Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back to the Future

If Doc Brown had actually been able to go forward 25 years in the future, instead of being shot by Libyan nationals for stealing their stolen plutonium . . . he and his DeLorean would have ended up at the Puente Hills (Pine Hills) Mall today!

So to celebrate, we were at the Puente Hills Mall AMC Theater last night to see Back to the Future on the big screen! We also got to see a tricked out DeLorean and the actress who played Marty McFly's girlfriend Jennifer in the first movie.

Happy 25th Anniversary Back to the Future!

Little Pumpkin Heads

My Mom made these adorable pumpkin hats for James and Maddie. . . . aren't they cute? She popped them in the mail and then she unexpectedly popped herself on a plane to fly out to California to attend my Grandmother's (on my dad's side) memorial service. She almost beat the hats here!

Are these not the cutest hats? The kiddos love them and are wearing them everywhere. Luckily, we have had 10 days of rain so it has been hat wearing weather!

The only drawback to the matching hats is that we are getting even more "are they twins" questions.

My Mom used this pattern. She altered it a bit to make it big enough for toddler heads . . . and left off the leaves in the interest of saving some time. Both Ed and I agree we like my Mom's version better! I am not a crocheter, but I love to send my Mom patterns of things I want her to make for the kids (aren't I sweet?), do you have any fun patterns you want to share?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Because I just have too much time on my hands . . .

I have signed up for this year's National Novel Writing Month otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. The goal is to complete a novel of at least 50,000 words during the month of November. I originally signed up in 2008, but the last two Novembers have turned out to be some of the busiest and most full of upheaval in the last two years . . . which is saying a lot if you know anything about our last two years! This November is no different! I will be working full time until the 19th, and then I'm off, which is both a blessing and a curse! So the first part of the month I will be dealing with writing while I have no time, and the second part writing while I have no income. It promises to be fun!
I have had this novel bouncing around in my head for 5 years, so you think I'd have more of a headstart on it . . . but I have nothing! Not even a title. At this point not even a working title . . . although Ed has suggested Sleeping Beauty 2.0.
Whatever it ends up being titled it will be written in November of 2010.
Anyone want to join me for NaNoWriMo?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Feature: Hope Adams Photography

I've won a lot of things online . . . but this may take the cake!
Earlier this year there was a month long photography session giveaway on the Becky Higgins blog. One of the photographers giving away a session was Hope from Hope Adams Photography here in Southern California and we won a family session with her!

We met Hope at a park near the Orange County Fairgrounds (and my alma mater). The kids were a overly distracted by all of the cool stuff in the park, including huge hills, a stream, and ducks! Maddie is slightly obsessed with ducks. They were both insanely squirelly, so I don't think there are any pictures where I am not making a weird "Ok, everyone, let's smile" kind of face.

James just wanted to play baseball . . . and when he had to stop throwing the ball for even one second he would let out this blood-curdling high pitched scream.

Hope was really patient with the kids (and us), and let them roam all over the park and playground and just took natural shots as the presented themselves. How gorgeous is this picture of Maddie?

For those of you wondering, the marks on James face were scabs from a scratch wound he may or may not have received from his older sister. Ah, the love. . . actually they do usually love each other, but every now and then one will get irritated and take a swipe at the other.

I absolutely love Hope's style and how easy she was to work with! I could have posted at least 20 more great pictures, especially of the kids! If you are in the Southern California area I can't reccomend her enough. Make sure to visit her site and her blog!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Lovely Surprise and a Big Thank You!

Months and months ago I participated in the Sew, Mama, Sew! Fat Quarter swap, and because I am a slacker I never posted pictures of the fat quarters I received. One of the swappers, Kristin Bare (Hi Kristin!) read this blog and took note of all of my favorite things and sent me the most amazing box that included the bee fabric I used to make Maddie's birthday skirt, Winnie the Pooh boxes, a read the Bible in a Year book and much, much more. I was remiss in not thanking her publically then.

A week and a half ago I got a surprise package in the mail, another box from Kristin, just because! I nearly fell over! It was filled with so much gorgeousness . . . a beautifully crosstitched table runner, some Pooh Bear frames and a box, some lovely pieces of fabric . . . as well as this awesome flannel (Maddie's Christmas present scarf anyone?) . . .

this amazing fabric from Free Spirit . . . um, oh my gosh!

And, no, your eyes do not deceive you, this is a gorgeous piece of some Nicey Jane!

Thank you, thank you, thank you Kristin!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why I Am an Angels Fan

In life, much like in baseball, you don't always make it to the post-season. Not every year can be a championship year. Sometimes you lose more games than you'd like. You can get frustrated. Unexpected hardships and injuries can damage your offense.

I am an Angels fan, and this year I've often felt like my team's struggles on the field parallel what a hard year it has been for us personally.

I was raised in Southern California, I could easily be a Dodgers fan, and I was for most of my youth. However, for the last fifteen years or so my heart has belonged to the team on the other side of the freeway series. . . and maybe that isn't so surprising, our manager Mike Scioscia is one of "Tommy's Boys" after all.

The Angels play great baseball. Even in a bad year there things I know to be true and that I am proud of:

We don't cheat.
We play as a team.
We believe in the fundamentals of the sport.
We never, never give up.

This is why I am an Angels fan.

This is why I am glad my children are becoming Angels fans.

This is how I hope they play the game of life.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Charlotte Collins by Jennifer Becton - A Review

You might have figured out by now that I am kind of an Austen freak. I love everything Austen, books, movies, regency era dress . . . The awesome Victoria got me a book of hand-sewing projects from the Regency period and I am totally ga-ga over it! Although I haven't had the time to sew anything from it yet, I can't wait to have some time to really delve into it! The one thing I haven't really gotten into is sequels and adaptations written by other authors (in spite of writing one myself!) Well, ladies and germs, all that has changed! I have made a rather lengthy list of books to be read, and the first one I have crossed off my list is Charlotte Collins by Jennifer Becton. I recently downloaded the Kindle application for my iPhone, so I was able to get the book through Amazon, sent straight to my phone, for only $4.99. This is so awesome because I can read on my phone while I am laying with James trying to get him to fall asleep at night (he is a bit clingy!). So without further ado here is my brief review of Charlotte Collins!

I have always had a special place in my heart for Charlotte Collins (formerly Lucas) from Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It is so easy to compare her to Elizabeth, to applaud Elizabeth's rejection of Mr. Collins, and lament Charlotte's persuing of him. After all, who would want to be married to someone like Mr. Collins? The reader often feels dissapointed in Charlotte, and that her weakness highlights Elizabeth's strength. I have never felt dissapointed in Charlotte, but I have felt desperately sorry for her in many ways. To compare her, and her choices and options, to Elizabeth is unfair. As few choices as Lizzie has, Charlotte has even fewer. For one thing she is significantly older, with less family support, and probably an even more shaky financial future if she didn't marry. Charlotte is forced to make the realistic choice, and while we recognize it was realistic we have no real hope for her future happiness.

Which is why I am so excited to see a continuation of Charlotte's story that gives her a chance at that happiness! Jennifer Becton's beautifully written novel is both believable and satisfying. While Darcy and Elizabeth make brief appearances, Becton remains focused on Charlotte's life and circumstances, turning her successfully into a true romantic heroine. After Mr. Collin's untimely demise Charlotte faces widowhood with the same seemingly unflappable calm that she faced her marriage. As Charlotte enters society again, this time as a chaperone to her younger, unmarried sister, she begins to realize that there might yet be a life for her beyond what she had imagined for herself. She even attracts the attention of two very different men . . . but are these men scoundrels or heroes? You will just have to read the book yourself to find out! And I highly suggest that you do!

Becton's writing style is lovely, her novel is obviously very well researched, and, in my opinion, seamlessly weaves a new story strand into the rich tapestry of Austen's characters. The final scene rates high on the "tingle" factor, which is an important requirement for all romantic novels.

You can find the novel at Amazon in both paperback and Kindle format, and on Jennifer Becton's website. Jennifer is also available on Twitter and Facebook. Make sure to follow her to be updated on any future works, I am excited to see what else she will be writing!

Vintage Sheet Freedom Bee

I don't get enough to time to sew because:

a) I work all day
b) I have two toddlers
c) I am too tired/lazy to stay up after said toddlers go to bed
d) all of the above

If you answered "d) all of the above" then you are correct!

Also, it is a bit difficult to sew when you turn around to iron a seam and turn back to find this:

I call him my little bobbin winder . . . not sure what will kill him first, me or the fall.

Notice his sister in the back looking on in approval. "You have learned well young Padawan."

So, I joined in the Vintage Sheet Freedom Bee that Deb from Works in Progress is organizing (um, this is my like fourth post in as many weeks that has mentioned Deb, I promise I am not a stalker). I sent out all my sheet pieces awhile ago, and have 11 little envelopes of sheets waiting for me it sew up into lovely blocks.

I decided to make a Bonnie Scotsman, which I have never done before but seems pretty straightforward . . . all of my "piecing," such as it is, has heretofore been basically just squares.

I couldn't find instructions in the size I needed (12x12 finished) so I was forced to do the math myself.

It was very truamatic.

Because I am a nerd I made a graph.

And because I am a nerd of the highest order I then made 12 copies of the graph so I could pencil in the fabrics I am using for each person's block, and write their name at the top.

My first test block was with my fabrics. I am pretty much running low on any of the pieces that match what I sent out, so I was kind of limited in what I could place where in the block. I am hoping to be able to do some more strategic fabric placement with the future blocks.

I will not even tell you how long it took me to do this between work, toddlers, laundry (two 8 load washers full, I kid you not), Jamie climbing on the table, various tension issues with my new machine (I think it's that I am using a 1/4 inch foot that doesn't fit right because I'm using the one from my old machine as the one they sent me with the new machine doesn't FIT!), etc. . . but it may have been two days.

(Please excuse the horrible lighting, my sheets are not, in fact, yellow.)

It seems to have gone ok except that I cut that side rectangle a bit too thin! You can see the top square extends out past the rectangle piece and is the right size! I may replace it with different fabric, we will see. It will most likely be fine when I sew all the blocks together (it looks bad but it's less than an 1/8 of an inch difference), but we will see . . . luckily I messed up on my own block and can correct in the future!

So, yeah. I got one block sewn. Um, I have 11 more to go . . . but I think they will just fly along now that I know what I am doing. . . . hope springs eternal in the heart of Jessica.