Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Friday, May 31, 2013

the OPPOSITES dress// Reworking a Pattern for Endless Options

Whew, it sure is a hot one here in NH today! We've still got a couple weeks left of school, so I'm not quite in summer mode like some of you are. And boy oh boy, has it been one of those kinds of weeks. Isabelle was pitching quite the fit earlier today (which landed her in her room) and she kept it up for a loooong time, and all I kept thinking was Why won't someone order me to my room? I'd gladly go! How funny that when we're little that isolation feels like such a punishment, and now...well, it's nothing short of a yummy, gooey slice of heaven on earth.


I got my hands on some scrumptious hot pink and orange floral fabric but could not for the life of me make up my mind about what to do with it! I was really leaning towards a tiered peasant dress, but then I got thinking about that adorable little dress I made for Dress A Girl last year and that cinched it. That dress came to be from a mistake, actually -- I totally miscalculated how much fabric I had, and too late realized that I didn't have enough for the skirt of the dress, and I ended up loving the fix!

The original pattern called for a pleated skirt, which obviously wouldn't work with the patchwork-type panels, so I gathered the skirt instead. Easy peasy! Then of course, I didn't have enough yellow left to make a gathered ruffle, so I opted to pleat that -- pleated ruffles use much less fabric than gathered ones. I love how it turned out, and I remember Isabelle and I prayed that the little girl who received it would feel so special and cared for.

I folded the skirt pattern piece in half to cut the two panels for one side of the dress. (Cut through the fold to make two pieces.)
Then, to make the center panel, I folded the pattern piece into a more rectangular shape, and cut the same length as the other panels and eyeballed the width. The great part about gathering is you don't need to be so precise or perfect!

Sorry, but I don't have a picture of the three panels together because I ended up sewing this late at night. You will have the center panel which is pretty straight down the sides, and the two sides, which have more of a flare on the outer edges.

Use the fabric panels as pattern pieces to cut the contrasting panels, and sew them together as front and back, then as the whole skirt. I sew primarily with French seams -- I wrote a post about it here if you'd like to take a gander at it. Gather the skirt and stitch to the bodice, lining up side seams. Add a ruffle. Or don't. Either way, it's super cute!

The bodice front and back are also opposites.

Instead of the bow in the center, this time I opted for bows on the bodice. (The pattern calls for this.)

You really could switch it up and do any color blocking you want!  LOVE these colors together!

I'm really thankful for blogging because there are so many creative people out there, willing to share their thoughts and ideas, and I've been inspired by them more times than I could ever count. That inspiration has led me to try lots of new things on my own -- some with better results than others, ha! This is one of those things that I might not have attempted a few years ago, and I just love it! The possibilities truly are endless!
Have a fantastic weekend!

**the original pattern is McCall's M5836--
I think I'll make that cute sailor looking top for 4th of July**

Sharing with//

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thoughts and a Fun Recipe

This transitioning business is hard stuff.
We knew it was the right thing to do to leave our forever-gone-there church, and then our home of over a decade, where we brought home newborn Caleb and 19-month-Isabelle four years later. Some days I move forward in our new church and home without so much as a glance backward, hopeful for what lies ahead. And then there are other days, days like this one. It's dark and raining today, which presented some additional challenges in getting Caleb and his broken leg and still-awkward crutches into school this morning. There was a behavior incident with Isabelle, so I needed to speak with her teacher this morning as well-- maybe I'll write more about that later. Not the greatest start to the day, that's for sure.
Then I decide to drive by our old house.
Big mistake.
I realize I've never told the story about the sale of our home on the blog before. Skip ahead if you want to avoid the drama, because I have a feeling it's going to be a doozy today.
If you've read for a while, then you know that we decided to put our house up for sale for three main reasons: 1) to secure the funds to complete another adoption; 2) to have a bigger yard; 3) our backyard neighbors had grown increasingly hostile towards us and our children -- and I think they are literally a little crazy in the head No, for reals.
Our house sat and sat. Minimal showings for 2 months, and we were really frustrated and discouraged. Then in late August we get an offer. It was an insulting, low-ball kind of offer from who we assumed was a single mother from Massachusetts, given the one name on the offer contract. For this reason, we decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and not write the offer off completely. She was also asking for the clubhouse/swing set and sandbox to stay, AND...for us to close on the house within 10 DAYS. We figured it was so she could get her children up here and settled before school started. We talked about it, prayed about it, and decided upon a counter offer price, and that we could be in 12 days. (We had been packing things up all summer long, and we'd arranged to stay with Bill's parents temporarily should the need arise.) We packed and packed and scrubbed and cleaned and cleaned again- I was literally in tears the day I walked out of that house for the very last time because it looked so beautiful! Not to mention all the memories...
Imagine our surprise when at the closing at the bank, in walks a neighbor and who we thought was a friend, without his wife. I didn't get it. I was completely dumbstruck. All that time I had it in my mind that we were helping out a poor single mother who was trying to start over, based on the information that had been given to us. Now we're hearing that his Mom wants to be closer to the grandkids. Fair enough. But then the story keeps changing. As it turns out, our friend's mother was purchasing the house for him, in her name and his, but not his wife's. That was the big rush, to complete the purchase while his wife was out of town. It had nothing to do with schools and starting over and helping single mothers. My heart sank so low that day it took a good week to feel it begin to lift again. I was heartsick over his wife - my good friend - and family. This man used information attained through friendship as a means to then use it all against us. Worse, we felt like we were co-conspirators. It was horrible. Then the house sat empty for the next three weeks.
So, back to today. I drive by the house and tears begin to spill before my brain can even register what my eyes are seeing. Every plant, every flower, every one of our children's special trees, demolished. The tree we wrapped in Christmas lights, gone. Our favorite shade tree in the back, now nothing but a slight indent in the ground, already covered with dirt. I know, I know. It isn't my house anymore. I have no right to be upset about anything like this.
But I'm human. And I'm spit-mad. I mean, would it really have been that big a deal to Facebook me and say, "Hey, so we're ripping out every living thing in the yard, anything you might want to come and get?"
I don't even have the right words. Disappointed? Betrayed? Belittled? Just plain sour. There is a consuming sourness about it all. One thing I forgot to mention- in my haste to get out of the house so quickly, I never went back and got snips of the special flowers, the Columbines from my mother, from her mother; those bigger-than-life peonies, given to me on my first Mother's Day as a Mama of three little boys; the beautiful lilacs and hydrangeas that I had to ask for help hoisting up into the car because of my Caleb-swollen belly that first summer we lived there. All those hours working, planning, digging, caring for, enjoying, studying, capturing in pictures, and memories.
And now seems like the right time to give in to the good cry so desperate to surface, and then to move on.
The owners of this house had kind of let things go, so we've been working hard. Just wait till you see all we've done in the yard here so far!

Oh yes, the recipe. Just a little one that we've been enjoying a whole lot lately.

Sometimes (okay, all the time) I crave something sweet that I know isn't going to sabotage my efforts to slim down. I saw gazillions of recipes floating around Pinterest a while back and tried a few out. They were mostly referred to as "Energy Bites," and the ingredients were all fairly similar; however, a couple didn't taste quite right, and others simply fell apart on the plate. The recipe I liked the most still tasted a bit too sweet (I know, what?!?), and I wanted even more nutritional stuff in there, so I changed it up slightly. These are a great pick-me-up for tired or even grumpy little scholars after a long week at school. Make some and watch those frowns turn upside down!  =)

Here's What You Need
1 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup coconut (more or less, depending on your taste, but less keeps the calorie count down)
1/2 cup mini chocolate morsels
1 scant tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey

Here's What You Do
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients until well combined; Chill 20-30 minutes. Once chilled -- if mixture is too sticky, chill for 10 more minutes; if too crumbly, you may need to add more peanut butter or honey to bind ingredients together -- shape into balls. They're supposed to be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, but that has never applied to this family. They are g-o-n-e gone in twenty seconds flat! Enjoy!

This recipe is totally adaptable and allows for endless variations. We've added raisins, cinnamon, chopped almonds, dried name it, it goes in there!

Adapted from this recipe.

ps-  if you made it to the end of this post, I owe you some thanks! Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When You Break Your Leg, There Will Be Cake!

I suppose I'll cut right to the chase. The boys went rock-climbing at some new place around town. Needless to say, it didn't end well.

Bill called me and told me that Caleb had taken a bad fall and busted up his ankle. Then, in the panicked moments, our communication got a little wonky (which may or may not be code for I was beyond mad, slightly irrational, and filled with dread at the prospect of what yet another broken bone is going to do to our family over the next month or more...) and I ended up going to the gym with Isabelle only to discover that they weren't there. They'd already gone to the ER, so we headed there, which obviously did not help with the aforementioned fit I was already having. Poor little guy. That ankle looked so big and so bruised and misshapen! We live fairly close by, so I brought Ethan and Jonah home; Isabelle wanted to stay and comfort Caleb. I felt a little like June Cleaver packing up our little ER snack/activity bag. Um, almost.

It was a really long afternoon spent waiting waiting waiting. X-rays, more X-rays, poking and prodding, and yes, more X-rays, all determining that his leg is broken in 3 places right above the ankle. My heart broke watching Caleb absorb the news and then realize that his season with Majors is now over. We couldn't even fill the Rx because all the pharmacies were closed by the time we finally got back home, so as you can imagine, it was a really l-o-n-g night too.

After church, we grabbed a few things at the CRAZY-BUSY store, including this giant Taco cake for Caleb- awesome, right?

And then my parents came over after church with... a ginormous cake for Caleb, ha! It was much more appropriately themed than mine and said "Get Well Soon," and Mimi even had the girl pipe a leg with a blue cast on it! While I took the other kiddos to church, Bill had gone to Target with Caleb, and they let him drive one of the scooters! I wish I'd seen that! When your babies don't feel well, you take the smiles wherever/however you can get 'em. After lunch, Caleb went to bed while the rest of us watched Rango...not sure if I really liked it, though I hear I missed more than half of it (zzzzzzzzz), so...whatev.

On an unrelated note, Ethan finally got my Instagram account to work! I posted some pictures from the weekend there -- I'm at bethanysloves if you want to take a look or follow along.

So yesterday. We went to one of our favorite lakes and tried to make the most of it for everyone, which is hard to do when someone can't really do anything. Bill picked up kites at the dollar store, which always ends up as $3 down the drain, but oh well. For the nearly four seconds they worked, it was great!

I smile at this-- always gathered together working on something.

Every few minutes I'd see Caleb with this expression on his face. He doesn't complain, but when asked, he'll tell me his leg hurts a lot. Breaks my heart.

That face.
My baby.

My boy-turning-man. Still in awe of this, and how it happens so lightning fast.

This one. Often stormy, but I know God has amazing things in store for him.

This is "sad face because kite is not working..."

She recovered.

These Mama and Baby birds kept calling out to one another in the tall grass. So cute! You'd see the grass wiggle but sometimes not even see the baby bird as it raced to find Mama.
 Eek! So cute!

Jonah is like a mini Jeff Corwin. Couldn't believe what he found!
Hmm, don't see it? How about now?

Yikes! It was impossible to get a good shot because of all the sticks and grass, oh, and the fact that I didn't want to get charged by this slick fella at any given moment! He looked MEAN! And he was HUGE! We poked him with sticks a little--- because that's always safe-- but he slithered off and we didn't see him again. We don't normally see large snakes like that around here. I would have walked right by, but Jonah said he heard it, and then he saw it hiding!

Speaking of animals, look what has been stopping by our backyard each morning and evening...

Aw, doesn't Ryder look like he wants to be friends? HaHa

I am on a mission to gather some recipes for easy, yummy summer recipes -- all those no bake pies and things. I tried this lime one, and it was okay but not great. I think I say this every May, but this year I'm determined! If you have a favorite, I'd love it if you left a link in the comments or popped me an email. Thanks!

Caleb and I were originally scheduled to go on a class field trip together, but instead we'll be visiting the orthopedic doctor. That's just as much fun, right? I keep forgetting it's already Tuesday, so, have a Great Tuesday!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Handmade Gift Bow//Step by Step Instructions

I know most everyone has been thinking about the tragedy in Oklahoma this week. Honestly, I can't imagine what it might feel like to lose every single possession, family photos, treasured notes and cards from my children...that, on top of losing your home. Can't fathom it.
There was a sweet 94-year-old woman from Oklahoma on the news the other day. She had suffered the loss of her home back in the nineties from another tornado, and then a second home this week. This woman was smiling! Her face bore the bright peace and contentedness that accompanies those who have endured the trials of life and come out stronger. With a twinkle in her eyes, she told the reporter that God had been with her the first time, and He was with her now. Period. End of story. That was all she needed. I've been thinking about that all week. How I long for that to be true for me, too.

While I keep those affected by the tornado in my mind and heart, this post is actually about something lighthearted. And to make an easy gift bow! My mother has made these my entire life and I just figured everyone on the planet also knew about them. I guess not! People constantly question me about them at parties and such, so I though I'd share a quick step-by-step so you can make your own gift bow.

This is the perfect way to use up those leftover pieces of wrapping paper! You'll want a good sized square or rectangle since you'll be folding it in half. As you can see, no need to be nice and neat!
I cut through the double layer to make the strips -- you can certainly open the square back up and cut strips individually if you prefer. Be careful not to cut too close to the fold at the top.

Forgive this lousy shot -- the strip of paper should be taut, and it looks pretty slack in the photo. Basically, you're going to hold the top of the strip by the fold with your thumb and index finger (to keep it in place) while you run the edge of the scissor blade down the back side of the paper to form the curl.

The tightness of the curl depends on how tightly you pull the blade down the paper. If there is a lot of tension in the strip as you pull the scissor blade down hard, the curl will be very tight. Loosen up and the curls loosen up. You can see the difference below.

Don't worry about tearing off a strip or two (or five) -- it happens a lot until you get the hang of it. Here it is after you've curled all the paper strips.

Now fold the rectangle in half.

The gift bow will be adorable on its own, but if you want to add a little something, curl some long pieces of craft ribbon, holding onto the center. Staple through all the layers in the center, or place the ribbons on the folded bow and staple through all layers.

Fold the wrapping paper rectangle in half again and secure the ribbons to the center with either tape or a staple.

The last thing to do is fold one more time, enclosing the ribbons in the center. Staple again to secure this last fold (tape works too). And that's it! You did it!

I usually put a piece of tape on one side of the bow to attach it to the gift -- sometimes the bulk makes it a little tricky and you have to play around with it. 
It looks so pretty when you're all done!

Frugal and win!

This bow works well with a taller, vertical gift, too -- cut the trips longer and thinner for a cascading effect!

Sharing with//

Monday, May 20, 2013

Doggie Birthdays and First Bouquets

Friday was just an all-around big day in our house! The festivities continued late into the night...

Well, no, not really. But we did have golden cupcakes to celebrate Ryder's 2nd birthday! And Bill totally spoiled him and got him special puppy ice-cream cups. All this and he still would not wear the Birthday Sombrero.

Jonah held it over his head and this is the closest we got. HA If this photo doesn't scream "Heeelllpp meeeeee" I don't know what does! And disregard those nasty socks in the background, mm'kay? Thanks.

So cute! He was quite the eager beaver during his little party! Sweetie dog. I'm almost ready to forgive him for trampling my brand new plant. And taking a chunk out of my favorite sandals. Almost....

Speaking of plants, our very first bouquet in our new house!!!

My niece was checking on the kitties while we were away in Virginia last month and accidentally locked herself out of the house, so she went next door to ask for help. Our neighbors here are the best, so we thought we'd bring this over as a little thank-you. It may look a little meager, but I was still excited about it! Isabelle was a big help holding the jar of water, and she only spilled it twice.  ;)

We've got a super busy week ahead of us! Daisy Troop and a baseball game are on tonight's agenda. I love it! Happy Monday!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Today is going to be a VERY BIG DAY!

Long story short, we met with our social worker for yet another home study update this morning-- which went very well-- and she gave us some information that may change everything (for the good)!! Can't share more right now but I'm smiling so big my cheeks are hurting! Isabelle and I danced and twirled through the loop inside the house and I haven't felt this optimistic or full of hope in a little while now. I feel so free! Free for possibilities, free for all that God has in store for our growing family, free to let go of the expectations and the time frames and all those what ifs!

God placed this desire in our hearts and He will be faithful to the very end. What, then, do I have to be afraid of? You guys, adoption is scary and wonderful and beautiful and full of ups and downs, but God is bigger than any detail and all details...everything! We would be so grateful if you could offer up a prayer on our behalf as we continue on this winding path again- thank you!  =)

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