Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mint in the Morning

Pregnancy, post-partum, moving -- three stages in life that are not particularly conducive to curating a "normal" wardrobe. Mine was certainly in distress! I've been good about paring down and getting rid of clothes that I no longer needed/wanted, but was starting to feel a bit of a pinch if I let the laundry go longer than a few days. With plenty of fabric on hand, the solution seemed obvious.

I had a mint knit in my stash, purchased from Girl Charlee many moons ago. It's a lovely spandex knit, so it has just enough body for this type of top. The top is a fairly unabashed knock-off of ModCloth's Mid Morning Break top. It's been a while since I've done such a straight-up copy of a garment, and it was rather fun! I used the basic tee pattern that I've tweaked over time. I still make tweaks every time I use it (usually taking in some fabric in the side seams), but it's a good base.

I opted for a "band" at the bottom, like the original inspiration top. It ended up a bit shorter
than my tops usually do, but ti works. I do have to tug it down now and again, though!

Of course, I gave it a bit of my own spin. A keyhole opening in the back seemed just right, as did a little bit of a cap sleeve. The cap sleeve was an easy draft (an elongated "football" shape folded in half -- ta da!), though it ended up sticking out further than intended -- I believe because the shoulder of my pattern was a bit too wide. Never mind, a bit of hand gathering turned that mishap in to another feature. The collar was a relatively easy draft, though I ended up redoing it; my first attempt came out rather uneven! Apparently knit is a bit harder in that regard than woven fabric.

I had to re-bind the neckline after the first time I wore it. I'm used to stretching knit neckbands as I sew them on, but in this case that resulted in a rather wonky, bumpy collar. Not the look I was going for! I put on a new binding, no stretching this time (there really wasn't any need to, anyway).

I have a few other yards of random knits in my stash, which I'm hoping to turn into more tops soon -- it's time to start incorporating some of the fun little details I've collected on my Pinterest boards! Oh, and more on that skirt in the first photo in my next post.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Let's Talk Mesothelioma

This is a departure from my typical "fare," but I was recently contacted by a gentleman who asked if I'd be willing to share some info about mesothelioma -- his wife is a survivor of this particular cancer, so he was interested in getting the word out. Having lost my maternal grandmother to breast cancer when I was quite young, this is a theme close to my heart, as well.

Just to clarify, this is not a sponsored post! There is nothing to sell here, and I was not paid to write this. I am also not a health professional, and what I share here is information I have gathered. So with that disclaimer out of the way, here we go!

Mesothelioma is a cancer most commonly caused by asbestos exposure. Microscopic fibers are inhaled, and the asbestos causes cancer in the linings of bodily organs (especially the lungs). Cancer can appear years after exposure, usually 20-50 years! This long latency period means that the cancer is often not discovered until an advanced stage. Treatment is far more effective at an early stage, so early diagnosis is crucial.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was considered a miracle product for millenia before the health risks were understood -- which means that buildings constructed before 1975 are especially liable to contain asbestos. Remember asbestos shingles? Apparently it was even added to paints because of its properties as a fire retardant. I recall seeing an episode of Emergency! (one of my favorite retro shows, FYI) where the asbestos blanket was brought out for a victim. Oops.

While asbestos use has dwindled, it is still used in certain products (car brakes, roofing materials, etc.) and many people were or are still exposed to it in factories, historic homes, etc. Considering the risks, it's good to know the symptoms.


You can find out more about mesothelioma here. I sincerely hope neither you nor I ever need this information, but better to be well-informed!

Also, here's a list of summer safety tips from (that website has some great info on mesothelioma, but -- as a disclaimer -- also offers legal services to mesothelioma victims. So, great info, but not without a "vested interest," as you might say).

I hope you all are having a safe and healthy summer, and now back to our regularly scheduled broadcast...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Surprise, Surprise

Weeding and pruning in the back yard, long past overdue. But this time procrastination paid off, because timely responsibility (and naive floral ignorance) would have pulled out the passion flower vine before it had time to bloom. And that would have been a shame, indeed.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Minimalist Sandals for the Littles

With Summer in full swing, the Littles were in dire need of some sandals! But our preference for minimalist footwear (or "barefoot" shoes) makes selection limited and generally pricey. The solution is to make shoes, but I procrastinated for ages because I was afraid my first attempt would be a failure. But eventually I had to do *something,* so I set to work.

In the end, it was success rather than failure. Not perfection, but success.

I've made my share of leather children's shoes in the past, but most of the styles I'd done were soft-sole baby shoes. I wanted something more durable for the sole, and I definitely wanted more traction. I used a thin rubber soling for the bottoms, which so far is working super well. It was also super inexpensive, which is a plus. I think the one sheet I bought will provide enough for four pairs of shoe soles.

I hemmed and hawed over just how to make the shoes -- I love the simplicity of the huarache style for boys, and laced five-loop sandals that I made a while back. But both of those involve relatively complicated tying, and that's just not something I want to have to do when we're on our way out the door! So I improvised, and fortunately my experiments are wearable. 

I used paracord for the straps in front -- inexpensive and effective!

The only "sewing" I did was to attach elastic to the back of each sandal. I do have to help Rosa get hers on, but Little Man can put his on all by himself. The straps are inserted into slits in the leather, and Barge Cement holds them together.

I've definitely learned some things for next time -- and I have a feeling I didn't use enough Barge Cement, which means I'll have to do some repairs in the future. I'll have to see how long the rubber soles last. Also, I'd love to improve my construction skills so that I can try other styles. But these are working quite well, and at roughly 1-2 mm thick, they're certainly minimalist!

As for cost -- all of the leather was in my stash, as well as the elastic and the paracord (well, that was Pablo's!). So the only cost was the soling. Using half a sheet at $7.25 shipped brings the grand total to $1.81 a pair. Not bad for a summer's worth of fun!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Little Bits

Everything seems to be growing by leaps and bounds lately! Our little "garden" is sprouting up nicely, and our children seem to grow daily. I don't always notice so much until I put a dress on Rosa and realize it's now a tunic. 

They still love to tend and visit the plants devotedly -- our peppers have probably tripled in size since I snapped these photos. This is probably our first success with any sort of plant (not that we've tried much in the past), so it's quite exciting for all of us!

Little Man showing off our largest pepper

Today was the perfect day for a trip to the park, cool and overcast, with a bit of a breeze. Even Mama wanted to linger. We had lunch at the sweetest little eatery afterwards. The yellow umbrella at our table -- presumably placed to shade diners from the sun -- turned out to be the only sunshine we had! 

I've been going through the book of Ecclesiastes with some ladies in a Bible Study, and it's been wonderful. I've always loved Ecclesiastes, but digging into it deeper is showing me so many things I'd missed before. It's a good reminder to enjoy the little bits of life.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Take a Bow

No, not a bow -- a bow! The hair accessory kind.

Somehow Rosa just never seems to have enough bows. This is absurd, because she has quite a few in various colors and styles. But with materials on hand and a fabulous pattern/tutorial from oliver + s, I decided to have a bit of fun.

The cream bow is wool felt, and the black and brown bows are leather. The brown leather bow is particularly handy, as it's currently her only brown bow (poor, impoverished darling!).

I won't lie -- I used hot glue to assemble the leather bows -- there was just no reason to sew them! This made them insanely simple to construct. I also covered the double prong alligator clips that I have with leather, for a more finished look.

I decided on a touch of hand stitching on the cream bow, a la oliver + s. Again, so easy to construct. I love making ribbon bows, but these are incredibly simple and have such a lovely shape. 

We've been having a merry time of late (hence fewer posts!), but I've just uploaded a slew of pictures, and hope to share some of our adventures soon!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sunday Afternoon

A few Sundays ago we ventured to a more historic spot and had a bit of a walk -- we'd discovered a little neighborhood packed to the brim with unique homes of various styles, and decided it warranted closer inspection.

Such a lovely, lovely day. Flowers blooming at every turn.

So much ivy! I remember seeing ivy in Florida, but the profusion of it here is really quite magnificent.

Some of the homes were amazing -- I loved that several of them had "doors within doors," like the one below. I'm still not quite sure of the purpose of having two sets of fronts doors, but it's charming!

Little Man and Rosa were quite find of the local footbridge -- Laddie also had a lovely time studying the backs of his eyelids while ensconced in the Bugaboo. Too bad he's still too young to appreciate or remember our time here!

One of the best things was peeking into the little courtyards and glades dotted around the neighborhood -- though I do always feel awkward taking pictures, as it must look like I'm casing the joint!


It's hydrangea season now, and I'm loving the variety of colors and species. Hydrangeas have long been a favorite of mine.


Stella D'oro lilies always remind me of my father, because he planted them in front of our house years ago. I do love that flowers can carry such associations -- not only are they beautiful, but they also evoke memories.

The trees have been quite creative in making space for themselves, resorting to unique root patterns wherever they can fit them in. The whole neighborhood was shaded with mature trees. 

As we walked along, we were greeted by various people -- some on their front porches, some in their yards. A little cluster of neighbors had gathered on the sidewalk and were chatting as we passed by. "Oh, you left your dish at my house last night!" said someone. Visions of neighborly dinner parties flitted through my mind, leaving a most pleasing sensation.

We didn't quite finish exploring, so we'll be back another time. And perhaps a time after that, too.

Monday, June 15, 2015


It seems like Little Man's mind is a flint, and everything around him is steel. Every time he rubs shoulders with the marvels of the every-day, there are Sparks. Showers of sparks, igniting his curiosity and his growing font of knowledge.

And there are so many wonders. Like birds' nests, hiding in the shrubbery.

 Marvels of ingenuity and resourcefulness, carefully crafted by our little feathered friends.

Wonders like our tiny back deck "garden" -- a little collection of herbs and a solitary pepper plant. Oh, how he loves to tend those plants with his minute watering can! I can't wait until the peppers start to come, and we can watch them ripen. We've kept things to a minimum knowing that we'll only be here a brief time, but I'm hoping we can start a larger garden on Guam!

Wonders like the written word. He's been ready for a while (we probably could have started in Florida), but I knew it would be best to wait until we were settled here and had a chance at consistency. I'm using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons -- the very same book that my mother used to teach me years ago!

If you've never taught a child to read, I highly recommend you find a child and get started! It's such a remarkable, indescribable feeling. Little Man has been eating it up, and surprising me with how neatly he forms most of his letters. We're 1/3 of the way through, and we both delight in our daily lesson -- especially the little stories at the end of each lesson. The dry-erase board, by the way, is from Dollar Tree. So basically, teaching my son one of life's most important skills cost about $15.

Seeing Little Man's mind ablaze with wonder excites me as we ease into more formal education -- I know there will be challenges along the way, but it is such a privilege to share the wonders of God's creation with my children.