Tag Archive | birthday

Happy Rockin’ Birthday!

It has been too quiet around here and I’m sorry for that. I don’t like it. Especially the last couple of weeks when I actually have produced a few things, but haven’t had the opportunity to photograph them. It makes me nervous for how things are going to be when the new baby comes in a few weeks. Having done this three times before, I know that I’m going to be doing good just to stay afloat for a month or so before we all settle into a rhythm (full disclosure: I had to type that three times before hitting on the right spelling). Sigh. Them might just be the breaks, peeps.

But anyways…

Rana celebrated her 8th birthday this week! Granota was completely in awe of this milestone and repeatedly asked me if I could even believe that I had an 8 year old. As a sort of birthday present/sort of just because, I painted t-shirts for the girls (I know it always seems that Konik gets short shrift, but Michael’s didn’t have any t-shirts in his size; I’ll get him taken care of later). As might be expected if you know us at all, Axl Rose was the subject this time. Both girls had mentioned in the past wanting Guns N’ Roses shirts. Besides the fact that they generally don’t come in tiny sizes, they’d probably get sent home from school for wearing anything with a picture of a gun on it. A portait of Axl was the safer choice.

I used the same technique that I did on Rana’s bunny shirt, but the portraits were much more complicated than a simple little cartoon. There was a LOT of cutting involved with these and it kind of fried my brain. Once that was out of the way, I got to the fun part of painting. Again, three coats of paint seem to do the job. I applied each one in a different direction to be sure to cover any exposed fabric. And as you can see from the in-progress photos, I didn’t care one bit about painting “within the lines.”

IMG_2897 IMG_2898

After the girls were asleep, I put the finished shirts on their beds for them to find in the morning. That next morning I heard gasps and squealing and excited chatter. I always like that reaction.




Rockin’ her rockstar t-shirt

Even though it was Rana's birthday, I couldn't leave out the one who started it all

Even though it was Rana’s birthday, I couldn’t leave out the one who started it all


Watch out, elementary school


French Friday #52: Joyeux Anniversaire to meeee!

Today is my birthday! (Thank you, thank you) This is my first birthday in the cabin. Maybe we’ll catch Mouse #40 tonight for a present.

I spent three birthdays in France. The first one is definitely one of my most memorable birthdays ever. Mr. Gren was the youth pastor at an English-speaking church just outside of Paris (Emmanuel International Church) and that first year my birthday happened to fall on a weekend perfect for a youth event. And this was an EVENT. Progressive dinner. Through Paris. On bicycles. Mr. Gren had the route all planned out, criss-crossing through the Western side of Paris from Fat Tire Bikes to our three stops — the apartments of three church families who would be providing our meal. We had nine kids from 13-16 years old and two other adults to help us corral them. It was a diverse group: American twins who had just moved from Colorado; an American brother and sister who had grown up in Scotland; a Dutch-German girl who had recently arrived from South Africa; a boy from Iceland whose name sounds like a bird chirp; a Swiss-American girl who had grown up in France; and our other two leaders were from China and England. Such is the nature of an international church!

Can you find me?

It was daylight when we started out, but, being autumn in Paris, night fell pretty quickly. Now we were corralling nine kids on bikes in Paris in the dark . If you have never been to Paris, it should be noted that Paris is not a bicycle-friendly city. Cars are king and, although half the population drives vehicles that could fit in the bed of an American pickup truck, Parisians all fancy themselves race car drivers. Or maybe rally sport drivers would be more accurate. Speed AND recklessness! They may never admit it, but I’m positive that’s what they all dream about at night.

This is what Paris looks like when you don’t adjust the night settings on your camera.

One of Mr. Gren’s favorite places in Paris is the Étoile — the massive roundabout that encircles the Arc de Triomphe. Twelve streets converging into one writhing mass of cars, weaving, dodging, honking and cursing. It’s a perfect place to take kids! Anyone with half a brain and a will to live knows better than to actually try and bike through the Étoile. Instead, we went around via crosswalk at the head of each street, which was still plenty treacherous. We only had to make it about half way around before turning off on a side street to head to our next stop.

Aux Champs-Élysées!

And not a moment too soon! Bike chains were dropping like flies and the four of us adults were frequently pulling kids and disabled bikes off to the side of the street for quick repairs all while trying not to lose the rest of the group. I was bringing up the rear with stragglers, daydreamers, and other slow-pokes. All of a sudden, the Icelandic kid in front of me was launched over the handlebars of his bike as the gears locked up, nearly causing me to run right over the top of him. Betrayed by the chain again! Hjortur was a tough little kid and was game to keep on going after a quick examination of his scrapes. Not that there’s much choice when you’re in the middle of the road in Paris!

It’s blurry ’cause we’re just that fast. Or something.

Somehow, Hjortur’s unscheduled meeting with the pavement was the only casualty of the whole trip. We arrived at all our destinations, ate good food, had a lot of laughs. I was even surprised with a birthday gift at one apartment and a cake at the final stop! How can you top a birthday like that? Probably never going to happen, but today is shaping up to be pretty good. Mr. Gren surprised me with baguette and French goat cheese, Lindt chocolates, and a beautiful bouquet of red roses. Happy birthday to me!

Parisian dreams.

The last successful sewing project

Remember that wedding I went to this summer? Remember how I told you that I had sewn a new dress for it? Remember when I used to blog three times a week? Yeah, I suck. But hey, I’m here now.

So about that dress. I had fallen in love with a vintage Vogue reprint.

Vogue 8789

It looked like a good wedding-y type of dress for a summer wedding. But it was also an evening wedding, so I felt like the fabric needed to have a little sparkle. I chose an Asian print — cherry blossoms on a plum background with a touch of shimmery gold here and there.

One thing I particularly loved about this pattern was that the facing was actually part of the bodice piece. Sheer genius. Why aren’t all V-necks made this way? Tell you what, from now on, that’s what I’m going to do. I just had to finish the edge and then fold it in and tack it down. Brilliant.

One thing I did not like about this pattern was the armhole facing. The pieces are weirdly shaped and continually want to flip out, even with understitching. I think I would have been better off just binding them in bias tape. And that’s what I’m going to do if I ever make this pattern again.

But I may not because this thing is a fabric monster. 5.25 yards. That adds up fast. This dress turned out to be much more expensive than I had intended. With the look Mr. Gren gave me after I bought the fabric, I kinda feel like I should wear it everyday just to make it worth it.

I’m also coming to the conclusion that, while I like the idea of this style of dress, this particular silhouette is perhaps not the most flattering on me. To really give that dramatic look I need a tiny wasp waist and, let’s face it, after three kids, that tiny waist may never come back. I’m thinking princess lines are going to be my go-to from here on out.

As I said, this thing takes over 5 yards of fabric, and obviously, the majority of that is in the ginormous skirt. But one can’t just leave those swathes of fabric hanging from the body. If you’re going to do that, you may as well just pin Miss Ellen’s portieres over your shoulders and call it a day. So, I am wearing not one, but two petticoats under this sucker (both of which I made myself and I will write about some other day). I probably could have even gotten away with a third, but in this day and age, people just aren’t accustomed to dresses that poof, so I figured it was best to go the conservative route. Or something.

Even big girls like to twirl.

You may have noticed in the pattern drawing that there is a cummerbund as part of this look. And you may have noticed that I am not wearing one. I made it, I did. It’s gold. Remember how I don’t have a wasp waist? Yeah, Vogue, your one-size-fits-all cummerbund: bad idea. Even with the couple of extra inches that I added on. Even with it being cut on the bias (that gives it some stretch). At that point, it was the night before we had to travel and I was out of fabric, so… ya get what ya get. I made the executive decision that zero cummerbund was a better look than being slowly sliced in half. Personal preference. You can do what you want. I won’t judge.

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In other news, today is Rana’s 7th birthday! No homemade presents this year, but I did buy her a tiny little sewing kit of her very own. Singer has these cute little pink and black tackle boxes that come with a few sewing “essentials.” I had already bought a few a la carte and decided to swap out some of the ones that came in the box with the ones I had chosen because I liked them better. I also included three fat quarters so that she will have her very own fabric to work with and not just my scraps. I hope she loves it!

Yee ha!

Sunday was Rana’s 6th birthday! She has been telling us for weeks that she wanted all kinds of cowboy-related things, including a cowgirl doll. If you remember from Granota’s birthday, my original intention was to make them both fairy dolls, but I was willing to switch gears. I used a slightly different doll pattern because a cowgirl and a fairy shouldn’t look the same. Somewhat ironically, the pattern I used for both the doll and the shirt were for an Indian girl. Hmm. Maybe someday the cowgirl will have an Indian friend. I don’t know if it will be anytime soon, though; I’m a little burnt out on doll-making. So many fiddly little bits!

I never want to sew a cuff that tiny again.

For the most part, the doll went together pretty well. Sewing the tiny little clothes was kind of a hassle. Then I started running into bigger hassles. About the time the doll was ready for hair, I checked local thrift stores and ended up going to four before finding one with a donor Barbie head. I was feeling a little desperate, but should have checked more closely: this was a knock-off Barbie which didn’t have nearly as much hair as the one I had used for Granota’s fairy. Even though the cowgirl doll’s head was smaller than the Barbie, she has some painfully obvious bald spots. Suddenly, a cowgirl hat was no longer just an accessory, but a necessity! “Here, sweetie, I made you a doll! Also, she has mange.” And right there, your birthday party is over.

I messed around trying to sew a hat, but it looked more like a fez. Granted, it didn’t have a brim when I gave up on it, but I think even that wouldn’t have put it over into cowboy hat territory. Next step was to check around at craft stores for tiny little cowboy hats. Two craft stores, a pet store, a toy store, and a Build-a-Bear later, not to mention two hours of my time, I was still hatless. Back to the drawing board. I checked online for tiny crocheted cowboy hat patterns and still no luck. I did find a doll hat pattern that I thought might possibly work with a little bit of pinching and shaping. I was up until 11:00 Saturday night working on that, but ran out of steam before sewing it onto the doll’s head. And now I’m glad I did.

Sunday after church, I disappeared into my sewing room to finish this last step, except… I decided I didn’t like the crocheted hat anymore. It was slightly too big and seemed to lose its shape too easily. I attempted steam-shrinking felt, but just gunked up my iron on accident (note to self: clean iron before next project). Then, in my doll pattern book, I found a doll wearing a high-crowned hat. Think Pilgrims. I shortened it a little and tacked up the brim on the sides and lo and behold! A fair approximation of a cowboy hat! I like it much better than the crocheted version.

Corduroy cowboy hat

Rana had the best cowgirl birthday a 6 year old girl could hope for. She got all kinds of cowgirl stuff from family and then, the moment of truth…

She didn't fling it across the room, so already that's an improvement!

She likes the doll. She named her Jessie (after we vetoed “Lily” because just about everything else in the house is already named Lily). I think they’re going to have a good time together.

And, an update on Granota and the fairy: They are friends now. Granota named the fairy Falilla and has enjoyed playing with her very much since I assured her that I did not use human hair on the doll. Yes, that’s right. Granota was actually repulsed by the fairy because of the hair. Thankfully we got that all cleared up! I love walking by her bedroom at night and hear her whispering to Falilla. Exactly what I had hoped for.