Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The food table (which wasn't complete at the time this photo was taken - holy yummy food!)

Sara-Britt, Hope and I made home-made strawberry jam as favors for the guests

Our patio all dressed up

My glass jar collection filled with pretty flowers

Crepe Bar and Make Your Own Yogurt Parfait Bar...Yummers!

The Bride To Be (2nd from the Right) and her mother and future MIL and family friends

Pretty vases made from pear jars

More food shots

Last weekend my sister hosted a bridal shower for her soon to be sister-in-law Stephanie at our house. My sister threw me a baby shower when i was pregnant with Bobby on my lawn with a yummy brunch and it ended up being one of the nicest showers i have had, so we wanted to re-create that vibe for Stephanie. A blessing with her friends and family...and amazing food doesnt hurt!

but man oh man...was it hot! for long was like 90 degrees...which is hot here...and my house has no A/C and the oven was on...and the stove...and even in the shade i was sweating. but it turned out so lovely and so many women remarked how nice it was to enjoy time together not filled with activities...i agree! such a nice lovely girly time together.

the theme was strawberries and i thought Sara did such an amazing job not getting lost in the theme, but nodding to it...strawberry spinach salad, strawberry shortcake and a whole lot of sliced strawberries to put in yogurt or strawberry lemonade and some yummy adult beverages as well.

Remember this post? i have been obsessing over those hanging vases and wanted to re-create the look, so i have been saving old pear jars from Trader Joe's (my boys LOVE pears...and they help keep you regular, so i love them too) for a while now and got some twine and a super glue gun and went to town on them. it turned out even better than i imagined and i have been enjoying them being up all weekend long.

despite the heat, it was a lovely day and i think the bride-to-be was super happy with her (soon to be) SIL's outpouring of love. and i was super happy with my sister's cleaning of all the dishes ;) anytime you want to have a party here sara...just let me know!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Corners of our Home - Where we sleep!

i don't know what my problem is...but every year it gets worse and obsession with bedding. one of my favorite things is slipping into bed into clean sheets. it is one of the most soothing things after a long day on my feet to slip into a comfy bed and *finally* exhale. i also get bored very very easily with my bed spread - it changes now like once a year. i'm not promising this will stay, but it is making my heart so happy right now that it just might last more than a year.

i have been looking for a vintage quilt for a while. i have sorta picky tastes and don't care too much for anything too flowery or girly...which pretty much counts out more than 89% of vintage quilts. we made it out to the flea market last sunday (bobby had a little cold so we ditched church) and i saw this quilt hanging when we first came in and my heart swooned. i asked the vendor how much and it was a lot more than i wanted to pay...but totally what it was worth...retail...but i don't want to go to the flea market and pay retail!

i tried to give it up...but found myself obsessing over it during our whole trip. i couldnt let it go and the whole time kept thinking how sad i would be if we left and it was to my delight i saw it still there at the end and squealed a little. my husband the amazing barterer asked me how much i wanted to pay and i told him and then like 2 minutes later he came back with my quilt! what? he is magic...that and it was the end of the day and people were starting to pack up...which is the 2nd best time to go to the flea market.

i am so in love and love how i can totally the look of the bed around with different pillows and maybe a throw. The underside of the quilt is exceptionally gorgeous too, and a couple times i have turned it around and kept the bed made that way as well.

i know that the pattern is rather bold and perhaps not to everyone's liking, but it is just about perfect to me. yay for flea market finds!

Monday, August 29, 2011


if you are a young lady and you come spend the night at my house (of boys). i just may make you a top to wear and braid your hair and make you help me cook and take you shopping.

meet hope - my adorable niece. she comes and helps her poor auntie out with all her *crazy* boys. it is such a joy to have her here. truly. she is like a big exhale. a big breathy lovely exhale. she and i have a lot in common and she gets excited about things like making strawberry jam and sewing pillowcases and baking cookies and reading (we have had a little book club of sorts...her and i...since she and i enjoy the same books...hunger games!!! twilight!!!) Hope is 13 and has an older sister Katlyn, who is now 17 and at one time used to do the same...but now there are boys and friends and events and maybe the prospect of hanging out and watching 3 crazy kids isn't on everybody's top 5 to do list. what? really? okay...whatever...i so was like that at 17 too...i get it. but Hope is young enough to where she does still enjoy it...and i have already made them both promise to invite me when they go wedding dress shopping. and in turn i will leave them all my jewelry when i die. (little do they know my jewelry consists of forever 21 and H&M baubles)

i made this top about a year ago...using Lotta Jansdotter's book, Simple Sewing for Baby - i cant recall if it was me that messed up or what, but it was supposed to be for a size 4T. i really loved it though and knew i would find the perfect little girl to wear it...and bonus! she loved it!

now i need to re-work the pattern to make one to fit me!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Custom Ladybug

i made this pink ladybug for a special little lady and made an extra for the shop since i have had people ask me before about pink ladybugs...

i had been waiting to post this until i had a better model...because i think an angry boy in a pink ladybug is probably not the best, but i had to create the link in my shop since people had been asking and needed a here you go. mad boy bug..."who ya calling a lady?" i keep thinking about that movie and giggling to myself...

available now in the shop - only one available (AA discontinued this color so i only have a handful) American Apparel size 6, which fits a size 3/4 (my model wears 5/6 normally, so you can see the fit is a bit tight)

i promise you bryson that i will grab the next little girl who comes over and bribe them to take a picture for me so i can replace this one! thank you for humoring your mom!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fort Awesomeness

i just saw this photo on lmnop and bought the kit right away for a birthday present for Bryson. to be will be for all of them...and if it is as big a hit as i believe it will be...there may be more that need to be purchased as presents. after Christmas this last year we quickly realized how "toys" in our house had become so divisive. not just divisive, but a constant, constant source of chaos and hurt and arguments.

with the age differences between our bigger boys (bryson 5 and bodie 2) - bryson was not good about picking up his toys and storing them. bodie was not able to understand "mine" and "yours" (nor to mention age appropriate toys) and also bryson was not the best at sharing. we worked with them every day for hours and hours on sharing and picking up and taking turns. it felt like a constant constant ugly battle with very little headway.

i came to my own conclusion that in overwhelming them with these "toys" we kind of created these monsters. so we basically got rid of the problem. we got rid of every toy that made noise. we got rid of every tiny toy. we got rid of any toy that wasnt truly loved. i am talking about 3 garbage bags full. we boxed up "sets" of all the cars...all the building toys...all the trains...and stored them away. to be taken out on special occasions where they might stand a chance of getting played with because they werent in sight all the time. i also got rid of every stuffed animal that lacked any sentimental value.

what i left was toys that still could foster imagination. toys that didnt flash or make cool noises. and i also made sure there were enough duplicates of the cooler things so that it didnt become ugly.

seriously...this was one of the best things we did for our boys. they have totally changed the way they play. they are more focused and not so distracted since there really arent a lot of toys to be distracted by. they play outside more - on their bikes and scooters and that is what i prefer anyway!

it is what has worked for me and my family and last night when my husband and i were watching a show that takes place in the 20s there was a scene of a group of kids literally kicking a can around and bryan and i laughed and were like, "look - those are our kids - here is a can - lets kick it!" because our kids totally play with trash recyclables more than anything.

so back to this kit...sorry - didnt mean to tangential like that! - is that to build forts inside (which is our favorite rainy day thing to do) bryson makes an absolute mess of everything - brings chairs from everywhere and takes out a billion blankets and then clean up is inevitable and usually ends up being i think this is a perfect solution to let their little imaginations go crazy. bryson especially is way into building and legos are great, but small and i have an almost one year old that would love to eat legos, and plus that whole picking up toys after himself thing has not gotten much this would also be a family friendly solution!

the website is here for more info!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Barnes Boys Fashion - Off to the Fair

we like to go to the fair every year...mainly the O.C. fair...since that is what i grew up doing. I would drag bryan along before we had kids and make him go through the crafting exhibit and he would look at all the entries for table-setting and just puzzle...but the prize for the largest lemon? fascinating. he also likes the (i call it) "as seen on TV" exhibit. oh goodness...he could spend hours in there! but with 3 kiddos - our trip to the fair is more like...get in...swing by the animals...pick up something fried...try to find a seat to park...let them pick a couple rides and games and we are out! like 3 hours...the whole time people telling us we have our hands full, or "3 boys!!! wow!!! trying for that girl?" - we say yes every time...and don't mention bryan's little procedure...its our little joke because we are geeks like that! 

we did have fun - especially Bodie who could NOT stop talking about the monster truck ride...its a trek and pricey, but a fun little tradition! what's your favorite thing at the fair?

On Bodie:
Hat - Thrifted
Shirt - Thrifted
Shorts - way way hand-me-downs
Shoes - Vans

Hat - golfers cap by Kid In The Hat 
Shirt - H&M
Shorts - H&M
Shoes - Vans

On Bobby:
overalls - Osh Kosh B'Gosh
Hat - Sweet B Vintage

Thursday, August 11, 2011

sword swallowing, gag reflexes and relationships...

picture source 

so i have been having these amazing work outs...well, to be honest...some days are less working out physically and more working out mentally because my body refuses to run, but that is a-okay with me. i am all about listening to my *older* body and moving at a new pace and not trying to impress anyone...and sometimes i need to process and pray and think more than i need to burn calories. i had this amazing morning the other day during a "run" that turned into a walk and a great time with myself and my thoughts. i began thinking about sword swallowing...for some reason. 

you see...i used to see people swallow swords and not be too impressed because it must be some sort of trick sword or some illusion-ish trick. day i watched some special about it for whatever reason (i think it was a guiness book of world records thing?) and learned that actually it is not a trick and it takes years and years for the person to train their body to ignore their gag reflex and to get the sword down and *nudge* their heart out of the way and it is actually a trick that takes years and years of training...and by the way is super dangerous and not to be taken lightly. 

i think all these non-connected thoughts came about because my husband and i last month celebrated 10 years of marriage and that will get anyone reminiscing and thinking about what all we have been through and where we are now and all that.

i think that when we were first married and going through a difficult first year of learning how to live together i would look at older couples and think they must have some "magic" trick...some code...some thing that we don't have. i guess looking at it now only 10 years in, i realize...NO...they are sword swallowers and they learned how to tame their gag reflexes.

i began thinking about my own "gag reflex". its definitely my selfishness. my value over "my time" and "my feelings". i dont enter into a discussion about the other...i start a discussion about ME.

which is where all kinds of nonsense happens.

in college i was a communication major and i happened to have an amazing professor that taught Rhetoric. there has been a lot that he taught that has stuck with me through the past (10!!) years and one of those nuggets is all about dialogue. the act of dialogue. the act of "knowing the other". i think at one point in discussion it was noted that most problems in the world could be solved if only we entered "true dialogue". if only our agenda was to truly enter into conversation with the pure agenda of "knowing the other". instead of "let me tell them exactly where I am coming from" (and that is "I" capitalized and bolded in case you missed it the first time) get to any point in a relationship - even with your mother or sister or best friend - where you find yourself having the same argument...the same mis-communication...the same whatever and you realize that you aren't seeing eye to eye. my gag reflex is to get to give to go to bed. 

i wish i could instead train myself to try to "know the other". to truly stop trying to explain myself and try to figure where the other person is coming from. this takes time...obviously. it takes years. its sword swallowing in a relational sense.

i think the biggest hurdle to this "training" is our culture. our independent, post-modern, feminist culture (to throw out all kinds of buzz words). our culture tells us that OUR thoughts and feelings are what is important. humility is not an inherent American idyll. which is sad. to try to be supportive and catering to your husband is somehow considered "weak"...i think this is what i have been battling lately.

i thought during my walk about Jesus. i thought about one of the most intellectual atheists i ever met in college and even he admitted how wise Jesus was. so...even if you don't believe that He is the Messiah, lets just start with the assumption that He was a very wise and revolutionary man. can we start there? good...thanks...oh goodness - Jesus will rock your world with the things He said. Especially if you study the context in which He said everything He did...holy stuff...amazing. The humility and love he preaches. can you imagine a world that followed that? earth-rocking.

i was ending my walk with a mission to be a better "sword swallower". to train my selfish gag reflex to try to enter dialogue. thats the problem with being a "talker" is that to make people feel more comfortable i tend to talk about myself...and i think i could stand to learn a bit more about the world if i only ask...i only listen better...i only try to truly learn about the other...

it may not look as cool as swallowing a sword, but hopefully to the other person, it will feel that cool!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Lilikoi Jelly Take 2 - Urban Foraging

this is such a sweet story. it begins with our little lilikoi (passion fruit) weed in our backyard that i blogged about last year. well this spring the plant exploded all over our little area...over our lemon trees and up our pine tree and went crazy. i was so excited when the little lilikoi buds started sprouting and dreamt about all the jelly and sauce i was going to make...

then...we got new gardeners. who did not see the same beautiful lilikoi plant, but a weed, rather. a weed that was choking the life of our other most of it was cut. about half of the plant was cut and i was so heartbroken over it. honestly. it was stupid silly how sad i was. and then the next time the gardeners were coming we were to be out of town and so i recruited my father in law to show them that we actually love this weed and please don't cut the rest of it - feel free to move it (which is like next to impossible - that think grabs on!) but not cut it and guess what? they cut it...not ALL of it, but most of it and now instead of seeing about 50 little fruits i see 2. 

i have since cleared it up and we together created a space for the plant, but i thought my plans for jelly were done for. 

i also at this time need to mention that i have been running again on my designated mornings and i walk/run through my neighborhood and pass a couple houses that have fruiting trees and i see the (perfectly good) fruit on the ground because no one is harvesting it. i started getting mad seeing all these trees not being taken advantage of their gifts and started formulating a letter in my head to leave at these houses...asking them for permission to pick their tree and in exchange giving them a jar of jelly...or whatever...i have also been hearing a ton of stories about urban foraging and thought it would just make perfect sense. 

okay so...that is all the i will take you to the other morning playing at a park with my boys and bryson and i were trying to find a cache hidden somewhere near this flood drain...we looked and looked everywhere and couldnt find the dern thing and as we were looking i spotted this huge lilikoi plant! it was in a place hard to get to, but i was trying to figure out how i could make it over there with a baby in my ergo and two other small kids when i spotted another, even larger bush down the way! it was out of the way enough that i dont believe it was sprayed or tended - it was among other wild flowers and grasses and judging by the amount of bugs we also brought home with us, i am even more convinced it was truly wild. i told bryson to grab a bag in the car and recruited him to help me pick...and pick we did! (see him holding up the bag full as evidence)

so the story ends with me getting my passion fruit after all. and me making my jelly after all. and teaching my sons that what is a weed to some people is actually a treasure to others. pretty good story.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Limited Edition Bat Zoodie!

like, really limited. like i only made this one and will only make this one...size 18 months to size 2 (bodie usually wears a size 3, and this sweatshirt is a bit small, but this style American Apparel sweatshirt is a little more forgiving than the ones i usually work with (its the flex fleece one). 

its up in the shop and ready to ship! it would make an awfully cute halloween costume...just sayin!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The thing about seam allowances...

is that you need to follow them for certain this...the Yard Sale Skirt from Heather Ross' Weekend Sewing...see....i find this whole thing funny for several reasons. firstly, because i was just so proud of myself for being a good girl and following the pattern...ha! secondly, because i never make anything for myself...i have only made one item of clothing and its not even publicly when i decided to make this skirt it was of course at 10 at night...i was running on fumes and rushing through and deluding myself that it would only take a couple minutes....ha! like 2 hours later (and many ripped seams and re-reading directions) i had not a skirt...but an apron.

the sad thing is that i really like this skirt...and i dont have a 25" waist...which is even sadder...but i am not sure how i missed like 8 inches in this whole pattern (its supposed to be a wrap-around skirt...after discovering my new apron, i went to her website and found the errata for the skirt...which i will just post here for anyone attempting to make it...

Yard Sale Skirt
This skirt requires the joining of at least six panels, not five. For size 10-14, add two panels. For sizes 16-20, add four panels. For each panel added, make the waistband ties eight inches longer. Once your panels have been joined, test them by wrapping them around your waist. Then do the same with your waistband. Then attach your waistband to your skirt

i probably should have added a couple more panels, but i didnt have enough now i need to find a tall skinny friend with a 25" waist that likes picnic table skirts...or be satisfied with my apron...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pants, Bribery and Seam Allowances

i have not been sewing much...or, rather, not much more than zoodies...and there are a cajillion things that i had been meaning to make - for birthdays and new babies and my babies and the stack just kept piling and piling...well that whole designating time thing has actually been working for me. it has both helped me actually start crossing stuff off my list (and removing from my pile) and it has helped me not feel depressed i am not getting it done...because i know it will...when it is the right time. i can't really explain why this whole "aha" moment i had has completely changed things around for me, but it has...and i am such a better wife/mom/person because of it. dont get me is still HARD...i would be lying if i tried to make it sound simple...but when your outlook is good, things are easier to handle...or people, rather...or these little people - our terrible roommates as bryan and i like to joke.

my husband plays in a golf league thing on monday nights, so i designated that time to sewing/crafting. i have also been making use of the littler boys' nap times and got to sewing. true carlee form...i sat down to do the stuff on my know that stuff i had been complaining all about...and then saw this fabric i ordered a while ago for who what and they were just screaming at me to make some pants. I used the Quick Change Trouser pattern from Handmade Beginnings. i love these pants. they take a lot of fabric, but they are reversible and darling and i love how Anne Marie put this pattern together - the pants appear like magic - they were quite fun to fun i made 2 for bobby and one for bodie. i was super duper proud of myself too while sewing these - its been a while since i sewed from a new pattern and i actually followed the directions all the way through and even followed the seam allowances...i usually never do...which maybe i shouldnt admit, but seriously i am like a walking billboard for someone who thinks they cant sew - do it - you couldnt be much worse than me...but this time i did follow them and everything came together so perfectly i do believe i want to sew like this more often!

they are quite darling, no? only the 24 month pattern doesnt really fit this 30 month old...and also he HATES them.

no seriously...HATES them...i showed them to him after i made them so excited and he fell to the floor a cartoon character...he doesnt want to wear the pants he tells me...i said okay and put them away and tried a couple days later...same reaction...then just to snap a picture of them i bribed him with a gummy vitamin...bwah hahaha...(that is my evil mom laugh i reserve for tricking my children into something good for them). so these may just become a birthday present least i have one that doesnt have an opinion yet...or lacks the ability to state his opinion at least.

This is bodie...i gotta go pee mom...still working on the whole going into the bathroom before you get your equipment ready thing...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rethinking Dinner

(salmon, mixed green salad with dried berries and sunflower seeds, orzo pasta with feta, olives, tomatoes and squash)

dinner has been stressing me out lately...or rather, the complete lack of any sort of meal plans for the week...i took a night where bryan was gone and took out 6 of my favorite cookbooks and went through them to get inspired and see what needs to be cooked.

what ended up happening was that i didn't copy down recipes for grocery lists...i didn't end up with a meal plan for the whole week...instead i decided our whole dinner set up needs to be re-thought...for the summer.

it gets unbearably hot in our house around 4 - so the prospect of cooking is super crappy and sends me into a mini depression. i am a little scared of our BBQ - its bryan's territory i decided to compile certain meats and veggies to be que-ed on one night and use the rest for lunches and dinners for the rest of the week.

instead of meals...i am thinking more salads and pastas...and mixing everything we have on hand in. one of my favorite salads is this chicken caeser salad with rice mixed it - i love the hot and cold and different tastes and textures, so that is what has been happening around here. lots of orzo pasta with olive oil and red wine vinegar, feta cheese, chicken, corn, whatever other veggies we have, olives and sun-dried tomatoes...really orzo pasta is like the official summer pasta. i boil up a big batch and sprinkle some olive oil on it and fridge it for the week - such a satisfying lunch! we also have been cooking quinoa, chicken veggie lettuce wraps - lots of everything a leftover medley all week!

this is working for far - i know once fall rolls in i will be back to my one pot cooking that i love, but for now - i love this easy dinner set up - and the kids are being introduced to all kinds of new dishes that are surprisingly being gobbled up - which is always the best kind of encouragement! i had to share this since i am sure i am not alone in this...right? anyone have any other brilliant summer dinner ideas? a.k.a. little to no kitchen cooking involved?