Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Night of the Babies

I'm trying to catch up with all the updates I missed while my life was happening.  To borrow the words of Kenna Wahlquist, this is what I would have blogged in December, had I been blogging.

To prepare for the family trip we took to California in December, I made all the cousins matching t-shirts.  If you have never stenciled a t-shirt using freezer paper, drop everything this very minute and try it out.  It may change your crafting life.  (This was the first tutorial I read.  Very helpful.)  A note:  I used my Cricut to cut the letters and circles, but it only takes a couple minutes to cut the same thing by hand.

I wanted to get a picture of all the Anderson grandbabies in a row, but we had a couple problems. Problem #1:  Annabel.  Problem #2:  Quinn.
He has the most mischievous eyes, right?

We had one good shot.  

The perfect lineup.
Ruthie there (in the "r") is exactly two months older than Maddie.  Isn't she darling?  Madeline decided that Ruth was her anchor, and she clutched her hand and arm as if her life depended on it.  

I don't think Ruth was a fan.  
"Hey, guys.  This little fuzzy thing won't let go of my arm.  Help!"

Best. Shot. Ever.  Maddie happy, Ruthie perplexed, Quindo oblivious.

Looks like we pushed it too far.
I think I want the initial shirt to be a tradition.  Let me know if any of you want the tips for how to crank out twelve shirts in less than an hour.  I'm a master.  ;)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Christmas Dresses

This year, I made FOUR dresses for Christmas, and I finally got all of them clean at once and on my daughter's bodies for a post-church photoshoot.  Outside lighting is always best, but it was TOO cold, so we did it in Liv and Mimi's room, and it turned out pretty darn good, considering.  

I decided this year to make each of the girls a different dress, but using only two fabrics for all of them.  I chose a lovely black cotton velveteen and a silver polyester dupioni.  (Dupioni is that fabric that's got a dull sheen and some fun slubby--that is a word--texture.)  Machine washable was actually among the most important of the characteristics I was looking for, and these dresses all wash up beautifully.  
 Maddies dress was my own design.  I love the tuxedo ruffle and the three black buttons.
I used Oliver + S's Sunday Brunch pattern for Olivia's ensemble.  I've used three of the Oliver +S patterns now, and I heartily recommend them.  Liesl Gibson, the designer, gives amazing instructions, and the patterns have incredible tailored details.  They are very satisfying to complete.  
Mimi's dress was made from McCall 5795.  It's an easy, simple, customizable dress.  The lovely thing about the dupioni is that the reverse side of the fabric is shiny, shiny satin.  I used that side for the linings of all these dresses.  Mimi, with her obsession toward all things silky, loves this detail.
Bella's bubble dress, from another one of the Oliver + S patterns, was the fastest of the dresses to sew.  Again, I love the details and the sewing lesson integrated into the pattern.  (My next pattern purchase:  The School Photo Dress.  Google "School Photo Dress Blog", and you'll see some of the cutest dresses ever sewn.)
I think this matching-fabric-different-dresses is going to be my new strategy for Easter and Christmas dresses, as long as my girls will let me make them match.  Which one is your favorite?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wherein I demonstrate my clumsiness. . .

. . . and also my incredible luck.

First the clumsiness.  As we are getting ready to put our house on the market, I have been working like a madwoman.  Last week, it was the basement's turn to be painted.  As I was moving a task light into place, it slipped a bit in my fingers and sliced my pinkie.  Not enough to be a problem, but enough to cause blood to pool in my palm.  Pool.  In my palm.  I don't do blood.  Well, not with grace.  I was feeling light-headed, so I talked myself up the stairs and over to the phone where I decided I needed to call Bonnie, just in case I passed out, you know.  So she'd know and come check on me in case I'd fainted on the kitchen floor and gotten a concussion.  (And really, people, that's not as far-fetched as it sounds.  I've done it before.)  But then I decided that if I could summon up enough willpower to stay conscious long enough to call Bonnie, I could summon up the sheer will to remain conscious indefinitely and not call Bonnie, thus avoiding embarrassment and teasing.  Whew!  Three band-aids later, I was back in business, painting the basement and determinedly not thinking about blood.

At craft group a few days later, my story-telling self decided this was a tale worth telling, embarrassing or not.  So I told it, a little dramatically, of course.  And I laughed about the ridiculousness of it all.  And my craft group buddies laughed with me.

Cut to Saturday:  The basement proper was completely painted, and in preparation for painting the guest bedroom in the basement, I created this deathtrap with a bedframe and a staircase.
The setup
Beautiful, right?  We were heading out for a Saturday expedition to Shipshewana, and I needed to grab something from the laundry room, so I dashed from the upstairs to the main floor, past my mom and kids (who were all ready to go), and turned the corner to head to the basement.  I was trying to put my arms into my cardigan and run down the stairs at the same time.  Why on earth did I think I was capable of that level of multi-tasking?  I'm not.  The toe of my boot caught the lip at the top of the stairs, and I launched down the 12 steps to the basement.

I experienced the fall in slow-motion, but I'm a little hazy about the details, since I can't quite figure out how I ended up head-down, but face-up, and dangling from my favorite boot which was caught on that bedframe corner.  The top of my head was only inches from that very hard wall at the bottom of the stairs.
My favorite boot now has a serious warwound.  Jake, do you think you could stitch it up as well?
My mom and girls heard the yelp, the crash, and the silence and ran to my rescue.  (Thank you, ladies!)  I was still assessing the possible damage when they arrived, so that must have been some scary anticipation. (Sorry, ladies.)  I was okay until I saw that my hand was covered in blood.

Here's where the luck comes in:
1) My mom was there.  Yay!  I didn't even have to pretend to summon my incredible will.  One look at the blood was all I got before she had paper towels and pressure and everything under control.
2)  Residency life comes with the perks of knowing the telephone number of 80 gazillion incredibly helpful doctors.
3) The doctor I called was not only willing to look at my hand to see if I did need stitches, he actually had a suture kit right there in his kitchen.  (Thanks, Jake!  Thanks SOOO much.)  That saved a billion dollars and 37 hours at the urgent care with 17 kids in tow.  (I'm only slightly exaggerating.)

4) I fell down an entire flight of steps and walked away with only three stitches, along with a dozen scrapes, quite a few bruises, and a big helping of lost dignity.  How's that for lucky?