Thursday, March 24, 2011

Faith is like…

This is what it looks like outside:

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When my mom mentioned they were getting snow in Minnesota yesterday and that my sister and her family ended up staying at a hotel rather than making it in from Wisconsin as expected I thought to myself how glad I was that we lived somewhere else.  It was a nice thought…unfortunately it was also a short-lived thought.

Thankfully, this is what we did last week for Family Home Evening:

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After reading Alma 32 comparing faith to planting a seed, we let the girls help get some tomato, pepper, and flower plants started.  They each also have a tomato plant that is going to be especially theirs to take care of.  Amber was really fun to watch: she would gently tuck each little seed in its cup and say “good night, little seed!  Sleep well!”  (The seeds may or may not have been the only thing that got “watered” as part of this activity… :)

It does get you thinking.  Given the length of our growing season, if we waited for sunny skies to start our seeds there would never be enough time for the hot-weather plants to produce.  And even if we didn’t live in the snow capital of the continental states, you can’t start from seeds in June and have fresh tomato slices for the Fourth of July.  It still feels a little silly gardening while we have weeks of winter weather ahead, but just thinking about the slices of drippy red tomatoes each early-season sprout represents gets me excited about everything in store for our little seedlings and I feel suddenly more determined to make it through another month (or more?) of cold.

What fun it would be to have a seed catalog for real life.  It would be easy to lose hours paging through glossy pictures of all the wonderful aspirations in the world, picking out pretty little packets of experience-seeds. 

Of course, our garden’s small and there isn’t ever enough time, so in the end I suppose we would want to order primarily from select varieties renowned for particularly sweet fruits and notable yields: 8-year-old baptisms…seminary graduations…missions…temple marriages…charitable hearts…senior missions.  Some of those seem far away, even more so than tomatoes on a snowy day, but I hear the seasons change quickly and that big crops start with little seeds tucked in tight waiting for spring. 

So, let the blizzards blow, because even if it’s icy outside, this is what it looks like inside:

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Dress for Mommy

I made little girl dresses for the first time around Easter 2009.  Now two years later, I finally decided it was time to attempt sewing a grown-up dress.  I’m still trying to decide what I think of the finished result, but since I’ve mentioned this project a couple of times to my sisters and mom I thought I would go ahead and post pictures of how it turned out.  

I learned a lot of things about sewing adult clothing doing this little experiment.  On the one hand, I was actually surprised to find how much easier it can be to work on full-size garments.  Setting in an adult sleeve is delightfully less difficult than manipulating teeny tiny little three-inch-diameter toddler sleeves.  On the other hand, just trying to fit a pattern may be enough to create all sorts of body image issues!  The measurement chart on the envelope expected an eight inch difference between bust and waist, and then another ten inch swell out to the hips.  Even before having three children I never had a figure like that!  To make things still more complicated, the size I needed to match my funny tummy isn’t even in the same envelope as what I needed to match everything else.  Because the upper part of the dress is so fitted, I ended up playing around a little and ultimately drafting new pattern pieces to try and keep it from feeling like a tent on top while still being able to get it to zip up around the waist.   I actually really love how the top turned out.

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I’m less excited about the skirt part.  A complete sucker for seersucker, when I saw this bolt I thought it would make a great summertime dress.  I probably should have paid more attention to the fact that it wasn’t one of the recommended fabrics for the pattern.  Instead of draping gracefully down, the skirt initially poofed straight out.  Washing helped, as did sewing down the pleats, but it’s still a little funny.  It’s also a little short.  That may be the real deal-breaker.  Because of the width of the skirt there wasn’t a good way to lengthen it, and although it technically reaches to the mid-knee I feel awfully aware of how bare my legs are below it.
 
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Even if this dress doesn’t make it into the Sunday rotation as often as I’d originally hoped, it’s really comfortable and the fabric is wonderfully lightweight, so it may at least become a favorite for warm Sunday afternoons around the house.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Our Super Sunbeam!

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Today Robyn gave her first scripture share in Primary opening exercises.  She did amazing!!  Even if she had gotten up there and freaked out at the last minute, though, it wouldn't have mattered: what has been really neat has been sharing her enthusiasm over the scriptures this week.  I've caught myself several times saying, "well...ok, if you really want to you can practice ONE more time...;" I've also regularly found her reverently paging through her Book of Mormon with Katie after family scripture study because she "wants Katie to have scripture power too!" 

Knowing how much the scriptures have blessed me and blessed our family, hopefully this is all just the beginning for Robyn of what will be a lifelong "love affair with the word of God."  (<-- Quotation borrowed from President Hinckley. Isn't that a great way to describe it?!) 

Blooms (CNY Flower and Garden Show)

Between Bryan being out of town 7 of the last 12 days and the tenacious grip Winter still has on our area we were desperate for a family outing this weekend.  Advertisements featuring colorful flowers and the promise of spring SOMEDAY returning (coupled with free admission for kids and coupons for the adults) were enough to lure us to the Central New York Flower and Garden Show.  It didn’t hurt that the theme for this year was “Out of This World Blooms” which meant some (bizarre?) UFO/planet/spaceship decorations to help Bryan feel less out-of-place wondering around looking at flowers. 

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How wonderful to see flowers again!  Besides the expected tulips and daffodils, there was also a vendor selling bouquets of pussy willow branches.  Although we didn’t buy any (almost, almost), how can anyone not feel fantastic surrounded by fuzzy little kitten-gray buds?
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Doing a little putt-putt at one of the displays. 

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A real-live Robyn’s nest!
I love the next three pictures.  At the children’s area there were several different picture boards to stick faces in, and, of course, we had to try them all. 

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I had a hard time getting the girls to look at the camera for a picture on the deer:  they were much more interested in watching the fiendish little boy next to them in the nest trying to beat the eagle to death with large rock eggs, despite his mother’s best attempts to distract him. 

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There was also a children’s scavenger hunt that each of the girls completed, so keep your fingers’ crossed for us.   Maybe between our THREE entries in the prize drawing we’ll win a chance to actually escape the wintery weather around here… 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fashion Plates

Colorforms.  Sweet Secrets.  Rose Petal.  The 80’s were full of great girl toys!  One of my favorites was “Fashion Plates.”  It was this great artsy coloring kit that let you combine thin plastic plates and then rub over them with a pencil to create different outfits.  I remember playing with it in the car on long rides and having a blast trying to come up with different fashion challenges: how many different ways could a person color the same outfit?  Could the same top look dressy or plain just by pairing it with different bottoms?  Was there anyway to make something that looked good even when colored “olive green.”  (For years I was passionately convinced that the mucky green-brown “olive green” was the single ugliest crayon in the whole Crayola family…)

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Although sewing clothing for Robyn and Amber isn’t nearly as straightforward (or forgiving) as “Fashion Plates” was, it’s still a lot of fun.  I’ve wanted to try doing a little pattern making for a while and a couple yards of super (super) cheap red-tag clearance fabric was an inexpensive excuse to try a little experimenting this week.

I used some really simple long-sleeve knit shirts I had already picked up and put away for next year to build paper slopers for the girls and then decided to just play with some basic variations (mostly lots of slashing-and-spreading…)  Both tops are flared slightly at the bottom.  Amber’s has contrasting sleeves and neck binding and some shirring right around the collar.  Robyn’s has a contrasting yoke with gathers underneath and flared sleeves.

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They didn’t turn out perfect, but the girls seem to like them and I had a lot of fun just playing around.  (Although not as much fun as playing with Rainbow Bright Shrinky Dinks… oh the 80’s!)