Jaded Optimist

Mothering, making, and generally blathering on

Making June 1, 2015

Filed under: Kids,Sewing — bonniep @ 12:28 am

I heard that Windows Live Writer, which is close to my heart, stopped working so using it to write a test post…


Here is baby C (not a baby anymore!) in a skirt that M (with some help from me) made for her, as M’s first sewing project.


Here are M and big C in dresses I made for them….same sewing pattern, different sizes.


Let’s see if this works! Maybe I will even blog more.


December…getting it done December 21, 2014

Filed under: Family,Kids,knitting — bonniep @ 11:19 am

No baking. Except cookies for C’s recital, which she missed due to a bad cold (when the kid comes home from school and takes a 6 hour nap…you don’t wake her up for her recital!) which have made it to a few neighbors.

And this sweater I finished over the fall…it is a lot of sweater. Maybe even too heavy for wearing.


M made a reindeer at “exploring science” night. No matter what the theme, my kids can find the craft table!

M got out the nutcrackers to “play with” and of course baby C wanted in. Maybe a few will last until next season?


But probably not the Clara one that baby C is holding.

Speaking of which a certain “baby” is turning 2 in a few days! What??? We have practiced some present opening and I think she is ready.


We visited a great Santa during brunch at one of our favorite restaurants (Preservation Kitchen) and the one who believes and wasn’t crying was pretty excited to be there. The older one not so much, but she played along. The younger one was carried screaming out of the place. Please forgive her Santa.

I believe the shopping is done and a last few gifts were finished yesterday. Christmas Holiday cards are ordered and should go out shortly. Just one 6 am flight with a 2 year old to manage….Christmas spirits for everyone!


Er, November? December 11, 2014

Filed under: Family,Kids,knitting — bonniep @ 12:50 am

Baby C has been having a grand old time lately. After months of barely speaking words, she has started trying to say everything…my current favorites are her renditions of armadillo, meatball, and her santa “ho ho ho”. She has also made up her own sign for blankie. The only color she can name is yellow, and it applies to everything. She has a fearsome “roar” for lion, and abbreviated trunk swing and squeak for elephant, and likes to spend story hour at the library pointing to all the other kids and squealing “baby!”

Unfortunately, my great sleeper has fallen off the wagon and G and I have the dark eye circles and grumpy mornings to prove it. At least her nap refusal phase seems to have passed (hard to deal with if you are used to a four hour baby free block every afternoon)! She has also gotten much friendlier and gives lots of hugs and kisses at bedtime.

Baby C attended her first birthday party where she seemed to know at least some of what was going on. I pushed her into an old outfit of big C’s and she wore it well…


You might be able to see some other current interests, such as a bones necklace which has stuck around after Halloween and her ability to drag a chair over to the kitchen computer and then demand “Da!” which is “dance”—she loves the YouTube.

This Thanksgiving was possibly my most chill…yes, it required 3 nights of cooking before Thanksgiving and essentially the whole day of, but I had everything in the oven on time and most of the prep dishes cleaned well in advance of dinner being served. Potato and Leek Casserole from MSL was a huge hit, a new to me riff on pumpkin pie, who can say no to adding chocolate and bourbon to pecan pie?, and I made my own seitan roast. Rounded out with veggie miso gravy and vanilla bean ice cream, and dishes brought by guests. The only flop was pumpkin rolls, but overall the meal went well.

G’s cousin W was able to visit for a long weekend over Thanksgiving and we dragged him out downtown for some fun kid-style. The aquarium was a great choice (baby C could actually see stuff!) and Santa was diving that day.


We also did our annual post-Thanksgiving Fremont trip—vegetarian brunch, Fremont Troll visits, and boutique shopping.


(With some below freezing temperatures G and W were able to try out some handknit hats and big C was rocking her fingerless mitts!)

And then suddenly it was December and we are scrambling to get ready for the holidays! Some unplanned bumps in the road (baby C dislocated her elbow, a bug infestation false alarm) and a busier social schedule than usual haven’t helped. Which is to say, the annual Christmas plate of cookies that I give to neighbors is in danger of getting scrapped this year. We’ll see. I am about 75% done with present shopping, still have some present making to do…we don’t have outdoor lights up….we have a tree but it isn’t decorated yet. Oy, the New Years cards aren’t even close to done. Yikes. December fail over here.



October November 1, 2014

Filed under: Family,Kids,Sewing — bonniep @ 11:11 am

M is doing soccer again, with G coaching. She likes to play midfielder.


Faux pumpkin patch photos. Children would not cooperate very much.


Baby C just wants to run towards the camera.

First lost tooth! (Er, he one on the bottom. The top is just a gap.)


Actual pumpkin patch, during 10 minutes of not raining.


We got the house painted, and two interior rooms (new one for C, and M and soon to be baby C’s room) as well.

Big C turned 11(!!) and is getting her own room this year, so the birthday party was scaled back from previous years. Also, last year’s slumber party took about 5 years off my life, so… Good thing we didn’t do the slumber party this year actually, as an hour or so after the last guest left we lost power for about 18 hours. A bunch of 10 and 11 years olds in the dark…that would have been some scary stuff. Instead, this year we had a company that rents bunnies come in. There was even a mom bunny with her babies! C and I have been reading Watership Down and she tried to find character equivalents in all the bunnies. This was the perfect age as the girls sat in a circle for over an hour (Me: I thought the contract was for an hour? Bunny Handler: We just say that in case things go badly) cooing over the bunnies yet were old enough to (mostly) handle them with care.


Baby C was there and alternately fascinated with and terrified by the bunnies.

For food and favors we of course kept with the theme: bunny ice cream cake, carrot cupcakes (all purchased) and a “warren” of bunny stuffed animals to choose from.


Halloween! I had purchased a bunch of materials to surprise M with an Elsa (Frozen, much?) costume only to discover that her best friend was going to be Elsa and M was assigned to be Anna. So another trip to the fabric store it was. This costume cost me a lot of late nights but came out pretty well. I did cop out and just iron on the flower applique, so not sure how long those will last.


We saw a lot of store bought Anna’s but that cape is hard to top!

The other girls were environmental this year, reusing previous costumes: big C switched from Aphrodite last year to Athena this year. Baby C was a lion, as were her big sisters before her.


Ready to trick or treat! The rain nicely stopped for about 3 hours right around trick or treat time as well.


Only one sour note in October I can think of, and that is the car that came crashing through our rear fence on Oct. 30. Nothing like an incredibly loud noise at 9 pm in the pitch dark and then seeing taillights in the yard! The high school boys who were in the car claim to have turned onto the road, fishtailed, and lost control of the car, sending them into a tailspin, turning 180 degrees and then the rear of the car over the curb and through our fence. However, that turn should have been from a stop sign—given that they knocked over an 8 foot arbor vitae, cracked through 6”x6” wooden posts holding up the fence, hit the fence hard enough to send wood all the way onto our deck, and broke their rear axle…I am estimating they must have been going at least 40 mph. They both seemed OK but quite a shock for sure.

From the perspective of our house.


From the perspective of the street.


Fencing that made it down to our deck (near the table) and how close it was to the house.



behind, behind, behind September 27, 2014

Filed under: Baking,Family,Kids,Personal,Sewing — bonniep @ 11:38 pm

Our cherry tree had 8 cherries this year.


Baby C enjoys the beach, and big C enjoys building “fairy houses” there. One of the days we visited was warmer than the other.


We went to the fair. Actually, two fairs, but not a lot of evidence.



Baby C enjoys swings now (again). And coffee shop stops. And plums.


One last pair of shorts for M.


I actually finished a sweater in time for the child it was made for to still fit in it.



The baby who wasn’t walking runs now.



The first day of school (5th and 1st grades) happened. They chose to dress alike. Baby C was dressed the same until a small nail polish incident happened.



There are good reasons to have me as a friend.



Baby C loves books, her grampy, and hanging out on the deck. Not necessarily in that order.




OK, still about a month behind in pictures, but I will get there. Someday.


Vote Pleading, and the other kids August 13, 2014

Filed under: Family,Kids — bonniep @ 12:42 am

So I entered those three pairs of shorts into an online shorts sewing contest and the “viewers choice” award is based on how many people “heart” the entries. So if anyone would like to vote for my shorts (Sunny Day Cargos, Rainbow Ikat shorts, or Fierce Shorts) you can access the entries at http://www.kollabora.com/projects/shorts-line. However, I think you will have to register at the site (although they don’t seem to send many emails).


Baby C got a post to herself, but in the interest of falling less behind, I am cramming the two older girls in here…

The new deck involved dumping a big layer of gravel on the ground. C spent some time sorting through all the gravel and managed to make a rainbow out of what seemed a sea of gray.


For a neighborhood party the girls baked cookies (almost) all by themselves. They were pretty proud.


M is getting the hang of her roller skates.


M also had her first piano recital and did pretty well. She had to unexpectedly introduce herself and played two songs (I do kind of wish the teacher had let me duet with M instead of the teacher herself…the duet didn’t go as well).




If you’ve got wings, why not use them?



For M’s kindergarten graduation the teacher wrote a poem describing each kid and read it to everyone. Guess who is an outgoing, creative, curious, good friend?


Last day of school….M showing off the current trend of attaching key chain charms to your backpack. You don’t want to be near her if she swings around quickly.



A naturalist at the beach found a moon snail for us to hold when we were there for low tide.


The kids have been doing camps, but I don’t have a lot of pictures from them. M did a drama camp—her character was Elsa 2 and she had to do an evil laugh. M has a frighteningly good evil laugh.



That same week poor C had major oral surgery—two baby bicuspids removed, the permanent bicuspids still in the gum removed, and then they tunneled under the gum to apply braces to her permanent incisors which haven’t come in yet. It all went fairly well, although C seems to be strongly affected by anesthesia and took a lot of extra time to wake up. And then burst into tears in the car because she couldn’t feel her top lip. I assured her it was still there and she said “I guess I will have to take your word for it.” She was pretty excited about 2 days of jello and milkshakes.

Fourth of July is serious business around these parts. Decorated bike and scooter, parading and tossing out candy, and neighborhood party with fireworks.



My attempts to get more interesting photos don’t always succeed. Or, I say Jump! and they say How High!



C did a girls math camp at a nature preserve..but somehow all I have is a picture of M with the huge pinecones.



Finally, the local Barnes and Noble had a Frozen day with related activities. We were all disappointed that “chillin with Olaf” was not attended by Olaf, but Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff were OK I guess.



Then this weekend we were driving to a wedding and M shouted “Anna and Elsa are in the car next to us”. We turned, and indeed these same actors? imitators? were in the car—must have been on their way to an event. The girls were pretty excited even though they knew it was just people dressed up…M was interested to see that Anna drives, and C for some reason carefully memorized their license plate.

Phew. All for now.


Thar She sews August 6, 2014

Filed under: Kids,Sewing — bonniep @ 2:56 pm

With baby C’s new nap schedule I have gotten some blocks of time to sew this summer. Much less than I want to (or at least fewer items are getting sewn than are on the to do list) but still a pretty decent output.

Big C has been liking maxi skirts lately.


First skirt is from ruffle fabric with an exposed elastic waistband (although you can’t see that in the picture). Not sure I will do that kind of waistband again, it is kind of a pain. Second skirt is just a standard tube + elastic waist but gave me some practice sewing with rayon challis. Very poor attempt at pattern matching is luckily not shown…that is my challenge this year!

M got a fancy skirt…



Oddly sticky polyester fabric from Joann’s with flowers sewn on it (I mean, it came that way). Some challenge figuring out how to do the hem and the waist due to the bulk of the fabric, so this ended up like a bubble skirt with white voile on the inside and then some trickery to attach the elastic waistband. Same waistband as on C’s skirt but I am not happy with how the stitches show up on it—sewing in a perfectly straight line while stretching the elastic way out did not go well. But M was happy. And, er, the length should allow it to fit for a while.

I meant to follow a Sew A Long for this next item but didn’t actually make it until the week after. It is a woven hoodie that baby C wore for the 4th of July.


This is from the translated version of Happy Homemade Kids, although I added the lining to the hood. The hood fits oddly but looks cute on her back. Overall, was able to use up some leftover 4th of July fabric so that she coordinated with the other girls (who wore the outfits I made last year again). Well, the back of big C’s shirt matched baby C at least…



The rayon challis maxi skirt experiment was my warm up for sewing this dress from Ottobre Kids for big C:



Not quite as fitted around the waist as it was in the pictures (thanks skinny C) and the invisible zipper in the back gave me a lot of trouble. I think the zipper still pulls the back funny—it is heavier than the fabric. Maybe interfacing would have helped? At one point I poked a small hole near the collar while ripping out the zipper the 3rd? 4th? time and so had to stop fiddling with it and be satisfied. This fabric screamed C to me and she was quite happy with the dress. I did a very narrow hem at the bottom to keep some length. I think she is going to wear this to a wedding this weekend, so, success!

I have been on a shorts sewing binge, in part for an online contest called Shorts on the Line, but also because the kids needed shorts. One pair for M from a japanese sewing book (another pattern matching disaster, partially because the gridded pattern was totally off grain!) not shown, nor do I have pictures of my first Sunny Day shorts from Oliver + S which were for big C. But then I made three more pairs with various modifications…



Cargo pockets with a flap added for M.



Studded leather trimmed rear patch pockets, voile lined front slash pockets and an inch in length added for C.



Voile lined front slash pockets and rear welt pockets (!!) added for M.

The last two pairs the girls picked out the fabrics themselves at the store, and they just look sooo them. Pretty pleased to have sewn my first welt pockets too.

Let’s see…I also made myself a skirt, but no pictures of that. It is my one pattern matching success but the zipper gave me such a hassle that we are not speaking right now.

Lots of knitting going on as well, I think four or so scarves and hoping to get sweaters done for at least the two older girls before summer’s end. Always more to do!