Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Daughter's Quilt

This is the second quilt I've ever made.  I made it for Belle to go on her toddler bed, which she no longer has.  The butterflies started to fray after I washed it, so I had to hand stitch the edges down.  That took me forever to do, and I finally finished it this month!  I don't know why the picture turned out with so little detail, but I had to stand on the bed and hold the camera in the air to take the shot.  The butterflies are 3D--the wings aren't stitched down.
Today I am learning how to use Picasa because my old photo editing software is rebelling on me.  So far I haven't figured out how to save a file in a smaller size. And there is something wrong with this shade of green...

I entered it into the county fair just for fun, and I took 3rd place in my division.  It's kinda neat to get a ribbon, but EVERYBODY got a ribbon.  I saw about five quilts in a row that all had 3rd place ribbons on them.  I don't know how it works.  I will have to remember next year to encourage the children to enter something.  They will get a ribbon, and hopefully a boost to their self esteem.  My goal is to learn enough about photography this year to have a worthy photo to enter the fair next year--I mean one that I would feel really proud of. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beautiful, Famous, or Rich?

One day left to answer the poll.  This is just for fun.  I'd would be interested to hear what your reasons are.  Take a vote and leave a comment to tell why!

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of School

Today was Belle's first day of school.  It's my first time being the mother of a second grader!
We took the traditional "first day of school" shot in front of the door. These sparkly glittery things are all the rage this year.  When she lined up with her classmates, she was fourth in a row of girls with the same bejeweled sneakers.
After school I asked her, "How was your day?"  She said, "It was really boring."  WHAT?!  I replied, "You have got to be kidding me."  "I am!  It was really fun!"  She isn't normally such a jokester.  I wonder who was her influence today.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Berry Picking

Berries are ripe for picking.  While enjoying the harvest, I've had time to ponder about life.  I've often complained to myself that I had to pay consequences for other people's actions.  Not fair!  But while picking blackberries at a friend's house yesterday, that I also can often receive blessings that come only from other people's actions.  That's not fair, either, but I sure like it.  I guess that can even things out.

Other lessons I learned while picking berries: 
This is the first year I've had raspberries.  When they first started ripening, I went out every day to pluck the red ones.  When Sabbath day rolled around, I worried that I wasn't able to pick the berries that were ripe.  I didn't go out there, nonetheless, and on Monday, I discovered that there were red berries that had turned an even deeper color and almost purple.  These berries were even sweeter than the ones I had picked before.  Now I know to wait longer for them to ripen.  Blessings come when we keep the commandments.

Raspberries grow on canes that came up the year previously.  Berries don't form on new growth.  Also I've put in a lot of work keeping things watered and weeded for months now, and finally things are starting to come to fruition.  From these I have learned about patience.  I relate it to some personal struggles that have taken more than one season to resolve.

Sometimes you have to stand out in the hot sun, reach far, and get some prickles in your fingers in order to get the sweetest berries.  Getting the most out of life takes work and sacrifice.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Halloween Already?

It's still a couple months away, but I've already got Halloween on my mind.  Being the penny pincher that I am, I want to have plenty of time to manage the procurement of costumes that will make my kiddos happy.  This week I asked them what they wanted to dress up as for Halloween.  Belle wants to be a fairy.  AGAIN.  Third time, I think.  But she wants purple this time.  I had a lucky find on once and was able to snatch up a couple boxes of fine fabric scraps.  I have some stretchy fuzzy purple stuff that will do just the job.  The scraps aren't very big, so I have to be creative.  I've already started putting it together, and I am feeling the sweetness of success.  I don't have a pattern for exactly what I need to make it work, so I am altering another pattern (quite a bit).  These sort of things usually result in a lot of error, but I am excited that it is actually working out quickly this time.

The last few years I have been lucky enough to score some hand-me-downs and yard sale bargains for Sweetheart, but he didn't get any say in the matter.  We had to bribe him just to keep the costumes on.  Now that he is four, he is ready to choose.  He wants to be a brown dog.  It has to have a hood, though.  Where did he get that idea?  My mom told me that they have been going gaga over "Critter Capes" or something when they've watched Qubo at her house.  Good ol' merchandising getting my kids riled up over something they want to buy.  This is a pretty specific desire.  I hope he is not disappointed with what I can sew if it doesn't compare to what he has built up in his imagination.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fatherhood by Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby is such a funny guy.  I've been enjoying his humor since I was in grade school.  Does anybody remember Picture Pages?  I can still hear the song in my mind: "Picture Pages, picture pages, time for fun with picture pages, time for me to draw another picture for you!"  I don't recall being wildly entertained by the show, but his pen would make noises as he drew on the board.  The Cosby Show, though, is one of my top ten all time favorite TV shows.  Funny stuff. 
Anyway, I have just finished reading Fatherhood.  The humor doesn't disapoint, and I found myself laughing out loud several times, especially when I recognized the behaviors he described from my own children.  He describes some of the joys and struggles a father may expect from his children from birth to adulthood.The commentaries at the beginning and end were a little dry, but interesting to note how views on psychology and parenting transform over time.

Here is my rating system for books I read:
one star = didn't like it (I won't be reading books to completion that would rate lower than one star)
two stars = it was okay
three stars = it was enjoyable
four stars = really liked it
five stars = couldn't put it down, can't get it out of my head now that it's over

For Fatherhood, I give it three stars

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dave Ramsey and House Chores

In Dave Ramsey's book Total Money Makeover, he teaches how to stack your debts by paying off the debt with the lowest balance first while paying minimum payments on the rest, then after that balance is gone, adding what you would have paid for it onto the next lowest balance.  I have pondered his advice to pay off the lowest balance first rather than the highest interest rate.  It seems like you would be done paying it all off faster if you weren't accruing so much interest along the way.  It is a psychology trick, not a mathematics trick.  It's about motivation.  Once you have paid off the smallest balance, the easiest one to do in the shortest amount of time, you get a psychology reward that makes you feel like you can keep doing it and not relapse into bad spending habits.  It seems to me he is making some assumptions about uniformity of human nature, and I do not personally agree that this solution is one-size-fits-all, but I can certainly see some validity to his point.

I take his debt stacking solution and now apply to cleaning the house.  Lets say your whole house is a disaster--worst case scenario.  Dishes piled to the ceiling, trash bags spilling over, hampers filled and dirty laundry trails in every room, black rings in the toilet, toys and books everywhere except where they belong, crumbs and sticky spots under the table, leftovers growing mold in the fridge...  Need I go on?  How do you go about tackling a job like this?  Realistically it isn't all going to happen in one day if you have to work alone.  I say pick the smallest and easiest job to do first.  Maybe it's the guest bathroom.  Just swab the toilet, wipe off the counter, and change the hand towel.  Voila! One whole room clean.  Doesn't that feel great?  Progress.  Now the next smallest job.  Or you could do a little bit in each room, whatever catches your attention, but at the end of the day, you'll probably be left feeling like you didn't get anything done.  Tomorrow the work will feel more like a drag.  That's kinda like paying a little extra on all your different debts at different times.  That's the least likely method to bring success.  Or choose the biggest job with the most interest...  That's probably dishes.  Gross.  If you don't take care of those soon, you'll have bugs in the house and a smell that won't go away.  And you'll have stains in the sink...  This task will take a long time, and you may need to take a break in the middle when the dishwasher or drainer is full.  So you've put in a good amount of effort that doesn't pay off immediately.  This job is going to take all you've got to keep going.  Just plow through.

At times I feel like I'm running in a hamster wheel.  Run run run run run and get nowhere.  There are always more dishes, more dirty clothes, more crumbs on the floor...  So I imagine that my hamster wheel is hooked up to a power generator, and I'm pumping energy into my family.  That helps.

I see that I have only had 7 people look at my blog so far, but I'm curious, how do you manage your housework?  Not just in worst case scenario, but generally, how do you stay motivated to work?  Leave a comment.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Warm Fuzzies

My kindergarten teacher taught me that it is better to give warm fuzzies than cold pricklies.  We should try to make people feel good.  (I'll be writing posts in the future labeled "warm fuzzies" when I have words to make people feel good.)  I remember the lesson well because of the fun craft that went along with it.  The warm fuzzy I made was pink with red feet.  I gave it to my grandmother, who treasured it.  It adorned her bathroom backsplash for twenty-five years before she called me, distraught, to tell me that someone had pilfered her puffball.  Of course I made her a new one to replace it.  Belle then made one to give to my mother.  She put about ten googly eyes on that thing.  She's an "out of the box" kind of thinker.

This is how to make a warm fuzzy.

Gather up some materials: pompoms, glue, wiggly eyes, cardstock, foam core shapes, pipe cleaners, and whatever else looks appealing.
Cut some feet out of cardstock or foam core.  I wish I could leave a template for the creatively challenged, but I have no idea how that is done.
Put a drop of glue on the feet.

Stick the fuzzball onto the feet.

Dab a little glue onto the back of the wiggly eyes, and then attach them to the pompom.
That's your basic warm fuzzy, but you can add extras if you like.  Use your imagination.  You can glue them to the front of a note card or add a slip of paper under the feet (the size of a fortune cookie message) with a few kind words (like "I love you," "Thanks for being my friend," "You make me smile," "I admire you," and "You make me feel all warm and fuzzy.")  These are designed to be gifts, so make a few to warm the hearts of those you love.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
--Dr. Suess

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Old Maid

My parents took the kids to a plant fair in the spring and allowed them each to pick out some plants to put in the garden.  Belle chose some cucumbers which withered up and died shortly.  She was distraught. (Luckily I had planted some seeds that are doing fine.)  Sweetheart chose a tomatillo.  I have never eaten a tomatillo and never grown one.  This plant has grown enormous.  It is about four feet wide now.  It has about a hundred flowers on it, but not a single fruit.
I had to do a search to find out what was wrong.  As it turns out, tomatillos are not self-compatible, meaning she needs a boyfriend.  No friend, no fruit.  No tomatillos para nosotros.  She will die an old maid, and I will not be compelled to learn new recipes for this odd looking Mexican staple food.

How do you like my corn stalks?  Utah had an unusually wet spring.  The corn I planted didn't like it.  I got only a single stalk from my second planting, and four from the third planting.

I am a complete beginner to gardening.  This is the first year we've lived in this house, the first time I have had some good land to plant a garden.  I once had a rocky clay soil garden, but the only success I had was some odd looking gourds.  This year I have enjoyed a few "fruits of my labor--" a couple handfuls of green beans and peas.  So far I have harvested a quart freezer bag full of raspberries and half a quart of tiny strawberries.  I have removed probably a hundred pounds of weeds, especially morning glory/choke weed.  Hopefully next year will be better.  I hope my wishes for fewer weeds (having picked before they go to seed) is not nieve.

Tomatoes are coming.  Yay!  And sunflower seeds.
And a gratuitous shot of a maple (from which I will not be harvesting anything but shade):

Any gardening pros out there?  I would love to absorb your wisdom.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Brother of Jared

I was able to substitute teach in the 6 year old primary class in church today.  The lesson was about having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and about the brother of Jared, one of my very favorite stories from the Book of Mormon.  If you are familiar with the Old Testament of the Bible, you know the story of the tower of Babel, where the Lord confounded the people's language.  Jared and his brother were there.  The brother of Jared prayed to not have their language mixed up--them and their family and friends.  Their desire was granted.  Later the Lord guided them (the people of Jared, or Jaredites) to a choice promised land (America).  They had to cross the ocean.  Jesus instructed them to build barges (eight of them).  He gave them instructions, I assume in a like manner as he did for Noah and his ark, and they followed the instructions.  The barges were designed to go completely under water and turn over, as God intended to blow them where they needed to go.  They were "tight like unto a dish," which caused the problem of having no air to breath and no light to come in.  The Lord taught the solution for the air--to cut holes in the top and bottom so it could be opened up for air, then stopped up again when the water started to come in.  When the brother of Jared (his name was Mahonri Moriancumer--whew!  What a  mouthful!) inquired what should be done for light, Jesus asked him to come up with his own solution.  He came up with sixteen molten stones, clear like glass.  He had faith that the Lord could light them up if He only touched them with His finger.  His faith was so strong that he actually SAW the finger of Lord.  It frightened him, and he fell down.  This was the spirit body of the Lord, before he had come to Earth to get his body.  He didn't know that God looked like a man.  Jesus praised him for having more faith than any anybody else and showed Himself to him and taught him some awesome stuff about the future.  He instructed him to write it down, and no one would understand his language (remember Babel), and not share it with anybody.  It would be revealed when the time was right, after the resurrection of Christ, and he would make a way for the language to be known.
I began by telling a story about a girl who brought lunch for her father who was working inside a well.  She knew he was there because she could hear him, but couldn't see him.  He told her to jump in, and he'd catch her.  Then they could eat lunch together.  She trusted him and hopped right in, and he caught her.  Just like this, we know that God is there, even though we can't see Him.  I had these stones laid out on the table covered up by a paper towel.  I asked if they believed something was under the towel.  Well, it was bumpy instead of laying flat, so they could tell something was there without seeing it.

When I got to the part in the story about the brother of Jared asked the Lord to touch the stones, I turned out the light and asked the kids to come touch one of the stones.  They all thought it was great when it lit up.  (I had a flashlight hidden in my sleeve!)
That was so fun.  I love when the lessons turn out well, and you think the kids actually learned something that they'll take with them.

God lives!  Jesus lives!  The Holy Ghost is real!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Conjoined Twin Peaches

I have been thinking about entering these freaky peaches in the County Fair contest, but they judge on "marketability."  These aren't the kind of beauties people pick up in the market, are they?  There are actually two sets of these on my tree.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Jackie Evancho

Yesterday while I was dusting the blinds (will wonders never cease?) my mom called me on the phone.  She said, "Hurry and turn on channel 7."  (That's PBS.)  Oh, it's Jackie Evancho.  Yes, I have heard of her, and yes she is AMAZING!!!  This little 10 year old girl has the voice of an angel (I know I'm not the first person to characterize her voice with that word).  An ADULT angel.  Her singing gives me goosebumps all the way up to my cheeks.  My husband and I first saw her on America's Got Talent where she made her debut.  We have rarely ever both been hooked on a TV series, but we wanted to hear this girl.  And of course all the other awesome talents in the show.

If you haven't heard Jackie Evancho's voice yet, do a quick search.  She has her own website, facebook page, and wikipedia description.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Pioneer Woman

I've just finished reading a book called The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.  It is the August pick for my book club.  After suffering withdrawals from running out of pages, I visited the author's website at The Pioneer Woman.  Her blog is fun.  I love her writing style and "voice."  It so happened to be the same day of the fishy ordeal (see below).  So I thought to myself, "I want to do that, too!"  Here is my new baby blog, where I can share my stories and thoughts that just don't belong on my hairstyling blog.  I still don't know how this blog will develop, but as an aspiring author, I want to exercise my writing talent.  I don't aspire to be famous like Ree Drummond, but hopefully I will have something to say that will entertain and inspire my readers.  As soon as I get some readers.

Please let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Empty Tank

Sammy was a good fish.  We weren't ready for the responsibility of a dog yet, but this little beta fish was just as excited to see a person at the door as any puppy.  I never knew a fish could have personality, but he actually showed a preference for my daughter.  When she got overzealous with the fish food one day, Sammy took a vacation to Oma's house.  He flared his gills at her and refused to eat anything except when Belle came on the weekends.  Depression?  Homesickness?  Happy as a clam to return home, he seemed to be quite comfortable in his little tank with the treasure chest and fake sea plants.

I told my husband I didn't want a fish.  It is just a responsibility without return except an interesting decoration.  I felt guilty keeping an animal in captivity this way.  He reassured me that the fish would be quite happy living a leisurely life, hand fed and safe from predators.  I was okay with that.  And I must admit that I grew fond of the thing after a while.  He was kinda cute, too.

Do you think that I didn't tell the children that we don't pet fish?  Or that we shouldn't put things in the water? Or take the fish out of the water? Of course I told them, but their parent filter must have blocked out the sound of my voice.  This is the kind of story that can make a person laugh and cry at the same time.  We've all done our share of crying except little four-year-old Sweetheart who is the major culprit.  Their first experience with death, I'm not sure he quite understands it all.  He just wanted to play with Sammy.

Belle asked if I could take a picture of him so she could remember him.  Surely I have a picture of him already looking healthy and happy?  Alas, no.