duvet cover which has been made into many projects (including my Easter skirt and diaper pail bags!), and vintage rickrack and bias tape that was recently gifted to me! :)

To differentiate the front from the back (and to cover up the ends where the bias tape meets), I added this cute little bow.  It turned out exactly the way I’d hoped it would, which is very satisfying to my perfectionist soul!

022 (800x533)I didn’t have enough of either pink to cut the bias straps in one continuous length (as the pattern shows) so (as I always try to do), I tried to make the seams looks purposeful by using two different fabrics, short pieces of the lighter pink with longer pieces of the darker pink, for a pieced strap.  I also didn’t have the exact right shades of pink for the rickrack or the bias tape.  So I decided to embrace the “many shades of pink” theme and went with four shades of pink for one little dress.

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 The pattern goes up to size 11 so maybe I’ll make one every summer for Ellie.  It was that quick, easy, and fun!

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