Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Prepping projects for a journey

Recently I picked up a ball of Tofutsies sock yarn at my local yarn shop and have been knitting a pair of plain socks for my mom (as always).

Tofutsies socks in progress

There is something truly comforting about plain sock knitting.  The simple stitches, the fact that I don't have to look while knitting it, the magic of turning the heel...

Quite soon we will be leaving on a summer road trip to visit family back East, so I have been tracing embroidery patterns from Aimee Ray's Doodle Stitching The Motif Collection to small squares of fabric, which I intend to eventually frame in little ribbon-wrapped embroidery hoops over Daisy's bed.

Tracing embroidery patterns
Using the window as my light-box.

Setting up for embroidering

I also have checked the 5th and 6th Harry Potter books out of the library, so this way I will be able to alternate between handwork and reading in the interest of avoiding sore hands or carsickness.  What is your favorite sort of thing to take on a road trip?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday: with Joy

Well.  It's not Wednesday, and this is a repeat outfit, but you see...

My sister Joy and I as Sailor Girls

My sister Joy flew in early last week, and we're having so much fun being together that I haven't managed to blog much at all.

My sister Joy and I as Sailor Girls

We decided to go all matchy-matchy for a baby shower on Friday night, because...

My sister Joy and I as Sailor Girls

Well, why not?

My sister Joy and I as Sailor Girls

I was 11 years old when Joy was born, and there are 4 children between us in the sibling line-up, but in the past few years she's become more than just a little sister...she's become my friend.  Additionally, I'm not entirely sure I can call her my "little" sister if she's 5 inches taller than me.  Or so I've been told.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sweet little girl gifts

This weekend we had birthday parties for two little girls, and I decided to handmake the gifts (I know, super surprising).

First, a pillowcase dress with a ruffled hem:

Pillowcase dress

I love the feminine, old-fashioned rose print...girly, but not candy-sweet...

Pillowcase Dress

Pillowcase Dress

Second, for our other little friend, I made this Pink Flamingo Buttercup Bag (tutorial by Made By Rae):

Pink Flamingo Buttercup Bag

Pink Flamingo Buttercup Bag
Magnetic snap, inner pocket

Pink Flamingo Buttercup Bag
Topstitching and pleating detail

I love making handbags and pillowcase dresses as gifts for little girls.  What are your favorite go-to handmade projects to give?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Because there's nothing like Red Bull, bacon and bluegrass in the morning

When we lived in Germany, we became friends with a very dear family -- Nick and Heather, and their two (now three!) children. Heather and I met through the knitting group that I organized there, and soon realized our husbands had a lot in common (military, mountain bikers, music, etc.) When we moved back to the States, we were very happy to learn that they were moving to San Antonio -- less than 2 hours away from Austin! We've managed to get our families together numerous times for weekend sleep-over visits in the past year, and it's always great to spend time with them.

Two weekends ago, we decided to go camping together at mountain biking ranch near Fredericksburg TX. Because camping is already a study in inconvenience, I haven't wanted to go camping as a family since having children. However, now that Billy is 2-1/2 years old, I decided to take the plunge. I'm not really an "outdoor" sort of a person, and have never enjoyed the idea of roughing it, so what always happens in an situation like this is that I get left behind with the baby, while other people go off to have the adventures, and then I hate the world. However, Nick and Heather have taken their children camping many times, and I figured that even if it was a little miserable, at least I'd be able to spend time with Heather while our guys went off mountain-biking or exploring or whatever it is that they like to do in the wild.

The first night was very rough for me -- I have bad hips from having all of these babies, and it's nearly impossible for me to sleep on camping pads (excruciating pain in my joints). After adding about four more pads under my sleeping bag, I was able to take a nap that afternoon, and then the 2nd night was slightly more bearable. Next time we will take the inflatable mattress with us, and it will be a whole lot better. ...And yes, I did say next time. As it turns out -- besides the sleeping issues -- ...we actually had a lot of fun!

Making dinner
Camp kitchen

Camp kitchen (photo courtesy of Heather)

Tree climbing
The perfect sort of trees for little monkeys

Tree climbing

Making a fort
Building the fairy-house

A fairy-house/fort the children made
A fairy-house the children built

Greg and Nick, back from biking the trails
We camped on a mountain-biking ranch, so the guys were able to take some good rides on the trails.

Greg making breakfast
Greg, making scrambled eggs with sausages and bacon for breakfast

Heather and I getting ready to walk the bike trails
Heather and I, about to leave for a hike

Hiking with Heather (photo courtesy of Heather)

Greg and Nick trying to carve a cork out of a wine bottle
Greg and Nick, attempting to (dangerously) carve a cork out of a wine bottle. No one got hurt, but I do not recommend this method! Next time we'll remember to bring a corkscrew.

To be sure, the best part of our camping adventure was when the children were in their tents, the sun had gone down, and we parents got a chance to chill out and visit around the lantern. (Due to a state-wide burn-ban, the lantern had to stand in for an arguably more romantic camp-fire.) Clove cigarettes, plastic cups of red wine, discussion about bluegrass and blue Avatar men plugging into mystical horses... The best of times under a blanket of stars.

Check out our Flickr set: First Family Camping Trip for more pictures if you haven't already seen enough.  :-)

Tomorrow -- some of my projects from this weekend!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thank you and a manicure

In the interest of making sure everyone knows that we have not dropped off the face of the earth -- yes, we are still here!  There was a family camping trip last weekend (our first full-family camping ever!), and then this week has been full of catching up on the house-cleaning, catching up on the sleeping, catching up on my project to-do list...  Every time I try to sit down to write a blog post, I feel too pressed to write properly, so I put it off one more day...  For today, I'd just like to say: thank you.  Thank you to each of your readers who comments and makes my day.  Thank you for the silent readers who never comment but just drop by to skim through the pictures. Thank you to my siblings who don't like my writing style. Thank you to my husband who has taught me to see the world through a camera lens.  Thank you.

I'll be back next week with pictures from our camping trip, some new recipes, a knitting project and more.

Today we're up to more important things than blog posts...like giving each-other manicures.

Daisy's manicure

Because when you're 4-years-old and your name is Daisy, getting a fresh color change can sometimes be The Most Pressing Event of your day.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Link-tastic Friday is postponed till next week, because we're off on a family adventure!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday: Secret Agent

(Even if you don't usually read these style posts, please scroll to the end to vote in a quick little poll imbedded in this blog. Click through to the actual blog post if you're reading through a feed aggregator or email!)

What I Wore Wednesday: Secret Agent
Black camisole, Target ~ V-neck T-shirt, OldNavy ~ Black tuxedo-stripe skinny jeans, OldNavy ~ Knee-high leather boots, Born (from Zappos.com) ~ Bracelet, Cocktail Ring, Sparkly Fascinator Headband, all gifts from a friend ~ Austrian Crystal Lariat Necklace, unknown.

Have you ever watched those action movies with the sleekly dressed female assassin/secret agent who can shoot poison darts with a ballpoint-pen, has a hidden camera in her cleverly designed necklace, and can run down the enemy spy with a pair of killer heels?

What I Wore Wednesday: Secret Agent

I figure that if a Super Awesome Secret Agent can do that, I can at least chase down a toddler with a pair of knee-high boots.

What I Wore Wednesday: Secret Agent

And with all of this bling, there's NO way anyone would ever see me coming.  Or pick me out of a crowd.  So sneaky.  I even have a scar next to my right eye.  That TOTALLY makes me bad-ass.  Scar-Faced-Faith.  That's my Bad Guy name.  Wait -- I forgot that I was supposed to be the good guy in this story.  Whoops!

What I Wore Wednesday: Secret Agent

In reality, I probably COULD run down an assassin...because he would fall over laughing at my inefficient running style....which is what happens even when I'm in my track shoes.  I love making people smile.  ("They're not laughing AT me, just WITH me...")  A girl can dream.

A note on make-up:
I used my favorite Maybelline Eye Studio Color Plush Silk palette in Sapphire Siren, and Rimmel Vinyl Lip Gloss in Crystal Clear.  The key to a really intense eye like this is to fearlessly apply color, layering until you have the intensity you want, then very carefully blend each color into the next, finishing with blending out any harsh edges on the outside of the lid.  I apply my shadow with brushes, but then use my fingertips for blending, because I think that works better than Q-tips or cotton balls or brushes.

Alright my friends, I've been doing this weekly style feature for about 2-1/2 months now, and I've enjoyed it, but what about you?  For me, this blog has always been about whatever it is that I'm interested in.  I figure, if I start to write about things that don't interest you, as the reader you have the power to click away to more stimulating subjects.  However, this style section has run a little far-afield from the initial goal -- to give myself a place to talk about the creative and crafty parts of my life along with a good dose of life-as-a-mother, and the occasional recipe.  While I personally feel very creative when putting together outfits, how does that make you feel?  Should we keep it?

Monday, May 09, 2011

A tale of two suck-tacular projects

Project suck-tastic #1:
On Thursday, I promised a friend I'd bring my favorite pound cake for a get-together that night.  Unfortunately, the cake stuck in the bundt pan (1st time it's stuck -- and I'm pretty sure I didn't do anything different than the last 100 times!), and I had to literally carve it out onto the serving plate.  Since I'd promised, I decided to still bring it anyway, ugly as it was, so I just drizzled it with glaze and brought it as is.  Thankfully, my friends love me enough to trust my baking, so it was happily eaten in spite of the disaster.

Project suck-tastic #2:
Yesterday, Greg took the children out for the afternoon to give me a few hours to myself in the studio.  The perfect Mother's Day gift!  I used the time to sew together a bag that I've had cut out for a few months now....

"Two Kates" project bag

And only afterwords realized that the pattern is upside down.  On both sides.  At least I'm consistent.  (This is the Two Kates Bag -- a free project from Needled.)

I added little patch pockets to the lining on both sides, and a divider (using a heavyweight interfacing to stiffen it up).

"Two Kates" project bag

....As it turns out, I must have cut the divider a little too wide, because it warps the bag's shape just a bit. But it's functional!

"Two Kates" project bag

Overall, it's the perfect thing to use as I had intended -- a small diaper-bag/knitting-bag/pocketbook to take with me on a day filled with little errands.

Flavor over beauty.  Function over form.  It's not a complete loss if it's still usable!  What are your favorite disasters?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

To my mom, on Mother's Day

White flower bouquet

To my mom,

...who taught me to look for answers even when there didn't seem to be one

...who taught me to think for myself

...who taught me to love without condition

...who taught me to be a self-less mother (although I often fail)

...who has the talent of making me furious with one statement

...who is very often right, even if it makes me angry

...who can comfort me like no one else

...who has arms that can hug away the overwhelming problems of this life

...who has a lap that I'm never to old to sit in

...who gives and gives and gives of her time, love, energy, and patience without reserve

Thank you mom for being you.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for never holding back.  Thank you.

I wish that on this Mother's Day, I could take a walk with you on the shoulder of your country road.  I wish that I could rub your feet for you.  I wish that we could cook a great big messy meal together, and then make you tell me 8 times to wash the dishes.  I love you.


To all of those beautiful mammas reading this blog -- Happy Mother's Day to you!  I hope you have a wonderful day surrounded by (or given a break from!) those you love.

White flower bouquet

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Link-tastic Friday (Saturday)

Every so often when I'm at the grocery store, I buy myself a little bunch of flowers.  I love these uncomplicated boquets -- dressy and cheerful, yet unassuming, with none of the fuss of extra greenery or varied flowers (although I certainly appreciate that too for more formal occasions!)

Little roses in a pickle jar

Because there's nothing like a sweet, perfect little bunch of roses in a pickle jar.

Little roses in a pickle jar

Random coolness:
  • As soon as my current cell phone contract is up, I am very much looking forward to getting an iPhone.  This post on A Beautiful Mess about iPhone Photo Apps makes it seriously hard to wait!

  • Purchasing pre-printed embroidery kits is something that I usually consider an un-necessary luxury, but, well...happy Mother's Day to me!  The colors, the design -- I'm in love!  Pre-order your Daisychain ABC's Crewelwork by Posie Gets Cosy/Alicia Paulson right here. (for release in mid-June).

Food (savory):
  • I made this Marinated Flank Steak last night (using both flank and skirt steak), and then ran it under the broiler instead of grilling it.  It's hands down my favorite flank steak recipe to date.  SO delicious!  (I only marinated it for 6 hours, although overnight would have probably been even better.)
  • In the past, I've mentioned this Quick Pickled Zucchini recipe before, but I need to repost the link, because it's become our go-to pickle in this house.  Even my children like it if I don't make it too spicy (or if I just sort out the hot peppers when I serve it to them).  Tip: slicing the zucchini in the food processor makes it even quicker.

Food (sweet):
  • Some of these are more appetizing looking than others, but I love the concept!  What a fun birthday party idea!  Or just a sweet girl's night in...  Amazing Cake In A Jar, via Pistof.  (Thank you Shannon W. for the link!)  The one at the  top of my list is definitely the S'mores recipe (using some homemade marshmallows....oh yeah baby).
  • Here's some more of the same from Babble.com: 15 Dessert Recipes In A Jar.
  • I've been making Molly Wizenberg's Cinnamon Rolls With Cream Cheese Glaze for a few years now and I love it, but these Cinnamon Rolls with Dates and Walnuts look like a really interesting little change-up.  Must try it soon!
  • Sparky's class had a unit study on some different countries around the world, and as the study came to an end, us parents were asked to bring things in for an "international food buffet".  I volunteered to bring baklava (supposedly the favorite of Egyptians -- Sparky's study subject).  This is the recipe I used, although I used this syrup recipe, modifying it slightly by simmering lemon peel and 3 cloves with the cinnamon stick and omitting the lemon juice.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday: 31st Birthday Party

Greg and I do not normally do anything big for our birthdays -- we celebrate quietly as a family, bake a cake, open a few gifts.  But in the past year-and-a-half since moving to Texas, I have gathered a fantastic group of lady friends that I love dearly, and I thought --- what could be more fun than a Girls Only Birthday Party?

If I could describe my sense of style in a word, it would be "quirky", and since this was my party, I decided to go completely over-the-top with accessories and FUN!  Ever since seeing the tutorial for these little top-hat fascinators over at Offbeat Bride, I've had an idea percolating in my head...

The tiny top-hat fascinators I made for my birthday party

I didn't manage to create enough hats for all 10 attendees, but I did make these three, which turned out a little messy, but rather cute.  (I actually wasn't sure if everyone would really wear these with me, but my friends ended up being more willing-to-be-daring than I had given them credit for.  If we do this again, I'll make more.)

Put together with a Modcloth dress and a whole lot of accessories...

What I Wore Wednesday: 31st Birthday Party
Dress, Modcloth ~ Shoes, Bergman Heel by Seychelles (from Modcloth) ~ Hat, made by me using this tutorial ~ Ruched cropped leggings, Victoria's Secret ~ Jeweled necklace, unknown ~ Audry Hepburn pocket-watch necklace (purchased on eBay, but available at ModCloth) ~ Bracelet, a Premier Designs gift from a friend ~ Feather boa, Michaels' craft store.

I'm not sure if my favorite part was the shoes, the false eyelashes, or the feather boa.  Or the Audry Hepburn necklace that pops open to reveal a clock-face.  Because the overkill on the accessories was probably NOT EVEN ENOUGH!

What I Wore Wednesday: 31st Birthday Party

I encouraged everyone to over-dress along with me, but they all secretly decided to appliqué shirts with "Faith" for everyone instead (Lisa R. and Becca made 7 in one day!) (!!).  Sweet, heartwarming, and hilarious all at once.

My 31st birthday party
Top-ish (wonky) row: Susanne, Alison, Lisa R., Alicia, Brittany, Rachel, Lisa H.
Bottom row: Becca, me, Jenny.

We literally laughed all night long.  My face hurt from so much smiling.  Such a wonderful night!

My 31st birthday party

Someone had ordered an Italian Cream Cake from a local bakery and brought it to the restaurant.  (I am rather a bit shorter than the friend who ordered the cake, thus the message...)

Birthday cake

While 31 years might not be normally considered a "milestone" birthday, it is certainly a milestone for me.  This is the first year that I've felt completely at home in any location we've moved to with the Army, and it's all because of these friends.  With these ladies, I can share my life, my fears, my dreams.  We can talk about hard days with children, great recipes, family frustrations, sex, intimacy, love.  We encourage and listen to each other, loving each person just the way we are, no qualifications.  

While our family has found incredible friends at each place we've lived, we've simply never had this sort of tight-knit local (mostly neighborhood!) community before.  Until we moved here, we never really felt that we belonged.

Greg will always be my very best friend, but there are some things that he just shouldn't have to deal with, and isn't as equipped to deal with as a man.  Being able to vent and share with girl-friends takes the pressure off of him, and he doesn't have to deal as much with all of the crazy that is in my head.  In these beautiful woman, I've not only found a safe place: I've found home.

(For the full birthday gallery, click through to our Flickr set.)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Farmer's Market and the Not Socks

This morning, my little ones and I went to our local farmer's market for the first time this season.

Farmer's Market

It was fun to talk to the farmer who had actually grown the food, and select seasonal, local vegetables that I don't normally see at my grocery store.

Of course, the VERY BEST part for Some Of Us was the peanut butter cookies.

Farmer's Market

("Why was Mommy buying all of those vegetables anyway?!"  "NO idea.")

Farmer's Market

It's been remarkably chilly here for the past two days -- enough so that we had to break back out the sweatshirts.  I actually felt the cold front coming in as we sat at an outdoor restaurant Sunday afternoon. It was a remarkable feeling; as though someone had turned on the outside air conditioning.  I'm sure it'll be back to 90 by the end of the week though.  Such is springtime in Texas.

Oh, hey!  Do you want to see what I'm giving my mom for Mother's Day?


What?  You don't see a pair of socks there?  Well then.  I suppose we'll be going with chocolate dipped strawberries instead.


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