April 23, 2010

army surplus

My sweet friend had a baby boy and I asked her what type of image she wanted me to embroider onto a blanket.

"Do you want a critter, a person, or a vehicle?", I asked her.

She wanted a jeep.

"A jeep?", I questioned. I think I may have stared at her blankly for a second or two.

But yes, she was sure, she wanted a jeep. And her husband has a jeep.

So she was getting a jeep.

At first I was not sure what kind of fabrics I was going to use with this jeep.

Then I remembered that we had an army surplus store in town, and I had been wanting to go for a while now. This was the perfect excuse! Perhaps I could find some fun army stuff to go with this jeep.

I was very excited about my little field trip. I drove to the other side of town and pulled into the parking lot.

It was a little intimidating at first, because there were some interesting characters milling about, but when I heard the country music playing in the background, I felt a lot better.

There was so much fun stuff to look at. Old bags and such.

And then I found what I was looking for.

Patches. Oodles and Oodles of authentic military patches. I was in heaven.

Mr. Serious Sargeant-Pants stood behind the counter and politely asked how he could help me.

"Can I have that U.S. ARMY patch?", I asked, pointing at the display. He searched the bins and came up empty handed.

"There are no more", he said. Still serious as can be. No smiling here.

At this point, I was on complete overload and did not even know where to start. So I asked him to explain some of the patches--A request I very quickly began to regret, as he launched into a full-blown monologue on the history of each and every patch know to mankind.

And his soliloquy might have been very interesting, had it not been approaching the dinner hour(aka piranha hour) and John was at home watching 4 little boys.

I nodded my head and said "oooh and ahhh" and "how neat" like a total moron as he droned on and on. He claimed to have studied patches for over 30 years.

I asked to look at a few more patches and before I knew it, he was pulling down the "U.S. ARMY" patch from the display and let me buy it. I guess it paid to listen to his shpeel!

And no, I did not tell him I was using these patches for a baby blanket.

Nor did I mention that I was looking for a patch that had some rust-colored accents that would match the rust ric-rac I was using.

Shhh, that will be our little secret...

Back at home with my plunder(After embroidering his name and birthdate).

I had a lot of fun combining the patches.

Here is the finished product. I later found out that my friend's family had served in the military and so that makes this blanket a little more special!

And it was no trouble to slap a few patches onto a onesie. My kind of project, I tell you!

The set all together.

My head is still spinning with ideas for future projects.

April 19, 2010


I am pretty much a super klutz in the kitchen.

Food spontaneously jumps out of my hands onto the floor, leaving me shrieking loudly in surprise. Just ask John.

And to make things worse, I just don't have a natural love for cooking like some of you do. I have a few dishes that come out fine, but I am not very adventurous.

So when my sister encouraged me to get the following book last year, it kind of sat and collected dust.

I really wanted to learn how to cook more healthy recipes from scratch, but I just WAS NOT READY. With a new baby, I just did not have the energy.

A little while ago, I decided I was finally ready. I was ready to make some changes.

My assignment for this week was to learn how to make some meat stock( that can later be used to make soup, sauces and other dishes).

Simple enough, right?

Um. Wrong. I did not even own a stock pot. I had to go buy a 12 qt stock pot on saturday.

And I had no idea where to buy soup bones. All of my normal stores just did not have what I needed.

I made some phone calls and was told to try the Farmer's Market. I was very excited and made a special trip out there saturday. I met a real live Cattle Rancher named Jared and he sold me some awesome beef shank bones.

After I got home, I realized I needed more variety of beef bones to make my stock more tasty and gelatinous.

I was not going to let this stop me though. No, wild horses could not stop me. I knew my stock would not come out great, but I was just dying to try my hand at this cooking stuff. I began puttering around the kitchen making preparations.

And I think I may have called my sister a million bajillion times, asking lame questions.

Chopping up all the vegetables and removing the scum part of the stock was very therapuetic. Who knew? I just felt very happy and domestic cooking my stock.

And the meat part was very yummy.

My stock finished simmering around midnight. I went to bed with a smile on my face.

The next morning, I ran to the fridge, to see how my stock was doing.

My stock came out...how shall we say...bland? Yucky? And it did not gel properly because I did not use enough variety of bones. At least the meat part was yummy!

Well, I am still very, very proud of my first attempt, even though it failed.

Next time I shall try to make chicken stock instead, because I think it will be MUCH tastier. I ordered a whole chicken through AH and it's coming this saturday! Eeek! Such excitement over a bird, I don't even know who I am anymore!

April 14, 2010

Untimely demise of my sewing machine.

The other day(Tuesday, April 6th, approximately 11 pm, but who's counting?) my sewing machine came to an abrupt halt, mid-project.

The hand wheel was stuck.

I checked the bobbin to see if my thread was stuck, but it wasn't.

John was asleep, so I went to the garage to find some screwdrivers to dismantle my machine. You might be thinking "No big deal!", but to me this was a big deal. I never attempt to fix any type of machinery. I even checked an online user manual. But nothing seemed to be helping my poor machine.

My handy friend Natasha attempted to revive it the next day. If she couldn't fix it, nobody could. She pronounced it dead.


My sister asked me if I oiled my machine.

My reply: "Oil???"

We're guessing that was the problem. This machine ran around 13 years without ever being oiled. Pretty impressive if you ask me!

Nothing like an unfinished project to make one feel nice and accomplished.

So, what was I working on?

I was making some rosettes that I was going to sew onto a pillow.

Rosette 1: Raw edge

Rosette 2: Hemmed edge.

And here they are, side-by-side, for comparison. I am not sure which one I prefer.

I'm leaning toward the one to the left(hemmed edge). But does it look too smug? Or is it the obvious choice? Is this a no-brainer?

I need to select one of them to go with the other little rosettes on the pillow.

So here is the pillow with the first one(raw-edge)

And here is the pillow with the second one(hemmed edge).

And just to beat a dead horse, here they are again.

In the meanwhile, I started looking at new machines. I found a basic Singer machine at Joann's that was on sale from $119.99 to $84.99.

I had $79. John and I have a "no borrow money" rule. We have to save in advance for purchases. So instead of whining and begging for John to loan me a couple of bucks from our supplies money(or savings), I just said,

"Hey, can I have a few dollars? I don't want to borrow the money. I just want to have the money. I don't plan on paying you back".


Well, I guess he took pity on me and my sorry ways. At least I wasn't trying to be manipulative.

I don't know who was more excited to open my new box.

These two look-alike munchkins are the Model B prototypes. (Finn and Ollie are Model A)

And yes, the back of Twain's hair could use a trim.

So here she is, in all her glory(Suzanne, you may want to avert your eyes).

"And what is this?", you ask.

This is called oil.

I hereby solemnly vow to learn how to use it.

Now go oil your machine!

April 7, 2010

Tale of Finn's hair

After school one day, Finn said "I need my hair cut. It's getting in my eyes".

Normally I give his hair a little trim and send him on his way.

On this particular day, I was feeling rather adventerous. I wondered what Finn would look like if we got his hair cut like Ollie's. I got a hair clip from my room and pinned Finn's hair off his face.

Hm. Not too bad. Perhaps he could pull this off.

"Do you want your hair cut shorter?" I asked him.

"Ok", he said. Clearly not paying too much attention. He had no idea the scheming in my mind.

So I piled all 4 boys into the van and carted them off to Cost Cutters.

"We'll take the faux-hawk", I informed the hair stylist. "But do a long version in case we don't like it."

She draped my boy in the apron and started snipping away as I watched in complete fascination.

Finn's hair has been long since age 2.

As she kept snipping, I started to feel a bit nervous. This was kind of drastic.

She pulled off the apron and Voila!

I think I kind of died. Right there. He looked SO different. And positively tiny. Half of his weight was in his hair. I had instant remorse.

I drove straight over to show John(and Grandma) the new Finn.

John's mom liked his hair(of course, what Grandma doesn't like short hair?), but John did not like it.

Neither did Finn.

And neither did Finn's mama. I wanted to cry. I felt a little sick to my stomach.

John said, "You should have waited til school was out. Getting your hair cut is a big deal in school".

Now I was really kicking myself.

To make matters worse, Finn refused, absolutely refused, to let me spike the hair in front, as the hair cut was intended to be.

"Finn, are you kidding me?"

But no, he was not kidding.

I about fainted. The whole reason I got his hair cut was because I liked it spikey in front.

"Why Finn? WHY can't we spike it??"

"Because Ollie's hair is spiked and Ollie is a baby" was his reasoning.

Good grief boy. And I thought only girls were supposed to be this fussy about their hair.

It was Thursday night. School was tomorrow. And Finn was embarassed over his hair.

And he missed his hair. He missed swishing it around.

I slept fitfully that night and called Finn's school that morning.

"Can Finn wear a beanie in the classroom today?", I asked.

"You'll have to ask his teacher", they replied.

Decisions, decisions.
Do we (a)go to school without the beanie and get the humiliation over with?
or (b) wear the beanie until Finn passes out from heat stroke?

"Are you sure I cannot spike the front?", I asked, before leaving for school. His eyes filled with tears.

Thankfully, he let me swoop it to the side, with a little bit of gel. There, much better.

Giving me "the look".

And off we went to school, without the beanie.

As I walked with Finn to the end of the line, some of the girls giggled at Finn as he walked by.

Finn was mortified to begin with, so I felt furious at them. We were feeling very sensitive that day. In all fairness they were probably just shocked and didn't know how to respond.

I prayed for Finn all morning, that he would feel confident.

When he got home from school, he gave me the 'thumbs up' and said he had a good day.

In his twerpy little voice Finn said, "The kids in class thought I was new! They did not believe it was me, but I kept saying 'It's me, Finn'. Then some of the boys said 'cool hair cut', and my teacher wants his hair cut just like mine. My hair is a BIG HIT."


Over the next few days I kept staring at Finn. Who was this boy? I did not recognize him at all.

We told Finn weeks in advance that he had to spike his hair for Easter. John wanted it spiked too, it wasn't just me.

Easter morning, Finn was feeling rather generous and announced "I will wear it spiked next Sunday too!"

Gosh he looks so much like John here.

After church on Sunday, Finn told me he would even wear it spikey to school that week. He then proceeded to enter this all-important data on our iCalendar:
Seriously, this kid kills me. He's so organized. Like a little old man.

I miss his old hair, but I am gradually coming to terms with this new hair cut.

April 5, 2010

Our Easter!

Hello Again! It's been a while!

Lent was wonderful, peaceful and relaxing. I read Ginger Plowman's Don't Make Me Count to Three, and spent lots of time trying to properly discipline my boys. They can be very wild and whiny at times. The main thing I learned was that I need to take much more time each day to discipline them. There are no short cuts. Also, there is no need for me to have a sharp tone of voice ever--even when my boys are bouncing off the walls ignoring me. Gosh, I could go on and on, but maybe I will write on that some other day.

I did not get around to reading Crazy Love, because I think my small group might do it some day. I mainly read my Bible instead. And you can't beat the Bible.

And I sewed. A lot, a lot, a lot.

But instead of being overwhelmed trying to give you a vast update on my previous 40 days, I think I shall just update you on our Easter festivities.

Otherwise I will never get a post done.

Here are the boys' Easter baskets this year. Nothing too fancy or special, but I still had lots of fun putting them together with love.

I am so excited that Twain is now officially in the 'kitty club'. He kept trying to steal Calvin's orange kitty, so I got him one just like it in gray.

Isn't it cute??

I thought it would be a good idea to take photos in our Easter clothes BEFORE church--before we turned into the inevitable train wreck that defines us most of these days.

So I dragged my boys onto the deck for a little photo shoot.

And yes, you must be in shock. Finn is sporting a new hair cut. I took him to have his hair cut on a total whim a few weeks ago. I think that deserves a post of its own! Yes, I shall write a whole post on that later this week.

It took me a loooooong while, but I am finally getting used to the new do.
And yesterday was the first day he let me spike the front. Actually, I forced him to let me spike it, but that's another story.

I love this photo because John and Twain look so sweet in the background.

John actually took this shot below of the boys' playing monster and I think it's my favorite shot of the day.

John actually took most of these photos because Twain was fussing and wanted me to hold him.

Oh and you are probably wondering about the white ruffle curtains in the background. Hm. Yah, I got new curtains for my family room. I know what you are thinking...

"Are you CRAZY??? What happened to your other curtains ??? They are not even that old!""

Yes, I am hopeless when it comes to curtains. Judge if you must. I totally deserve it.

I feel very sheepish to admit that I could no longer tolerate the previous curtains. The orange and black combined with the modern vibe just felt very jarring on my eyes. I think it was just too much for me.

So, I saved up and bought these white ruffle curtains instead. I must say, I like them so very much. They are very soft and romantic. I will have to show you how they look inside the house some other post.

Ollie and I have been hanging out non-stop lately. He's my little shadow. John was off for Easter break and so every morning, he let me sleep in(THANKS HONEY!). Ollie would come in to my room and hang out with me every morning until I got up. And show me each and every booboo. And say, "Oucht". Ollie is so very sweet to his mama.

Me and my barrel of boys. Oh how I love them!

We then went to church and enjoyed a wonderful service. Our pastor made a valiant attempt to prove that Jesus really DID rise from the dead. Basically, hundreds of people saw Jesus with their own eyes after he was raised from the dead. And these people were probably not lying, because they were willing to die for this belief. Someone might die for something they think is true, but rarely is someone willing to die for something they know is a lie.

There was much more to his sermon, but I shall not attempt to write it all out here!

After church, we changed into comfy clothes and went off to have lunch with John's family and do a little Easter egg hunt.

Here is Twain with his letter "T". It is tradition to have the eggs spell out the name or initial of the baby.

Twain kind of scares me--He knew EXACTLY what he was doing hunting for eggs.

Who does he think he is? Such a big shot.
He started walking at 10 months. I was kind of sad to have my baby grow up so fast. But he was giggling and clapping with each step he took. It was just too cute. I could not help but laugh too.

Twain officially is one of the boys. Or at least he thinks so!

And Ollie. Dear sweet Ollie.
He did not quite get the concept of hunting for eggs. We tried to help him find all the eggs first, and then eat them. Or save them. He would just rather crack the egg open on the spot and stuff his little cheeks with candy. We were not expecting that, and so next year we will force him to have more self control.

We had so much fun at Grandma Betty and Grandpa Ron's house.

Back at home, Finn and Calvin inspect their loot.

I got them some Football warm-up clothes in their Easter basket. Finn is really into Football these days and Calvin loves the color orange, so it was win-win for the boys! They begged me to let them wear them.

And they are wearing them again today. I am not too crazy about these uniforms, but it makes them happy. Such boys.

This post was longer than I intended. But it will take too many brain cells for me to decide what to cut out, so you get the long version!