Thursday, January 16, 2014

Domesticity

I am a lover of crafts. 
I just feel calmer and happier when I am in the middle of a project that allows me to be creative and includes a skill that I want to master.  It gives my soul a break from thinking about the things I cannot change and it helps me to feel centered and competent.
 I craft because it is much more effective than therapy ever was, even though it's not actually cheaper. 
Once I find my groove in a project, I tend to be a little obsessed. 

I might possibly be a little obsessed with sewing right now...........


The painter's tape on my fingers to help where I have poked and pinched my fingertips raw may be seen as a cry for help. 
My sweet husband knows it means he chose well when he was Santahusband.
He also knows it's sign that I'm doing better and allowing myself to do the things that make me feel okay.


Yesterday, I decided to teach myself applique. 
There are so many cute things you can make with applique and you can take personalization to a whole new level. 



I started small with a freebie download that looked very simple.



Adorable.

My first attempt was bad.
 The applique shifted, just a hair too far and it was all off, then I wasn't paying attention and realized that I had sewn the tabs of the bib to back of it all and had to cut it off of the hoop.
Oops. 
I thought it was making terrible noises. 

I also.....
FINISHED ANOTHER QUILT.



Just a baby quilt, but I am really happy at how much better the binding is and the patches line up better than my first one. I still have a lot to learn, which means my readers are going to have to endure many more sewing posts. 
Both of these will be mailed to SLC for my sister, Sunnie, who is having a baby in a few months with her husband, Chad. They are a blendy family, too and this will be their first baby together. 

Because I am a Domestic Goddess, I also baked 4 loaves of homemade whole wheat bread yesterday.



Okay, I'm more of a tired schlub who didn't want to go to the store and buy bread, but the ends justify the means, Yo.

I used a new recipe, using vital wheat gluten. I've heard my friends sing the praises of that stuff, but had never used it. I have had struggles getting bread to rise since we moved to New Jersey, so I picked some up, hoping it would help.


It cut the raising time in half and the bread was very light and airy for being whole wheat.



Add me to the vital wheat gluten club.
It was great stuff.
I'm posting the recipe for my friends who asked. 
When I make this again, I'm going to make a couple of changes because my bread was a little more crusty on the outside than I like it. 
The inside had a texture that was similar to white bread though, I think this is one kids will love. 
Bosch Foolproof Whole Wheat Bread
*Makes 6 loaves ( I didn't see that part, and made four. I just NOW realized this. DUH. That explains why it seemed a little overcooked on the outside in order to achieve the perfect inside. Disregard my bread being too crusty, I'm a moron.)
That being said, it was too much for my large 6 qt Kitchenaid to really manage, so if you don't have a house full of bottomless pit young men who will eat 2 loaves within an hour of coming home from school-- I'd cut this in half. It's a huge recipe. 
Whole wheat bread freezes really well, though and you know your visiting teaching families would love you if you brought them some. 
6 cups warm water
2 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup oil
2/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
12-15 cups whole wheat flour
Mix 8-9 cups fresh wheat flour and 2 ½ tablespoons yeast together in the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a large bowl by hand). Add 6 cups warm water and mix to paste consistency. Cover and let sponge 10-15 minutes. Add salt, honey, oil, and gluten. Mix by hand or if using an electric mixer, turn to speed 1 or 2 as motor bears down and add additional flour until dough pulls away from sides of bowl (be careful not to add too much flour). Let the mixer knead the dough for five minutes. (If using hands, knead for 10 minutes.) Use oil or cooking spray on your hands to form six equal loaves. Take dough immediately from bowl and fill lightly greased (or nonstick) loaf pans ½ to 2/3 full. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap to keep moist. Let the bread rise until doubled, approximately 1 ½ inches above the top of the pan. Place the bread carefully in a cold oven. Turn the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 38 minutes. Let cool completely before placing in bags to put in the freezer.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Finish Line

I


When Parker was a baby, I made my first patchwork quilt.
It was also my last patchwork quilt. 
It took me weeks to make and while he loved the blanket, it was a lot of work and my sewing skills left a lot to be desired.  I am not known for my attention to details and getting the squares all lined up perfectly while taking care of a baby and oh, look...a sparkly.........
It was not going to win any ribbons at the fair and I was keenly aware of how poor the needlework was and how the blocks weren't even all the same size. 

A few years ago, I started to get the urge to try quilting again, but I was still sewing on that same machine I bought all those years ago with Baby Parker and I am still me. I knew that whatever I started was just going to be terrible.
 I have so many unfinished projects, because I can tell that the end result isn't going to be perfect and I abandon it.
I have  made major life choices with this same mentality.  If the end result is not going to be exactly what I envisioned when I started, my instinct is to bail. 
I never realized this was not the only way to go until I found something in my life that was really difficult, that was clearly NOT going the way I envisioned it when I started and yet--- I wanted to be there for every part of the process and reaching the end was the perfect ending.  The masterpiece would come in seeing it to the end, whatever that was going to be. I didn't need control of when and how it ended, because I believed that it was something that could last forever.
Meeting Matt and bringing our families together was something that I decided I was not going to quit. I do not ever want our family to stop being a family and as we have made some huge messes and been through so many changes of direction- it is always my favorite project- even when it sucks. 

So back to patchwork quilts....
Today, I finished one.

Okay, okay, it's just a lap quilt- but the point is I finished it.
I didn't even quit at the binding, where many a baby blanket has been abandoned by me because I suck at binding.
The lines are crooked, the shape is bunchy, but by darn-- I started it and I finished it, even when I knew it was going to be wonky. 
It's not a work of art, it's amateurish and uneven, but for me- it's a amazing. 
It's a finished piece. 
I finished something.

I am still learning and growing and stitch by stitch, I am realizing the masterpiece in seeing things through to the end. I can be a person who finishes things, who remains and who does not give up. I can be a person who keeps on trying, no matter how many mistakes she has made and how many flaws are seen by others. I can be a person who knows she can finish and do the things she avoided because she just knew she was the last person to figure them out, so why even try.
 I can be a person who can be proud of what she has done.
I think that is the heart of it, I was so use to hearing how much I sucked, that rather than have any accomplishments picked apart and slammed, I just chose not to finish.
Nobody can fail me if I get an incomplete, they can't point out all of my mistakes and shortcomings if I have nothing to present.
So failures were not mine, but neither were successes. 
Hmm.
 I just now realized that. 

I didn't finish because I didn't want my work to be ripped apart and I once lived in a world where everything was judged and deemed inadequate. Every wrong step, every slip up was pointed out and I was constantly being told that everything I did, dreamed of or hoped for was pointless, because nothing would ever be good enough. 
Viewing myself through that critical filter, I saw only the mistakes as I worked on everything, on being a wife, a mother, a Latter Day Saint, a housekeeper, a student......
I avoided that finish line with every ounce of  fight I had in me.
I could not be judged if I never finished. I could tell myself that all of the criticism I was getting was going to go away once I presented a perfect, finished.....Chris.
 I just wasn't perfect yet, so I needed to be nothing.
-
But that was then and I do not want a life where the crappy things from my past determine the quality of my future.

 I am a good mother.

 I am a good wife.

 I am a pretty crappy housekeeper.

......and I can finish things and be proud of the process and the things I learned.

This week I finished my first quilt in nearly 20 years and I am proud of that. 





Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Oh, What Do You Do in the Winter Time

...when all the world is......Cold Level: ARMAGEDDON....?

Yesterday it rained.
It wasn't cold, like it has been all over the Midwest, it just rained.
The rain melted all of the snow that was dumped on us that gave us an extended Winter Break.


The cold came this morning, but it's still a cozy 4 degrees outside.
I can't complain.
I've got a sturdy home, fuzzy socks and a husband who doesn't complain when I adjust the thermostat multiple times a day. 
I spent most of the winter break, just being with Matt and the kids.
We ate, slept, played games every day and reconnected.


 ( The Game of Thrones. It is an intense, amazing game. It takes 4-6 hours to play and you need to be secure in your relationships to play, but oh, it is an awesome game--even though Kyle won AGAIN.)

(Red Dragon Inn-- a new one from Santa that was fun. The goal is to not get so 'drunk' that you lose your fortitude. Paul, I think you guys would like this game because the game play is fun, straightforward and all ages could play together competitively.)


We rang in the new year together.

(Zane was partying at the Thomas House, we weenied out at 6:30 and partied at home.)


It was good.
When everyone bundled up and headed back to work and school yesterday, I had so much to catch up on, but all I really wanted to do was play with my new sewing machine.
It does machine embroidery and I tinkered with it all week, figuring out how to use it and what things I can crap craft up by stitching flowers and names all over them. 
Yesterday, I made baby burp cloths for my bestie's younger sister, Sarah.
She's about to have her third daughter and I'm excited for her. I've watched her grow up from a teenager who didn't have much self confidence, who was a people-pleaser that didn't give herself credit for her awesomeness to  a strong and radiant woman.


She is also gorgeous, as all the women in that family are.

(Mom E, Kristine- my dearest friend in the world, Sarah and Di.)

I made these using flannel that I picked up for an absolute steal on Black Friday.
I wait all year for that sale, because the cute, trendy flannels are only 2 bucks a yard, down from $7.00.
Last year, I bought a ton, this year they required a 2 yard minimum purchase,so.........I still bought a ton.


I backed them up with a new, white towel that I had been using to figure out how to do CTR towels on.
I love the ragged edge and the fact that they are cute, but still able to wipe up and absorb a lot of baby mess.
 They look home-made and I love them.
Not enough to have a baby, but enough to make more of these in the future.




Now, I just need to mail these and wait for Baby A's arrival. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

First Temple Trip of 2014


 This morning, we got up before the sun and headed to Manhattan to attend the temple together as a family.
One of the most awesome things about having teenagers, is that you don't have to find babysitters or worry about what the kids are up to while your phones are off during temple sessions. 
 I swear, I'd get an emergency call from the school 9 times out of 10 when I would go during the day when we lived in Utah. 
We had enjoyed doing baptisms with Kate and Jane in Palmyra this summer, but Emma had taken a summer math course and wasn't with us during our trip. With her staying for 10 days over the Christmas Holiday, we were able to schedule in a trip together. 


Romy wanted to invite her friend, Eliza, from church. Eliza just turned 12 in December and it has been really fun to see Roe take on the role of 'big sister' to Eliza and to see their friendship develop.
 Roe has been so impacted by the kindness and support she gets from the older girls in our ward, and I am happy to see her being a part of helping that to happen with the new girls coming in. I think we have a very special YW group here in New Jersey and all of my teenager girls feel as though they have lifelong friends in this ward, thanks to the love and true embracing of the Spirit of Christ these girls have.
That have leaders who understand what their challenges and needs are and who teach them to be strong and good. They teach these girls how wonderful it is to be a woman, and help them see how much they can do, if they strive to honor the best that is within them. We have such unique kids here and they are all together in this weird little state that has the fewest ratio of members of the church in all of the nation. You would not know it if you spent time with the youth here. 
I am so thankful for the hard work and prayer of the leaders we have here.
I have seen a change in my little Roe, in just the 6 months she has been a Beehive and it is exciting to watch her turn into a confident young woman, who knows who she is and cares about others. 




Both girls had a great time, and the smiles on their faces radiated. 
I look forward to these two developing a closer friendship as they spend the next season in YW together. 


We only had one family name to do, but my goal is to always come with at least one- so-another Owens has had the work started for them. I've got a stack of sealings I need to do, so Matt and I really need to go to the next ward temple night and get some help with those.

There is something so wonderful about attending the temple with my children. It isn't something we ever did as a family growing up. I don't think I realized, as a youth I could go in and do temple work unless it was a church activity, and we only did that one time when I was a kid.
I am proud of all of our kids and of Eliza for waking up at 5:30 am to go to the temple in this freezing cold weather.




 We drove to Chelsea afterwards and rewarded the kids with our favorite doughnuts.

 No matter how many times I post about these, I don't do them justice.
Emma actually squealed when she heard we were going to the Doughnut Plant. 


It was a great morning.