Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Way They Are

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Perhaps not adorable or charming while sporting these particular expressions (except the littlest one), they are completely endearing.  Loving summer (do you think it will last for more than four hours at a time at some point this year?).

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Christmas Skirts . . . at Long Last

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For Christmas last year I planned on making skirts for two of my nieces.  Unfortunately my back went out and prevented me from following through on almost all of my crafty Christmas plans.  So I did the next best thing – I gave each of them a gift certificate for a day of sewing with Auntie My sometime in the spring (once the back had healed enough to allow sitting for hours at a sewing machine).  Well, about a week ago we finally all got together (with my wonderful sister at my side) and stitched together two custom-designed, handmade treasures of pure auntie love.

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I drafted both skirts from scratch, with encouragement from my sweet sis and instructions from Sew What! Skirts.  The girls picked their fabric and trims and even helped with the construction.  My niece, Alyson, fell in love with this luscious fabric and dug through my stash for some shimmery chiffon to make a ruffle.

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I added the flower and stem after she went home (I love a bit of a surprise).  I lined this skirt as the fabric was a little thin.  Originally I attached the ruffle to the lining and it wound up folding up the hem on the fashion fabric because the ruffle was too poofy.  Alas, I had to resort to stitching the ruffle directly onto the skirt hem.  It still turned out nice, although I am a little sad to not have that petticoat effect.

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This skirt was for my niece, Alena.  I LOVE this fabric and cannot get enough of it.  I have loved everything I have made with it.  It is just so pretty and fresh.  And the black trims make it sparkle for me.  We wound up shortening her skirt quite a bit from what she originally wanted, but it looked like she was swimming in her mother’s clothes.  I think this length is much more flattering for the the cut and all the trims. 

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We had a wonderful day together.  I did not get any pictures of all of us working in the studio together, but they are in my mind.  And it gives my heart a little thrill every time I think about it.  ;>

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Memorial Day

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Although our Memorial Day weekend was filled with lots of yard work, Sean and I felt very strongly that we should do something to honor our dead this year.  It seems like the past several years we have spaced the whole “memorial” part of Memorial Day and it has simply been an extra day at home.  So this year, after spending the morning in the yard, we walked/rode bikes down to a nearby cemetery and spent some time visiting grave stones.

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Djeryd was keenly interested in markers that included military titles and service information.

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The weather was crazy.  It poured and then the sun came out to warm us up and dry us out, then it would start raining again.  I loved watched my sons share this experience together, as buddies.  They were constatnly calling out to one another to come over and see some little tidbit of information they found in their wanderings.                

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Admittedly, the stones that touched me the most were not those of our servicemen, but those of babies.  Perhaps that is because I am a mother and while babies are physically near and dear to me right now, sons who are soldiers have not entered my life as yet.  I hope they never will, but in this day and age, I feel that is hoping in vain.  We came across one grave that marked a life lit and extinguished in one sorrowful day – exactly 17 days after Alyxandria was born.  And I could not help but weep for that mother who was burying her newborn baby at the same moment I was holding mine in my arms.

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I think the thing I came away with at the end of the day was that while both of grandfathers served in and survived World War II, I was not at their gravesides.  I wanted to be visiting their graves on Memorial Day - not the graves of strangers, but of my loved ones.  I want my children to know their heritage and that while their grandfather and great-grandfathers did not give up their lives in service to their country, they did offer their lives and served honorably.  It was a wonderful day.  And next year my children  will visit their great-grandfather’s grave.  And we will honor him as we should.  I only wish both of my grandfathers were buried closer together, instead of hundreds of miles apart, so we wouldn’t have to take turns.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Two Cookbooks I Couldn’t Live Without

I have been meaning to write this post forever.  I enjoy cookbooks.  I check them out from the library all the time and usually try out a recipe or two that sounds good.  However, there are two cookbooks in my arsenal that I use almost daily and I do not know how I ever lived without them.  My favorite is The Six O'clock Scramble: Quick, Healthy, and Delicious Dinner Recipes for Busy Families by Aviva Goldfarb.  This cookbook is absolutely indispensible to me.  Almost every dinner we eat comes from these pages.  The recipes are really good (although we’ve had a couple of doosies, but that may be because I hate chicken so anything with chicken just makes me go “bleck!”).  Some of our favorite recipes include saffron bean salad, ravioli lasagna, sloppy joes, roasted sweet potato and apple soup, and Tuscan white bean soup with croutons.  Something I love, love, love about the book is her suggestions for side dishes included with almost every recipe, like serving peanut butter stew (yum!) over couscous with mango slices on the side.  They are varied, yummy and interesting.  Our family’s dining repertoire has expanded in delicious directions with this book.  The recipes serve anywhere from 4 to 8 people and pretty much work perfectly for our family of five-and-a-half eaters.

Another cookbook I have grown very attached to is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoe Francois.  Wow!  These people are not kidding when they say you can make amazing bread in five minutes a day.  This method requires a simple mixing of ingredients into a large bowl (I mix it all by hand – piece of cake - it takes about 3 minutes) and storing it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.  One batch makes about three loaves for us.  I simply pull out some dough, let it rise on the counter for twenty minutes, or so, about an hour before dinner.  Then I toss it in the oven for 35 minutes and, viola`, delicious, crusty, yummy bread piping hot from my oven.  We were paying a good four or five dollars a loaf for this stuff at the grocery store.  You can even shape little balls for rolls, make fancy sweet rolls or braids or pizza or flatbreads or anything.  It is all so yummy and so easy.

I highly recommend both of these books.  Check them out at the library and try out a couple of recipes.  C’mon live a little . . . I promise it will be delicious!  What’s your favorite cookbook?

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