Monday, December 28, 2009

A few Christmas Pics

My beautiful girls in their new jammies for Christmas Eve

I love my girls so very, very much.
They are two of my favorite gifts I have ever received.

On Christmas Eve, Don and I performed in 4 services at our church.  Both of our girls came with us and spent the whole day at the church.  India served in the kindergarten classroom for two of the  services.  They had the option to go home instead of staying so long but both wanted to stay
with us. By the 8:00PM service, I was totally shocked that Ahnalin was still awake!
But our friends, Lance and Anna, also performing, brought their 6 week old Alaskan Husky
puppy to stay backstage. My girls could not get enough of this sweet baby!

And yes, I must admit something, though it pains me to do it.
The dress that Ahnalin is wearing? is store-bought! Can you believe it????
I made her two new Christmas outfits this year, and she wore a store-bought dress!!!!
I had purchased this dress, and a blue one just like it, when she was two, before I started
smocking, and only paid $7.00 for each of them. They were stored with several clothing items
that I had put away until they fit her. When she went digging through her clothes, she found them and said "Mama, the tag says 5!" So, we pulled them out and she has been wearing them. Whatever!

After we got home from the 8:00 service, at almost 10:00PM, the girls changed into their  new Christmas Eve jammies and got ready for Bed. Nana gave her a new blanket that must have been drenched in sleepy dreams because Ahnalin fell asleep within seconds. This NEVER happens!
Ahnalin does not ever fall asleep on her own, so we were all rather shocked!
She has been battling her asthma rather fiercely the last week so that probably contributed to her exhaustion, and it was late....and Santa was on his way!

Ahnalin had been begging for a "Dick and Jane" book ever since reading one at my Aunt Linda and Uncle Jay's house this summer. As soon as she opened the book Christmas morning, she situated herself on the sofa and began sounding out words.

We managed to find two different Alice in Wonderland type books for India, both of which are out of print. She dove right in to them with a big smile on her face.

Ahnalin insists on a birthday cake for Jesus every year, and we have to sing.
Of course, Ahnalin gets to blow out the candles. Did I mention that she decorated the cake?

I managed to get a picture of the girls in the family on Christmas day wearing their Yaya's Aprons.
A few of them are internet shy, so I blurred their faces. But they are MUCH prettier in person than their blurry faces suggest.

Ahnalin and Daddy had fun playing with Ahnalin's new art supplies. She received several art
supply sets, but she uses them like water and runs out of pens on a consistent basis,
so she was thrilled to receive new art things.

India and her cousin, or "twin" as she likes to call him, had fun opening presents.

We had a wonderful day of family and good, good food.

My hot rockin' hubby finally relented and bought me a new iron. He had refused
for a long time because he, like many men, are afraid to buy appliances for their wives presents.
But I REALLY REALLY wanted a new iron!!!
So, this is what he got me!

It is the Rowenta DX 8900, also called the "Sewer's Iron" because it does not have and auto shutoff!!!
I had the previous version of this iron for nearly 20 years until it died a sad and painful death.
I had purchased it's predecessor to make my wedding gown in 1988, and loved it every second I owned it. But when it died, I could not afford to get a new one. So, I have asked for one every gift-giving occasion since then. Finally, after a prolonged Facebook campaign, in which he realized I really did want it, he relented and ordered it for me. Merry Christmas to meeeeeeee!!!!

He also bought me a headlamp so that I can see my handwork when the light is dim. Can you say "Smocking in the car"? Yep!!! That would be while I am in the passenger seat. I promise. Really.

Oh and he got me a shirt that says "My Husband Rocks".
I love it! He does, you know. I mean he ROCKS!!

So, Christmas was really nice. We got to be with family and we got to celebrate Jesus.
It was perfect.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Sewing and a Gaggle of Yayas

Everyone is getting "Yaya's Aprons" for Christmas this year. However, when my niece came up this weekend for a visit, I broke down and gave the girls their aprons early.
After all, they are all great-granddaughters of the original "Yaya".

I sized down the apron for Ahnalin. This size will fit a size 5 very loosely,
and will probably fit until she is about 8 or 9.
I figure I will need to make a smaller size as well to fit maybe 2-4.

As we have been baking, the Christmas music has been playing, one album after another,
Ahnalin grabbed her Nana for a little impromptu dancing.
 However, Nana was not wearing her apron at the time.

They had style, grace and flair!

India was manning, or "girling" the Kitchen Aid mixer.

My three chefs are pretty proud of their matching aprons.

They actually baked three kinds of cookies.
However, I have no photographic proof as I forgot to take those pictures!
They baked Raspberry Thumbprints, Peanut Butter Blossoms, and Gingerbread cookies.
I promise you that they tasted great!

One of our family traditions every year is new jammies on Christmas Eve.
Since the girls know this is part of the deal,
 I started letting them be involved in the design process.

Ahnalin wanted pink flannel with snowmen and a big ruffly skirt.

India loves Volkswagen Bugs, so I found this darling cotton knit and we both fell in love.
I kind of messed up on the embroidery. Well, actually, I walked away from the machine and it
ate up the fabric! Thankfully I was able to salvage the top.

This little blanket was for a friend whose baby is due 3 days after Christmas.
I love the Minkee fabric and the knit from Chez Ami.
The fabrics sew up so beautifully and are so soft!

I ended up sewing wayyyyyyy more aprons than I had originally planned.
None have yet made it onto my Etsy site, as they all seemed to sell before I got them finished!

The plan is that next week I will finish the writing on the Yaya Apron pattern,
 so that I can get it out to testers.

The sewing machine is put away for a few days.

The project for today was making Spanikopita for Christmas!
No sewing machine was needed for this project.
But oh, how yummy!!

I have to get ready now. Don and I have to be at the church in an hour.
We have 2 Christmas services tonight and 4 tomorrow.
We LOVE serving at the Christmas Eve services.

In case I do not check in again before Christmas,
I want you all to know that I so appreciate you all!
I pray that you feel the Love of Jesus this year.
I pray that you reach out to others in Peace.
And I pray that you have Joy in your hearts.

In His Grace,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Define "Perfect"

What is "perfection"?
I can be such a perfectionist that it can really interfere with my enjoyment
or my ability to complete a task.

Case in point, this blog..

Unless I can put up a post that includes everything I really want to say, or show me at my best,
I put it off.

I LOVE to read other blogs. I love to see all the pretty pictures and be inspired by the gorgeous tablescapes and flawless stitching. I see beautiful photography of food and craft,  and feel inferior because I have no idea how to recreate it myself. Sometimes I put so much pressure on myself to be inspiring and clever that I judge myself before anyone else has the chance.

And then I freeze.

I never judge others as harshly as I judge myself. That is good for others but not for me.

So... where does this put me? Well, I have not blogged in almost 2 weeks, both out of extreme business and also, truthfully, out of shame.

So......Ahnalin wanted to make "rolly cookies". This is her term for sugar cookies
that you roll with a rolling pin and cut out with cookie cutters.
"rolly cookies" stress me out. Really!

I love to cook, and bake. However, while my cooking tastes really yummy,
I stink at the whole "presentation" aspect of it. I tend to prefer drop cookies, like chocolate chip and oatmeal, because they taste incredible and everyone expects them to be lumpy.

But Christmas cookies, well, they are supposed to be beautiful. I love to look at beautiful Christmas cookies. And I love to eat them. They remind me of the dozens of boxes of different kinds of cookies that my grandma baked every Christmas.

Her cookies were PERFECT, and oh, so good!

So, in my frustration with not being able to make perfect pretty cookies,
I put off the whole "rolly cookies" thing.

But Ahnalin begged and begged.

I have to work hard to remind myself that not only am I teaching
my children through my words, but also through my fears and actions.
If I so bind myself up in fear that I stop enjoying simple things,
then I am setting her up for the same things.

What is perfectionism?

Well, I see it as an overwhelming need to be in control
when so much is out of my control.

It is the fear that everyone sees all the broken spots in me and chooses to judge rather than love.

I do the same thing to myself, that I fear in other people.

Everyone who knows me in real life knows that every time they compliment me on my singing, I will tell them about all my wrong notes.

They know that if they tell me they love a dress I designed, sewed, smocked, or whatever,
I will show them every missed stitch.

I need to learn to just say "Thank You", and accept that as a gift,
rather than a place of potential judgement.

2 Timothy 1:7 says this:
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

Yes, my perfectionism can make me crazy! And God wants me to be of sound mind!

So, I bit the bullet, pun intended, and we made cookies.
 I let her decorate them.
These cookies are far, far from perfect.

Some are too thin. Some are lumpy.
Some have little chunks missing where the cookie cutter overlapped.
Some broke before we could eat them.

But we made them together.
I helped and she took the lead.

Ahnalin thinks they are perfect cookies.

And I think she is perfect exactly how God made her.

And God, my Heavenly Father, wants me to learn to accept myself the same way.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Little Sewing and a Friday Mommy Brag!!

Happy Friday!!
I am back to sewing, after my 4 day, much needed break.
Whew! But I am behind and must catch up.

This little ornament is a gift for a friend. I made it from a scrap of the red velveteen
from India's Queen Katharine dress. I like it so much I may make more!
It will be winging it's way, along with a Yaya's Apron to a friend in the South.

I love it because it reminds me that Jesus is the reason we celebrate this beautiful season.

A singular vintage ball button

Some antique cotton trim, most likely from Norway.

A darling patch pocket with a scrap of rickrack.
Long sleeves requested by a small girl.

4 different Christmas fabrics and even more rickrack.

Oh, and is that a Monkey Girl Bloomer Skirt?

Yes! It is another Christmas Outfit for the lovely Ahnalin!

What is that she is holding????
Could it be???

YES!!! Ahnalin is the Kindergarten Citizen of the Month!!
Congrats to the most precious girl in the whole world!

To those of you who understand the struggles of raising a  child with attachment disorder, SPD and PTSD,  you know what a miracle this is! We are so proud of our girl's hard work.

Mama loves you Ahnalin!

 And on another note, remember, you can make your own bloomer skirt just like Ahnalin's!
You can purchase the pattern by clicking on my Etsy button or by ordering it directly by using the button on the top right hand side of the blog.
OR, you can order it at You Can Make This. com.
If you order it from my Etsy or directly from the blog, I will send it to you directly within 24 hours. It is a PDF Ebook and I provide great customer service!

Have a beautiful weekend everyone!

Snowy Weekend Catch-up!

Last Saturday, yes, a whole week ago, Ahnalin sang in the Christmas concert at TCC with her Kindergarten class. I could not get any good shots during the actual performance,
but these are from the rehearsal.

Ahnalin sang her words and  performed the hand motions perfectly. However, the girl we affectionately refer to as "Boom Boom" told me that she could not do the dance moves because she had a broken leg. Um. ok. She is an amazing little dancer ,  but hey, if she says she has a broken leg, she must have one. Right?  
We did not stay through the elementary age part of the show because we had to get India to her Madrigal Dinner  and then turn around and drive down the hill to a family wedding reception.

Sadly, India missed the reception because she was performing. But some girlfriends curled her hair for her performance and we think she looks beautiful. This is her sad face later that night when she found out about all the cousins she missed out on.

Sunday was a wonderful day at church. All four of the singers on the vocal team, including me, were sick. Lovely. We still sang and were blessed by a beautiful dance team that came to minister as well.
But then that afternoon, we bade farewell to one of our beloved pastoral families, the Carothers' as they leave to begin their ministry in Fresno.

My parents were then supposed to travel over the mountains from Sparks to be with us for a few days. My mom was to speak at our MOPS Christmas Tea with me. But they called and said that the pass and freeway were closed due to the blizzard conditions and several fatal accidents. Very bad.

So, we cozied in for the evening and watched the snow fall. By Monday morning, we woke to this!

Yes. 11 inches fell over night. First SNOW DAY of the year! Yes it does snow in California.
School was canceled for Monday and Tuesday and all activities. Ahnalin spent hours outside in the snow. India slept and slept and slept.

Later on, they baked cookies. Actually they baked both days.
The cookies are all gone. Sorry.

We watched Christmas movies, drank cocoa with whipped cream,
and wore our pajamas for 3 days in a row. 


I probably could have gotten a lot of sewing done, however, after being sick and
forcing myself to sew for so long, I had promised Don and my mom that I would take 2
days off to rest. I actually took 4 days off of sewing.
I did not get well completely
but I do feel better
than I did.

Next post, a bit of sewing and a Friday brag!

Friday, December 4, 2009

India as Queen Katharine of Aragon

Yes, my Queenly daughter is holding that modern elixir known as a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha with Whipped Cream and Mocha Syrup.

Last night we went to the preview of the Madrigal Dinner. Preview is actually a paid dress rehearsal, but hey, the price was right! India played Queen Katharine of Aragon. Ever since she first heard of the Chamber Choir, and the Madrigal Dinner, she has aspired to play the Queen.  Way back when she was in 7th grade she asked me, "Mama, if I ever get chosen to play the Queen, will you make me an historically accurate gown?"  And of course, me being me, I said "Absolutely!" That was 6 years ago.
And now, as a senior, she is Queen Katharine.
I used Simplicity 2589 as the pattern. I read the pattern reviews and they were all positive.
However, I will admit that I started sewing this dress the day after Thanksgiving, as in 1 week ago.
I have not been feeling well for weeks and have had a fever. So these things may have colored my opinion of this pattern.

All that being said, I HATED THIS PATTERN!!!!!! OH HOW I HATED IT!!!!

If you have been following this blog for very long, you know how I do not like any of my seams to show. I like everything neat and tidy, tucked inside of lining or french seams. Well, that can't be done with this pattern. It made me crazy!!!!
As I showed earlier, the seams all show inside the bodice. UGH!!
Oh, I forgot to say that I shortened the bodice by 1 1/2 inches in length. I also shortened the shoulder pieces, as India has little shoulders.

India is pretty obsessed with "The Tudors"
And she really preferred the french sleeve as opposed to the English over sleeve.  So I drafted a sleeve
to fit her little shoulders and arms.

I have to admit to being partially to blame, after all my years of fascination with the
wives of Henry VIII.
I read a book years ago that started my passion for this time period. 
It is definitely worth reading!
So, India wanted a french sleeve and she got it.
This is the back view showing the eyelets and lacing. I had not added the back flap under the lacing yet when I took the picture. There is boning in the front panel and back of the bodice so it holds its shape.

Now, I must apologize because I got on a roll and forgot to take pictures of the rest.
I am sorry this is so dark. I am worthless with photo editing so I can't figure how to lighten it up.
But this is India wearing the gown at the dress rehearsal. I left the french sleeve because I LOVED how it looked on her.
However, after talking to my friend who was in charge of costumes, we decided that I needed to add the English over sleeve as it was more regal.

One of my giant frustrations with this pattern was how the voluminous skirt was to be hand gathered and then hand stitched to the bodice. The pattern called for the skirt top to be finished with gingham. So, when the hand gathered skirt is handsewn to the bodice, some of the gingham shows. I have been sewing a million years and there was no way to make this look good!

So, I am going to have to get over myself and realize that India loves the gown. I am going to have a photographer friend take some real portraits of India in her gown
WITHOUT the Starbucks cup in hand.

The fabric was a bolt of red velveteen I bought from Walmart. It was really reasonable, but the little fluffs of velveteen fuzz are EVERYWHERE!
The sleeves and front panel of the underskirt are harvested from some old drapery panels that someone had donated to the costume department.
The rest of the underskirt is stiff muslin. I had purchased all the supplies to make the
corset, farthingale, bum roll and shift. However, after sewing the whole time with a fever, I decided to give my self a break and not sew those. India was really sad though, as she LOVES corsets. So, I will get that done for Christmas for her.

India and her friend Tarney before the show
India has her lady in waiting Erin bowing to her!
India and her King Henry
Queen Katharine greeting Queen Claude of France (India's buddy Laurissa)
King Henry, Queen Katharine, Queen Claude and the King of France

I hope to get more good pictures from a friend who actually knows how to take them!

But the evening was wonderful and the kids did a great job performing.
And I am happy I was able to create yet another of her dream dresses.