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We made it!

We’re in the new house! Our shelves are empty, our garage is full, we don’t have a refrigerator and no one seems able to provide us with a key to our mailbox, but…we’re in!

We started the process of buying a house on February 8, and have been going full steam ever since then. It was even more work than we had anticipated, and the work isn’t over yet. This was our first time buying a house, and our first time moving with children, and it has been a very different experience than any of our prior moves. It has been fun, exhausting, intimidating, exciting, and generally very emotional. Good times!

We are so very happy to be here, and I’m looking forward to getting settled and making this place home. Some Scotch tape and kid art should do the trick.

Moving

I think we’re finally close enough to closing to officially say: We’re moving. Yay! We had a few bumps in the road that made me cautious about announcing it too soon, but I think it’s safe now. We’re buying a house not too far from where we live now, and we’re so excited! I expect there will be many related posts and pictures in the coming months.

Meanwhile, we are packing and cleaning and sorting and donating and selling. My husband has packed well over a hundred boxes. I have packed many, though not nearly that many, and have sorted and cleaned and tossed like mad. We are tired and ready to be in the new house. There are things we will miss, though. There are a lot of great memories in our current house. We moved in when we were expecting our first daughter. In the five years since then, I have quit my full-time job to be a stay-at-home parent; we have had another daughter; my husband has finished graduate school and has quickly advanced his career; and we have developed many, many friendships. It has been a good half decade. On top of those great memories, this is the only home either of my girls have ever known, and that makes it a little sad to leave.

I’m eager to settle into the new house and for it to feel like home. I expect we will feel a bit displaced for a while. We recently moved to a new church, for complex reasons, and have deeply felt the loss of the sense of “home” that we had at our old church. We know that feeling will eventually come with the new church, as we develop relationships there and become more familiar with it, but for now we feel a bit like outsiders. I expect we will feel the same way about the new neighborhood, and we will have to be intentional about getting to know the people and the area. We went door-to-door to meet our new neighbors a few weeks ago, but only one family was home. They were very nice, a young Ukrainian family with four boys ranging in age from 7 months to eight years. (God bless the stay-at-home mother of four young boys!) It will be nice to have young children in the neighborhood.

In the meantime, I have finally admitted that I will not finish any more sewing projects before we move (in two weeks), so have packed all of my fabric and sewing supplies. I even packed the mostly-finished baby quilt that I had so hoped to have completed and given before moving. I hate admitting defeat. It’s okay, though. The baby will still be a baby when the quilt is finished.

It’s really remarkable how well our family is functioning with more than 50% of our possessions in cardboard boxes. There have only been a handful of things that we have missed so far. Makes me think we have way too many things…

Clean Sheets

Monday = Clean Sheets Day. I like it.  It’s a consistent little bright spot in a notoriously dreaded day. Mondays do get a bad rap, don’t they? How unfortunate. At least at the end of the day, I know that my family will enjoy the little luxury of fresh sheets.

If you’re looking to spiff up your bed linens, check out Cassie’s “pillowcase-crochet-along“. A simple, well-made pillowcase (in fabrics of your choosing) with a crocheted edging. Love it.  If you are not inclined to make your own, you can purchase them here.

Happy Monday!

And sew.

A few weeks ago, I took on my first paid sewing job. (Unless you count that time when I was eight and my best friend’s mom “hired” me to make a doll panel pillow for her little girl.  Now that I think about it, the pay was better then.) It wasn’t much: piece work involving a lot of ribbons and a lot of buttons. A lot. Here’s what I learned about contract sewing:

1. It is not a great idea for one to take a job with a one-week deadline during the same week that one is having all of one’s wisdom teeth pulled.

2. All thread is not created equal. [Okay, so I already knew that. The woman for whom I was sewing, however, did not. My trusty little machine – which is not an embroidery machine – did not appreciate the machine embroidery thread with which I was asked to sew Velcro to ribbon. Fortunately, I had my own stash of good ol’ Coats & Clark All Purpose.]

3. Two plastic shank buttons cannot be sewn together without some measure of flexibility. [Also something I already knew, but that I had to explain.]

4. If it is not feasible to estimate the amount of time required to complete a piecework project, it is best to accept only a small job at first in order to determine if the wage is worth the amount of time spent.

Fortunately, I did have the foresight to adhere to #4. I accepted a project that could last no longer than one week. At the end of the week, I calculated my time  – and it was a reasonable amount of time to spend on such a project – and found that the hourly wage ended up being one that would cause social reformers to demand justice. Ah, well, live and learn.

The positive result of the project is that it got me back to my sewing machine. Ahhh. Sewing really provides such a creative release for me. I enjoy stitching by hand, but that is usually a social activity for me, something I do while visiting with friends, listening to my children, talking with my husband. Sitting at my machine is not a social activity. I am focused on the fabric under my hands, on the even stitches appearing behind the needle, on the rhythmic hum that tells me everything is operating as it should. I get lost in it.

Show and tell coming soon. I think.

January

January in the Pacific Northwest is gloomy. It just is.  It is gray and cold and dreary. There is a nearly constant drizzle. No winter wonderlands here. Just winter puddles.

Since there are not many cheery things outdoors, I’ve tried to notice the cheery things indoors. Here are some things that have been cheering me up lately:

Sisters reading.

Messages.

Dressing up.

Wee Wonderfuls redwork that wasn’t done in time for Christmas.

Candles.

Flowers from my husband and daughter.

Works in progress.

Deciding that red berry wreaths do not have to be reserved for Christmas only.

I hope you are finding some cheer in your January!

Christmas Wrap Up

This week I am putting away the last few Christmas items in my home. Their lingering has turned into loitering. In the spirit of the Christmas Wrap Up, I have a few more Christmas-related photos to show you, and then I’ll be done with Christmas 2009. I promise.

Munchkin participated in The Crafty Crow’s Kids Ornament Swap. The theme this year was “Fairy Tales”. She received five very lovely ornaments made by children all over the country, and she made and mailed these magic wand ornaments to the same five children. Munchkin did all of the painting and glittering herself, and I manned the hot glue gun. I do not have pictures of the ornaments that she received, because they were immediately sequestered to her room. However, they included two gingerbread men, a tiny mushroom, a wizard hat and a princess hat, a felt fairy tale book, and a fairy. All lovingly and creatively crafted.

I participated in Small Fox’s Ornament Swap and received these lovelies:

My contribution to the swap was a Santa ornament:

I had a helper – a very fashionable one, I might add – in all of my Christmas endeavors this year, whether crafting, baking, shopping or wrapping.

Others among us cared only about…well, you know. The ribbons.

Christmas 2009 was beautiful and we enjoyed it very much. Now on to the New Year!

(Simple.Happy.Home. Christmas 2009 is now officially closed.)

SMS Giveaway Day

Last month, I was the lucky recipient of three prizes from the Sew Mama Sew! Giveaway Day. Three! December is already my favorite mail month, and these three items just made it even better.

A “Laundry Day” quilt from Rachel:

A fat quarter of Heather Ross fabric from Tammie:

And a shopping bag and shopping bag kit from Green Bag Lady. I have neglected to take a picture of the bag, but I use it every day. It has become my go-to, -grab everything anyone in the family might need for this outing- bag.

Giveaway Day was a lot of fun, not only because of the prizes, but also because of the introduction to so many bloggers whom I had otherwise not encountered. Thanks, SMS!

Our California Adventure

We were crazy adventurous this Christmas. We packed our car, stocked up on juice boxes, and hit the road. We drove about 1200 miles in two days to southern California, where we visited friends, relatives, and mice.

After arriving late on Christmas Eve, we awoke to find that Santa knew where to find us in California! We were graced with the presence of a cowgirl (yes, the dress is backwards)….…who magically transformed herself into a snow princess.

After a couple days of enjoying a white Christmas in the mountains and sunny summer weather in the city (30 minutes away), we moved on to meet more new friends.

Months ago, Munchkin saw a Goofy clip on TV, and ever since has been talking about Goofy’s Hotdog Dance. We had no idea what she meant, but she loved it and demonstrated the dance to everyone who would watch. When we told her that we would be going to Disneyland, she immediately started talking about how she would do the Hotdog Dance with Goofy himself. You can imagine her delight when Goofy walked right by us as we were eating lunch on the first day. She asked him if he would do the dance with her and, lo and behold, Goofy knew exactly what she was talking about. Munchkin and Goofy did the Hotdog Dance, right there in the middle of Toon Town, in front of a crowd. It was awesome.

More dancing took place a little later, although this kind involved a lot more twirling.

Some of us couldn’t have cared less about the strange characters and dazzling sights. Good thing some of us got in for free.

The highlight of our two days at Disneyland occurred at the very end. We had dinner at Ariel’s Grotto. At the bottom of a winding stairway, we were greeted by Ariel (aka The Little Mermaid), then shown to our table. After a few minutes, a couple of princesses (Jasmine and Snow White) walked out and participated in a Lesson on Courtly Manners, taught by a loud and funny court hand, seen on the left in the purple hat.

After the lesson, the children returned to their tables. The meal itself was very good, a nice, relaxing way to end the trip. The best part, though, was that four princesses visited us at our table. Jasmine, Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty all stopped by to say hello. Munchkin talked to Cinderella about how silly Gus-Gus is, and showed Sleeping Beauty (whom she had been hoping and waiting to meet during the entire trip) her pink dress and crown. Watching her excitement as she met the real princesses was priceless. Of course Bug barely gave the ladies a cursory glance before going back to her macaroni. Snow White referred to Bug as Munchkin’s “little friend”, and Cinderella said it was nice of Bug to drop some food on the floor for the mice.

It was a great family vacation. We’ll likely go again when Bug is old enough to care. Watching the magic through my girl’s four year old eyes was wonderful. She believed that the snow falling on Main Street (in 60 degree weather) was the result of a child’s wish. She believed that the bad characters (she met The Queen from Snow White) were good, because everyone is nice at Disneyland.  She believed that Goofy really lived in Goofy’s House, and that she really flew on Dumbo.  The lines and crowds and rude people (we were amazed by how many very rude people we encountered, line cutters and pushers and foul-mouthed parents) were frustrating, but worth it. Our family at “The Happiest Place On Earth”.

Thrift Score

So the other day I went into a thrift store near our house, looking for a cowgirl hat for my daughter’s dress up collection. Thrift stores are usually great places to find dress up clothes. Not that day. (I later found a super cute cowgirl/sheriff hat at a local toy store.) However, a quick survey of the fabric section surprised me with the best thrifted fabric score ever. (Indulge me.)

Someone – someone with good taste in fabric – cleaned out their stash. In two minutes, I found Miss Amy Butler:

Michael Miller:

And Alexander Henry:

There may have been more, but I had Bug with me and we were on our way to pick up Munchkin from preschool, so I had to be quick. I was shocked. I’ve bought fabric from thrift stores before. They sometimes have beautiful vintage fabrics and good children’s prints. But never before have I seen recent, designer, “quilt shop” fabrics at a thrift store. And yardage. These aren’t scraps. The first two are at least a yard and a half, and the Alexander Henry is two full yards. It totally made my day.

(I think this might make me a fabric geek. I'm okay with that.)

And so this is Christmas

Why, yes, it has been two months since I last posted here. And now it is Christmas.

We got to meet Santa a week or so ago. What a nice gentleman he is. My Munchkin wrote him a little letter, the back of which you can see in the photo at the top of the post.

This is as near as my Bug would get to the jolly old elf. I had no intention of being in this year’s Santa photo, but – well, there I am. We weren’t about to put Bug or Santa through the trauma of making her sit on his lap just for the sake of a photo.

Now if I could just find the Santa photos from years past, we would have a nice little display in our living room. New Year’s resolution #1: Organize photos.