Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Craft Post of the Year: because a girl can't have enough bags

I created these bags as gifts for the girls I'm 'lady advisor' for with the pageant I used to compete in. Naturally, the canvas totes came in a three-pack. So, I had to make one for myself. I mean, really, it would have been wasteful not to. I love the dark khaki color of the bag- it hides dirt really well.
It's pretty basic- some Iron-on adhesive and then topstitching for the branch and leaves. Following that, I did some freezer-paper stenciling (Google it, it's like ghetto-screen printing) for the bird. Each bag takes about half an hour, including dry time. I'm going to teach my sister-in-law how to do this soon, and will post a tutorial after.
Adding this one to the links for strut-your-stuff Thursday at Somewhat Simple.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reccomended Reading 2009

I didn't read enough this year, and I'm a little bummed out about that. However, I didn't read anything that I didn't like (unlike last year), so it wasn't easy to choose the best.

Comfort Food - Kate Jacobs I really loved this book. The relationship between the sisters reminds me of the one I have with my sister, E.

A Homemade Life - Molly Wizenberg This one is filled with wonderful recipes and beautiful, touching stories and is by the blogger behind Orangette.

To Hell With All That - Caitlin Flanagan - It's a fun and humor filled memoir on motherhood and how crazy it can make us. A great read.

Made from Scratch - Jenna Wogenrich By the blogger behind Cold Antler Farm, this is a really interesting memoir about how she started her homestead.

Julie and Julia - Julie Powell - This was good, but I feel like I should put a profanity warning in it. If you're f-bomb sensitive, see the movie (it only has one) and skip the book (it might only have one per chapter.) This got me through one of Stinky's stomach flus.

Reading Magic - Mem Fox It should be required reading for any parent. This book is and inspiring, funny, and encouraging read that you could finish in an afternoon.

Coop - Michael Perry Another memoir about homesteading, this one is from a man's point of view. It's honest, and charming

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith It's just too much fun. I have to admit that I'm anti-Darcy (flame away), and I love how many times she tries to kill him in this book. (I don't like Edward Cullen either, while we're discussing stupid romantic heroes.)


I haven't finished it yet, and won't likely do that before midnight tomorrow, but I am really enjoying Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben Winters. I'm sure it will be on next year's recommended reading list.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I Made it Monday: A Few More Gifts

It would seem that sleepwear was the order of the day for us for Christmas Eve.

Stinky got these jammies, the pants and fabric for the applique came from a pillowcase. The best part of that? No hemming at the legs!
For WBH, I made a big cozy bathrobe from fleece. It's crazy warm. I know, because I spent most of the day after Christmas wearing it.

Because he can, that's why.
There were a few other handmades by WBH, but I was too attatched the the sewing machine to get pictures of them, which I regret. He put together a "R family, established " sign for my parents, and a firewood holder for his, that was really very clever.
I hope your Christmas was lovely!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

With My Little Eye

There's a craft shop my mother and I frequent where they have a basket of scraps you can buy by the pound. I've been stalking the scrap bin all year, in preparation for this I-spy quilt for Stinky. I hope he likes it. This is his big handmade gift this year. Cutting the pieces took the longest, and trying to put it together without any matching pieces too near the others was a little trying, but once that came together, it didn't take long at all.

I don't think this year is as much handmade, or if it is, WBH has taken some on, and some were done far in advance. That's been lovely. I still have quite a list for today, but I'm not nearly as stressed over them as I was last Christmas Eve, thank heavens. If I'm not back for Christmas, I hope your day is wonderful, and thanks for reading, all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Whee, he's three!

I can't believe my little man is three. He's such an awesome kid. All through the day yesterday, we said things like "and this is when mommy got the epidural and fell right asleep because the contractions kept her up all night, three years ago" or "And this is about the time Mommy decided she really disliked the doctor that delivered you, but in the end it didn't matter, because we got you." It was a pretty low-key, at home day for him. I'm grateful for this age, where the simple things are the best.

The hat above I made after Stinky begged for a very similar one for sale in Seattle over the weekend. The only real difference is that there was a plastic dinosaur on the top and a little more glitter- but this one cost me $2.50, not the $32.99 they wanted in the shop. Thank heavens he's got a mama that can make things!

As a special birthday breakfast, I created a flip-flap Jack. It's a word play that we learned this summer, that he instantly declared "a-MAY-zing!" and I thought it would be fun.
"Flip Flap Jack's Arms are deeeeelicious!" It's a little morbid, I admit. Later, we snuggled on the couch and talked about how he was a three year-old boy. He told me "and you're a three year-old Mommy." "Why, yes I am," I told him, and he hugged me tight.

In addition to a special dinner of "Pizza, french fries, and chocolate milk," he asked for an ankylosaurus cake. So help me, an ankylosaurus cake. Fortunately, I was able to modify an alligator plan from Hello Cupcake. This is what we wound up with.
We had a small family party for him tonight, which was nice and mellow. I guess I'm waiting until he's invited to a preschool or church friend's party before we have a friend party. We've also talked about having even birthdays being small family to-dos, and odd birthdays being friend parties. We make plans and God laughs, though, so we'll see.

WBH has been working on this painting for Stinky's room for months! It takes up most of the wall, and it's awesome! I'm so proud of him! After taking some time to play with his haul, he went to bed late and took his new triceratops skull (a fishtank toy he was in awe of everytime we went to the store) with him. He tucked him in a wished him a good night, as well as the dinosaurs in the painting.

Stinky is such an amazing little miracle. He challenges me and makes me grow as a mom, as a person, everyday, but he has changed me so much. We love you, Stinkosaurus Rex, Happy Birthday!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Inspiration

We can with confidence set a goal to make this Christmas brighter than the last and each year that follows brighter still. The trials of mortality may increase in intensity, yet for us, darkness need not increase if we focus our eyes more singly on the light that streams down on us as we follow the Master. He will lead us and help us along the path that leads upward to the home for which we yearn.

Henry B. Eyring

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sunday Inspiration

"There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity."

Washington Irving

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas, Christmastime is Here

We actually did this the day after Thanksgiving. I needed some Christmas.
In an hour and a half, my husband is on vacation. Sixteen days of Christmas break, and not a moment too soon. I'm looking forward to the time together, and the time to rest. We won't be completely unproductive, though. We have set some goals for the time off. As soon as I finish the five (oh crap, six) gifts I still need to make in the next week, I'll start in on mine. Mine include goals 1 and 2 from my birthday list, plus a few more.
1- Get the house in order- get rid of cardboard boxes, work especially in the bedrooms.
2- Get the etsy shop up and running.
3- Go on a real-live-actual-honest-to-goodness date with WBH.
4- Potty train Stinky (he is being so stubborn about this.)
So that's it. Now I'm going to make a good dinner and treat to celebrate.
What are you doing this Christmas vacation?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men

My favorite Christmas Carol is I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. I think everyone has a song that they have a history with, or they feel was really meant for them. This song and I have a history.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And mild and sweet the words repeat:
Peace on Earth, good will to men.

Around Christmas in 2001, I was beginning to work seriously with child abuse prevention and advocacy. There was still a constant stream of information about the 9/11 attacks, and I had gone through a hard break-up. I felt heavy and sad all the time, really feeling like nothing was right in the world. I don't remember what the CD was, but I played it and heard the song's message for the first time. I remember sitting in my car, crying heavily as I heard the words:

Then in despair, I bowed my head
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
For hate is strong and mocks the song
of peace on earth, good will to men.

Christmas 2005 marked the end of a hard year. We had been through the ringer, and it felt hard to believe my prayers were being heard. I sat in a chapel, silently praying "Do You even hear me anymore? Do You remember that I'm here?" Before I could finish the thought, the organist began playing the song, and again, I found myself crying.
Then pealed the bells, more loud and deep
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
with peace on earth, good will to men."

The arrangement in the hymnbook at church is rather repetitive and, I think it sometimes turns people off from the message there. In these simple words, I have found answers, and peace when I couldn't find it anywhere else. We have a history, this song and I.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Ready to see this mama geek out? We're fans of the Imagination Movers in this house. When we saw Stinky react to their music, and realized how parent-friendly it is, we mused that if they ever, by some weird circumstance, came to Seattle, we'd have to take him to see them.

Fast forward to this fall, when we saw a commercial announcing their tour- and wouldn't you know it, they were in town just a week and a half before Stinky's birthday. As an early birthday gift, we got tickets. The morning of, we told him there was a big surprise, but didn't tell him what until we arrived. When we told him, he didn't really get it. He asked for popcorn and candy. I had to explain that this wasn't a movie theater, but a show theater, and the Movers weren't in a movie, they would be on the stage. His eyes got really big as we eagerly waited for the doors to open.

When the concert started, his eyes sparkled and he grinned, but he really lost it when Mover Rich came running up the aisle. “It’s Rich!” he said in an awed voice, then repeated again “It’s Rich, right here!” I did get a picture- but he turned just as I snapped.

I think it was a little overwhelming for him, all of it. He participated mostly from my lap, or just next to me in the aisle- above, we're making our best "brainstorming" faces. At one point, he felt brace and started weaving through the aisle of kids toward the stage. I caught up to him about halfway there.

The Movers keep it fun for the parents- over-the-kids head jokes, dancing to MC hammer, rewriting Kiss and Journey songs. My favorite, though was when they covered Jimmy Eat Worlds's In the Middle. I love that song- and I needed to hear those lyrics. Stinky loved the show, and truth be told, I enjoyed it more than I think I'm ready to admit.

Sunday Inspiration

I fear sometimes we see the Lord's love only in the big events of our lives; we must also see His love in the smallest of things.

Bonnie D. Parkin

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More Than That

I have this incredible friend, Emjoy, who lives in Chicago. She's amazingly talented, and lovely, but the lady has been a magnet for awkward situations. She began calling it the Emjoy Luck Club at some point, even going so far as to say it was contagious to those around her. Today, I had a 'flare up' of the rare condition, and I missed her very badly.

Now, if you're my friend on Facebook, you've seen the condensed version of this story. WBH, with the help of what seems like an army, pulled off a Christmas party that rivalled any I've ever attended. They went all out. My main contribution was as go-fer. Costco was crazy and full of... let's call them JuiceBags. I was hungry, tired of being cut off by JuiceBags eager for samples and frustrated as I tried to get to the point farthest from the entrance. I had only gotten the whipped cream and was comparing prices on juice cocktail. An employee nearby looked at me, looked at the whipped cream in the cart, and said "Mmm... you're going to need more than that."

I wish I'd thought of something clever to say. I stood there, shocked, as the employee walked away. Mostly, I missed Emjoy and having those Emjoy Luck moments with her and the one I called Pookie.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Stinky has shot up like a weed, again. He's already head and shoulders above the rest of his preschool class (I mean that literally, though- not in the way that's insulting to the other kids), but still skinny enough that he wore 18-24 month shorts this summer. As it always happens, he suddenly shot straight up and I noticed that most of his pants were high watering. Our weather had been in the teens, and I felt bad for his poor freezing ankles.

(Have I mentioned that December is a month with two birthdays and then Christmas? Congrats, Stinky, you get warm ankles for your birthday! Though, socks will be filling his stocking this year, I think. Where do they go? )

I set out to find a few new pairs- three thrift stores later, I found only a few pairs in his size that were way more than I was willing to pay for their condition. Deciding to just go buy new out of necessity (freezing ankles!), I took two pairs to the register, and they rang up at a third of the price. I started to say something, then thought better. Leaving the bag in the cart, I ran to the back of the store to find one more pair and ran through the lines again.

Bragging later to WBH, he asked "And you didn't feel like mentioning it to the checker?"

"Nope. Heavenly Father winked at me today, and I'm not going to shoot that down."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Here's what has been keeping me away from the blog, in addition to holiday preparations. My cousin comissioned me to make some Christmas gifts for her.

search 'tie onesie tutorial' and you'll find several places to tell you to do these. Love them, especially the one with the banana peels on them.
and a cape/mask set for a superheroine. This one gave me a little trouble, but nothing a little "Lost in Austen" couldn't get me through (have you seen it? cracked me up!)
Any Christmas gifts in the works out there? Up next... well, I don't know where to start next, to be honest. I'll think about that tomorrow.


photo from Facebook

My dog was going crazy, hearing a lot of police sirens going off. I looked out the back window and saw the funeral procession for the four Lakewood Police Officers murdered earlier this month beginning a few blocks down. I quickly bundled Stinky and we quickly walked there to watch. I told him we were going to see police cars to show them that we care about them and that their job is important. Thousands of police, fire, etc cars were involved in this- it took three and a half hours for all participants to drive the ten-mile route.

When we arrived, I was surprised to see as many people as were there. Many held signs, many waved or placed hands over their hearts. Restaurants and bars posted signs, and strung blue lights, and car dealships had blue balloons inflated bobbing from each car. Even the Vespa dealership pulled out all of their models in blue, lining the sidewalk in support.

We stopped at the first corner, joining another woman who waved. Stinky started waving and yelling "Thank you! Thank you, Police!" There wasn't much to do but to join him.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I was in the middle of a pretty good pity party the other night. Watching Stinky interact with other children can be hard. It brings out a very sweet side of him; he's eager to share and help that other child. So, I feel a little guilty that we can't give that to him yet, and I wish that he had the brother or sister we thought he'd have by now.

So, I found myself reading some of my old journal entries from early in our marriage. When I was diagnosed with the condition that causes pain and also contributes to my fertility problems, my doctor told me he didn't think I'd ever live without pain, but we'd do what we can to make it manageable. At that time, I'd recently quit both jobs I was working and was unable to get off the couch a lot of the time. His prediction worried me constantly. Here I was praying to be a mother, but how could I even think of that when I couldn't move without pain?

At the end of my rope, I asked WBH for a blessing . In it, I was told that this trial was temporary, and that through it, I would help others. Things didn't get better for a long time after that, but I had hope. With the exception of July and August's rough patch, I have been nearly pain free since Stinky was born.

With the promise that my pain was temporary, I was told I would help others- which is why I speak about it pretty openly, and write about it when I feel prompted to, like I do tonight. If for no other reason but to make one passing reader feel less alone, I think that it's important to be open about it. I don't know how often it will be here, but fair warning, you might get more like this.

Sunday Inspiration

"Should there be anyone who feels he is too weak to do better because of that greatest of fears, the fear of failure, there is no more comforting assurance to be had than the words of the Lord: 'My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them' (Ether 12:27)."

Thomas S. Monson

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Another year over, and a new one just begun

( look at the handsome man I conned into marrying me.
I get to look at that face forever.)

So, it's my birthday. When I thought about the fact that i'm 28, it hit me that I'm more than twice the age of the girls I teach. Then, I thought about how it's weird to be worrying that I'm twice someone's age, and then I wanted to think about shiny things instead.
I have a tendency to go into a bit of a pre-birthday funk. It's not about aging; you can fight a good fight, but another birthday will find you every 365 days (except for a guy I dated in college whose birthday is on February 29th. He was almost five when we met.) The funk is about expectations I have for myself, if they're reasonable, if they're being met. The nice thing about the funk is that it passes- Looking forward to what the next year brings helps. With that, I give you:
Rae's top ten for 28
  1. Get more rooms organized and maybe painted so it feels less 'new home' and more 'lived in.'
  2. Open an Etsy Shop.
  3. Focus on shopping and eating more locally.
  4. Do more with this blog
  5. Become financially proactive rather than reactive.
  6. Grow our own food in a box garden
  7. Read three books a month- my reading has really suffered this year.
  8. Improve my time managements skills.
  9. Sing More.
  10. Expand my crafting repertoire- try print making, more cake decorating and improved sewing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Recipe: Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

When it comes to boxed macaroni, I'm a bit of a snob. It's Kraft or Annie's, or it won't be eaten. However, when I'm looking for a good, having-a-bad-day-and-don't-care-what-I-eat sort of meal, my crock-pot mac is a great way to go.

You'll need:
2 cups elbow macaroni
4 (yup, four) cups shredded colby jack cheese, divided
12 ounces evaporated milk
1 1/2 cup milk (don't stress going skim here. I mean, you can, but... four cups of cheese. C'mon.)
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the macaroni for 5 minutes, then drain. Grease your crockpot with cooking spray. Reserve 1 cup of cheese and mix the rest of the ingredients in the pot. Top with remaining cup of cheese.
Cook on high for 3 hours- remove lid for the last 1/2 hour.

We're topping it off with some bacon tonight, but this is a great side dish to bring for holiday gatherings. Hope you enjoy it!