Life's Little Details: Knitting, Sewing, Green Living, Frugal Living and Cooking In A Little Corner of Southern French Countryside.

Monday, April 30, 2007


We had a fun-filled weekend. We were invited to a party at the home of another vintner who has been a friend of my husband's since he was a kid. It ended up being a potluck, so we tried all sorts of interesting dishes. I made what turned out to be the fastest dessert I've ever made. It was based on a recipe labeled "fast" in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It should have been made with corn syrup, peanut butter, brown sugar and puffed rice cereal. I didn't have half of those ingredients, so I substituted wheat syrup (because I've never seen corn syrup here), chocolate and corn flakes. It turned out quite well and took a whole ten minutes to prepare. I'd show you what it looked like, but it was all eaten up at the party.

The two older Lambchops and I got to wear some new clothes to the party, too. I wore my new wrap skirt and kimono shirt and felt very pretty the whole evening (which is quite a feat when you're sporting a post-pregnancy body like mine). Lambchop #1 wore a dress that used to be mine. It was always very much a mini-dress on me. I altered the torso section of the dress, and she looks great in it as a long dress. I think she felt very pretty, too. She certainly looked pretty to me.

Lambchop #2 wore a pair of jean shorts I made him. I actually cut out the fabric for these last year but never got around to sewing them, so imagine my surprise when I found they still fit him. I was thinking I'd have to make them girly and give them to his littler cousin. My husband tells me they are so plain, they look homemade. I think he might be right. I could add some contrasting stitching here and there to spice them up a little. I may actually do that, because the side pockets could use some reinforcing.

On a totally unrelated side note, I love this picture of him. His little girlfriend from school is hiding behind him in the background. We were at school on Saturday morning to watch a show put on by Lambchop #1's class. Later, he went out to the playground to play with some of the kids from his class whose parents opt to send their kids to school Saturday mornings (School is optional on Saturday mornings at their age, but it becomes mandatory in elementary school - they get Wednesdays off, though.) Anyway, he and this little girl adore each other, and it just cracks me up to see them together.

And, one last, great tidbit from the party that I don't have a picture of...

I saw my husband dance for the first time. This is something I've never witnessed before, because every time we go to a wedding or some other party, we've got small children who conveniently impede such activities. This party was what they call a Balfort (not sure about the spelling there), which comes from the local endangered language of Occitan. It's basically a party featuring Occitan folk music and dances. The music sounds very Celtic to me, and it involves a lot of dancing where everyone dances together in a circle or in two lines facing each other. At one point, there weren't enough men for the dance, so they asked him to do it. He appeared to have fun, and I took this as a sign that I should be the one to drive home.

He did a couple of different dances with everyone. One of them was a circle dance, where you switch partners each time you make a turn around the room. It was fun to watch. He looked quite a bit like a he was playing rugby and ready to catch a ball at any moment. I didn't take pictures, though, because I figured if I made fun of him, he might never dance with me if and when we're ever at a party or wedding without babies in tow. The funniest part of it all was the fact that Lambchop #2 seemed to have really gotten the gist of all the dancing. Daddy came over breathless and sweating after that circle dance. Our son looked up at his father and said, "So, you've danced with all the ladies now, Daddy?" Perceptive little guy, isn't he?

And lastly:

As I type this, Lambchop #3 is experimenting with maneuvering her way around the room by sliding around on her tummy backwards. She pushes backwards with her arms and moves around in reverse. She just hit the laundry basket, though, so she'll be stuck unless she figures out a way out of there. That's a funny age.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

It Fits (And She likes It)!

I think maybe she's practicing her circus routine or something for this picture. I don't know. All I know is that chocolate Easter egg in her mouth makes her look like a chipmunk. Anyway, the good news is my efforts weren't in vain. She seems to like it. She looks cute in it, at least.

And, next up is a pair of shorts I made for the baby. I did this last weekend but she dirtied them before I could get the evidence. You can tell from these two projects that I've been playing with the decorative stitches on my machine.

This pair of shorts started out as my t-shirt. It first became a badly-designed skirt for the big girl. Through all this, I left the original hem intact. I just used a particular stitch along the edge of the fabric to get the scallops. Then, I put some elastic thread in the bobbin and sewed a couple of straight lines to make it gather a bit around the leg. Tada! Quickie bloomers. I like this style and will probably try it again soon.

Here's the full view (but you don't see the shorts much):

Tonight, I put together some jean shorts I had cut out for my boy last summer. He couldn't sleep, so he sat next to me and watched a while. I had him test a leg partway through to see if they might fit, and I think I may get lucky there. They're all ready for him to wear tomorrow morning.

And, one last little picture to please the fambly. I find it funny how we all look like we're sprouting up out of the bed sheets. Too bad my arms aren't longer. I could have gotten all of my munchkins in the picture with me.

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Circus, Circus

Lambchop #1 went to circus school this year with her class. They spent a week learning all kinds of acrobatics. Then, they came back and spent lots more time practicing to put on a circus for the parents. That's happening tomorrow. I got the invitation a few days ago, but with all the sick kids and other messes, I seem to have misplaced it without ever getting the chance to read it. I had the hubbie check with the teacher to find out what time it will be tomorrow. Good thing, too, because he also learned she needed to wear either something blue or something red. This is a five-year-old girl we're talking about. If it's not pink or purple, it doesn't get worn. So, why would we have any blue outfits lying around here?

Wait a minute! This gives Mommy the perfect excuse to make something on the sewing machine. Good thinking. In fact, I've got plenty of blue shirts from my drab phase. I'm trying to get rid of them all, anyway, so I pulled out a particularly blah one and got to work on it. Here's the end result. One long-sleeved t-shirt gave me this entire outfit.

The pants are made of the sleeves. I just laid a pair of capris pants down on the sleeve and was happy to see they were just the right length and width. Then, I cut the crotch seam area and left the side seams and hem intact. That meant I only needed to make a waistband.

The shirt comes from the body of the original t-shirt. I kept one side seam and the hem again. I realized later that the original shirt dipped lower in the center of the bottom hem than on the side (curved hem), and this meant that one side of Lambchop's shirt hem is higher than the other. I'm going with the words "design detail" to explain this. Those asymmetrical hem-lines are all the rage at the moment, anyway.

Then, all that was left was to add the scallopy stuff on the hems, collar and armholes to make it more feminine and something she'll be more likely to wear after this circus show, too. I figure, if nothing else, she'll have a new pair of pjs for the summer.

I'm all excited about how well it turned out and can't wait to see her in it. It was very cheap, considering the original shirt is a man's shirt that I had picked up for next to nothing after Lambchop #1 was born. I don't remember what I paid for it, but it wasn't much, because I remember it was on clearance and I refused to pay much back then for clothes that wouldn't fit me for very long since I was sure I'd lose that pregnancy weight some time. Considering how much use I got out of that shirt myself, the whole outfit basically only cost me whatever amount of thread I used, plus the bit of elastic for the waistband, both of which I had on hand. I think it took me a maximum of 2 1/2 hours to make it all from start to finish. It could have been much faster, but the scallops take a while to sew. In my opinion, they are well worth the time and effort for the effect they give, though.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

My New Home

First off, please excuse the picture. I realize it's not so great. The bathroom is not exactly tidy (you see where I still need to install a little curtain under the sink to hide our diaper changing supplies), and I don't have a full-length mirror, so you're looking at what I see when I look out the bathroom window at night. It's not a bad substitute for a mirror, really, but it's not ideal. Anyway, on to my new home.
I know what you're thinking. "Didn't she just move a few months ago?" Well, we didn't move, but I've got a new home. It's this outfit. Seriously, I could live in it. I love it that much. I spent my day designing the skirt and making both pieces yesterday. I even wore it out last night. I feel so comfortable and feminine in it. It was good to wear it out, too, because I got to see some of its flaws, which I fixed tonight. The shirt needed to be taken in a bit at the waist to show that I do actually have some curves, even if I am a little overweight after the last pregnancy. And, somehow I had reversed one of the skirt's panels and sewn it in backwards. Oops. The grain wasn't going the right way, so I fixed that tonight.

I love everything about this outfit. It's light and summery. The skirt is made of some linen fabric I've had around for quite some time. I meant to make some pants and a shirt with it. I even bought the pattern to do it, but that was back when I first learned how to sew, and I accidentally bought a pattern that was too small for me. I'm sure I could tweak it to get it to come out my size, but I've wanted a skirt like this for a long time. It's just such a flattering style and so feminine, and the wrap idea was something I added when I saw how easy it would be to make a wrap skirt. I'm pleased with how perfectly it fits. It's a very comfortable style.

The shirt is made of a thrifted sheet. I bought six different sheets for 2 euros one day, and I've been playing with the cheap fabric ever since. This particular one was the sheet I liked the most when I first saw them. Some of the others have grown on me more and more, so now it's a toss-up. This one is actually the one that gave me the idea for a wrap shirt in the first place. The colors and design (which you can't really see here) reminded me of something a kimono would be made of. So, I got out that nice book I mentioned so many times before and set to work to make myself one.

All in all, this project was a great experience. I learned many things along the way. Of course, I learned to make patterns, which is no small feat. I also learned to do a blind hem, and I improved at least slightly with sewing a straight line, which is way harder than one would suspect. I also learned to adjust the fit of a garment, which will be handy if I ever find any shirts or skirts I'd like to modify. Good fun - all of it.

Oh, and just for a little more fun... look who Lambchop #1 and I caught peeking in our kitchen door this afternoon. Yes, the window needs to be cleaned (it's got hard-to-remove-gunk left on it after the house was built), but look at him. Cute, huh? This one was actually kind of small compared to others I've seen around here. I'm not sure what he was interested in up there, but he sat up nice and pretty to pose for the picture.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Good Sick Day

Normally, Lambchop #1 can be very whiny when she's sick. Being sick seems to really knock her out, so she's generally miserable. She woke up this morning feeling a lot better than last night, but I tested her ear by tugging lightly on it. Her "ouch" told me she'd better go to the doctor today. So, I kept her home and made an appointment. Daddy's got an earache, too, so I sent him along with her. While waiting for him to get ready, Lambchop #1 and I made a little shirt I had promised to paint with her long ago. At the time, she wanted to paint a princess on the front, but today, she was in the mood for a house with a little person next to it.

What took me so long was trying to decide how to go about painting on fabric. The paints are supposed to be used for that purpose, but I tried them out on a pair of plain white panties with less than satisfactory results. I then decided some kind of template would be best. I don't have any butcher paper, and I don't even know where you could get any here in France, so that wasn't an option. That's when I decided on this cardboard cut-out method. The t-shirt itself is pinned to a piece of cardboard to hold it in place and to hold it taut.

After pinning the shirt down, I had her draw the house and sun and person another piece of cardboard. Then, I cut the larger pieces out and we colored on them with the paints. Then, we held the painted pieces onto the fabric and pressed down and pulled them off when the paint looked good on the shirt. She then drew in the sun's rays. I saw how hard it was for her to control the paint tube while trying to squeeze hard enough to make the paint come out, so I did the flowers and the person, trying my hardest to be faithful to her own representation of them on the cardboard.

It was definitely a fun little project to do with her on a day when Lambchop #2 wasn't home and while Lambchop #3 was napping. It's rare for me to get any time alone with Lambchop #1. As is often the case with the oldest child, I feel like she feels a little swept aside at times when she wants us to "take care of her" just like we take care of the baby and her less independent younger brother. It can't be easy being the first kid, even though, I admit I wouldn't know, since I was the second and last child in our family.

Let's just hope she will want to wear this shirt with pride when it's all dried.

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Nursing the Masses

I feel like I am living in a nursing home... administering meds at specific hours of the day... people crying out in the night, needing drugs to sedate them and relieve their pain. When will this stop?

We saw the neurologist yesterday, and Lambchop #2's fine. I watched him sleep for about 10 minutes with electrodes all over his head. He was kind of cute and kind of sad to look at. He's just fine, though, and the doc says that based on my description, he most likely fainted out of fear and pain more than the actually bump on the head. That's a huge relief. Fear and pain don't tend to cause brain damage, know what I mean?

I came home relieved, thinking everybody was on the mend. Then, Lambchop #1 came home from school. At first, she was in a good mood. Later, that turned into complaints of an earache. The earache worsened, and even with a mild painkiller (like Tylenol) she was screaming around 10:30 pm. I couldn't calm her, so I called the local doctor-on-call (these people are going to start wondering if we're running a test lab for infectious diseases or something). The lady recommended an antihistamine that we happened to have in the house from when Lambchop #1 had an allergic reaction to Advil (*sigh*). She said that should do the trick of getting any swelling under control to at least relieve the pain for her to be able to sleep. About a half-hour later, the house was blissful silent and I could head off to bed.

Today, we're going to try to continue the fun habit we've gotten into of having at least two doctor's visits per week. Based on the past two weeks, we seem to have a preference for Monday and Tuesday visits. We've even seen two pretty expensive specialists in the past two weeks. When will this end?!?


Monday, April 23, 2007

Hamming It Up

I grabbed Lambchop #1 for a little photo shoot when she got home from school this evening, because she had worn her new outfit today. I worked late into to the night on that shirt (a.k.a. the monkey on my back). What I'm most excited about, though, is that the crotch seam of the pants seemed to hold up finally.

Here are the photos from our shoot. She was in the mood to play around, so I thought I'd show you what a little clown my girl can be.


Sew What!

I've done some extra sewing today. I usually limit myself to a certain amount of fun time on any given day (I have to pretend I'm a housewife and do some actual housewifing, after all). Since it was Sunday, though, I felt like playing more than usual. So, I did a lot of sewing. All in all, I got one pair of cute jersey shorts made for Lambchop #3, hemmed a pair of cut-offs for Lambchop #2 and finally got a huge monkey off my back.

Long ago, I started a little outfit with some cute jeans and a flouncy shirt for Lambchop #1. The pants got finished pretty fast, but they keep getting holes in the seat/crotch area. I was pretty exasperated with them after a while and put them aside for months. The flounces on the shirt gave me some trouble, too, so I put that aside, as well. I finally sewed up the jeans in a way that I think should stay (though, it's getting warm, so she may not use them much). And, since a few months in the life of a 5-year-old can mean growth spurts galore, I figured I'd better finish the shirt, too. She can always wear it with a skirt in slightly warm Spring weather. I didn't get those darn flounces perfect, but I was able to fudge them enough. I just hope the shoulders will be okay, because I always have some trouble with attaching the sleeves. I can't wait to see her in it. The suspense as to whether she's outgrown it already is killing me. Well, at least she has a little sister who'll likely get some use out of it someday, right?

Unfortunately, I can't show you how cute all these things turned out, because the camera is out of batteries. Have to put that on the list of chores for tomorrow.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Table For Twelve, Please.

I mentioned the new kitchen table yesterday. I didn't show you a picture of it, though. There's not a lot to see, really. It's very plain. The best thing about it is the octagonal shape of the table top. The wood is some mystery wood that is in decent shape but not at all ornate. And, once you slip a leaf in to lengthen the table, you're going to want to hide the sucker with a great big table cloth. That's because, apparently, some tables with leaves are done in a nicer wood for the table and a lower quality wood with no finish for the leaves. So, they aren't much to look at, but they're functional. I like them for that, because I feel that way myself sometimes.

Here, I'll show you what I mean:

The part on the left is the normal table top. The part on the right is the leaf. Completely unfinished, but totally functional - like me! The best things about the table are its shape (We like the unconventional around here.), its size (I've estimated it should seat 10-12 people with all three leaves put in), and the price (I paid 80 euros for it). I was very happy with the deal I got at the local consignment shop. It felt like quite the bargain, and I love a good bargain. And, we can actually have people over and all sit at the same table - at the same time! A definite plus. Oh, and I finally got rid of that glass table top. Did I mention how I hated that thing?

Well, while we're showing the thing off, I figure I should give you a look at its legs. We all like a good set of legs, don't we? This is also a somewhat unusual feature it has. Not your usual table legs (ignore the slightly more ornate legs on the right and hiding in the background - those are the used chairs we were given at Christmastime). Pretty, I think. And, even prettier when I think about that price again.

Well, I'm off to make a pair of shorts for Lambchop #3 out of a skirt I made for Lambchop #1 out of a t-shirt of mine I didn't like the fit of. Lambchop #1 never liked the skirt, and she's got plenty, anyway, so she won't miss it. How's that for thrifting? I paid a euro for the shirt, and it's now getting a third life.

Oh, and lastly, thanks for all your sweet and understanding comments about all our recent scares and health struggles. We really are very lucky with our health. I hate to see them sick with the flu and pink eye and things like that. It's exhausting when it happens to all of them back-to-back, but it's nothing compared to what some parents go through when their children have real diseases that cause their lives to constantly hang in the balance. I'm thankful for just your average cold when I think of that. Everyone is currently on the mend. Lambchop #2 seems even healthier than he was before he smacked his head (it's like someone pressed a reset button somewhere, and he was instantly healed of his flu, though he still takes his meds for the hearing issues), and Lambchop #3's pink eye finally seems to be reacting to this last eye drop prescription. Even Daddy seems to be on the mend after a couple of days of bed rest with his flu. I won't mention out loud the fact that I've yet to get it. I just went to bed early last night to try to avoid it the best I can.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

My Sweet Little Lambchop

In light of the events I described in yesterday's post, I thought I'd show my baby's grandparents and aunt and uncle, that he is, indeed, okay. I made him some little cotton shorts by chopping up some t-shirts. He's wearing one in this picture. I wanted to show off the shorts a little, but he wouldn't play my game. He did look so cute lying there, though, that I snapped a shot anyway. I'll show him off instead of the shorts.

When you experience something like what we had happen the other night, it makes you stop and really take a look at your kids. Each one of them is so beautiful and, despite the little annoying things they might do, each one brings such happiness into our lives. I felt like my life had stopped the other night for just the few moments when he wasn't conscious. I keep getting flashbacks, and each time brings tears to my eyes. I feel so lucky to be able to take this picture of him and to see those adorable eyes staring back at me.

And, take a look at that gorgeous baby back there behind him. Isn't she beautiful now that her eye is starting to heal? It appears that this new round of eye drops is the one that'll do it for her. We started them last night, and there was vast improvement in just 24 hours. Now, her eye, though still slightly swollen, is no longer swollen shut and oozing pus. Very good sign.

Poor Daddy is not doing quite as well, though. He spent most of the day in bed with a fever and headache. He's decided that, based on his symptoms, it's the flu they're passing around. Can't that man stop eating after the kids when they're sick? He hates to waste food, so he tends to finish their plates when they don't. When they're sick, I avoid this at all costs. He doesn't, and look what it gets him. Then, of course, he passes it to me, because I can avoid eating off others' plates, but who can stay away from that beautiful man?

While he was down for the count all day, I did some shopping with the big kids. While out, we found a new-to-us kitchen table that we weren't in the market for. I have always hated our table. My husband bought it before I ever had any say in the matter, and I didn't have one when we got hitched, so we kept his. It's a plain pine table from Ikea with a huge glass rectangle in it. I have a passionate hatred for all tables with glass on them. They bring back childhood memories of cleaning the glass tabletop of a coffee table we had. Glass just shouldn't be on tables. It's for windows, and that's that. I've put up with the crumbs that lodge themselves between the glass and the wood for over half a decade, so when I saw a table I liked for cheap, I bought it.

We're really not sure what kind of wood it is. We have very simple tastes in furniture. Not too much adornment. Shaker furniture is lovely. This one is very plain, but it's got an interesting octagonal shape. The best thing, though, is the size. I think with all three leaves in, it could seat 10-12 people. So, with our biggish family and my husband brothers and sisters with all their kids, the bigger the better. I didn't want something that's big all the time, though, so I was very happy to see something that could become a table for four without its leaves. We've currently got one leaf in, and it's the ideal size for our family and our kitchen. The new table cloth I bought last week even fits it just right. It's like it was made for us (only a really long time ago).

Well, in an effort to avoid the flu, I'm off to bed.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

A Swift Kick

Life has been kind of kicking me in the pants lately in the form of back-to-back children's illnesses. I just barely have the time to start to catch my breath (and catch up on household chores) when a new bug creeps into the house. It looked like the kids were working toward a new record in doctor's visits this week, but we've put some off till next week to even things out. Long story slightly shorter...

We went to the doc for Lambchop #2's hearing thing, then the next day we went to his pediatrician for some weird bug he'd come down with over the weekend. While there, I pointed out that Lambchop #3's pink eye that we'd been to another doctor for the previous week just didn't want to go away. He gave her some different eye drops and sent us on our way. Several days of that treatment has her eye looking worse than before. It's really sad, and I want to cry each time I look at her sweet face. So, I called yet a different doctor that we like in our village (the pediatrician is almost an hour away!) who hadn't been in the office the past week. She gave us yet a different medication, and if it doesn't work by Monday, she'll send us off to the ophthalmologist. And, just to round out the week, Lambchop #2 gave me the scare of my life last night....

Both my husband and I were wrestling with the baby to get her eye drops administered when Lambchop #1 came running in to tell me that Lambchop #2 had fallen and bumped his head on our concrete kitchen floor (until now I've loved that floor for its ease of mopping). I ran to see him lying still on the floor on his back. I snatched him up in my arms, and he went limp. Then, his whole body tensed and I looked at his face in horror as he had a seizure in my arms. I screamed what can only be described as a scream from a horror film, which brought my husband bolting in from the bathroom (without the baby - oops!). He took my unconscious and convulsing son from my arms while I dialed the French equivalent of 911 (15, in case you ever need to know - I know the number well now).

While I described the incident to the lady at the call center, my son finally came to (after what seemed like several lifetimes to me but my husband assures me was somewhere just under 30 seconds). I was all ready to do CPR and everything, but luckily it wasn't necessary. He woke up and seemed just fine, although a bit shaken. The rest of us were scared out of our wits, though. Lambchop #1 told me afterward that she thought he was dead. I didn't have the guts to tell her the same thought had temporarily crossed my mind along with a host of other possible outcomes.

The emergency call center's doctor told me to watch him throughout the evening and take him to the emergency room if he vomited. He didn't, and he was even healthier seeming than before his fall. The appetite he had lost earlier this week was suddenly back and begging for cereal... and more cereal. Then, he was off to bed after a trip to the toilet (all without my telling him to). Today he has been perfectly normal, but I called his pediatrician anyway. He was a little concerned at the advice given to me by the emergency call center doc. I guess he would have sent me off to the hospital. So, as a just-in-case measure, we've set up an appointment with a neurologist on Monday to make sure the seizure was just a temporary reaction to his fall. I'm sure he's fine (at least, given his demeanor throughout the day today), but we want to make absolutely certain.

And, of course, to top THAT off, Lambchop #3 has added a cold to her worsening pink eye that made her miserable throughout the night last night and all day today. Needless to say, morale is a wee bit low around here at the moment. I'm just barely holding my head above the dish water as the dishes pile up, and my emotions have me constantly at the edge of a teary drop-off most of the time. There is really nothing like watching your kids suffer. And, the feeling that comes with witnessing one of them lose consciousness and convulse in your arms in indescribable. I wish the experience on no one. It reminds me of a quote I read once: "Having children is like having your heart walking around outside your body." I can't remember who said it, but it couldn't be truer.

And, just so that we don't end this post on a negative note, I'll tell you about my most recent sewing projects (I haven't been doing much knitting lately). Despite the fact that I have had a little bit of trouble concentrating on much of anything since last night's drama, I forced myself to sew a bit before bed, hoping it would relax me. I'm not sure it really worked (not sure anything would have, actually), but I did get some things finished up.

The white tank with blue flowers you see up there was once this dress:

It's obviously not anymore. I hacked it up in an effort to make something that both fit me and didn't make me look like an old lady dressing up as a teenager. I think it worked out alright, and it's really comfy because it's stretchy fabric and lets my shoulders cool off when it's hot.

Oh, Lambchop #3 is calling me (she's just not sleeping well at all this week), quick, quick. A last picture before I go. It's the kimono, criss-crossy shirt on me. Here you go...

I like the way it turned out. It, too, is very cozy. The soft, thin sheet I used to make it was a great choice for a light, airy summer tank. See, so there is a bright side to life around here. Now, at least I have two lovely, very original new tanks to show off at various doctor's offices around town. What more could a housewife ask for?

Some clothes for the kiddos, perhaps? Why, yes, we've got that too. Along with these tanks, I also made two pairs of shorts for Lambchop #2, who didn't have any summer pants given to him among the loads of hand-me-downs we've recently gotten from his aunts. For the fabric, I just chopped up a few t-shirts that were old and ratty or had never fit well but only cost me a buck in the first place. I've still got one pair left to sew, and I'm going to hem a pair of shorts I made from chopping the legs off some hand-me-down pants with holey knees. I also modified one of my old dresses to make a long dress for Lambchop #1 to wear. I think it'll look really sweet on her. You'll see it when she tries it on, I'm sure.

Until then, I'm going to attempt a decent night's sleep. My sweet, over-worked husband just came over from his nap with Lambchop #2 to go to bed. He tells me he's sick and most likely has a fever. I always seem to be the last to get these things. Maybe I should head off to bed to try to head it off for once.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007


It's been so long since I've had any time to even think about blogging that I hardly even know what to say. Blogging just seems like a distant memory in my current life of frequent doctor's visits and administration of children's medicines. I'm so tired of the kids getting sick. Lambchop #2, especially, has been particularly prone to illness these past few months. He's been growing a lot, and I can only assume that has left his body too exhausted to fight off the average bug or bacteria. Not only does he have his hearing issue that we needed to visit a doctor for, but he has also been sick with some other mysterious illness this week. So, we've actually seen two doctors this week. The ear-nose-and-throat specialist says he has about a 30% hearing loss in both ears. So, he's on medications to eliminate the fluids that are causing it. Then, he's been feverish and just generally sick-feeling for several days now. He seems to be getting better, but it just makes me sad to see how sweetly pathetic he looks when he's sick.

And, since we can't go too long with only one person sick around here, Lambchop #3 decided to join in and see if she couldn't out-do him. She's already got a persistent case of pink-eye we're doing a second round of eye drops on, but she has thrown in some fever and congestion to go along with it. This makes for really fun nights of sheet changes at 2 am when she throws up all over the bed because she gags on her own phlegm. So, I'm pretty much exhausted - both physically and emotionally. Honestly, I don't know how people can live through a child's illness. I mean a real one. These little bugs really take it out of me. I can't imagine having a child of mine truly ill. Just one more blessing to count.

And, speaking of blessings, I should count the fact that I can still find some time for myself when the house is quiet after the kids have gone to bed. Normally, that would be when I knit, but I've preferred the relative instant gratification of sewing lately. I've been sewing shirts and curtains every night. So far, I've finished one curtain, one shirt and have two other curtains and another shirt almost finished.

Pictured above is the finished one (Well, I certainly hope Blogger posts the picture. At the moment, it's not showing up in the preview of my post.). I was hoping to find some green bias tape to match the green leaves and stems on the flowers, but I wasn't satisfied with any of the shades of green I found. This orange matched perfectly, though, so I changed colors. I think in all, this shirt cost me about 2 euros. The sheet I used to make it cost me 33 cents, but I've got fabric left over. Then, I spent 2.10 euros on the bias tape and a little money on the thread. So, it probably cost no more than 2.50 euros. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. I really wanted some little sleeves, but the pattern I made wasn't working out with sleeves. I finally gave up and decided it was really cute without them.

I'm also in the process of transforming some old clothes. I went through my drawers yesterday and pulled out things that don't fit anymore. I found some dresses that will look very cute on Lambchop #1 with very little modification, as well as a dress I wanted to redo for myself. It's almost completely refashioned into a tank top. I'll show you that one when I finish it. Lambchop #1 also learned to hand sew Barbie clothes yesterday. I was really happy to see how hard she worked on it, and now Barbie has a lovely new dress that perfectly matches my shirt.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Shirt of My Dreams?

True, most people have a house of their dreams or some car they just can't seem to get out of their minds. I don't really. I love our new home. It's not perfect and isn't even fully finished, but I love it. I don't know if it's really the house of my dreams, though. I don't think I've ever really had one, and if I did, it would have a "breezeway" like my grandparents' house had when I was a kid. I certainly haven't ever really had my heart set on one particular car. A perfectly-fitting shirt, though. That's something worth dreaming about.

I'm what you might call well-endowed (though, the word "cursed" more frequently comes to mind) even when I'm not pregnant or breastfeeding. Each time I have a kid, though, certain parts of my upper body expand. I guess I should consider myself lucky my waistline hasn't really been one of those parts (at least not permanently), but the Pamela Anderson effect caused by some parts growing while others stay the same isn't actually the look I'd like to go for. "Urban Prostitute" just isn't a style that does it for me, you know? All this makes buying clothing a bit of a challenge, especially in a country that is apparently populated with stick-figures.

One of my favorite shirt styles, and one that is said to be figure flattering for us big girls, is the wrap-around shirt. Draws the attention upward toward the face. I think you see what I mean, here. I love these shirts. The problem is that I'm not really a big person all over. There's just that pesky chest region. So, when I get a wrap-around blouse that fits my shoulders and the rest of my torso, it's too tight on the girls, which is hardly flattering. I'd probably have to get into the Women's sizes to fit right around the chest, but then I'm swimming in the rest of the shirt. Needless to say, shopping isn't as fun as it used to be.

So, I've been working on developing my own pattern that should be perfectly suited to my body. I mentioned this book the other day. It's been a huge help. No guess work. Just lots of information on how to do it right. And, once I got the basic bodice pattern down, I am now able to move on to other designs - like that wrap-around shirt I've been wanting. I'm so excited about how it's turning out, I have to mention it now even before finishing it.

Here it is:

This is my practice fabric. It's just an old sheet I got for about 33 cents at the thrift shop the last time I was there. I actually kind of like it, and my worst critic (husband) says it doesn't look like I made a shirt out of a sheet.

So far, I've only had the time to make the fronts. I'll try to get to the back tonight. I am planning to buy some bias tape to do the tie and the edging with. I thought I would use green to bring out the green leaves and stems on the flowers, but we'll see how I like that color when I get ahold of some green. I just wish I had some now. You know how hard it is to handle the suspense while you wait to get to the store. I've at least been able to put it up to myself for a make-shift fitting, and it fits just like I wanted it to. That's the great thing about designing it myself. No cleavage show, or anything, because I chose where to put the neck line.

Oh, and as for the other pictures in this post. I do realize they are totally unrelated to the topic, but I wanted to show the pictures from our Easter egg hunt. It's been almost a week, though, so it's a bit late to talk much about it now.

Okay, that's enough blogging for now. The kids are "washing" the windows, and I'm a little afraid to go see how it's going, but I feel I really must intervene.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kids Are Fun

All illnesses and hearing issues aside, kids can be really fun. Last night I sat at the kitchen table diligently working away on a bodice pattern I'm trying to make. It was close to midnight and the house was quiet. All of a sudden, Lambchop #1 launched into a hummed rendition of the theme song from Hannah Montana, her favorite show. Funny thing about it was that she was sleeping. She didn't just hum a bar or two, either. She did the whole song. Did a pretty good-sounding job, too. Very cute.

Now, about that pattern I'm making... I finally got the time to sit down with a book I bought towards the end of my last pregnancy. It's called How To Make Sewing Patterns by Donald H. McCunn. I have to say, I really like this book. It helps you learn how to custom make your own sewing patterns from scratch. Lots of books of this kind tell you how to modify commercial sewing patterns, but when you're cheap like I am, that's not what you're looking for. When looking for a book on this topic, I saw other, much more expensive books, so I was afraid this reasonably inexpensive one would not be enough to really do the trick. I was wrong. It isn't exactly easy to make your own sewing pattern (So far, I'm still working on the basic bodice pattern), but his instructions and diagrams are very clear. There is a decent amount of math involved, but it's very simple math and clearly explained.

My main difficulty is the measuring. There are many measurements to take, and I'll admit I don't have much experience in measuring anything beyond the more commonly measured body parts. I am really excited about nearing the end of this basic bodice pattern, though, because once I get it done, I could conquer the world. Well, I could at least make almost any shirt pattern I wanted, and that's really something, right? Then, I can move onto skirts and pants. Really, maybe I could conquer the world... oooh, and wearing really nicely fitting clothes while doing it. I know it would help me when designing a sweater for myself. It would certainly be a lot easier to measure the pattern pieces or lay the sweater-in-progress down against the pattern to see if I'm moving in the right direction. As an added bonus, the book even has a section explaining how to make a little cardboard model of your own body based on the basic patterns you've developed with all the measuring and fitting. So, then I wouldn't have to shell out tons of money for one of those dress forms. This definitely pleases the cheapskate in me, and it would certainly be a time-saver not to have to try clothes on for a fitting and wrestle them into submission to repin and adjust things.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, my current main goal with all this pattern making business is to make myself a cute little short-sleeved kimono shirt somewhat like this one. I have a bedsheet just waiting to be chopped up for this purpose.

Well, I was able to squeeze in a few minutes of blogging time while everyone was still sleeping and the house was still quiet, but now Lambchop #2 (our early riser) is up-and-at-'em, so I'd better get breakfast prepared (no time to edit, even, because he's bugging the baby). *SIGH* A woman's work is never done. Why can't I just work on my pattern instead of cleaning the house and doing the grocery shopping today?

And, in case you're wondering what that picture has to do with this post. The answer is nothing. I just didn't want to do a long pictureless post, and baby pictures are always welcomed by Grandma, so I decided to throw that one in.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Hide And Seek

Is this boy playing hide and seek? Hardly. He has turned around in his chair after dinner to fall asleep sitting up. Bad mother that I am, I had to stop to take a picture before allowing Daddy to carry him up to bed.

Disclaimer: No children fell off any chairs during the taking of this picture.

And, as promised the other day, I have a picture of the new desk. It's not an antique or anything. It's just really functional. Only problem is that, apparently, when not under the watchful eye of parents, these little munchkins can do some damage to the upstairs walls and wood floor with crayons and markers. What is it with kids? My kids by themselves no longer do that, and the older boy cousin you see in this picture is out of that stage, too, but you put them together, and they'll make a mess out of nice white walls. *SIGH*

I've been wanting to finish this post for days. This much of it was done a few days ago, but I can't seem to find the time to finish it. I've got several other pictures I want to show, but the kids are on vacation, and the girls have come down with something. Pink eye with a sore throat for Lambchop #1 and just pink eye for Lambchop #3. Then, we realized yesterday that some time in the last month or so Lambchop #2 has loss a portion of his hearing. At this stage in his language development, that's not something to mess around with. We've already realized that several of his recently acquired words were misunderstood and his usually impeccable (for his age anyway) pronunciation isn't great on those words. It can make for some funny misunderstandings, but it's really not a funny thing. Trying to get a doctor around Easter isn't so easy, though. *EVEN BIGGER SIGH*

Okay, just really fast, because my husband is begging me to take the baby so he can have a nap (what's with people wanting their sleep an all??), I'll show you my most recent acquisitions that I find really cute. First, is a set of little Jadite dishes. They're made by Fire King and are collector's items. I didn't know this when I saw them. I just thought they were really fun. Got them for 1 euro (there are a total of five plates).

Then, I got a set of six little plates with six large dinner bowls with these cows on them. They were 5 euros for the set. The kids really like them, and it will help me start to steer clear of the plastic kids plates we tend to get. I'd much rather get stoneware, even if they do break it, if I can get it at such good prices.

Well, I have a date with the doctor to get the girls ready for. And, I guess I'll let that man get a few winks before he has to get back to work. There's still one more week of vacation, so if you don't hear from me for a little bit, you'll know I'm just burying under a pile of toys or tied to a chair in the house somewhere.

And, I have to sneak a little photo of Lambchop #3 in here for the fambly. She's wearing her new thrift shop top. I love that orange. So much fun when you can get the bright colors.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Teeny Bit of News

We've been busy working on moving things, throwing junk away, etc. lately, so I've found little time to knit or blog. We decided to move our bed over to the loft over the livingroom to allow the kids to use our old bedroom as a playroom. I was really tired of tripping over their toys in the livingroom. They outnumber me, and I just can't keep up. I figure if the toys are contained to the room upstairs, it'll be less dangerous for those walking around downstairs, as well as less embarrassing when people stop by. What they don't see won't hurt them (or make me ashamed). So, we've been working on that a lot. Plus, a friend of mine who is quite the flea market shopper had a school desk she had found for 5 euros. It's too big for her apartment, and her daughter never uses it like she had hoped. We, however, have had the kids begging for their own desk for at least a month, so I jumped on the chance to take it home with us.

It's huge. I'll give it that much, but it's also in great condition. It has two seats attached to a large table. So, both the two bigger Lambchops can draw pictures till the sheep come home. It's big enough that even my husband, at a bit over 6'1" can sit comfortably in it, so it'll be useful for homework for years to come. Then, there's the added bonus of them being able to play school with it.

I brought it home last night, and I spent the morning preparing the room for it and putting it back together (it was too large to fit in the car in one piece). I love it. It's just the kind of thing kids dream of having when they're little and want to play school. Or, at least it's the kind of thing I dreamed of having. Very cool. I'll get a nice shot of it once the playroom is fully set up.

In other fun news...

I joined Wardrobe Refashion. I'm sure you've noticed me playing around with old clothes lately. That's what they do over at Wardrobe Refashion. It's actually where I got much of my inspiration in the first place. The idea would probably not really have occurred to me without this wonderfully diverse place we call the internet. There may be lots of places you can spend way too much money, but there are also many where you can learn to save a buck or two. Wardrobe Refashion is one of them. They make wearing second-hand clothes fashionable. And, I want to be like the cool crowd, you know? So, I've signed up to post whatever projects I get done over there. I find it nice to have a forum like that to express those kinds of projects and ideas to other like-minded people. So, if you're into that, pop on over there. It's a really cool blog with lots of great ideas for making everything from underwear out of t-shirts to modifications of an old pair of pants. That way, you can "repurpose" that old shirt/skirt/dress/whatever that you always loved and just can't part with. Or, you can modify that great thrift shop find with the fabulous fabric but hideous cut. Check it out. It can really open your fashion horizons up a bit.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Wave of the Future

This afternoon, my husband watched a conference-style press release done by Steve Jobs. In it, he introduced the new iPhone. Watching bits and pieces of his speech while I breastfed Lambchop #3 to sleep, I had a vision of the future. It's a marvelous place...

A man will head off to the office each morning in his iCar or perhaps on the iBus, which is naturally equipped with an iPod for every passenger. He'll stop off for a double-grande-latte-with-non-fat-milk, served up at the local iBrew. He'll spend his day at work and ride back and pull into the garage of his iHome. There he will be greeted by his ever-cheerful iPup and be snubbed by the family's iCat. Dinner will be served on time and piping hot by the handy-dandy iCook. Naturally, the dishes and laundry will be taken care of by the iMaid. After a movie on his state-of-the-art iFilm projector, he'll settle into bed with his lovely iGirl. Her instructions: For a good time, look deeply into her "i" and insert iWand here.