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October 2008

September 2008

* happy birthday, sister *

happy birthday, sis.

So my sister is one of those people who always looks good.  I mean, always.   She can pull an outfit together like no one's business.  And it isn't all designer duds; this girl can shop.  It's a special kind of special talent she has, this ability to muster up energy to shop for hours, to dig through sale bins and find something totally chic at Kmart and throw it on with designer shoes and a knock-off bag, look like a million bucks and make it all seem so... effortless.  (It's true, silly. Stop shaking your head.)


[ I don't have that kind of gene.  I got the wow-I-can-totally-make-something-out-of-that-trash gene.  The one that eyed my mom's cardboard boxes (supplies for making barbie furniture) and toothpaste caps (lampshades!) and Pringles cans (musical instruments, telephones with string, barbie to-go containers) the possibilities were endless.  No trash was safe from my schemes. ]


Kim even has perfect hair. She worked at a salon for a couple years.  Clients would come in and ask to have their hair styled 'like the girl at the front desk'.  And the stylists had to tell these cash-waving people it couldn't be done.  'I can give you the cut, but it won't look like hers.  She's really got, like, the perfect hair ...'  It's all glossy and thick and does whatever she wants it to do.  When it was long, she looked like a pantene girl.  When it is short, she looks like some cute spunky celeb.  And sometimes she goes months without cutting it, and you know what?  It still looks that good. 

I know.  Do you hate her yet? 

Because I haven't even told you about the green eyes and olive skin and crazy good comedic timing.  Just ask her about the time she got roped in to being a Girl on the stage at a Tracker Boats convention and had to model with the fishing boats.  (But use the bathroom first. I'm warning you, when she gets to the part about twirling around on the fishing perch chair in her stilettos and chandelier earrings for the grand finale reveal, it. is. too. much.) 

contrast at hem

She loves animals and has been known to pick up strays and lost dogs and take them home.  Like the two basset hounds she put in the back of her car and drove around until she found their weary humans.  Or the puppies she takes in.  I've told her for years that she should volunteer with a shelter organization.  But I guess she is kind of already doing her part.

We grew up together, two girls, moving around the country a bit with a father in the service.  I was older and wiser and bossed her around a lot and made her play School, making up really hard worksheets that were way beyond her level, finding joy in marking them up with red pen.  I tricked her into shelling eggs that weren't really hard-boiled, leaving a drippy mess on the counter.  I wrote plays for us to preform and always made her play the boy part.  We liked to clink our glasses together and toast, and one time we did it with such fervor -- CHEERS! -- that we smashed our milk-filled amber juice cut-glassware and got sent to our room.   We played soccer and trick-or-treated, roller skated in the driveway, made up dances to our favorite songs, witnessed a string of boyfriends and dances.   We were sisters sharing an average middle class suburban American life. 

i don't want to give them up

We haven't lived in the same town for 12 years.  Our ties are strong but we slip in and out of each others daily lives, missing out on the details.  But we are each a physical reminder, a same-age witness, of our childhood.  Partners in crime.  Companions in the back seat of the station wagon on road trips.  Outfit advisers  and manicurists.  Confidantes and enemies.  Sisters and friends.  

So when her birthday rolls around, I like to do something special.  But I really don't trust my taste when it comes to buying her things.  Plus, I have that special trashy gene.  (ha.  That's what I'm going to call it from now on.)

I made a pj ensemble (Simplicity 9505) from vintage sheets this summer and she liked it.  The one I made was from a new-still-in-it's-1960's-package sheet set.  Very pretty, but lacking the super softness that you can only find with 25 year old linens washed a hundred times and then bleached for good measure.   I didn't have enough of the butterfly sheet to also make the top, so I grabbed the softest percale-y pillowcase and used it for the cami and accents on the bottom of the pant legs. 

Oh my heck is it soft.  I tried the set on, approved, and then immediately wrapped it up because if I let it sit around too long I'm pretty sure I'd have slipped back into them at bedtime, scooted into my covers, pulled up a book and sent her a gift card to her favorite store instead.

So what I'm saying is, sister, I must really really really like you.  Happy birthday.  xoxo

(And sorry about the worksheets.  That wasn't very nice of me.)

now we need a village

So.  I started this pattern over a week ago, using a linen-blend and polka dotted cotton from my stash, thinking this would be a test run. I had the dress put together over a couple of evenings.  And then all production halted because I was not going to pay RETAIL for good chunky buttons. Seriously, I wasn't going to ruin a good stash-project with $10 buttons.

Three or four thrift shops later, I found just what I needed. 

village frock close up

Heavens to Betsy.  This turned out just adorable.  I thought some contrast trim would punch it up a little as the linen was making it look much more like a costume than anything else, and I'm glad I had some of this around, since I didn't have enough of the linen to make the binding.  (The dots are from her quilt, which is still in production, but waiting for a little more embroidery first.)

I also decided a pocket was in order.  Little girls like to have a place for their acorns and leaves and pennies.  

Village Frock Pattern

This dress is screaming for boots, don't you think? 

Pattern notes: The fabric I used ended up being a bit bulky at the gathered spots and the 'blend' gives this a fairly heavy drape, so I'm honestly not sure how it will feel on.   Also, there is a bunch of gathering and this tended to fray more than most, so be warned.  If I were to use it again, I would zig-zag the edges of the gathered bits first, to reduce the fringiness and thread confusion... The directions are very easy to follow.  The sugar city gals should be applauded for this sweet design.  There are several variations, too... and I'm thinking a shirt version would be a fun quick project.  Because I need something else to do, right? 


thrifted supplies

Does anyone else's to-do list look like this?

  • mail pattern
  • book C's flight
  • find buttons for dress
  • start baby quilts
  • embroider last block of Fidget's quilt
  • design & sew car seat cover
  • cut thrifted cardigans
  • wash car
  • sign permission form and find checkbook
  • change sheets
  • start laundry
  • Finish SOMETHING!  :)

I see this and shake my head.  Time for more coffee, I think.  It's only Tuesday, for crying out loud.

ps: Morgan Moore's NieNie Benefit sale also starts today at 10AM PST.... There are some darling handmade and vintage items for sale (not auction!) and the proceeds will all go the Neilsen's Recovery Fund.  I think I'm gonna do some early holiday shopping....


Good morning.

It was a busy weekend around these parts.  Friends in town on Friday, the plaza art fair on Saturday, conspiring yesterday to surprise a sweet friend with a scrubbed-down house, fresh laundry and flowers... ( I cannot tell you how wonderful that felt! )

new kicks for the dogs

Tell you what, though, my dogs are tired. 

autumn dog

I may very well be one of the last people on Earth to read The Time Traveler's Wife.  I am about halfway through, and enjoying it very much.  It challenges me, as I am visual-tactile learner, and this book jumps makes me stop and process the chronology with every chapter.  I am happy to see Rachel McAdams will be playing the role of Clare in the movie.  A nice casting choice, I think.  ( Are you on goodreads yet?  I'm not very good about writing reviews, but I do keep my list current.  What a fun little place to be. )

And I am so very excited to have been invited to participate in a virtual quilting bee organized by this gal.  I'm so excited and nervous at the same time.  :)

Here's to a fresh start.  I love Mondays for that. 

{ finding comfort }

What a strange feeling day.

thursday morning, starring my cup of joe.

My dear friend Katie lost her grandfather last night. ( hugs, hugs, hugs, honey. ) I went over as soon as her husband called and met the third member of our little trio at her door.  We stayed up late, sitting on her deck, under a near full moon. It had risen huge and heavy, kind of orangey and fake-looking, like out of a movie.  It hung there in the sky for a bit before moving higher, growing brighter and brighter until we felt like we were sitting under a spotlight. 

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, churchbells began to sound.  We have spent many, many late nights sitting on her deck, talking about life, kids, marriage, whatever, and we have never once heard churchbells.  Ever.  It was strange, but comforting.  We decided it was a sign everything was ok. 

Doesn't make it any easier though.

{ thrifted }

I stopped by a thrift store on my way home from errands this morning.  I was looking for an old something with big buttons I can re-use on Fidget's new dress.  Instead I found this sweet vintage sweater that reminded me of the grandmother I lost long ago before Fidget was born.  She often wore a blue cardigan.  Not like this one, but it was blue; I do remember that.  This one is too big and I don't know if I will be able to wear it. Perhaps I was just feeling sentimental, but I couldn't pass it by.

Stitching myself into a frenzy

My inlaws drove up so hubs and I could travel to the Tiger football game on Saturday sans children.  (M-I-Z-Z-O-U!) It was much fun, despite the rain.  Waterlogged, but happy with our comfortable lead in the third quarter, we hit Shakespeares for pizza before heading home.  There is nothing like Shakes'.  Oh my.  Those college kids have no idea how much they will miss that place once they move on...

It's a two hour drive, which is perfect for car embroidery.  When you remember to bring it.  I happened to leave mine on my dresser at home.  With my book.  Good times. 


I have this top secret gift project, and this is pretty much all I can show you, because the giftee might peek and that giftee doesn't even know this is coming because it is long overdue.  That's all I can tell you.  Satin stitching is something I don't do very often, but I am pleased with how this is coming along. 

I love to embroider while catching up on DVR'd shows, like MadMen on Sunday nights.  I am  more than a little obsessed with that program. You know how sometimes you just want to metaphorically right-click-copy>paste things in real life?  Well, I want to do that while watching this show.  The set design blows me away every time. And those outfits.  I tell you what, my big ol' "textured" hair would have ROCKED those updos.  And, whaddya know?  The actor who plays Don Draper even went to Mizzou.  (It all comes back to my Tigers during football season, I tell you. )


The other little project I started over the weekend was sugar city's Village Frock Dress, in size 3.  After tracing the pieces (I so need to get some examination paper, erin!) on Saturday, I was able to piece some of it last night.   I'm using stash fabric  -- a heavy natural linen and some polka-dots -- and it's coming together fairly quickly.  There are so many variations of this little dress that it boggles my mind. 

And there was more piecing of Fidget's quilt, too.  I think I have decided to send it out for proper quilting once I'm done with the top and back.  Machine quilting something this big is definitely a huge undertaking and I am always impressed when I see others take it on... but I'm afraid it will cost me my sanity.  There is a terrific quilt shop here in town that has a list of local quilters who will finish the job for you, and I think that investment will be ok.  Especially since hubs agreed with me.  (Although that may be fore selfish reasons.   I don't think he wants to witness the struggle.)  Ha.


This is what we woke up to this morning.


It's been a soothing soundtrack for some quilting and getting things done around the house before I sit down to work. 

Fidget loves her rainboots.  As soon as she saw the rain from her bedroom window she wanted to put them on and splash about on the deck.  And I said sure.  Why not?   Children are so good about seeing the fun in what we adults consider a bother.  I'm so glad I let her jump around on the deck, because it put a smile on my face, too.

Fidget wanted to splash about. So I said yes.

Yesterday I downloaded some new tunes for our morning commute.  Because, honestly?  Singing 'Oh! What a Beautiful Morning!' over and over and over every morning was starting to get to this momma.  So we are branching out, discovering new wonderful sing-a-long type tunes.  Fidget especially enjoys the spoken lines that lead into some of the showtunes that set the songs up....

There were too many to choose from, so I downloaded enough for a two-disc set. 



Mary Poppins to Oklahoma to Grease all in one shot.  I'm so loving it!

Happy Friday, friends....

PS: Sending luck and prayers for those of you facing Ike. Take care. xoxo

It just feeeels better

venn diagram at sunset

Our deck faces due south, is open to the west, elevated 15 feet from the ground and has no shade.  It's not my favorite place to be when it's 100 degrees and humid. Which it very well could be right now.  But it isn't. 

This cooler weather is bringing us outdoors again. 



Last night we decorated the sky with bubbles while chatting with our neighbor.    Fidget watched the sky turn pink and the moon rise.  She has gone to bed while it was still daylight for so long now that this twilight thing is something she wants to notice everyday ... calling out the colors of the sky, looking for the moon and some early stars, and feeling it grow dark.  She is so full of joy. 


a fourth cup of coffee and fuzzy slippers. cozy.

Hello there.  It's a beautiful morning here in western Missouri.  Cool and crisp.  Fall is definitely on its way.  Fidget and I sing "Oh! What a Beautiful Morning" most days on the way to preschool, and today it was a perfect fit for our drive.  The cloudless sky is a gorgeous deep blue and the morning sun made the cornfields glow. 

fidget's quilt top, taking shape 

We drove down her favorite 'Tree Tunnel' road and saw that one of the two horses was out. The chestnut one.  He was standing alone in a large field, surrounded by wildflowers and grass that is still green, coat shining.  We drove by, waving, looking for his sidekick, the gray mare, but we didn't see her today.  'Gray horse in the barn, mommy.  It's too early.' 

fidget's quilt

October is usually the blue-ribbon month around these parts, but September is making a case for itself this year.  I keep thinking the heat and humidity will come back, overnight, with a vengeance.  But so far we've been lucky and sleeping with the windows open, waking up to a chilly house and coffee brewing.  It's my favorite part of the year.

There is no denying it.  It's time to get those sweaters out of the off-season storage boxes, give them a shake and a tumble (and a spritz for freshness).  And it's time for quilts. 

panel inset for fidget's quilt

I made some progress on Fidget's quilt this weekend.  It's turning into a modified log cabin design, with embroidered pieces in the middle of the squares.  She is very keen on my finishing her 'special blanket' soon.  It doesn't matter what I'm working on. She will ask, "Mommy, is that my special blanket you are making for me?" 

huge log cabin squares

Yes, little Fidgie, it is.