Changes for sure. School starting tomorrow the big sophomore. When I say big, I mean it literally. Look at the size of the great shoes he picked for his new school shoes.


I do remember in 1987 having very similar shoes. I think I got them at Kmart for 2.50. I won’t say how much these were but they weren’t 2.50. Teenagers are expensive. These were worth it by how much they make me smile.

So other big changes: the big boy is turning 21 tomorrow. I told my husband that we had been married a whole grown man time. Then I thought: my parents have been married a whole 45-year-old woman time.

He has begun packing:


Quite a treasure trove. I will miss him, but his happiness is infectious, I am starting to get excited to help him move next week.



It is finished, and with plenty of time before Halloween!  Every part of my house has some red fuzz.  This fabric was a bear to work on and caused some weirdness, like somehow gathering a little bit on the front trim.  I would not recommend using this fabric with this pattern. The pattern was easy McCalls m6231.  The instructions did not include using this fabric so I should have known better.  I wasn’t thrilled with the way the instructions told me to set the sleeve. When I make this pattern again I will sew the sleeve in flat, even though that means I have to sew the binding on the whole garment, instead of just the sleeve, which is slightly awkward.

busy busy busy

Pastor gave a great sermon last week about leisure.  I hope to apply it to my life shortly.  I’m thinking next week.  This week is crazy busy: super big and complicated 8th grade homework, new mortgage, our first high school tour, extra hours at my second job, special meetings at my first job, and a crazy promise to a boy that I would make him a robe for Halloween.  Actually, the robe is my favorite part of the week.  It is turning out great.  I have high expectations that it will be finished by Halloween and successful as a robe.  So far, everything else is chugging along, too.  Unfortunately, my writing gets the short end of the stick this week, but at least you know still alive and kicking.

again, not much sewing

In other shocking news, Eliott cut of his dreds.

So, here he is before haircut.  He asked me for a cut and dye.

Here he is after cutting off the dreds and then dying it black. Completely different!  Wow! What a makeover!

And here he is all dressed and ready to take on the world!


So, I am starting a new job, so not much happening in the sewing room.  But some pretty important milestones.  Here’s my brand new 13 year old!  Thank goodness they are only teenagers together for two years!

Here is the brand new adult!  Wow! 18 years old!

And here is the first day of 7th grade.  Cool looking guy!

Monday morning blues-true story

To preface this, we were very sick.  My older son got it first, then passed it to the rest of us. Steve and my younger son went in to the doctor on Friday. Steve had bronchitis and younger boy had walking pneumonia. I was just really sick.  I had been on the couch the whole weekend. I had already been sick for a week, but didn’t have time or energy to go to the doctor.  We knew the car had a fuel line that was leaking, but we thought we could still drive it.

5:00 am I got up, showered get ready for work. Even though I felt like crap, I had already missed one day the week before so I was trying to tough it out.

6:30 am I got in the car with my husband to drive to work.  We realized that AS WE ARE DRIVING,  the fuel gauge was going down.  There was no way we can get to my work without running out gas.  When I got out of the car, I saw a small line of gas.  I called in sick.

6:45am I laid down and tried to rest my head. Put a load of laundry in the washing machine.

7:20am I woke the younger boy up.  He has been out of school a whole week.  He was not too excited about going back.  He alternated between being anxious and coughing very loudly as his excuse.  Finally, I pushed him out the door at 8:05, only 5 minutes late.  I tried to maintain while remembering he managed to spend the whole day before the playing on the internet and guitar.

8:15 am The younger boy comes back.  He asked if I can I walk him to school. I got bundled up because it is 2 degrees. 2 degrees.  I coughed all the way to the school (only 3 blocks) .  I have say this walk was worth it although, because at the end he gave me hug and said, “I’ll be ok now.”  It is rare that he needs me any more now that he is 12.

8:30 am Steve took the car to the garage.

8:35 am My older boy got out of the shower and informed me he had no clean pants.  I asked him why he didn’t tell anyone yesterday or put a load in himself.  He had no answer.  I looked for pants in his closet for myself. No pants.  Looked for pants in his brother’s closet.  No pants.  I remembered that I put load of laundry in the washing machine.  I looked in the machine.  How did I wash a load of laundry with no pants?  I went upstairs and found a pair of pants out of the wash that were not visibly dirty.  I took a damp towel to put in with the pants in the dryer to refresh them a little bit more.  I opened the dryer.  Pants.  I forgot we did a load of laundry when the other boy threw up on Saturday.  I gave the pants to the boy.  He told me he already missed the city bus and another doesn’t come for an hour.

9:00 am Laid on the couched and coughed.

9:30 am Husband returned from the mechanic.

9:45 am Big boy took off for the bus.

9:50 am The younger boy called from school.  He told me he is really sick and needs to come home.  I talked to the nurse and she said he had no fever and looked fine.  I tried to shake my sick mind to clear it. Is he sick or just taking advantage? Finally, I remembered that he has a dad and he just got back from the mechanic.  I’ll let Steve decide.

9:55 am I bundled up to walk to school.  I signed boy out. I walked back, coughing and coughing.  I noticed strangely boy was not coughing at all

10:15am Laid back down.  Tried to rest.

What did I learn from this morning?  Well, I am still needed.  As my kids become more self sufficient, I forget how they still do need me sometimes.  It is a nice feeling. I also learned that I can only handle so many disruptions before I have to give something up.  My life is just that full. In this case, it was work.  If I am just sick, I can still get to work.  When I am sick, and two or three other things go wrong, something has to give.

I wrote this nearly two weeks ago, and I have been struggling with it ever since.  I want to post it because part of this blog’s purpose is to document my life, and this is one of those days that probably won’t remember in the future, but I think I will look back it on with humor.  That being said, my goodness, it is whiny!  So this is what I say:

I am so blessed.  I have a healthy family, a huge supportive extended family, a sound house.  My mom and dad are young and healthy.  I have a stable job.  So many blessings.  I have been watching the Japanese coverage with so much sadness.  Watching people lose so much is so heartbreaking and makes me appreciate what I have been given even more.

Finally a use for snow…

 I am no fan of snow.  But finally I found a winter sport I could get behind.  I saw some posts for snow dying and I got really excited.

Here’s a picture of my project right after I assembled it.

If you want to try it yourself there are two links:

Bloom, Bake & Create Snow Dyeing Part 1

Bloom, Bake & Create Snow Dyeing Part 2

I laid down several layers of fabric under the snow.  First, one of Eliott’s white t-shirts.

This turned out very well. There is nice blending, but the colors came out pretty intense.  The next layer I did was some plain muslin.  My son had stencilled on it: a flame, a staff and a snake; but besides that it was all off-white.

The blue line is the snake stencil.  I still had pretty intense colors and some blending, some sharp edges.  In this next photo, you can see the flame, the staff and the snake.

The bottom layer was some random white fabric.  I think it was a lining for a skirt.  It is probably a cotton/polyester blend.  It really didn’t accept the dye very well.  I believe this is the fiber content that caused this, not the process or the fact that was on the bottom.  Here’s the photos in any case:

I did like the process. It was very clean for a dyeing process, and I ended up with some intense colors.  Next time I will be more intentional about how I lay the dye down on the snow.  I also want to experiment by melting the snow more quickly to see if I get distinct snow-like patterns.

Winter song

I still believe in summer days

The seasons always change

And love will find a way

-Winter Song by Sara Bareilles

I got tired of the cheerful tulips heading.  I changed my heading to a more wintry theme in honor of the real winter we are having: huge piles of snow, a serious ice storm and coming in later this week for a replay, bitter cold.  I feel like I am having a flashback to my childhood when winter seemed to just go on forever. I am not as content as I was then to just curl up with a book and let it pass me by.  Instead, I am keeping myself going with projects and even went for a foray into my unheated sewing room yesterday to clean up a little.  But I miss long walks that don’t take my breath away and warm feet. (That part you can sing to the tune of My Favorite Things.) 

This time of year always makes me a little claustrophobic. We don’t have access to our three season porch and my sewing room. We all get a little bit on each others’ nerves.

What’s funny is my older boy is loving this winter.  He is walking or biking everywhere in the city and bundling up really heavily. He’s shrugged off the teenage bravado of “no coat, no gloves, I’m not cold” (his brother is in this stage now), in favor of exploring his space with his friends. It’s completely unexpected that he would do this.  I am completely amazed by him. I am not a winter person, and his dad, although he somehow never cold, is from southern California.  My husband just looks at weather, any weather, as an enormous, completely unexpected surprise.  I do my best to ignore the weather unless I am making small talk.  My son is embracing it, or at least facing it without complaint.

It’s a day to count blessings. Healthy family and a warm house. A car that starts even at 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stay warm…

all of the shoes

Can you tell which ones I got at Savers? 

Here’s my son’s collection of shoes. Two pairs, I bought brand new last year. One pair, my mom bought for him new. One pair I bought at a garage sale.  All the rest, I got at Savers.  He loves to match his shoes to his outfit and I think he has a pretty good variety.  By the way, I didn’t line up all his shoes.  I had asked him to go through his shoes and tell me which ones didn’t fit or he didn’t want.  I came down the next day and he had carefully laid all of these out.

how to shop for school clothes

At this time of year, a lot of us are starting to think of school.  For us parents, with deep longing.  However, no one likes the expense of school clothes.  This is my guide to buying clothes for kids. 

First: Listen.  Ask your child what is important.  For my kids, shoes are the thing.  Everything else can be second hand, but he prefers new shoes.  I also take my kids to the mall and walk around having them point out styles they like.  I tell them up front that I will not be buying anything: I’m just trying to get an idea of what they want. Then, I can look for what they want in other places.  If I can’t find it second hand and I feel like it is really important to them I can find it on sale. 

I also spend time looking at trends.  I look at what kids on the street are wearing, and I check out the ads in the paper.  It was because of this, I was able to anticipate the great polo shirt event of 2006.

Second: Scope out the cheapest places.  Here’s my cheapest list:

Hand-me-down. Price: free.  If you can find hand-me-downs, this is the best source.  Never turn down hand-me-downs unless you suspect that they have bedbugs.  Even if they are much too big for your child, save them.  He will grow and you have no idea what he will like until he gets that age.  Let people know that you are open to hand-me-downs.

Your own or your spouse’s closet.  Free.  Regardless of sex, when you find out your child’s style, look in your own closet for clothes you don’t wear anymore if they fit the style.  You may wear your hoodie twice a year, and be just fine without it, but your teen may wear it every day.  A teen may need a suit coat or dress just for one day, and you can lend it from your closet. Also, for younger kids, consider cutting down worn clothes.

Church sales. Brown paper grocery bags of clothes for a few dollars.  Some times you can find bag sales at thrift stores, but church sales are the best source for super cheap clothes.  Go to for your area and click on garage sales, search for bag sales or church sales. At these sales, I am willing to pick up things without my kids present because they are so cheap.  I will buy things that are too large, or maybe a little bit out of the box.  I remember picking up my son and his friends from the mall and one of his friends had bought a woven hoodie very similar to the one I had picked up for my son on a whim.  His friend had bought almost the same hoodie for 8.95.  This is admittedly a very good price.  However, I had bought my son’s hoodie at a church bag sale where the whole bag was five dollars.  I also like that my money is going to a church instead of a huge corporation.

Sew when something is just way beyond your budget.  All the second hand pants we have found when my son was an eight grader were very baggy.  He wanted his pants skin tight.  It was a very easy thing to bring these jeans into the sillouette he liked.  T-shirts can be cut down.  Little purses and vests are super easy and quick to whip up. Sometimes it is worth it, if you are a really good seamstress, to make something from a pattern.  Little girl dresses and shorts for boys and girls would probably be less than what you would pay retail.  You could recycle fabrics for these garments from you closet or from garage sale finds.

Regular garage sales. Prices depend.  This can be a hit or miss.  Sometimes prices are fabulous, and the garments are perfect.  Prepare to spend some time to find great things.  You never can tell what you will find in one day.  It may be great-it may be terrible.  I search for neighborhood sales on craigs list, which usually means several sales in one area.  Because of the time investment and the fact that the sales are best in the morning, it is difficult to get a teenager to come with you.  This means that you may have to guess.  Guessing is no big deal if you have several children of the same sex.  If you only have one, it is a little bit of a crap shoot.  I have a general limit for garage sale stuff for my kids of one dollar, unless it is a spectacular thing that I am almost 100% sure one of them will like.  Sometimes I will buy things that I might be willing to wear – hand-me- ups – now that my son is the same size or a little bigger than me.  I am super picky compared to the church sales.

Thrift stores:

Thrift stores are a second to last resort for me.  (The mall is the last resort).  I spend time building up a wardrobe for my kids to pick clothes out of from the sources above.  If they just can’t quite get it from the things I have, we make a trip to a thrift store.  I find the prices are often comparable to really good clearance sales at department stores so I use this very sparingly.  The upside is that you can usually go to one store so if your child has patience issues, he will usually comply.

Savers: high prices (some comparable to clearance at department stores), great selection, clean store.  Both my sons enjoy Savers.  It is a little bit of a treasure hunt.  Make sure you bring a couple bags of donations to get 20% off you whole purchase.  We went there this year and got:

17 year old: 1 silk shirt, 1 pullover sweater, 1 nylon jacket, 1 t-shirt, 1 pullover woven hoodie, 1 pair of dress shoes and 2 pairs of name brand tennis shoes

12 year old: 2 zip up patterned hoodies, 2 pairs of jeans, one pair of boat shoes

me: a lamp, 2 pairs of athletic shoes

Total: $78.00

As my son reminded me, this is still very cheap.

Salvation Army: high prices (comparable to Savers), stores usually not as nice, poorer selection.  Having said all that, I have found great deals there.  Brand new Liz Claiborne tees for 99 cents, for example.  It’s hit or miss so I wouldn’t probably bring my kids along.  These are my impressions in Minneapolis. You may find that in your town the Salvation army is clean and bright. 

Anyway, it really goes back to finding what is important to your kid.  Your child will feel valued and feel great in his new things.