Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Gifts!

I don't know what came over me, but I have been sewing up a storm lately.  The saddest thing about that though is that along with sewing I have been trolling the blogosphere and seeing all the wonderful things everyone else has been making.  Usually blogs make me happy, but right now, I feel...lacking.  That is a bummer.  Regardless, I am happy with what I've done.  Here is a breakdown.
1. Something I can't show because it is a gift.  I will post a pic after Christmas.
2. Zippered clutches for teachers.

I tried out my own shape on this one, but need to work on it a bit more.  I wanted the bottom to be even wider than the top.

I got this idea from another blog.  I like the wristlet even though I wonder if it will get caught on things in your purse.  I guess I will have to make myself one to see ;)  I put little Christmas ornaments that we had gotten from a Christmas market in Germany in the pouches to make them a bit more personal.

I liked making these clutches so much and find them to be such a good gift, that I finally went on Etsy and bought a ton of zippers.  I also started putting ribbons on the zippers.  I saw this on other people's work and thought it gave things a pretty look.

3. S has asked for a sewing machine for Christmas, so I have started letting her sew a little on my machine.  Here is her first attempt at curves.

After she had sewn it, she decided it looked like a penguin.  She made me sew on buttons for the eyes, beak, and wings.  I think it looks like one of those ugly dolls, but smartly kept that opinion to myself!!

We have started on a skirt for her too while she was home sick all week, but she tired out after just a few rows of stitches.

4. I have been meaning to make more pj pants for the girls forever!  I just never get around to it even though S still wears the ones I made for her in 2009!! That is what one can do when one just grows up and not out! Anyway, I bought some owl fabric back in Oct. and finally got around to sewing some pants last week.

They needed some major adjustment the next day (she wore them at night even with a bad fit), but after that they are good.  Her sister's on the other hand, still have elastic sticking out of them.  She refuses to try them on to let me get the elastic size or the length.  Little Devil!

5. She did "allow" me to make her a little bag for her princesses though.

Wasn't that nice of her.

6. The last thing that I did this month was a re-fashion for my sister.

That is her in the middle.  She asked if I could make something for her daughter out of a shirt she (my sister) didn't wear anymore, but liked the color of.  I have had the shirt since October and had basically given up hope of making anything before Christmas, when inspiration struck.  I have, as mentioned before, been surfing the web more than normal these past few weeks.  I had the Go To Dress pattern from a while ago.  Then she posted the Circle Pocket Dress. I took the two and made this.

I haven't gotten any little girl to try it on (like I said, S has been sick and I hate for her snotty nose to go into this), so the sleeves are still unfinished.  I am happy though with how I took down the size of the shirt, but kept the collar and the hem of the sleeves.  I hope they are about the right size.

And that my dear friends is all I got.  I must say, I am a bit sewn out now.  Hopefully the New Year will bring more sewing inspiration!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

In my defense...

it was during a power outage (yes, I will be milking that for all its worth!)  I mean, we were real troopers for still having people over even though we had no power.  So the fact that we did not take ONE single picture during the whole thing does not make us bad parents, right?  A will have another year.  

I did feel bad after the fact and tried to take a picture of the girls and A's loot.

Unfortunately, by that time they didn't want to take pictures.  On the upside, everyone did have a good time even if I don't have pictures to prove it.  We were all relieved to be able to do something fun even while we were cold.  The playdate (it wasn't fancy enough to call a party) was the highlight of my weekend.  

To make up for the lack of A's birthday, here are some pics from the pumpkin picking.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The end of an era...

Almost 13 years ago, E and I had a dog named Sadie who, in my opinion, needed a sister/playmate.  E was not so sure. So instead of looking for a puppy, I went to volunteer at the SPCA.  Needless to say, Sadie got her sister/playmate in about two weeks.  It might have been about a month, but regardless, Sadie got what I thought she needed…and hated it.  Apparently, Sadie really didn’t need or want another dog in the house.  She especially didn’t want a small, energetic puppy who wanted to play and bite on her all the time. 

But look, they were so cute!!

Sadie turned from a crazy puppy to an old dog on her second birthday.  It was sort of incredible how she calmed down from one day to the next.  Based on this experience we expected the same thing with Jasmine.  Well, we were so wrong.  Jasmine stayed energetic her whole life.  She could still run, climb stairs, and jump into a car the day she died.  That is not to say that she stayed healthy.  She was our bionic dog.  She blew out one knee in Germany when she was just 3 or so.  $1000 later, we had our sweet energetic dog back.  All she needed was an expensive food supplement to make sure that her knee didn’t get sore.  We also had a promise that the other knee would probably blow since it does usually happen to both knees.  This meant that even after recovery she had to give up her favorite sport-Frisbee.

Making her give up the Frisbee was hard, but at least she had the German fields to run in without a leash.  Unlike Sadie, Jasmine loved nothing more than running and being near us.  She could be trusted to be off leash and come back regularly.  Poor Sadie loved food much more than us, so she had to be kept on the leash most of the time!  The only real problem we had related to the Frisbee was a leash.  Sometime after her first surgery, we got Sadie a new retractable leash.  Unfortunately we bought a blue one which apparently made Jasmine think it was a Frisbee.  It took us about a week to figure out that the reason why Jasmine kept running circles around me during our walks and biting at the leash was that she thought it was a Frisbee.  We actually had to get rid of that leash. 

The dogs were our constant companions.  They went to Germany with us, of course. 

They also made it to Italy...

and France.

We moved back to the States and Jasmine thought that a good time to blow out knee #2.  This is when E and I found out how much more expensive US vets were than German ones: at least double, if you are wondering.  That was Jasmine.  She was very healthy until she wasn’t.  I always thought that she would go like that too.  I didn’t think she would have a problem like Sadie’s that went up and down and up and down.  Jasmine would go quickly.  And I was right. 

 We moved to NJ and the house had no fence.  J was good most of the time and stayed in the yard.  But other times she decided to explore.  I am sad that I didn’t stop her, but I couldn’t keep that dog on a leash at all times.  That would have been heart breaking for everyone, every day.  So, I didn’t and last week she left at night.  She never left for more than 20 minutes.  Thursday night she didn’t come home at all.  I knew what must have happened, but I tried to keep the faith.  The morning brought reality-we weren’t dog owners anymore.  I miss her, even her craziness, a lot.  I still hear her tags clanging on her collar when I move (she would always jump up when I got up) or when I open the door.  Unfortunately, she is not there. She was a very good, faithful dog.  She loved us very much!  She is so missed!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The School Dress

OK, I am super excited and proud of myself.  I have to admit it.  It took me a long time, but I finally made S a dress out of her school shirt.  She started kindergarten this year and I REALLY wanted her to like it.  It has been a tough year with the move and it has been a bit hard for all of us to find our place here.  I hoped, and have not been disappointed, that a new school year with a new class where most people were new would give us an opportunity to meet people.  It has.  S seems to be enjoying her class and her classmates.  I have met many nice mothers and school staff.

Along with being verbally positive about school, I have also tried to make it positive with things. For instance, like many of your kids, she got to pick out her backpack and lunch box.  She got to buy some new school clothes and shoes.  Back in May, we had kindergarten orientation and they sold school shirts.  I encouraged S to get one even though I knew she might never wear it.  She is not into t-shirts like those.  She would get one each year from her gymnastics class but never wear it.  I don't blame her.  They don't fit like the tees from Target.  They are huge on her.  They are wide, like two times her size, and then the sleeves go down to her elbow because the shoulder seem is halfway down her arm.  But, like I said, I really wanted to encourage her and help her see the "coolness" in her new school.

It has been 4 months now and even though the shirt was washed and hanging in her closet she did not wear it once.  I knew that I would have to alter it if I ever wanted her to wear it.  I have been trying to decide what to do and how to do it for about the entire 4 months.  Finally, I went to Target and bought some t-shirts that were on sale so that I could try to make a dress out of it.  Here were my starting supplies:

My original thought was to make the shirt itself narrower and then to add gathered tiers similar to t-shirt dresses I made before.  The shirt was a youth small but even that was way too wide.  I started by just cutting about two inches from each side, cutting off the sleeves as well.  When I then sewed up the sides and put it on S, it was still very long going below her bottom.  I like the tie-dye look to the shirt and wanted to preserve it as much as possible, so I knew the original idea would not work.

When I think of school skirts, I often think of pleated ones (too many catholic school girl characters on TV). So, I thought that I could just use about 5 in. of the maroon t-shirt (a mens' XXL) and add that to the bottom.  I did nothing to the width, just used the bottom 5 in. of the shirt.  I attached it to the altered KRS shirt by pinning it to the middles and sides.  Then I made the pleats (4 front/4 back) so that all the material was used up.  This saved lots of sewing!!  After I did that, I wanted to make the sleeves long since it is about to be cold up here.  I also needed to make the diameter of the sleeves smaller so that they would fit her arm.  (Even after I did this and tried to make the maroon part of the sleeves narrow, she still says they are big.) So I cut up the sleeves, added the maroon part and then reattached.  I faked the serger-type seam on the sleeves so that it would look more "normal."  Here is the finished article:

 It seems like I still could of taken a couple of inches away from the width, but I wanted it to be easy for her to play in.  She likes it a lot and wore it to school the first day she could.  She even got a compliment on it before school even started.

I so wish we could find maroon knee socks. That would look so cute.  I might buy some white ones and dye them maroon.  That would mean she could wear the dress even in colder weather and look super cute.

Her sister has already asked for one of her own!

I was really wild and crazy this weekend and made the girls cute (in my opinion) little change purses that have a strap.  I saw a little girl at the Y with one and thought it was a great idea.  S has already lost one wallet and I fear it may be in a shopping cart at Target or the grocery store.  With a strap she can just wear it.  So far it has not caught on with the girls  :(

That is all for now.  Hopefully, I will have more soon!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Just a bit more...

I REALLY hate to admit this, but I actually like this origami stuff. It is fun even though my child has yet to figure out what I am sending her.  Her exact comment on the first day when I sent the goldfish, "Why didn't you write on it?"  I don't mean to be critical, but she can NOT read!!  I put a little "I ♥ U" on the dolphin and even though she could not identify on the first try what it was, she did seem to like it.  

Here are my attempts for next week...

A frog (labeled), worm, flower (it was supposed to be an iris, but I didn't have purple paper), and a swallow. I wrote or drew on them BEFORE folding so I should be covered all around.  I am waiting for the note from the teacher that will tell me to stop sending such things to school because they cause a distraction.  So far, so good though!!

For Julie- A Hurricane Irene Account : For us, it was a big bunch of nothing (thank goodness!) I spent Friday grumbling and marveling at the idea of having to go through this again.  We spent Saturday drinking and getting ready.  We cleared our deck, Eric tied down the grill and other outdoor things that could not be brought in, I packed the girls a bag just in case something did happen.  I spent a ridiculous amount of time watching the news.

Saturday night we discussed sleeping in the basement since we do have a lot of huge trees around our house, but they kept pushing back the actual time of arrival.  When we went to bed we were suppose to get the worst of it around 5AM. We have the biggest windows in our bedroom and the girls' windows are pretty small, so we felt like they were safe and that they could get a good night's sleep in their own beds before the storm even hit.  I expected to be woken up in the middle of the night with the sound of rain or wind.

What happened: nothing.  I was not woken up.  There was wind and rain through out the night, but not as bad as we had had here before when I had been woken up by the sound of the wind blowing through the trees and against the windows.  We had plenty of rain (hence the bad flooding in NJ) but other than a yard that looked like a pond we were fine.  We had no standing water on the road afterward.  We had a bit of water in the basement at a window the previous owners had boarded up but that was soaked up by a max of 5 towels.

We spent Sunday inside due to the rain and the wind.  The wind that scared me came in the afternoon.  I watched limbs sway very close to my window, but we got lucky. We saw plenty of neighbors out walking around on Sunday, but we stayed inside since even a small branch coming at you or your kid or your dog at high speed would hurt like the devil.  We also never lost power, so we could watch TV (news for me, movies for the kids) ALL DAY LONG!!

I will say this though just to give praise where praise is due: our neighbor, a lovely woman who has been so helpful ever since the day we moved, called to check on us.  She hadn't seen us out and wanted to make sure we were OK.  She had remembered that E was gone during that really bad snow storm (as was her husband) and had feared that he was gone again.  With this phone call I did learn that other neighbors had not been so fortunate.  At least one house on our circle had two trees down, one of which had landed on the house causing some damage.

On Monday we walked around our circle and found that several families had gotten enough water in the basement to cause them to pull out carpet, sheet rock, belongings.  We also found out another neighbor had a tree land on her deck.  So, we really were lucky.  E's office building which is just 10 minutes away was without power for several days as were some other neighbors just one or two streets away.  The worst though was all of the towns near the rivers.  They just got hit with the rising water. It didn't help that we kept getting rain off and on for a week or more.

This experience was nothing like Hurricane Ike for us.  This was a two/three day experience.  At the end of the week everything for us was back to normal and it felt like ages since we even worried about it.  With Ike, we went to the Woodlands a couple of days before the storm (at least a day before the mandatory evacuation) and had no power for over a week.  There was no gas, no stores opened with Ike, here many things were open on Sunday even before the storm had completely past (this is just hearsay since we stayed put).  With Ike, we were desperate for news from other friends and neighbors, but this time we were not near an evacuation zone so we didn't have that worry.  Just like now, we got lucky with Ike and only had a little damage like small trees leaning.  We eventually got one side of our fence redone, but really that was because the next-door neighbor had to have his fence redone and he wanted the entire fence redone not just two out of three sides.  I just don't think we were as close to it this time as with Ike.  This one was not as big of a storm, downgraded to a tropical storm when it hit landfall here on Coney Island, about an hour  from us, verses a Cat. 2 hitting about 20 min. from our house (and yours) in TX.  Irene was a huge storm, area speaking, and we got a lot of rain from the northern section of it many, many hours before it made landfall near us.  It actually made land fall in South Jersey as a Cat.1.

And that is my Irene story.  I hope to never have another :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

So long summer...

I know that I said that I would write about our staycation and the earthquake and hurricane Irene, but really I don't want to.  Suffice it to say that E planned a wonderful staycation for us that took us every where from the Bethlehem, PA Musikfest to the NY Renaissance Faire.  We went somewhere almost every day and spent a good bit of time there and then I came home and vegged out in front of the TV.

As for the natural disasters that came along, they were the best type for US in that we felt/saw them but had no real damage from either.  Unfortunately many people in our area and others can not say that and I hope they will be able to see some relief soon!!  The earthquake was my first and it did scare the begeesus out of me and S.  A slept right through it.  I would not want to be in a bigger one just as I would not want to be in anymore hurricanes!!

OK, I do want to say that a have sewn at least a little tiny bit.  I got inspired by Casey and Melissa in TX to at least sew a back-to-school outfit for each girl.  I didn't want to make them short sleeves though since the time for that is soon ending here so I made the shirts long sleeves which means that the girls really haven't gotten to wear them to school or anywhere else really. (Can you see I like the word really??)

Here is S's.  She picked out the blue fabric long ago in TX.

I put white fabric underneath for the look but also because the blue fabric is practically see through like so many other fabrics and with the sequins I thought it would be itchy.  S has worn the skirt and likes it, but has yet to wear the whole outfit.

I am pretty proud of the flower because I HAND STITCHED it on with white embroidery thread.  I ironed it on first with webbing so hope between the two it will actually stay.

I liked the double layer of S's skirt so I decided to do the same with A's skirt. She picked out the material so I thought this would be an easy sale.  However, she has refused to wear it so far :(

I had recently read that extras like these buttons make kids like their clothes better, but so far it is a no go.  I hope that when I embellish the shirt she will like it enough to wear, but I can't think of anything to put on the shirt.  PLEASE comment if you have an idea.  She loves sheep, but I don't think I can make a good looking sheep from red fabric on a white shirt.  I really don't know if I can make a good looking sheep on anything!!

And then as I facebooked earlier, I spent more of my time today trying to do origami than sewing or blogging.  This is my treat for S's lunch box since apparently other parents have been putting cute little cards in their kids' lunches.  Oh keeping up the the Jones' has already begun!  One of her classmates (Kindergarten remember) has already gotten an iPod for his birthday.  Oh, Christmas/Birthdays are really going to start hurting I fear.

It is suppose to be a goldfish and a dolphin if you couldn't tell.  I found instructions at

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Summer 2011

My oh my, it has been a long time!  I apologize.  This year has just been a tough one.  It still seems as if we are not quite settled in here and the two or so months that we spent away did not help matters.  Let us start at the beginning.  

I so wanted summer to start.  They don't get out of school up here until middle of June.  All my friends and family down south were out at the middle/end of May so I was hearing about summer plans way before we could take part.  Our first visitors came with S's dance recital.  S's best friend from TX, Kelsie, came up to see it.  

While Melanie, Mike, and Kelsie were here we went to Central Park Zoo in NYC and a wine fest at Alba winery.  The kids had a fun time with face painting and sand art.  S and I even took our first hot air balloon ride.  I was very impressed with how brave she was!

When our TX friends left, we had two days to prepare for the invasion of the cousins.  While they were here, I have no idea what we did!!  All I remember, because it feels like it was so long ago, is that one day/evening Sonja and I sneaked away and went into the city without kids.  

Do you see how excited we were to have accomplished such a feat and we got to go see Memphis, the musical.  It was a most excellent day!

So, the cousins left and we had one week before venturing to TN.  S went to her first (and only, this summer) summer camp.  I was a little worried that A might be a bit bored with me and lonely without her "che che" but she came up with her own excitement the first day...she wanted to get her ears pierced!  After dropping S off,  we walked to the Madison Pharmacy and did it.  She cried a bit but really got into the spirit of things when they started giving her things like balloons, lollipop, and a Brave Kid certificate.  She has been proud of herself ever since!

Finally, we were off to TN.  E drove down with us, but then had to spend the rest of the three weeks either in Jersey or elsewhere on business while the kids and I had "fun" (in quotes due to the questionable use of term when being a single parent for three weeks even if the extended family helped out a lot).  The first week went by in a flash with various activities such as swimming, sidewalk chalk, scooter riding, and tag.  They particularly enjoyed bug catching!  Poor, tortured bugs!  

I can't believe I don't have any pictures of the kids in the pool because they spent a good bit of every sunny day in it.  By the end of the three weeks, S and Eli were diving and swimming like pros.  A even got used to wearing a swim vest and being out in the water without an adult!  I never realized that she had never worn a flotation device before.  She had always stayed on our sun shelf in TX and in our arms in other pools.  It took almost the whole 3 wks for her to get used to it, but now that is all she talks about. Ella started swimming on her own and gave her swim vest to A!

The second week was the big deal!  We went to Fripp Island, SC.  It was an excellent trip down since we got to visit our Gean-Gean (Gina in A-speak) on the way to and from the beach.  This broke up the trip for us and gave us a great opportunity to see our friend! 

Fripp was a great vacation even though Sonja ran us around like an activities director (lord love her effort to make home bodies like Anthony, Mom, and me get out of the house for most of the day!) We would go to the beach, which was a pleasant temperature thanks to the wind, each morning and then the pool, specifically the frog pool (a one foot deep pool that had a large frog in the middle with a slide for a tongue) each afternoon.  We had good food at home and in the local restaurant.  What I liked the best was the golf carts!  Most people only traveled by golf cart on the island and that meant NO car seats.  Yay!!! 

Here are just a few of the pictures from the trip:

After Fripp we went back to TN for a week.  S showed off her big kid status by riding back the whole way with Oma and Opa while A and I detoured once more through Charlotte to visit Gean-Gean.  S then proceeded to spend almost ever night after that with the grandparents.  E arrived on Friday and we drove back to NJ on Sunday.  I actually had to verify directions with E when we got close--like I said apparently I was not as settled into our NJ home as I had thought. 

We were so happy to be home, but normalcy only lasted a week before our staycation began.  That will have to be another post.  I still have a week before S starts Kindergarten so hopefully I will have time to write before the chaos of school begins.  That post will include the staycation, Hurricane Irene (really, I can not believe we had to deal with that!!) and some....SEWING!!