Saturday, June 28, 2008

first jam of the season

I was at a friend's ranch for a few days and we took full advantage of the trees laden with ripe peaches. Picking and eating a ripe peach right from the tree is heavenly! We ended up with several bags full - some not quite ripe because of our little helpers who didn't know the difference - and decided to make jam. It was quite the jam-making production in the kitchen that night with one diehard soul putting all the kids to bed - especially mine who had a harder time settling in (thanks, Chris!). The next morning we all enjoyed sampling the excess supply on our toast - yum!

I still had some jars leftover, so I got a half-flat of strawberries at the local Farmer's Market near our house. Last night in the midst of needing to start dinner and getting one dancer ready in her makeup and costume for the dress rehearsal, I decided to make the strawberry jam - crazy, I know! I guess I figured I was already in the kitchen and had a lot of momentum going. Despite the process taking longer than I thought, I managed to get spaghetti and meatballs, salad and garlic bread on the table and Sunshine Girl off to her rehearsal without any major mishaps.

This week the girls and I will start their quilts for their American Girl Dolls, Nellie and Samantha.

I think we're going to just make a simple block quilt and put it together with ties. The girls have handquilted before, so I think this time I'll give them sewing machine lessons with this project. They've got a couple of sewing camps they're going to in July, so I'd like them to have a familiarity with the machine.

We put up Worker Boy's curtains last week and they're really great because they block out a lot more light than the shades. I was so relieved that they covered the window because I measured, but I was really loose about it. The girls' curtains are still awaiting installation of the rods, but Gavin's working really hard right now on making a wood mantel for the cultured stone rock we're having done behind our woodstove. I think they're supposed to start next week!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

pillow surgery

Worker Boy's pillow is incredibly special as I know many of your children have special loveys too. It's only 2 years old and has already gone through a lot of repair! It has finally reached the point that major work had to be done. I actually felt like I was conducting major surgery - and I had to make sure Worker Boy wasn't around because I think seeing his pillow that way would have caused him horrible trauma. So here are the photos of the entire process...
I had to cut open the pillow to take out the stuffing and add a liner.

This is what stuffing looks like after hundreds of washings!

I quilted the liner to the pillow fabric so that any future tears would be contained to a small area (Gavin's idea - thanks, Hon!)

This pillow definitely wouldn't win any aesthetic awards, but at least it has been reinforced and will hopefully last a long time now!

Despite some initial apprehension (my mom couldn't believe he'd even notice), Worker Boy has reunited with his best friend!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

more Yosemite

Yosemite is so breathtaking! It was amazing to just look around and see these immense mountains of granite that have taken on beautiful shapes after thousands of years of snowmelt, waterfalls and rain.

I'd like to say that we hiked up to every waterfall and peak, but surely I can't say that! We stayed on the main paths and took the tram around the village most of the time. One day we rafted down the Merced River which runs right through the valley. In this photo we had stopped at a little beach to skip rocks and have a snack.

Next time when the kids are older, maybe we'll do more hiking.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Yosemite dreams

We had such a fun time in Yosemite! I even got a few hours to attend a watercolor class through the Yosemite Art Center. Our class went behind The Ahwahnee and got this amazing view of Glacier Point above Stoneman Bridge. The hardest part was my needing to move to a shadier spot in the middle of the day, so my view became a little obstructed! It was fun to be with other artists as well as whole families painting together. I stayed a little longer and moved to the edge of the Merced River and got an amazing view of Half Dome to the Northeast. (I have to apologize for the partial images of my paintings. My scanner is smaller than the paper and I can't figure out how to reduce - argh!)

Anyway, since we were in Yosemite with my parents and sister to celebrate my parents' 45th Anniversary, I decided to frame the Glacier Point painting for them. My dad kept reminding me that I hadn't signed my name on the painting yet - just a reminder that I don't quite feel like an 'artist' yet. I'm still exploring so many other mediums and really want my main focus to be my family right now. Not that I don't grab moments (or hours) to be creative. I'm just concerned that if I start to think of myself more in terms of occupation, my creative side will start to compete with my mommy side. For now, I'm happy with the amount of creativity that my 'mommyness' brings my way. There are so many women out there who successfully manage all the different facets of their lives - the crafty blogosphere is evidence of that - and I enjoy seeing into their projects. Because I tend to throw myself into every project I do, I completely forsake (and often resent) my regular day-to-day items on my list which can include my children! Then I just get stressed out, I feel like a terrible mom and my house completely falls apart. But when I just do one project at a time and take breaks in between, I tend to feel more balanced. Am I making sense? Or am I just sounding completely ridiculous?

Maybe I need to stop overanalyzing and just get a door for my art room.

Friday, June 6, 2008

vacation mode

We'll be in Yosemite for the week. We'll take lots of pictures to share!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

visions of Laura Ingalls

Awhile ago my daughters went to a pioneer picnic birthday party. We got pretty excited and I made these fun outfits for them: linen skirts, aprons, and white puffy shirts. The shirts were originally sheets from our local thrift shop I made into dresses for their school holiday program. For the shirts I just cut them, added elastic and eyelet trim. The bonnets were part of the party favors. So cute!

Kathy over at Pink Chalk Studio made a cute peasant ensemble for her daughter. And just like hers, my daughters have worn them often just for fun.

This summer I want to teach the girls (and eventually Worker when he's older) how to work the sewing machine. I told them we could make aprons and quilts for their American Girl Dolls (Samantha and Nellie).

So while the kids were scampering around the garden, I had to face a hard reality: I think I need to leave the gardening to the green thumbs!

Actually, Gavin's been doing most of the work anyway. However, we don't seem to be having as much success as in the past.... just not the right year I guess.

Monday, June 2, 2008

finished quilt

I'm so excited that I finished the quilt today! It feels so good to cross another item off my list. I really enjoyed this quilt because it wasn't so big that it was overwhelming. It's funny how along the way I would doubt the color scheme, but now that it's all put together with the binding to frame it in, I really like it! My girls made me promise to make them one when they graduate from high school. Not a problem! I had a hard time finding a flannel fabric I liked that wouldn't overpower the front. I really like this green with the brown-olive dots.

I have to give Gavin major credit for getting my sewing machine to act normal again! I never knew there was a little screw on the bobbin case that needed to be retightened - that was the heart of the thread tension problem apparently. Although the thought of a new machine is enticing (my Singer 1725 from Target is quite basic and not really worth the cost of maintenance!), the reality of researching and forking over the dough isn't so inviting.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

down to the wire

On Thursday I was supposed to go on Pumpkin Girl's field trip, but Worker was still getting rid of his croupy cough, so he and I stayed home instead to rest. Luckily there were enough drivers so I didn't feel like such a flake! So while Worker rested, I was able to catch up on some projects that weren't getting done on their own.

I'm the volunteer Art Docent for Sunshine Girl's 1st grade class, and I decided to make little watercolor booklets for the kids to have over the summer. I also included a watercolor pencil for each student. It was a fun and very easy project: just cardboard, cool scrapbook paper, stickers for their initials, watercolor paper and string. Voila!

Here's a closeup of one of the booklets. I hope they get inspired this summer!

I also decided at the last minute to make a quilt for a friend's daughter who is graduating from High School in 2 weeks. It's a lap quilt for when she goes off to college and is up late studying or writing a paper (I remember those days!). I've finished the top and now am ready to machine quilt (I don't have time to handquilt), but my machine is acting funny - arrgh! I think the thread tension is off, but I can't seem to fix it. I might have to take it over to a friend's house. (you know who you are!)

I know the white with pink polka dot is called "Pink Lemonade" by Me and My Sister Designs. Unfortunately I didn't write down the rest! Some were fat quarters from Joann's.

I hope to have the quilt done by the end of the week for show and tell. I'm also on a deadline to finish the 1st Grade Teacher's gift from the class by Thursday (last day of school). It's a book of their art and quotes about their teacher. It's coming along pretty well. I found some great ribbon for the ties from a great garage sale find a few weekends ago.