Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yes, I'm actually posting about a givaway

Some of you may remember posts from last year in which I talked of making quilts for my brother-in-law to sell at a couple of Celtic fairs where he would be selling some of his art. Well, I'm pleased to be able to tell you about a giveaway that this same brother in-law is hosting at his website, Celtic Pencil. The prize will be a lovely and unique piece of Celtic art. The information about how to enter is easily accessible from the home page. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I have heard "creativity" described as be ability to see something and then to take that idea, put your own spin on it, and make it your own. I like that description of creativity because if it's not true, I'm not very creative. I love making things, but very few of my ideas originate from me. Some of them wouldn't be recognizable as coming from a certain idea, but recognizable or not, something has to give my thoughts a nudge that sends them spinning off in a thousand creative directions.

Bogging has been very good for my creativity. The wealth of marvelous ideas being posted daily is mind-boggling. I've had to learn to curb my excitement and carefully pick and choose which of the wonderful ideas out there I really and truly want to adopt and remodel.

One of my favorite places to pick up ideas to make my own is over at thimbly things. The two projects I'm sharing in this post originated from there and underwent very few alterations.

I loved her idea to make baby bibs from denim. I had just been thinking about how I was hoping to get all new bibs for Brother since Little Man's bibs are all yucky and stained, when Kristena posted about making bibs from denim. I fell in love with the idea and promptly began about two dozen: some for Brother and the rest for gifts. (Remember my comment about having to limit the number of ideas I adopt? I think I should also work on moderation in the few that I do adopt.) The three that are pictured here I used for gifts at a baby shower a few days after I read the original post. The rest are still works in process.

My variation on this idea was to make some of the bibs of several squares of denim pieced together. My mom was happy to let me raid her stash of already-cut squares for a denim quilt, and I was happy to accept her offer. I also decided to do appliques instead of ribbons since ribbons are hard to make boyish. I have even more cute ones in the works that I'll probably be finishing, photographing, and posting about soon.

The other idea I recently adopted from Kristena was a remodel of a big, old fashioned shirt into a cute little modern top. I saw her version and decided that with a few alterations it would make an adorable maternity top, so I started looking for something that would work on my thrifting expeditions.

This is what I found. It was a 4X shirt made of gorgeous black rayon with brown embroidered flowers on it. I would probably never have been willing to pay for the fabric at the fabric store, and the shirt seemed almost new. I was excited.

To alter it, I relied fairly heavily on a maternity pattern I had on hand. The only seams I ended up keeping were the hem and the button placket since I wanted to make the sides slant out in a maternity-ish way. I added ties for the back (cut from extra fabric from the formerly long sleeves) in my new side seams. I used the pattern to cut new raglan sleeves from the original sleeves, and I finished off the shirt by gathering and binding the neck and sleeve hems. My description feels a little scatterbrained, so if you like the idea, I really would reccomend reading Kristena's post too.

On a side note, I set up my mini-tripod, read a portion of the poorly written instruction manual for my camera, and figured out how to take timed photos with my camera so I could take photos of myself for this post. I'm very, very pleased that I finally took the time to figure it out. ; )

The Boys' Room

I must admit to feeling delighted to be able to casually mention "the boys' room." The change from it being "Little Man's room" to being "the boys' room" happened over night. Or to be more accurate: in the course of a morning.

You see, Little Man got out of the crib all by himself yesterday morning. I was trying to doze a little longer when I heard a suspicious thump followed by a bit of crying. Since it did not sound frantic and soon stopped, I didn't worry. After a very little while, however, I did hear a cheerful little voice just outside my door. Hmmmm... He was sure pleased with himself.

I prioritized rearranging to safely accomodate his new skills, and it became "the boys' room." On the left in the photo is the Pack-n-play that is Little Man's current bed. It's larger than the average pack-n-play, so there's still plenty of room for him. In addition the walls are high enough that he can't climb over them (yet), but even if he did, the fall would be much shorter.

On the right side of the photo is my spot: the little rocking chair I inherited from my great-great-grandma. And behind it is the crib that until yesterday belonged to Little Man. Now it is all made up with bumper pad, fresh sheets, and low rails just waiting for Brother's arrival. I might be jumping the gun a little to have it all ready two months before his due date, but I don't care. It's very satisfying to have it ready.

It's a cozy, crowded room full of little boy stuff, and even though it probably wouldn't make the pages of a home decor magazine, I love it!

Vacation photos: A few miscellaneous ones

There are so many more wonderful parts of our vacation that I haven't even mentioned yet. For example, I haven't even talked about the wonderful visits we had with two sets of my grandparents and with dear friends, the hikes to see waterfalls, the fascinating new exposure Little Man had to milk goats, fish ladders, green currants, and chickens... I could go on and on, but since I don't want to become tedious, I'll finish off my vacation posts with just a few miscellaneous photos.

Vacation photos: Redwood forests

Another enjoyable sightseeing aspect of our trip was visiting the Redwood forests in northern California. None of us had been there before, so it was an all-new experience. The majestic hugeness of those trees is indescribable as is the sensation of walking among them. Truly God's creation is great and points to His still more indescribable and amazing greatness! If you look closely in the picture below, you can see Little Man and I sitting on a piece of wood in the middle of that tree.

Vacation photos: The pacific ocean

One of the highlights of our trip was visiting the Oregon coast. We love the ocean, and it was delightful to be able to introduce Little Man to it for the first time. He enjoyed getting his toes wet in the "Oshus" as the waves came in, picking up rocks, and playing in the sand.

I'm back!

We arrived home on Saturday night from a jam-packed, tiring, refreshing vacation. I don't know if I can exactly say that it was relaxing as a whole since we drove a little over 2,500 miles in eight days, but it certainly had many relaxing times sprinkled throughout.

After having a restful day on Sunday, I tackled unpacking bright and early yesterday morning. I'm so pleased to have it all done. Usually unpacking is something I procrastinate on, so I feel especially satisfied to have it all done.

It looks like I'll have a busy week ahead of me. Today I'm working on laundry; tomorrow I'll teach music and work in my garden (I hope). While we were gone, there was quite a bit of rain, so my veggies grew like weeds, but the weeds were characteristically busy as well. I need to take care of them. Thursday I'll be getting ready to go on a short church camp out. (Yes, I am going to be tent camping seven month pregnant, and, yes, even while I can't wait to go camping, I'm doubting my sanity.) Friday I have a doctor appointment in the morning and will be leaving for camping in the afternoon. Whew.

In my down times, I'm hoping to work on a couple of projects, catch up on blogging (reading and writing), and do some phone talking and facebooking. ; )

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lists and lists

We are hoping to leave on vacation this Friday. I say "hoping" because we might have to postpone out trip at the last minute because of health. The plan is to leave on a lovely long road trip to western Oregon and eastern Washington to visit friends and family and to enjoy breathtaking scenery that is not our own every-day Montana beauty. I can't wait to see the Oregon coast again!

In preparation, I've made lists and more lists. I thought for a minute that I had lost them yesterday, and that was a little (just a little) scary. But I hadn't. Here's what I'm hoping to get done today and tomorrow:

~Eat leftovers and clean out the fridge
~Clean the house. Ideally this would include vacuuming, sweeping/mopping, and cleaning the bathroom. I don't think that's going to happen, so I'll probably be fairly satisfied with a tidying and quickly hitting the worst spots.
~Teach two music lessons.
~Wash a couple of loads of laundry.
~Pack all of our stuff
~Bake pasties to eat on the go.
~Make granola bars for snacks.
~Turn my brown bananas into muffins.
~Boil eggs.
~Mend three pairs of pants and a shirt.
~Mail Father's Day card
~Take care of Little Man.

I'm praying for wisdom to know what is reasonable to try to accomplish. I don't want to start the vacation exhausted because I didn't know when to stop. Anyway, off I go to (calmly) plunge into my whirl of preparations. ; )

Monday, June 8, 2009

I played with my food

I have a weakness for food photography. I love "posing" and photographing my food. A couple of weeks ago, I had some serious photography fun while making dinner (which, incidentally, was a most successful experiment of making grilled pizza). Here are a few of my favorites.

I do wish the background was a little darker and the foreground a little brighter on this garlic one. I had fun utilising the rough "country" look of the window sills that need to be scraped and painted (one of my husband's summer projects) in this one.

Then I did several tomato poses.

I also enjoyed photographing my tomato sauce. I guess it was a tomato-y day. ; )

After this happened (I had to scoop up quite a bit of spilled sauce and put it back in the pan), I decided to put down the camera and focus on making the food:

Here is a shot of a few of our pizza toppings (Parmesan cheese, sliced mushrooms, and olives) on our porch rail after being used to top the pizzas on the grill.

I learned something about myself recently. I receive e-mail promotions and newsletters from Kodak Gallery (where I order my paper photo prints). One of their recent letters asked their readers to vote in a poll asking this question: "Why do you shoot [photos]?" The three answers were: "I shoot to make art." "I shoot to document." and "I shoot just because." I always thought that I take photos to document, but then I realized that I don't really. I take photos to make art (with a teeny tiny bit of documentation thrown in). That's why I don't take photos at social events even when I bring my camera. See, at social events, I would have to take hundreds of candids to get a few "good" artistic photos (and while I could do that, it would be anti-social, don't you think?). Anyway, that was a mini revelation about myself that I found extremely fascinating. Why do you take photos?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Focaccia Bread

After seeing the photos of our Mother's Day celebration, several people asked for my focaccia bread recipe. I'm pleased to be finally publishing it and apologize for the delay. I will put my little extra comments in brackets.

For the bread dough:
¾ oz fresh yeast
1 1/3-1 ½ cups lukewarm water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 cups unbleached white bread flour [This is usually too much flour. I have found that starting with about 4 cups of flour and slowly adding additional flour during the kneading stage works well. Aim for a stiff but not dry dough. If you live in a more humid climate than I do, though, this might not be a problem.]
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage [or other fresh herb, or ½ tablespoon of a dried herb]
For the topping:
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
12 fresh sage leaves [or substitute herbs]
~Lightly oil 2 ten inch cake pans.
~Whisk the yeast into the lukewarm water until it is dissolved. Stir in the olive oil.
~Mix the four, salt, and herbs together in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture into the well and mix to form a soft dough.
~Knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. [I usually knead it in the bowl, though many people turn the dough out onto a floured surface. This is the step where I gradually add flour.]
~Cover the bread bowl, and let it rise in a warm place for about 1-1 ½ hours until the dough has doubled in size.
~Punch down the dough. Knead it a few times and divide it into two equally sized pieces.
~Form each piece into a ball and then roll them out on a lightly floured surface into 10 inch circles. Place the circles in the prepared cake pans. [Or greased cookie sheets.]
~Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
~Uncover the bread, and poke through the dough with your fingers, making deep dimples all over the bread.
~Drizzle the topping olive oil over the breads, then sprinkle each one evenly with garlic. Evenly distribute the herbs too.
~Re-cover the bread and let it rise for 20-30 minutes more.
~While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
~ Bake the loaves for 25-30 minutes until they are golden.
~Immediately remove the focaccia from the pans and transfer them to a wire rack.
~Enjoy! (The bread is best served warm.)

Splishy Splashy

A couple of weeks ago, Little Man discovered the garden hose. He was instantly fascinated; I'm foreseeing hours of splashy summer entertainment and photographic opportunities galore.

First he watered the grass.

Then he watered his hands (and the driveway too).

Then he discovered the joys of splashing in the puddles.
And after that, he stomped in the water and finished the wetness by thoroughly and systematically soaking his legs and feet with the hose.

Words, words, words

This has been a longer hiatus than usual. I've missed blogging. There are all sorts of thoughts forming in my active brain waiting to be formed into written words, wanting to be spilled onto a blank page (or document, as the case may be). I think of and mentally write multiple blog posts every day. I'm hoping to catch up on documenting some of them in the next few days. There just may be quite a barrage of posts coming from my direction. ; )

In a related though not directly connected note, I want to share a verse that I've been thinking about lately. It has forced me to examine my communication, written and spoken, and has challenged me to new levels of awareness and growth. This is my goal:

“Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word, nor unwholesome or worthless talk ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God's favor) to those who hear it.” (Ephesians 4:30, AMP)