Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I'm so glad to have Jenny as my friend because she's always up for an outdoor adventure! Over on Jenny's blog she's posted pictures of our families enjoying the snow a few weeks ago as we cut Christmas trees. She's a much better photographer than I so hop on over there if you'd like.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Quilt

I finished a simple Christmas quilt last week! Just in time for us all to snuggle under while we read "A Christmas Carol" aloud the past few days. So fun. The snuggling, the reading, and the sewing too.

Using charm squares and machine quilting, it came together very quickly.

I washed it after these photos were taken and it brought out even more of that wonderful quilted texture that I love. I declare, I think I'm really starting to catch the quilting bug which I never thought would happen. :-) The cutting and piecing process always seemed way too fussy, hand quilting took forever (I took a YEAR to finish a baby quilt for a friend!), I didn't know how to machine quilt, and I knew that taking quilts in to be quilted at a shop was way too expensive for my budget. But I've gained some patience over the years AND I've learned some quilting tricks on the Internet this fall.

I thought I'd take a minute and explain the simple "trick" I learned that allows a person to free motion quilt on any sewing machine, even one that doesn't have a way to lower the feed dog. First, you place masking tape over your feed dog, then, attach your embroidery foot or darning foot. (The one I use is an embroidery foot and it is circle shaped.)

Next, decide on the continuous random pattern you want to do and practice drawing it on paper. I looked on line for some ideas. Practice evenly feeding your fabric through your sewing machine -- too fast and you have huge stitches; too slow and your stitches are tiny. It's a matter of getting your hands and your foot in sync. I started out on some small projects I wasn't too emotionally attached to in case I completely made a mess of them. This site was particularly helpful in figuring out the whole process, with pictures to go with it.

One other thing that has helped me is using quilting gloves. It may sound a bit wimpy but it's actually a bit physically demanding to grip the quilt for an hour or two while you make the loopy-dee-loop pattern all over the place. The quilting gloves have grippy stuff on the fingers and they make it a piece of cake to keep control over the material. Some people don't like the gloves but I think they're great. I hate to admit this out loud because it makes me feel old, but I'm pretty sure I've inherited the arthritis gene that runs in my family. Just typing this post I can feel how stiff and creaky my fingers are and while doing handiwork they can get quite sore. Using gloves, I don't have to grip the fabric but just put my hands palm down on the fabric. This really helps with joint fatigue but it makes it all around easier too, no matter what the condition of your joints.

If you haven't tried machine quilting you should give it a whirl! It's addictive and quick. Even Taylor is begging me to let him try and I told him he could as soon as I get done with my projects that are due the 24 of December......

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cutting a Christmas Tree in the South Hills

It was so much fun going to the South Hills to find a Christmas tree-- this year with the Hanson family. The mix of snow and sunshine was just perfect.
Heidi palling around with her best friend Hannah.

First off, we found a little table size tree for Grandma Clayton's house, .....then we found a bigger one for our house. Joel, the hooded, anonymous tree cutter, tying everything down. Joel's so nice to agree to this trip even though snow and cold isn't his favorite weather to gallivant around in. He still has a bit of Phoenix blood, even after all these years. :-)

Then after tramping around in the snow to find trees, and after Taylor's boots dried out from falling in a snow covered creek, we then had a blast sledding in the Diamond Field Jack area until dark! The boys loved the full body trash bag "sleds".
Hank, Taylor and Hagan having a great time doing silly stunts .....
....while Torsten filmed them.
I loved this saucer sled the best even though it always turned me around backwards. I screamed every time. Torsten enjoying some hot chocolate.To top the day off, some snow mobilers came riding up and asked to borrow our 5 dollar sleds in exchange for letting us use their very nice snow machines. Seriously?? Joel and Travis happily took them up on their offer and gave all the kids some 70 mile an hour sled rides.
The kids couldn't get enough of it, though one ride was more than enough for me.

Note Joel's smile-- yes, nice equipment like that warms him right up. :-)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cat food anyone?

Even though Leif has grown very picky about food lately, not wanting anything to do with peaches, applesauce, watermelon, pretzels, cheerios, grapes, cheese sticks, or a host of other foods, he's continued his love of cat food eaten on the sly (it's more fun that way) and we recently discovered he has a taste for pickled beets. I don't know if pickled beets and cat food would be considered a healthy diet for a 14 month old - or any age for that matter......

Monday, November 29, 2010


One afternoon in October, the kids raked and raked the back yard, bagging up all the walnut tree leaves and even some leaves from the adjacent yard. They ended up with over 11 bags of leaves!! I was soooo amazed that they did all that work without me asking them.

(Reagan was pretty amazed too....)

I looked out later to see all the of the bags deflated and scattered on the grass and a gargantuan pile of leaves next to the trampoline.....They were merrily jumping and diving into their freshly created leaf pile!
Come to find out, creating a huge pile had been their plan all along. Well, no wonder they were motivated to do so much work-- I should have known. Hmmm.......sigh...those leaves never did get cleaned up again until we did our final mow for the year.

Lately Leif likes standing on his head. He'll just look around for a little while enjoying the new perspective. Even through the blurriness of this photo you can see to admire his fat little thighs and cute tippytoe feet. :-)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Remember the quilt I mentioned awhile back?

"Hey, Taylor and Hailey- would you mind doing a photo shoot of the baby quilt I just finished? You know, outside in the sunshine with some nice snow and evergreens as a backdrop?" This was my request when I went into town today for last minute groceries. (I missed our normal shopping day because of Tuesday's snowstorm.)

When I downloaded the camera, this is what I found:

Hmmmm...... not quite what I was imagining. This is the back. Nice ski goggles Hailey.....

Oh, okay, here we go- this is the front of it.
So, weren't they sweet to help me out? Especially as it was only 13 degrees outside. :-)


Taylor enjoys using GIMP (gnu image manipulation program) to play around with our photos. I love how this picture of Aflack turned out. (Aflack grew to become a big white duck and, ever since our move, she resides on the farm with Grandma and Grandpa)

Monday, November 22, 2010


Woohoo! We are so excited about the SNOW in Hagerman!!! The kids and I were starting to think that we'd have to go back to Twin Falls to experience some of this beautiful white fluff......not that Twin Falls is known for its record snow, but at least they've had some this year! So yesterday, Leif experienced 2 firsts: snow and hot chocolate. He liked only one of them and I bet you can guess which one it was......(hot chocolate!) The kids are working on a snow fort in the park and Heidi is back to making her favorite concoction of snow and maple syrup. The older kids are all ready getting excited about their favorite winter activity: skiing.
I was driving Torsten to seminary early this morning and individually marveling at the beauty of the vineyards, evergreens, blackberry bushes and cliffs with their new coats of white. The full moon made the snow on the distant plateaus glow a soft blue......so lovely.
I wanted to include snow pictures in this post, but the camera is presently incapacitated. So the pictures are vintage 2009.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

October in Review

Here's a few photos from October that I wanted to share before trying to catch up with November's fun. The computer is in hot demand around here with so many kids needing it for school reports, math and science lectures, etc. When I finally have my turn at it, it seems I just end up reading email and catching up on political stuff and friends blogs! So here's a quick recap of October.

Leif's first year to enjoy the autumn leaves. The kids had fun burying him too but I can't find the pic's.

Taylor made a beautiful cheesecake ALL BY HIMSELF! He loves cheesecake and I wasn't responding to his request to make one so he took matters into his own hands...
Leif as Baby Bear and Hailey the Gypsy

At the trunk or treat-
Reagan as Sherlock Holmes

Heidi the Indian

Taylor as himself....
Taylor and Torsten helped Grandpa do logs and clean roof gutters that day and didn't get back to the house in time to dress up. That was okay because this year the boys didn't have a cliff with trash to look for great costume props. (Did you know that at our last house people would throw things off the cliff, so the kids would hunt around in the rocks for interesting things to use- crutches, sunglasses, the pipe for Reagan's costume...etc. And yes, we bleached and disinfected that pipe!)

Here's a random silly picture, very typical of a day at our house. Kids doing school but getting distracted dressing up Leif and taking pictures-- and look at Taylor in the background.....he's walking around with his arms down the legs of his sweatpants looking like a pair of legs with a head. Yes, very typical.
To conclude I have to include another picture of Leif's birthday. Even though the quality is bad I love the happy look on the kids faces. The cute pumpkin cake was made by Grandma Clayton!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

We had our little 7 year old neighbor friend, Shaynee, spend the afternoon and evening with us while her parents went hunting. Shaynee is an only child and she loves coming over to our house because there is always something going on and someone to play with. That night the kids had a great time creating forts, being silly, and making a mess together: cutting and pasting, glittering and gluing for hours, making books and creating decorations to hang from the ceiling and windows. At one point Shaynee came giggling over to show me a long white string taped to her bum and a sign on her back that said "Kick me! I'm a mouse or a rat!!"

Since Shaynee was staying for dinner, I thought it would be festive to make a dinner-in-a-pumpkin meal. Years ago I made this dinner and I wasn't too impressed because it was very bland and tasteless. So this time I combined a bunch of recipes from the internet and added some of my own ingredients trying to spice it up a bit. It turned out pretty tasty! To the regular ingredients of hamburger, cream of chicken and rice I added: minced garlic, cayenne, diced celery, onions, kale and various hot peppers sauteed in butter. My picky kids ate it pretty well, though they didn't want the pumpkin flesh part added to their rice. Sometimes kids just don't know what they're missing! (The leftover cooked pumpkin was fed to the chickens- they don't like raw pumpkin, but they will gobble it up when it is cooked)

Rides with Dad

Leif loves to hear his Daddy's motorcycle come putt-putting up the driveway at the end of a work day. Leif will stop what he's doing and listen expectantly, waiting for the front door open. He always wants a hug from Dad, to "talk" with him about the lights (Leif loves lights), and then usually Joel give him a ride on the motorcycle all around the yard. It's a fun routine for them both.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Turtle Applique quilt

See this little flannel baby quilt? It's the project that got me back in the sewing groove. (See Leif? He's the munchkin that put me back in the baby groove--hehe. )

I finished this blanket 3 months ago and I didn't get around to taking a picture until today, hence the disheveled "just barely pulled out of the crib "look.

I enjoyed making this so much that I decided to tackle a little bit harder block type quilt that I'm working on now, whenever I have a spare moment. I'll share it soon. Hope these sewing posts don't bore everyone to tears. Sewing is my favorite hobby of the moment. I rotate through my hobbies on a regular basis-- do you?

Do the Mashed Potato

Birthday boy before dinner.....

Birthday boy AFTER.

Leif loves those homemade mashed potatoes. Besides being tasty eating, he thinks they make a perfect hair gel!

"Oh what a mess I am!"
My roses are putting forth their last beautiful hurrah before the killing frosts of November are here. 2 tone roses are my absolute favorite, especially pink and yellow ones.

Taylor took the rose pictures for me. When I see something pretty I often ask him get the camera out and be my photographer. He knows how to use the camera better than I do. Taylor also took the fall foliage shots in my last post. I think his favorite thing to shoot are interesting textures. After Taylor's photo sessions you always find closeup pictures like these on the camera:
Oh, and these kind of closeups too of course....he is eleven after all. I think this is particular photo is entitled "Self Portrait- the Startled Eyeball"
and this one, "Mein Scar".
However did we manage before the digital camera was invented?

Monday, October 18, 2010

I spent all day Sunday crying over the unexpected death of my friend Sarah's beautiful 16 month old baby girl. The grief and sadness that I know their family is going through kept playing over and over in my heart. It seems like life can throw such breathtakingly hard experiences at us at a moment's notice. We just want to shout "Nooooo! Take this back, take it away.....I don't want to deal with this.....I can't.....

Sarah is the same friend who helped me move from Grand View to Shoshone Falls in 2007 and then this spring, she drove the 2 hour trip from Grand View to spend all day helping us move from Shoshone Falls to Hagerman. With her 4 children in tow she still managed to get more done than Joel and I put together. Sarah has literally helped shoulder my moving burdens twice now but I feel helpless to return the favor though hers is a burden that is ever so much heavier.

This morning when I woke up, the tears began again and I decided I needed to get out of the house. I put Leif in my backpack and off we went. Walking in the gorgeous fall weather I was reminded that God's handiwork is so wonderous and amazing - whether it is the smooth perfect skin of your baby's cheek or the flaming red autumn leaves glowing in the sun. Life is so fragile. It is so beautiful. So finite. It brings a bittersweet ache to my heart and I want to hug my family and treasure every moment I have with them. I need to embrace the beauty of each day. I pray that Sarah, her husband and their girls feel the warmth of God's love wrap around them and carry them through this.