Sunday, December 2, 2012

Where did MyLiege go?

If any of you are wondering why nothing has been posted here since mid-October… let’s just say, the blog has been reassigned, pseudo temporarily, to a new writer-- who is not as diligent, as brave, as articulate, as loving, nor as beautiful, as the previous writer. However, I will give it my best.

Where did MyLiege go? Well, that depends on your perspective. Bottom line, she was asked to teach early morning seminary a little over a month ago. For those that do not know, seminary is a religious class for high school students. They meet at 6:30 in the morning and study a book of scripture. This year they are studying the New Testament. As such, MyLiege spends almost all of her free time studying the scriptures, preparing lessons, fretting over teaching methods, and worrying about the kids in her class.

The Lord promises us that we will see miracles in our lives as we look to Him and exercise our faith in Him. At times that requires walking to the edge of the light and taking a step into the dark. For MyLiege and I, this has been a step into the dark. As promised, the light has followed; we have had lots of spiritual discussions— the Spirit of the Lord has been felt. I can even say miracles have occurred—we actually get up at 5:10 in the morning. (It has been 20 years since I knew that every day had two 5:00’s.)

I am grateful for my wonderful wife, who accepted this call, is giving it her all, in spite of her own fears, and is doing an amazing job! Thank you MyLiege for being my inspiration—for being so diligent, brave, articulate, and loving. You are so beautiful to me!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Lu’s Flower Pants

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Here is pair #2 from Dana’s fabulous pattern (#1 is over here).

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This pair began it’s life without any detailing, then I added a three layer reverse appliqué in the shape of a freehand flower after some prodding by my husband to put my signature on them.

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I did not get a picture of it.  I loved it, but it was just too much.  The great thing about this fabric is it goes with practically anything.  That patch suddenly limited t-shirt options to those exactly matching the three bright colors in the patch.  And guess what?  Lu did not have a single shirt in any of those colors, and I did not feel like making any.

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So, daydreaming in the car on our way to Sunriver I came up with the solution: Cut out a smaller version of the flower in the original black multi fabric and stitch it right over the top of the “too-much” flower . . . and . . .

Lu's Flower Pants 008 viola!  It’s back to being completely versatile while still having a little bit of something special.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Happy Anniversary

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Sean and I recently celebrated our fourteenth wedding anniversary.  Our actual wedding date is at the end of summer, but life always seems so crazy with birthdays, vacations, and getting ready for school that we have not had luck squeezing in more than dinner in the week or two surrounding our actual wedding date.  So we’ve taken to celebrating our marriage at different points throughout the year.  For instance, we celebrate the day we got engaged with flowers and reminiscing.  We celebrate our first real getaway that happened with Djeryd was two by trying to head over to the coast for few days in March each year.  But this year we actually took a trip to mark our wedding anniversary, even though it was a good two months after the fact (life is all about flexibility, right?).

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We wanted to go somewhere that invited activities other than shopping (the outlet malls at the beach are a little too enticing sometimes).  We found a little house at a resort with swimming, biking, museums, all sorts of fun stuff.  Above is a picture of our little house, which was perfect.  We were within walking distance of the grocery store and restaurants and gift shopping (one does have to fit that in), even a library.

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We cooked most of our food because of dietary restrictions.  It was fine because we really enjoy cooking together and we don’t usually get to cook together with four kids clamoring for our attention.  We did go to one little café where I ordered a salad (the only gluten-free/dairy-free item on the menu).  It came with bread which I gave to Sean in exchange for his potato chips.  It was delicious!  ;>

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Unfortunately, we eventually had to go home.  Honestly, it took about two days to get all the stress out of my system and just relax, we had one really fun day and then it was time to go home.  I am ashamed to admit it, but it took me three-and-a-half days to actually be happy to be back home. And I know I should just be grateful I got to go anywhere for any amount of time because not everyone has that opportunity, but I was still grumpy for it to all be over without my permission.

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The drive home was gorgeous and we made several stops in an effort to soak up every last bit of the time away.  I was actually giddy the whole way home to be surrounded by such incredible beauty.  I kept making Sean stop the car so I could take pictures of trees and bushes and creeks.

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The very best part of our trip was my anxiety was virtually non-existent.  I don’t usually talk about my anxiety issues because it’s really personal, but I know that lots of people deal with anxiety on a daily basis.  So here is my teeny bit of anxiety advice: try eliminating dairy and gluten.  Just try it for a few weeks, then reintroduce one thing (for me it was bread) for three days and then see if your symptoms return (which mine did, but it took a few days).  I have been battling this for five-and-a-half years.  This was the first trip in five-and-a-half years that I was not a wreck.  The first trip I could actually pack for without curling up in a little ball on the bed saying (and sometimes crying) “I don’t want to go. Please don’t make me go.”  The first trip where I actually prepared food and cleaned up food and helped pack everything up to go back home.  Seriously, it was a miracle.  I just share this little bit in the hopes that it might help someone, somewhere.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Evolution of a Sunset

First it looked like this:

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and then it looked like this:

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The only thing that would have made it better was the gorgeous Pacific on the horizon.  Beautiful.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Family Photo Shoot

This weekend I had the opportunity to photograph my brother’s family.  We do a white elephant gift exchange at Christmas and a couple of years ago I wrapped up a gift certificate for a family photo shoot.  Unfortunately, due to health reasons, it took a while until I was up to reimbursing them.  So here we are, two years  and over 650 pictures later, and I am delighted with the results.  I thought I’d give you all a little peak at their gorgeous family.  Ready?Season and Sara Family Pictures 024 Season and Sara Family Pictures 119Season and Sara Family Pictures 140-001Season and Sara Family Pictures 371 Season and Sara Family Pictures 205 Season and Sara Family Pictures 218Season and Sara Family Pictures 281Season and Sara Family Pictures 574Season and Sara Family Pictures 343Season and Sara Family Pictures 614I know I am not the most imaginative photographer.  And looking at these I can see some things I should have done differently.  But, all in all, I think they turned out really well.  And it was an absolute  privilege to take them.  So I’ll chalk it all up to a happy memory and a good experience and an opportunity to show a little love to my family.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Little Something for Anna

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I don’t know what it is about fabric flowers, but I love them!  They make me so happy.  I had this little lovely all stitched up and waiting for a clip about three months ago.  I finally dragged out the glue gun and finished it just in time for school one morning.  I made it to match Anna’s butterfly skirt and I was starting to worry she would outgrow the skirt before I got around to finishing the darn accessory.  Of course, now it just makes me want to whip up some more.  ;>

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Anna surprised me that morning by grabbing my hand on our way to school.  She told me her hands were cold.  Perhaps I should pick up some gloves for her.  However, there are very few things sweeter than holding hands with the people I love, especially the little ones.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lu’s Polka-dot Pants

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It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve posted a sewing project (probably because I haven’t done any, ha!).  Last week Alyx picked out this polka-dot fabric from my stash for a pair of pants.  I used the pattern from MADE.  This is actually my second pair using Dana’s pattern.  The first pair I made out of a black double-knit cotton that made a terrific pair of yoga pants.  I wasn’t sure a straight weave would have enough wiggle room for Lu, but these turned out beautifully.

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I originally intended to put a ruffle on the bottom, but it just wasn’t working with the fabric, so I slapped on a little polka-dot appliqué instead.  I love how it turned out.  I do not like, however, that my sewing machine, which badly needs servicing, kept skipping stitches.  Dah!

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I have already pulled out two more fabrics to whip up a couple additional pairs.  Then this little lady will be all set for fall.  Yea!

(It looks a little funny in the back because we were just trying them on (now she won’t take them off) and the elastic casing was not finished yet.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Food For Thought

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Recently I’ve been reminded of how impossible it is to concentrate when life changes are taking place.  Food preparation has gone from a fun little hobby that I dive into every once in a while, to a flat-out obsession this past month.  At the beginning of September we found out that Sean needed to eliminate dairy from his diet for health reasons.  I had no idea how much dairy we consumed until I had to cut it out.  It seemed I only had about three dishes out of the thirty or forty that I regularly prepare that were cheese-free.  I had to start thinking outside the cookbooks on my shelf.
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Enter: the Library.  Seriously, one of my very favorite places to be on earth.  I even regularly visit libraries when I’m on vacation – not bookstores – libraries.  They are such happy comforting places for me, no matter how big or small.  But I digress . . . The point is that after grumbling and groaning about all our new limitations, I started making friends with the idea that great cooking could happen without dairy.
Then something tragic happened. Gluten had to get the boot, as well.  At least for me.  And since I am the main baker/chef/shopper/nutritionist in our family, gluten-loaded products are rapidly disappearing from our shelves.  As annoyed as I was about the loss of dairy, I actually cried over wheat.  I bake a lot of bread.  Really, really good bread.  And while I still make it for my family in all of its crispy-outside-soft-fluffy-goodness-inside glory, I cannot partake.  Sigh.  Enter: the library – again.
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Two things have stood out to me throughout this shifting process.  The first is how obsessively stressed-out this change has made me.  I pour over cookbooks every free moment I have, even my non-free moments.  I am in a constant desperate search to find amazingly good food that my entire family can enjoy without feeling deprived of two of the main ingredients in the American diet (the third one being sugar, which we are also on guard against, but which can be replaced more inconspicuously).  I feel like I’m falling in love or something, but I know it’s not love because I don’t actually WANT to think about any of this, I just can’t help it.
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And the second thing that has practically slapped me in the face almost everyday is how grateful I am for people who know how to cook with these issues and are willing share their amazing food.  I have found current (meaning they were printed in the last two or three years) gluten-free vegan cookbooks to be heaven-sent. I like the vegan ones because dairy is automatically eliminated (because it is an animal product) and they are masters at creating foods that feel like dairy (rich, creamy sauces, etc.), without the actual dairy.  They also tend to steer clear of refined sugars, which is a big bonus for us.  Basically, in a gluten-free vegan cookbook, I feel am knocking out three opponents with one punch – gluten, dairy and refined sugars.  Plus, they really know how to make vegetables appealing.  And they tend to be good students of nutrition, ensuring plenty of protein through the combination of grains and legumes.  All of that really appeals to me.
Lu, scouts, mornings, chairs 043 My very favorite cookbook of the moment is Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli.  And the book I credit with helping me discover all was not lost (I could make really yummy stuff without dairy and gluten) is Cooking For Isaiah by Silvana Nardone (she uses a lot of sugar, which we have to guard against, but her banana bread and chocolate chip cookies are easily the best I’ve ever tasted).
Change of seasons 001 I guess I’m writing this post in the hopes that someone will find it helpful and comforting if your world seems to be crumbling like a gluten-free pizza crust.  I know that may seem a little dramatic, especially to those of you who have never had to undergo a dramatic change to your diet.  But it really is a big deal, especially when it involves keeping children happy.  That’s the part I agonize over more than anything else. 
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I know it is for the best, though; my jeans are fitting better, and we’re all eating more vegetables and whole foods, and I simply feel better – much better.  I’m actually storing home produce this year because I can control the ingredients (which, as a side benefit, gives me that really happy proud-of-myself feeling). Now I just have to figure out how to stock-up a year’s supply of all those crazy gluten-free flours, or better yet, how to make some of them myself.  I hope you won’t mind a random food post here and there as we get used to our new way of life.  Happy cooking-baking-shopping-nutritioning to all of you.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Old-to-New Dining Room Set

Dear Deni,

We had such a lovely time at your house last month.  Inspiring, even.  After drooling over all the beautiful, creative things you have done with your home (I remember it from way back when, you know), I have felt inspired to make some changes around here.

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First, the dining room.  Our table and chairs needed a serious facelift.

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Taking your lead, we decided to freshen-up what we already had.  So we disregarded all child labor laws and put the kids to work.

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We also purchase an inordinate number of cans of spray paint.  And Sean rose to the finger-numbing challenge of covering every last inch of faux 70’s wood with sleek black paint.

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We ate on a modified dining room table that night.

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And Sean braved four more hours of painting in the dark of night.

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I love how glossy it all looked under those super-bright lights.

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The fabric took a week to arrive, and then it took me another week to find the time to finish the project.

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I was urged along by the fact that the seat cushions were not screwed onto the chairs and therefore kept sliding off when people wiggled in their seats (much to the dismay of Alyx and Anna in particular).

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Sean spent his lunch hour helping me recover the seats and securing them to the chair frames.

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And viola, we had a new dining room.  And as much as I wanted that set in the Pottery Barn catalog, I’m glad we didn’t have to refinance the house to get “new” dining room furniture.

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Deni, you also inspired me to finish these little blocks I’ve had sitting in the studio for a year.

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Aren’t they cute?

Dining Room Chairs, Tidwell Kids, Emily Steele Dress 012 So, my dear friend, know that by just being your creative, industrious self you have improved our life.  You have made it lovelier and a little more fulfilling.  And now, when I think of a project, and that it might be too challenging for my tastes, I think, “What would Deni do?”  And then I do it.

Gratefully yours,


Monday, September 24, 2012

School Days

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Life is starting to settle into a routine of sorts around here.  It seems there is always something a little out of the ordinary to keep things interesting, but nothing major.  The days begin with scriptures and then the big kids start trickling out the door.  Alyx and I walk the “middles” (Erik and Anna) to school and leisurely find our way back home.

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Alyx insists on stopping for a spell at a bench about three-quarters of the way home. We stop and visit for as long as she likes. I am thinking of toting my camera out every morning and capturing the year from that little bench. I think it would be fun.

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Alyx usually plays pretty well by herself once we’re home (I think she likes the calm of all those crazy big kids being gone) and I can get a couple of hours of work in (we have a new job thing going on over here that I’m really excited to share).  Then we move into lunch (sometimes with Daddy) and naptime, and before I know it, Djeryd’s home.  It’s crazy how the day flies with all the comings and goings of our little family.

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Erik and I still try to get in some chess after school whenever we can.  Some days are easier than others.  I love that he’s always willing to play with me.  ;>

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And just in case we have a day where things are slow, I’m working on helping this little girl to be a big girl.  And can I just say potty-training my fourth is considerably less frustrating than potty-training my first.  Why did I ever think it was such a big deal?  That being said, I am a terrible potty-trainer.  But I’m okay with that – at least I’m enjoying it this time around.  Alyx and I listen to music and read and play Barbies and ponies for hours in the bathroom and I love it.  I get the laundry folded and little hand-sewing projects wrapped up and I get to enjoy having my daughter all to myself.  I do not believe she will be fully trained for another six months (who knows, maybe a year), but I don’t really care.  We take it one day at a time, one hour at a time.  It will happen when she’s darn good and ready.

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In the meantime, I’m just trying to enjoy all these little moments that make up my life right now.  I keep thinking about how this phase of my life will all be over before I know it.  Whatever I do, I don’t want to wish it away, or wish it faster (even though there are those moments).  I can’t hang on to it, but I can immerse myself in it.  I am consciously diving in.  Swimsuit, anyone?

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