Monday, July 30, 2012

Plans (and the lack thereof)

Hey guys, did you notice that it's almost August?  Because I noticed that.  One more day of July and then--poof!--August.  Around here, August means Bryan starts school again (and then doesn't get more than a week or two off at a time until he graduates... in 3 years).  August means hopefully it won't be so dang hot outside all the time.  (It's already starting to cool down and I couldn't be more grateful.  Some change is good, yo.)  August also means we find out whether or not Olivia will be starting preschool this year.

We've enrolled her in the local Head Start program which I have heard nothing but awesome good things about, but we won't know whether or not she'll get to go until the end of August.  It's free preschool (although this one in particular seems to be pretty amazing), so it just depends on whether or not there are kids out there who are more eligible than Olivia.  If there are, I'm happy to have them take her spot.  But if she gets in, well, that would be jawsome.

We knew that we would be playing the last-minute waiting game when we signed her up and there's really nothing I can do about it.  Some things are like that.  We all have examples.  I used to want control over situations like this.  I used to want information, finality, answers.  I'm not a very patient person, but when it comes to waiting on things you have no control over, I think I've gotten just a smidgen better about dealing with it over the years.  As August creeps closer and closer, I haven't been worrying about whether or not she'll get in, I've just been wondering a lot about it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oh no! It's already out there! (Thoughts on seeing your ideas elsewhere)

For the past few months I have thought a lot about ideas and whether or not the ideas I have are "mine."  After all, I do a ton of reading about sewing every single day and in the midst of all that of course I learn a lot of new things and find myself inspired by others' designs.  We all do that.  And we should!  I so appreciate and enjoy learning from others.

And then there are the non-sewing-community sewing ideas I get.  Just yesterday I was compelled to sew up this this little stack of beanbags for a preschool activity swap I'm participating in with some of my local friends.  The idea to sew the beanbags was about as un-original as ideas come.  The instructions for the activity and how to assemble it came all together on a piece of paper that my friend handed to me.  Do this, do that, put it in the bag, make sure the label is put on exactly such and such a way.  This was about as far from a moment of epiphany as you could possibly get.

The funny thing is, the instructions for assembling the activity were all there except for one thing: how to sew the beanbags.  They gave me a seam allowance, but no dimensions or (useful) sewing instructions.  This didn't bother me since, ya know, I'm perfectly capable of sewing beanbags of all things, but it did strike me as a little ironic.  Here I was thinking to myself what an easy and un-original project this was, and yet I was having to make it up entirely by myself.  (Well, the beanbag construction anyway.)

To be completely honest, I was relieved that there were no specific instructions because then I could do it my way.  And my way is easy.  And doesn't require hand stitching the little openings shut.  My way rocks.  (Am I allowed to say that?)  I don't remember whether beanbags were on my original list of project ideas to include in my book, but after sewing up 20 of them yesterday and getting the process down to an art, well, let's just say the project is written and on the to-definitely-include list for the book.

And, of course, once I had the project instructions all written down and my "where to put the pins" drawings* all doodled out, I found myself wondering how I ever thought my book could possibly be complete without beanbags.  After all, they really are such a wonderful beginner project--so simple and accessible to inexperienced sewers and so versatile and fun once they're finished.  In fact, when I was learning to sew (as a child) I made quite a few beanbags for exactly those reasons.  I knew they would always turn out.  And isn't that the kind of project we all love?  (The ones that will always turn out, I mean.)

I actually came across a couple of the beanbags I made as a kid when I was sorting through all of my boxes of pre-college things.  Those beanbags are wonky and made from weird fabric and have things like "Hi" stitched onto the front in lopsided lettering.  But you know what?  I still love them just as much now as I did when they were hot off the sewing machine.

So, beanbags.  They're well on their way to being included in the book.  Even though... (dun dun dun) they're anything but a new idea.

Actually, I'd say about half of the projects I'm developing for my book are old ideas and half are new ideas.  Maybe less than half are new ideas.  All of the projects are classic and versatile, so it's really hard to say that any of them are brand-spanking "new."  My entire focus for the book is to share projects that, like the beanbags, are fully functional, as fail-proof** as possible, feature classic, timeless design, and are simple enough to sew that beginners won't feel intimidated, but versatile enough that more experienced sewers will enjoy making their projects truly their own.  Maybe that's a tall order, but the truth is, that description is exactly what I'm after.  These are projects I'm excited to share.  They're so simple, but so well made.  Totally my style.

But, as it turns out, a lot of other people make simple projects too.  And some people even make them in ways that are really similar to the ways I've already thought of.  And some people (gasp!) even think of better ways to make these things.  I admit that it makes me nervous every time I see one of these projects pop up.  "Oh no! It's already out there!"  I feel like a failure, like I'm too late on the scene and my project and its carefully-written instructions are now obsolete and why did I ever want to write a book anyway?

I think we all have moments like that sometimes.  We see something that we thought was "our idea" with somebody else's fingerprints and style all over it and we feel scandalized.  It's hard.  But you know what?  I've decided (and I like to think that I'm right) that seeing a project out there that's similar to our own is not a bad thing.  In fact, I think it's just the opposite.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Pledge of Allegiance (Free printables for home and classroom use!)

There's something I love about the Pledge of Allegiance.  I remember standing up to recite it at the beginning of each school day as a child and feeling moved by the sense of unity and loyalty I felt toward my country and my friends and neighbors.  I'm always moved by that enormous sense of community when I think about our dear old USA.

This is not to say that I think the United States has all the answers or that we do everything right.  Of course every country in this great big world has its own traditions and rules and ideas about how things should be.  And there are plenty of times that I don't agree with the way the big US of A is dealing with things on the whole.  But I think we all (everyone in the world, I mean) try to do our best as we learn and grow.  I think, at the heart of it all, we're a nation of good people who try to work together and help each day be a little better and a little brighter than the one before.  I think we could safely say the same about the people in any nation.  This is a great big world full of so many good, wonderful people doing good, wonderful things.

I've wanted to include reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in our daily preschool routine for a while, but at first I didn't think Olivia was ready.  And then yesterday when I decided to give it a try, well, I'm ashamed to say that I couldn't remember all the words!  Haha.  So today when we said the Pledge of Allegiance I looked it up online so I could make sure I teach it to her correctly.  As a writer, I strongly believe that authors put a lot of purpose in each word (and in the order of each word) and that we owe them the respect of not skipping over words or saying them out of order.  (Not to mention, it probably wouldn't make much sense if it all got jumbled up.)  :)

I also enjoyed reading a little bit of the history behind the Pledge of Allegiance on Wikipedia.  Did you know that it was first published in a children's magazine to help promote a Columbus Day celebration?  Or that it was written in 1892, 400 years after Columbus landed in the Americas?  I don't know nearly enough history and I'm always fascinated by it.

Anyway, to help Olivia (and me) learn the Pledge of Allegiance while we say it during our preschool time together each day, I created a couple of simple printables.

UPDATE: Watch Olivia saying The Pledge of Allegiance all by herself HERE.

One is the full-page printable.

The other printable is the same design, but with 4 per page.  The smaller versions would be great for giving to kids to keep at their desk.

I hope these will be helpful to you parents at teachers as you teach the Pledge of Allegiance in your homes and classrooms during the upcoming school year!

Get the free printables after the jump!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stormy Weather in the Eastern US Right Now (So Scary)

You can't tell from these pictures (that are a little grainy because they were taken on my iPod), but there is stormy weather out here right now and it is scary.  Please keep the Eastern United States in your prayers tonight.  There are going to be a lot of people without power.  A lot of trees falling.  Tornadoes.  (Though they're not supposed to come our way, thank goodness.  I hope.)  There have already been reports of ping pong ball sized hail (update: golf ball sized) and huge trees falling down and thousands without power.  These storms are so scary.

Bryan just came down while I was writing this and told me that the rain is almost gone here already.  Thank heavens.  But I know this storm is much, much worse elsewhere.  There will surely be terrible stories to come.  So please pray for those in the path of this storm.  It's much less scary in the comfort of our own home (especially since we have a basement and we still have power right now), but I'm sure there are thousands of people out driving in it and it is hellishly scary.  I know.

Mom, please stop praying that we'll move back west.  These storms just might be convincing enough.

Sigh.  Anyway.  Weather can be so scary and so fickle.  Think happy, hopeful thoughts for the thousands who are living that reality right now.

And, on a happier note...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What to Give A 3 year-old (Fun gifts both kids and parents will love)

Okay, so maybe this post would be better titled, "What to give my 3 year-old," but I feel like most of these gift ideas are versatile and loved by 3 year-olds across the board (boy or girl), so hopefully this will be a post full of helpful ideas for gifts that are sure to be well-loved rather than a birthday order for the soon-to-be 3 year-old around these parts.

By way of disclaimer, these ideas are my own.  This post isn't sponsored.  And I can't speak for every mother out there.  (Heck, I can't speak for anyone other than myself, period.)  So, you know, take that for what it's worth.  

And before grandparents (I can think of two sets in particular--haha) start gearing up for the argument that they ought to be able to spoil their grandchildren with whatever they want, let me say this: I totally agree.  Any gift giver ought to be able to give whatever it is they want to give, whether it be something handmade or store-bought, noisy or educational, physical or experiential.  Gifts are always best when given in love and enthusiasm and that is definitely the way they come from grandparents around here.  And when a gift may come that we don't particularly love (Thank you, dear sister of mine, for the really annoying monkey toy you gave Olivia when you came to visit), it's important to accept them graciously anyway.  Because, after all, it really is the thought that counts.  And it's awesome to have people thinking of you (and your children).

But maybe you're just plain not sure what to give the 3 year-old on your list.  Maybe you've never had a 3 year-old.  Maybe your children popped out at age 4 and this whole 3 thing is new to you.  Or maybe you're just tired of buying toys off the shelf and hoping the kid will like it and their parents won't think daggers about you every time that stupid song comes on again.  If that's the case, then hopefully you'll get a few good ideas here today.

Okay, let's rock this thing.

1. Experiences

My #1 absolute favorite thing for people to give my daughter are fun, cool experiences.  These are usually more expensive to give, but they certainly don't have to be.

Here are a few ideas for giving experiences:

  • Passes to the local zoo
  • Passes to the local children's museum
  • Tickets to a sporting event you know the kid likes
  • Tuition for a fun class (art, dance, piano, etc.)
  • Enrollment in a sports team (soccer, t-ball, etc.)
  • A trip together into the city
  • A coupon for a play date at your house or the park sans Mom and Dad (free!)

2. Coins

I don't know about you, but I have yet to meet a 3 year old who doesn't love playing with coins.  There's something about those tiny little pieces of metal that just feels special to little kids.

Here are some fun and simple ways to give coins:

  • Get a roll of pennies (they come in 50 cent rolls at the bank) and tie a balloon to it.  Happiest kid ever.
  • Collect the random coins from the bottom of your purse, add in a piggy bank from the dollar section at Target, and you're all set.  But, hey, let the kid put the coins in by themselves.
  • Get a roll of quarters (they come in rolls of $10 from the bank) and give them with the intent that they'll be used for those sketchy rides (see above photo) at the mall.  The kid will love it and it's a great indoor activity/sanity break for Mom and Dad.
  • Put some coins in a zipper pouch.  Then let the kid open the pouch and take the coins out and put them back in and zip it up and do it over and over again as many times as they want.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hug a Manatee

Hugging a manatee makes everybody happy.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

DIY Mini Envelopes: Free Printable Pattern & Tutorial

Lately Bryan and I have been having fun leaving tiny little notes for Olivia in her mini mailbox.  (You may have noticed this in my recent post about how we're doing preschool these days.)  Well, I wanted to put the fun little letters in some equally charming miniature envelopes, so I whipped up a template and got busy!

Olivia has been over the moon about finding all this mail in her own personal little mailbox.  And who wouldn't?  We all love a fun, cheery piece of mail.  And when it comes in miniature, well, all the better!

Click below for the full photo tutorial and free printable!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My 5 Minute Conversation With the Doctor

A couple weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and made an appointment with my doctor, you know, just in case. I was pretty sure that the appointment would go one of two ways:

  1. I would start bawling and make a total fool of myself.
  2. He would tell me we wouldn't really do anything until it had been a full year.

The appointment was today and, well, let's just say it was tear-free and pretty anti-climactic.

I really like my doctor.  He's a super nice, thoughtful guy.  And sometimes his excessive use of euphemisms makes me laugh.  I'm all for not wanting to talk about... you know... that..., but, seriously, we both know that's what the appointment is about, so just spit it out already.  Anyway, after a 30 minute battle-turned-phone-conversation with the receptionist and my health insurance and a 20 minute wait, I had a the 5 minute conversation with my doctor which left me with a strange mixture of feelings.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Simple & Effective Daily Preschool At Home

With fall just around the corner and back-to-school coming up soon, now is a great time to start planning and preparing for at-home preschool time with your kiddo(s)!  Taking a look at our simple and effective daily preschool routine is a great way to get started if you're new to doing preschool activities with your kids.  And if doing preschool at home is old hat now, then you'll probably enjoy seeing our approach.  I always learn so much when I hear about how others do preschool time at home with their kids.  It's fun to hear about what others do.  It's so motivating and it always gives me a host of great ideas.  I hope this post will be helpful to you in that way too!

Doing "preschool" at home can mean a variety of different things to different people.  To some, it may mean getting together with friends to do little crafts or activities together.  (We've done that!)  To others it may mean following a curriculum and working toward mastering specific skills or learning certain things.  Or maybe for you, doing preschool at home just means making a conscious effort to do educational activities with your child.  I definitely don't think there's a right or wrong answer when it comes to what works best because that depends on you and your child (or children).  

Some Halloween preschool activities we did last year--see HERE for details
In the past we've done "preschool" a few days a week with friends, with each mom taking a turn.  Olivia had a blast doing that and it worked really well at the time, but seasons change and that kind of preschool is kind of over for us (at least for now).  

When that round of preschool ended, I thought maybe Olivia and I would be ready to take a break from a schedule and sit-down time and just enjoy a few months in the sun.  Not that I wouldn't help her learn along the way, but I just thought she'd enjoy a learn-on-the-go approach.  I know that a lot of kids thrive on learning about things as they play outside and I thought Olivia would enjoy it.

Olivia coloring some of our Valentine's Day Cards -- Get the free printable HERE
Well, she does enjoy that, but it does not fill her educational bucket.  When preschool with friends ended, Olivia kept asking to do preschool every. single. day.  We were gone on trips a lot, so I did my best to quiet her requests while we were gone, but once we were home for good I knew it was time to revamp our routine and get back into the habit of doing some kind of preschool time every day.

So far what we've been doing for the past few weeks has been a roaring success, so I thought I'd take a moment to share the details of our current preschool routine today.  I'll also try and touch on some of my method to this program (if you can even call it a program--it's not a program so much as a routine) and why I chose to focus on the things in our daily preschool schedule.

Obviously our preschool routine is not the best thing out there or perfect for every family.  But right now it's perfect for Olivia and it's a good fit for my attention span for the activities she loves most.  So hopefully hearing about our approach to at-home preschool will be helpful to you as you make your own plans for at-home toddler education.

Alright, let's go!  It's time for preschool!  :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Communicating and Waiting

I've been thinking a lot lately about how Heavenly Father communicates with me.  When it comes to having more children join our family and what that means for my body, I've had a number of distinct impressions, and some of them seem downright contradictory.  The other evening after a particularly hard, emotional day, I skipped dinner and left Bryan and Olivia downstairs while I went up to our room to take a nap.  It was a nap I really needed--both physically and emotionally--but, before I fell asleep, I laid there in bed with my arms folded in prayer almost as much as in defiance as I prayed my ranting prayer to Heavenly Father, listing off the myriad of things that were wrong and unfair and demanding an answer of him to all of my questions right then and there.

Of course, no answers came.  I think the whole scene would be something akin to an angry teenager storming in to a parent and yelling at them about any number of perceived injustices, demanding answers, and then breaking down right then and there.  And, like any wise parent, Heavenly Father didn't reprimand me in the middle of my acutest pain.  He stood there, silent sentinel over me while I broke down.  Not answering questions, but not about to let any more harm get in my way that day either.

I think all too often we feel offended by a silent answer.  But sometimes, though we often recognize it much later, a silent answer is so much more what we need than words or feelings or promises.

Sometimes Heavenly Father communicates that way.  Through silence.  And yet, other times he communicates in a way that is so straightforward that it almost gives you tingles down your spine.  Most answers and comfort come in tiny little pieces that make sense all together later, but don't seem all that complete at the time.  But then, every now and then, Heavenly Father whispers to us or puts a distinct impression in our mind, we do it, and we immediately reap the benefits and understand the meaning.

This happened to me a couple of days ago.  I'm in the middle of reading a book, so usually when I go to the bathroom, I sneak my book in with me for a few quiet minutes of reading all by myself.  But this time I didn't take my book in with me.  And on those times I don't bring my book in, I usually flip through Popular Science or Martha Stewart Living or another magazine that has lots of little blippets that I can read through quickly in the 2.5 seconds it actually takes me to go to the bathroom.

But this time, when I sat down and considered my choices, I felt distinctly impressed to open up the Ensign (a magazine published by our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  Just to open it up and the article I was supposed to read would be right there.  Usually the Ensign isn't my first choice because the content is a lot deeper and the articles are longer than in the other magazines, but the impression I had was so distinct that I searched through the magazines until I found the current Ensign.  I opened it up and knew at once that what I had felt impressed about was exactly what had just happened.  I opened up right to the article entitled, "Waiting On The Lord."

What I've Decided To Do

So, I've been totally shocked by the number of you fans out there who seem to be devastated that I'm not selling the handmade buttons anymore.  In fact, all that's left of my huge back stock are two lonely little sets of black buttons.  Maybe you guys are all under some awesome illusion that I'm really cool and that I sell an endless stream of things in my Etsy shop, but that's totally not true.  

In fact, one of the main reasons I decided to stop selling the handmade and vintage items in my shop is because the listings were expiring before the items were bought and I was getting tired of paying to re-list them over and over again when they weren't moving.  I figured the initial hype was gone and nobody was all that interested anymore.  But, well, I'm happy to be wrong about that.  :)

So, while I'm still not really into paying unnecessary listing fees, I don't want you all to fall into some kind of terrible, deep depression just because I said I wouldn't be making/selling my handmade buttons anymore.  Guys, don't be depressed.  We can still be friends!  We can make this work!  And the way I've decided to make it work--to make it be worth my time and be a good deal for you lovely, lovely button lovers--is to do it the following way.

You can now purchase custom orders of my handmade buttons with a minimum purchase of $20 in product.*  The cost for each of the different buttons is as follows:
  • $2 per set of 4 1/2" buttons with dotted edge
  • $2 per large scallop button
  • $2 per large round button
*This $20 does not include the shipping fees.

These prices are lower, by the way, so you should be pretty psyched about that.  :)

You can order whatever mixture of 1/2" button sets, large scallop buttons, and large round buttons you'd like as long as that mixture adds up to no less than $20 (i.e. at least 10 sets and/or large buttons).  Turn around time will also be longer since I'll be making the buttons to order instead of keeping a back stock of them, just FYI.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ball Of Clay To Buttons (a few extra purples in the shop)

So, this crazy thing happened.  Last night I finally did what my gut instinct has been telling me to do for a while now--I discontinued the handmade stuff in my shop.  So I marked it all down to 50% off and then--this is the crazy part--people started snatching it all up like crazy.

(I know, I know, I've used the word "crazy" too many times already.  But whatevs.  That's what it is to me.  Crazy.)

You guys would be really unimpressed with me if I told you how often I usually sell items from my shop.  Unless we were talking about today.  I'm not gonna lie, I'm kind of blown away.  Not only by all of your enthusiasm, but also by your love and support.  There's something uber flattering about having people buy things I've made with these own two plain-Jane little hands of mine.  So a big thanks to all of you who bought things today and made me feel like a cool kid for 24 hours.  You rock.

Something else shop-related that happened was that three different people bought the same set of purple buttons at exactly the same time.  I kid you not.  I was sitting at my computer working on... uhh, I honestly don't remember... and then I got 3 e-mails at the same time, all placing their orders for a set of these little purple buttons.  The problem is, I only had one set left.

Shop Update: Goodbye Handmade & Vintage Goodies -- 50% off while they last!

Hey friends!  I've been thinking about it for a long time and I've finally decided only sell digital items (i.e. PDF sewing patterns and printables) in my shop!  It's been a lot of fun making and collecting all of the handmade and vintage items and I've really enjoyed it, but I'm ready to move on to other things.  

I'll continue to sell these things in my shop at 50% off either until they're gone* or until the listings on Etsy expire, whichever comes first.  So if you've been eyeing those buttons all this time, it's now or never!

*I do still have a small back stock of buttons, so I'll continue to re-list them until they're gone.  If you want to buy them in bulk, let me know before you buy and I'll set up a custom order for you.

UPDATE: All quantities are now listed in the product listings, so you can buy as many as you like of each item without having to check quantities with me first.  Happy shopping!  :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Clothespin Number Game (a simple tutorial for a great preschool activity)

The other day when my friend Brittany and I were out on a walk we got to talking about preschool stuff and started swapping ideas.  Later that evening I got an e-mail from Brittany saying she had already gotten busy making some fun preschool games for her daughter who's the same age as Olivia.  

One of the things she made was a little clothespin number game.  She described it to me (although, to be honest, I have no idea if it looks like the one I made today) and it sounded simple enough.  It also sounded like a great activity that Olivia would enjoy, so today I made a set for Olivia to play with.

This activity focuses on the following areas:
  • Number recognition
  • Number order
  • Counting
  • Fine motor skills

It's especially fitting for Olivia right now because we've been working on the teens (13, 14, 15, etc.) lately and this activity is good reinforcement there.

Want to make and use your own?  Get the full tutorial after the jump!

The Truth Lately

The truth is, I've been feeling kind of down lately.  Making my Big Five a priority every day has definitely helped in lifting my spirits and keeping me on track.  Part of the reason I chose those things to be a daily priority is because they are five things that always make me feel happy, proud of myself, and satisfied being just who I am.

And, for whatever reason, Olivia and I have been getting along better these past couple days than we have in a long while.  Not that we don't get along, but Olivia is very much a daddy's girl and usually spends the day telling me she wants her daddy.  Of course my 2 1/2 year old doesn't mean to hurt my feelings, but hearing "I don't want you, I want somebody else who's more fun" all day every day can wear on a person.  So having her want to play with me and be happy to be with me and want to sit on my lap to read stories and having her come cuddle up with me of her own accord has made daily life so, so sweet.  She's my daughter and she's little and I'll always love her no matter what, but having her embrace daily life with me lately has made us both really happy I think.

For a long time I resented (directed at myself, not at her) the way I constantly felt like I was just doing everything I could to get through the day.  And I haven't felt that way at all these past couple days.  It's been amazing.  This afternoon we made cookies together and for the first time I didn't feel overwhelmed and irritated by her desire to be involved in every single little part of it.  I try to be a good mom and I do my best to do what I feel is right for Olivia, but one person in a two-person relationship can only do so much.  Spending my days with Olivia has always been a blessing that I treasure, but lately it has felt more like a joy than it did before.  I feel like you'll look down on me for saying that maybe Olivia didn't like me so much before.  But there it is.  And, luckily, that strangeness seems to be melting away.  Good riddance, I say, to whatever it was.  I sure love my sweet girl.  All the more when she's a little more loving in return.

Still, with all of this extra goodness and renewed productivity, it's hard to keep the background of my mind from buzzing with all the unanswered questions that I carry in my pocket.  It may be that I'll be pregnant soon and we'll end up having twelve kids and we'll all just laugh about this later.  But right now, it's hard.

I've had so many (too many) close friends and family who have struggled with infertility.  And while I'm sure I've been obnoxious and oblivious plenty of times throughout the years, I also really feel like I do my best to be caring and empathetic to their trials.  I can put myself in someone else's shoes and see that the road they're on isn't easy.  I do whatever I can to help them and ease their pain.  And maybe there's some shallow part of me, deep down in there somewhere, that's said all these years, "If you do everything you can for them, there's no way it'll ever happen to you."  Sometimes it doesn't seem quite real that I'm struggling so much with what's going on (or rather, what's not going on) with pregnancy.  I've always been empathetic.  But I never really wanted to know first-hand what it felt like.  I'd rather just be the friend of somebody with that problem.  But here I am.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Interview: R & E

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know I have a soft spot (okay, a really soft spot) for my friends who are waiting to adopt. Maybe I'm a bit of a broken record when it comes to doing anything and everything I can to spread the word about them in the hopes that some good will come of it. But I intend to be a broken record and keep spreading the word until these dear friends of mine are finally able to adopt a sweet child of their own.

Richard and Emily have been married for 5 years and, after a difficult medical diagnosis and a lot of prayer, decided that adoption is just right for their family. And they've been working on adopting ever since! So, to help spread the word and help you get to know these wonderful friends of mine, we recently conducted a little interview. Read it below! There just might be a few good YouTube videos in it for you. :)

And if you feel so inclined (and I sure hope you do), it would be really awesome if you'd share a link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, etc. to help spread the word. When it comes to adoption, every kind thought and gesture counts. So thanks in advance for your love and kindness!

And now I give you... Richard and Emily!

Monday, July 9, 2012

On My Mind & My Big Five

pretty rocks at the corner of the raised garden bed at my parents' house

Over the years, I've realized that I blog less when I have a lot on my mind.  And lately I have had a lot on my mind.  Everything from today's to-do lists and how much confidence I currently have about writing my book to if and when we'll have more children and where we'll live when Bryan graduates in just a few short years.  It's not that I feel worried (or even upset).  It's just a lot to think about.

Still, I'm excited to get back into my regular groove with sewing and blogging and all that jazz.  I've got a quick and easy (and really cute) little tutorial in the works that will hopefully be up and ready sometime this week.  I've just got to stop doodling all over it and actually sit down to take pictures.

So as much as I hate it when bloggers say, "I have a lot I'm working on and I'll show it to you soon, but not yet," well, that's kind of where I'm at right now.  So I hope you'll forgive me and still be friends anyway.  In the mean time I'll try not to keep writing too many posts on pregnancy (or the lack thereof) and random travels.  We really are home now (really) and I have every intention of trying to actually get things done during the day again.

Want proof?  You know I'm really into goals, right?  So yesterday I sat down and decided on My Big Five.  (Okay, so I just made that up.)  It's the five things I definitely want to get done every day.  And, coincidentally, five things that make me really happy and proud of myself when I do them every day.

Friday, July 6, 2012

An update in 8 minutes or less

Make that 7 minutes or less.  We're in a babysitting group and, sadly, it's our turn to do our duty and watch a bajillion kids while everyone else goes on dates.  Thank goodness for every other weekend in the month when it's our turn to par-tay.  Anyway, they'll be here soon, so I've only got a few minutes, but after all the craziness of the past month, I wanted to give you all a (really quick, apparently) update.  Here we go...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Making the most of your pre-made pie crust (A mini tutorial)

Last night some of our good friends invited us over for a good old fashioned 4th of July barbecue this evening.  Mmm-mm!  My friend told me what was on the menu and I asked if there was anything I could bring.  She said anything was fine, so when we went to the grocery store yesterday we settled on chips (I know, so original and gourmet) and cherry pie.

I like to think that I make a pretty mean pie crust, but with the temperature in the 90's, the thought of slaving over pie crust just didn't appeal to me.  So instead we picked up some pre-made pie crust at the grocery store.  Did you know they sell that?  I honestly had no idea pre-made pie crust even existed until my sister asked me to pick some up for her a few years ago.

Now, admittedly, pre-made pie crust is okay, but it's definitely lacking that special something.  Maybe that something is just an excess of butter, but I'd like to think it has something to do with the labor of love that goes into making a huge mess with flour on the kitchen counter.  But just because your kitchen isn't covered in flour doesn't mean you can inject a little love into that pie.

Here's what I did with ours...

Prep the crust
1. Buy pie crusts (they come in a pack of 2) and pie filling.  We went for cherry pie, so I bought 2 cans of cherry pie filling.  One can just isn't enough.  Unroll one pie crust and lay it out in the pie pan.  Top with both cans of pie filling.

2. Unroll the second pie crust and use a pizza cutter or knife to cut it into 1/2" wide strips.

3. Make an egg wash (see below) and spread it over the top of the cut pie crust.

4. Brush egg wash onto the edges of the filled pie crust.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Ocean

The ocean is big.  Ever-changing and yet so constant; there it is.  We always know exactly where to find it when we go looking, don't we?  The tide goes in and out, but the shore is always there, the great jumping off point.  Waiting for us.

Each and every one of us has an ocean, I think, but I'm not talking about water.  For each of us there is that something, huge and immense, yet tangible and real, that we think about every day, whether we're standing there in front of it or not.  Something we've been working toward for as long as we can remember.  Wanting, wishing, dreaming.  That thing.  Secret in the depths of our hope and huge.

This, so often, is how I feel about writing my book.  The goal that has always been there--always--and yet it looms there, right in front of my face--looking, at times, impossibly vast.  There are so many "what if?"s that it sometimes drives me to doubt and worry.  Of course I worry about not getting published, about none of it working out after all my hard work.  It's hard to look at the ocean, even in all its beauty and opportunity, and not have a real sense of the damage it can do.  The possibility there is for failure.

But the more I plug away at things, little by little, day by day, I find myself looking at that limitless horizon without quite as much fear in my heart as there was before I ever started to try at all.  Yes, there's a line drawn on the horizon and I can't see what's beyond it from where I am right now.  But that doesn't mean I shouldn't take the next step.  At some point you've got to get your feet wet.  At some point you've got to look yourself in the face and say, "This is real.  I am doing this."  And even if I go down trying, I'll still be proud of myself, just for trying at all.

The more I buck up and confess out loud that I'm working on a book, the more serious conversations I have with people about it.  And the thing that several people have said to me lately is this:

So many people think about writing a book, but hardly anyone actually does it.  It's huge that you're doing it.

While I don't think that those encouraging, empowering words guarantee me a publishing deal, I do think they're true.  So many people dream about doing things, big things, even.  But so many of us talk ourselves out of our dreams.  To you, my fellow dreamers, I say this: your dreams don't have to be impossible.  It doesn't have to be this or that.  Family or work.  Femininity or fierce effort.  Some dreams are big and some are small.  But all good dreams are possible.  And you wouldn't be you without those dreams.  I know I wouldn't be me without mine.