Saturday, April 26, 2014

Whose related to the most amazing maker of handmade bags, aprons, pillow case covers, dresses, and well everything? Yup it's me

I have to say I'm incredibly lucky to be the niece-in-law of my husbands Aunt Stephie. I had heard all these wonderful things about her while she lived in Iowa, like, Aunt Steph loves to make things, loves to decorate, loves little kids, is writing a children's book, and helps out in an elementary school. I'm so glad Stephanie has moved to Utah so I finally get to know her and witness all these wonderful things she does.

Right off the bat as soon as she heard about Hunters struggles in school she offered to come once a week and tutor him. She is amazing with him, and he looks forward to his Tuesdays with Steph. He adores her and she adores him equally. Then I noticed she was always making cute things for the kids. First there were these knitted mittens.

My kids love them so much they refuse to wear any other glove. Even though it's warm outside now, Amy claims she needs to wear them in her bed because her hands get cold at night. Now she's added her purple Easter bunny Steph made to the bedtime routine. She says she just can't fall asleep unless her bunny is next to her pillow. Stephanie is also making dresses and gave two to Amy last week.

I let her wear it to a tea party with my cousins and now she calls the yellow one her tea party dress. The other one she wore to church last Sunday and also wanted to wear it the entire day. She begs that we let her sleep in it. I did give in once. . .

Then I discovered Stephanie has a huge collection on Etsy. EmiesCorner has stunning unique items for the home like throw pillows, hand painted tablecloths, towels, scarves, aprons, and little girls dresses. On TheBauerCollection she has tons of clutches, purses and my favorite, super cute totes. I don't think there's anything she can't make. I wish I could buy every single item, seriously. So so lucky I am related to this super talented woman! I love giving handmade gifts, but I always run out of time to make them, so I've already started picking out what I want to buy for Christmas gifts. Can't wait!

Just some of my favorites. . . .

Friday, April 18, 2014

The parents we try to be

Last year I began to notice for the first time that we had birds living in our yard, and not just any birds, the same birds who continued to come back every spring. The first one I noticed was a starling, all black with a small yellow beak about the size of my hands with fingers intertwined. She used a hole in our neighbors brick wall to build her nest. Every time our car pulled into the driveway her babies chirped with fervor, and she watched us warily before making the mad dash back to her nest. Still, I like to think the more she saw us the less daunted she was by us. We got to witness the delicacies she carried in her mouth to feed her babies, and then the day she kicked them out of the nest and forced them to fly. I think I saw her again today building her nest in the same place.

This last week I've also seen two blue jays rebuilding their nest in the tree at the back corner of our yard. They are also visitors from last year. Often they would perch on the tree just a few feet outside my bedroom window. One of my favorite things to do, is bask in the sunlight that hits my bed in the afternoon while reading a book. I count it a good luck charm if I am able to have sunlight and see the blue jays at the same time.

We also have a new family of Quail this year with four babies. I have to be up early in the morning, no later than sunrise to see them; sometimes marching in a row through the back lawn, or other times scavenging for breakfast in our lawn. I love how they always stay together like a family should.

I would not classify myself as a bird watcher. I've never gone out of my way to see birds. I maybe considered how bird watching could be interesting a decade ago when I read Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams, but quickly forgot the idea. Last year when I was in Oregon visiting my Aunt I found my favorite place was reading a book on her pergola. But instead of reading, I would find myself watching yellow finches who came to rest on her marigolds, and black birds with red striped tails who fed out of an antique bird bath. From her kitchen, doing dishes, hummingbirds would come right up to the window to sip out of the feeder. I could stand so still in front of the sink, with nothing else on my mind, but intent on watching their tiny wings blur next to their fat green bodies.

Our neighbor who will have passed away a year ago next Saturday built bird feeders. He told me he needed a hobby when he retired and he liked wood working, so he decided to build bird feeders. His carport is lined with at least 20 feeders which he regularly filled. Inside his kitchen he also kept a collection displayed on top of his kitchen cabinets. I used to come over to borrow the coupon section of his newspaper, and he would tell me stories of when he did munitions in the Korean War. He always had a kind word for my kids as well. This time last year he boiled two eggs, one for each of them to take home and paint for Easter. I couldn't believe he had taken time to boil eggs with us in mind. It was such a small thing, but it said so much about how he cared.

Dons house has become a hollow shell, gutted for renovations, just as his bird houses in the carport are also empty. I am missing him, but I'm glad our bird friends are back rebuilding their homes.  I'm hoping they will continue to come back each year, or that their children will come back to take over the nests and raise the next generation of chicks. Mike and I are not much different from the birds when it comes to homes since we are raising our kids in the same house his parents raised him in. We are not very different from the birds at all, protecting our kids, feeding them, building our home one twig at a time, frantically flapping our wings to stay afloat, trying to suck the most out of each moment, and forcing our children out the door when it's time to fly. I've been saving milk cartons the last couple of weeks so the kids can make bird feeders for our spring dwellers. I hope they know they are welcome to stay and remind me of the home we build and the parents we try to be.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Why I hate historical fiction

Have I mentioned before how much I love to read? Well, I do love it, although my life doesn't allow much time for it. Usually I listen to 2-3 books per month while I'm in the car, folding laundry, mopping, washing dishes making breakfast, showering, pretty much during any mundane task I have my little bluetooth speaker nearby. Actually reading is still preferable, but time is so limited I get through about 1 book a month the old fashioned way.

I've been thinking it's been a long time since I read anything I really loved, you know, when you read a book and it makes you look at the world in a completely new way you never considered before? I just finished listening to My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliviera. I'm just going to openly admit right now, I hated it. This is what always happens when I pick something up off the shelf without doing my homework on Goodreads first. I think it's safe to say I hate historical fiction with a passion and I'm determined never to read it again.

If I wanted to read about history, I would read non-fiction. How can historical fiction teach you anything except how dull and boring a story can be when the author attempts to throw in so many historical details it actually detracts from her story rather than adding a richer authenticity to it? Nothing, the story flat lined in my opinion, underdeveloped characters, weak storyline, ambiguous love triangle, did he love her as a daughter or as a woman, because if there was a love story going on I missed it until the very last page. This book had no pulse.

On to greener pastures. I've begun This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, which has actually been extremely enjoyable since page 5, although still not sure how the title fits into the book, and Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool which is turning out to be an easy read and a good page turner. I think even if the ending turns out to be stupid I will still like this book because the story keeps me thinking about it even when I'm not reading. Next up is Wonder by R.J. Palacio which I've heard is really great too, maybe I'll get on a lucky reading streak, knock on wood, but seriously, Mary Sutter was bad enough to leave a bad book taste in my mouth for at least a year.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

DIY Roman Shades

A few weeks ago I finally succumbed to the urge to make my own blinds. Our kitchen is very tiny, maybe 8x10, but has huge windows.

Like clockwork, by Wednesday, all the laundry is washed, and piled in unfolded heaps downstairs, sometimes until the next Wednesday. This requires me to very often streak through the kitchen to get to the basement and find some clean underwear. This was working quite well for me, I had a system of poking my head in to check for people walking their dogs or jogging, before I made the mad dash.

However, last year our neighbor passed away, and his house was quickly bought, then half of it torn down to be expanded, which I think is ironic because when our original neighbor bought the house he also expanded it's backside before moving in. All signs point to an insatiable social need to expand and conquer our suburban lots as the next generation moves into society, which bothers me, but that's another story.

So next door construction by default, has brought a lot of contractors near my house, and let's not forget to mention the lovely blue dumpster accompanying the yellow brick wall which entertains my kitchen view. My chances of being caught in the buff are significantly higher than they used to be, so this time I acted.

There's not a single cookie cutter shade in existence that would fit these windows, believe me I've looked everywhere. I'm incredibly cheap so there's no way I was going to pay to have custom blinds made either. Instead I scoured Pinterest for the most detailed DIY Roman Shades which lucky for me also required no sewing, since my sewing machine broke last year and I'm dragging my feet to replace it because I'm so cheap.

Anyways, here are the results, please excuse my unpainted walls, the kitchen remodel is scheduled to begin in T minus 18 months, right after we finish the chicken coop and fence this summer, and basement bedrooms this winter. I'm really happy with the way they turned out. I now have a cheery yellow to greet me as I make breakfast, and I won't have to risk flashing any constructions workers.

Anybody else think it's weird they made windows lower than counter top height in the 1940's? Just sayin'

Don't you think the ugly yellow wall compliments the chevron print?

Ahhhh privacy

Here's a glimpse of that lovely dumpster.