First Flowers of 2020

28 May

Apple Pie

28 May

February 28: Today in Microfashion…

February 2020

22 May
My Wild Irish Girl

I was talking on the phone to a new friend, and she told me that she was her parent’s “wild Irish girl.” Such an image flashed through my mind that I had to try and draw it. I’ve always loved the illustrations of Trisha Schart Hyman, and drew inspiration from her work. I borrowed a body position from one of her illustrations from “Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins” because balance and weight of figures is something I struggle with. I am so pleased with how my drawing turned out.

February 5: We got enough snow to make several snowmen! They didn’t even look very muddy at first.

Finally, some snow!
Snow-blio from the land of point, where everyone has one.

At Homeschool Co-op I taught a lesson on drawing sea turtles from Deep Space Sparkle Art. The kids really loved this one, each eager to explain to me what their turtle was doing, and why they chose the colors they chose.

Banana Cream Pie’s Sea Turtles (watch out for the alligator!)
Apple Pie’s turtle

February 7: We had a family dance at our church. Apple Pie was my partner for the whole dance. (The resident Captain being gone to Guard Drill.) I loved the atmosphere of fun togetherness of the whole night. I guess I got pretty carried away because I snapped the underwire in my bra while dancing…actually that probably can be blamed on my having to tote a huge four-year-old around the whole night.

Saturday, February 8: The weather was sunny and warm, so I took the little kids to the park. I won the “You must wear Shoes” battle and the “You must wear a Jacket” battle, and caved on the “You must wear long pants” battle.

Wednesday February 14:

For Homeschool art we used chalk and oil pastels to create dancers inspired by Degas.

Degas Dancers

Fancy family dinner with my true loves is my favorite way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my true loves.

Saturday February 15 we begin our new gardening attempt. This will be patterned after the “Back to Eden” gardening method using compost and wood chips. We put down cardboard, which I stole obtained without permission from various recycling dumpsters around town, to kill the lawn grass. Our plan it to turn all the lawn between our house and the road into a glorious food forest of fruit trees, berry bushes, asparagus beds, and tomatoes.

The Man of the House drove all the way to Miami, OK, to get 4 cubic yards of mushroom compost. This is our dirt to grow the plants. In-between the garden beds we are mulching with wood chips to keep the weeds away.

This garden bed took 3 adults working from sunup to sundown with added help from 4 teenage girls. So much work for the “easy” gardening method.

Thursday February 20: Key Lime Pie has been studying bacteria, so today she learned to make yogurt (because it is bacteria that turn milk into yogurt.) She also learned how to read an analog thermometer…bonus!

Friday February 21: Homeschool Co-op was canceled today due to our host family having the respiratory flu, so we did a last minute field trip to the Rogers Arkansas City Museum. It was a great place for a group with a broad range of ages like ours.

Monday February 24: Mother’s Tea Party at the Scooter Pie’s Preschool. Their teachers are amazing. My boys sang “I’m a Little Tea Pot” and they had learned such careful gentlemanly manners.

My little Cheesers

January 2020

22 May
The Scooter Pies play many games of Forbidden Island and Sushi Go! with mom
Watercolor narrations from “As You Like It” clockwise from top left: by Tamale Pie, Key Lime Pie, and Cherry Pie
Key Lime Pie’s Bear Family
Banana Cream Pie’s Baby Seal
Apple Pie’s Brown Bear
Pumpkin Pie goes to Homecoming Dance

In which I make a wedding dress

24 Jan

In October, I volunteered to make a wedding dress for my niece so that she wouldn’t have to travel to get one. (There isn’t much available in Southwest Missouri if you want, say, sleeves on your dress or a sweetheart neckline.)

You may think this sounds like an ambitious project, and you would be right, but I have Simon Henry’s book, “The Little Black Dress: How to Make the Perfect One for You,” and a book on making wedding dresses from the library and what can’t a girl do if she’s got the right books and just enough sewing experience to make her think she knows what she is doing?

I used the directions from Simon Henry’s book to pin tissue paper on my niece and then marked and pinned the tissue paper until I had created a pattern made exactly to fit her. The sleeves were trickier than Simon Henry made them sound and I might have become stuck, but my mother-in-law came to my rescue with a magic arm-sleeve-hole ruler that eliminated my pattern drafting amateur mistake.

I sewed 2 trial bodices out of muslin before I finally told myself that it was time to quit stalling and cut the real fabric.

It was my own Project Runway in real life. I stayed up late workingon it, I shed tears over it, I sewed my finger to it, I screamed at my family. SO. MUCH.DRAMA.

I also loved making it, and I can’t explain how something that gave me so much trouble and stress was simultaneously something that I am so happy and proud about.

This dress had four layers of skirts: one lining layer, one satin layer and 2 silk organza layers. I borrowed my mother-in-law’s serger to do the satin and lining layers, but put French seams in the organza layers with my regular machine. I debated this extra trouble for a dress that would only be worn once or twice, but in the end I did it, and I was glad—just the movement of the dress as I sewed it would have been enough to fray some of the seams otherwise.

Unpicking some of those French seams when I realized I had sewn skirt panel in the wrong place. 😩

I hemmed 3 of the skirt layers with horsehair braid. I am in love with that stuff. It is awesome. It made the skirt dance around Maddy when she moved, and it made finishing the hem so much easier than any other way.

I watched YouTube videos and learned how to shape a lace overlay for a bodice so that the seams are invisible.

Then I got really obsessed with adding as many high-end details as I could into the dress. I put ribbon loops with snaps in the shoulders. These were to loop around her bra and undergarment straps to keep them in place under the dress.

I put loops of ribbon to hang the dress on the hanger so that the weight of it wouldn’t pull the shoulders out of shape.

Grandma Rosi hand crocheted these chains which I used to loosely attach the skirt layers together so they couldn’t get horribly twisted or bunched up.

I hand sewed almost 30 pearl buttons done the back of the dress. This took 3 hours alone, but they were beautiful.

I made these knotted thread loops for the top of the bodice and for bustling the skirt instead of using metal loops.

Maddy was radiant on her wedding day, and would have looked beautiful in a burlap sack. But I was really happy about how the dress fit her and moved with her through it all.

Christmas 2019

30 Dec


Zeke and Skeeter as Rudolf. Skeeter says he is happy because his antlers are green.

This year I scaled back our Christmas activities and celebrations, because I was sewing a wedding dress for my niece, and because my husband begged me not to torture him by lots of dragging him places every night for “big productions.”

Despite the great reduction of my grand plans, I still:

Helped two friends with packing or cleaning their houses because they were moving.

Spent at least 48 hours working on the wedding dress. I drafted the bodice and sleeves myself because my niece wanted sleeves (good for her) and a sweetheart neckline–neither of which were available in the bridal store or in the big 4 patterns available at Jo-Ann’s. I’ve finished the bodice now, and it fits her perfectly. I’m so happy about it. Just 2 layers of organza left to sew up for the skirt, which already has 2 layers of satin and lining.


Skeeter helps mommy draft a body block

Kept homeschool going …kind of…math and history were not shirked.

Participated in our annual “Light the World” Christmas concert which required many many hours of practicing the organ and some hours practicing singing.

Recognized St. Nicolas Day and St. Lucia Day and Las Posadas with special food and treats.

Held a piano recital for my 25 students.

(They were fantastic. The biggest thing that went wrong is I was 5 minutes late and had to set up all the keyboards while the families of the students –who were all early– waited on me. Some of the parents jumped up and helped me, and we were ready to go in record time. I swallowed my embarrassment over being late and began. The recital was under 45 minutes, despite the number of students, and they all performed gracefully and well. After it was all over, my shame over being late began to well up again, but I told myself there was nothing I could do to change it, and refused to think on it any longer. I really have the best group of students and families ever.)

Attended my good and talented friend’s Family Christmas Concert.

Attended Tamale Pie’s violin recital, and accompanied her solo.  Dream come true.

Hosted my family for a Christmas party after Banana Cream Pie’s baptism. (And didn’t get a single picture)

Managed to have Christmas presents for all the children and the resident Captain despite this being such a small budget year, AND got all the presents wrapped before Christmas Eve so that we didn’t have to stay up until 2 am wrapping on Christmas Eve.

Made this felt nativity for my mom.

I drew up the pattern 11 years ago, and have intended every year since to make it for my mom. I can’t believe it’s really been that long. Last year I finally bought a new package of felt, so this year, I could make it! I altered the pattern some, including adding an angel, and I need to update it for my Etsy shop now.

I watched over half a season of Project Runway and a 4 hour movie while I worked on these cuties.

Puzzled on Christmas Eve with the girls, who love to put together puzzles while waiting for Santa just like their mother and mother’s mother before them. That Map of the World had 1500 pieces NOT fully interlocking. It was a beast.


Extra Christmas bonuses:

2 of the 3 cars we own broke down in December, but we were able to get them fixed (one new alternator, one new gizmo thingy) and get everyone to work, college classes, and music lessons without serious difficulty.

My dad came over and helped the resident Captain put a door on the Girls’ bedroom. I’m so glad they have a door!


My awesome sister, Mary, is going to make bookshelves to go in the hallway next to this door for me for Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Shelves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

China Shepherdess

29 Dec

Ever since I was a little girl listening to my mother read “Little House in the Big Woods” I’ve wanted to have a china shepherdess like Ma had.

The little shepherdess represented grace and culture in the wilderness, and later came to symbolize the kind of mother I wanted to be.

Every time I was in a thrift store or flea market, I looked for my shepherdess. Shepherdesses seem to be rare, and none of the few I saw seemed quite what I was searching for.

But this month, I found her. She is me and I am she, and for $1 she came home with me from Cross-lines, my gift from the Universe.