This Moment

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by Soulemama.com

This Moment

A challenge and an apron

My mom’s favorite quilt shop, Stitchcraft, recently had a challenge.  You had to make something, anything,  from this fabric.  The fabric had to be visible, but there was no requirement that it be the main fabric in your project.challenge fabricNow, after unpacking our ridiculously heavy household effects shipment, I vowed not to buy any more fabric until I made a very serious dent in my existing stash.  Given that the challenge fabric is not in my usual color families, this vow became a bit of a challenge.  After a few fits and starts, and ruined projects, I discovered a kit for making a shopping cart cover my mom bought when my now four and a half-year old was a newborn.  I definitely don’t need a shopping cart cover any more, but an apron is always handy.  I was inspired by this tutorial, but made mine reversible.  Wish I could tell you how, but it was pretty late and I was flying by the… well, string of my apron, to mix my metaphors.

blog-4071A few notes: one really ought to wipe the little handprints off the mirror before attempting a self portrait.  It wouldn’t hurt to attempt a smile either.  One should also finish said project in the daylight (instead of after midnight), so that crooked seams are not discovered as the project gets folded to go in the mail.  Despite the rather mediocre results, it was such fun to bring the sewing machine out for something other than the endless diaper repair project!

A Blank Slate

blog-3Don’t you love a fresh start?  A blank page in the journal, an empty memory card in the camera, and a brand new month on the calendar.  A new three year posting.  All filled with possibility.

We arrived in Lima late Friday night, and despite the lack of time change, we have been feeling rather out of it the past two days.  Maybe a result of packing until 2:30 am the previous night?  Or sending the poor Captain Jack out to Target at one in the morning to buy another bag?  Or because we arrived to our hotel at 1:30 am after a long day of traveling?  One way or another, we have been easing into things here.

So far, my impressions are all positive.  The restaurants around here are amazing… even simple things such as ice cream are done beautifully – fresh ingredients, carefully prepared, and presented with such style.  The shops are filled with beautiful things, the people are dressed stylishly, the streets are clean, and traffic, while heavy in parts, is very orderly.  There are Christmas trees, and a DJ played Christmas music last night!

My only concern is the weather.  Misty, cloudy, with a chance of more mist and clouds.  We arrived at the right time though, as the fog apparently lifts during the summer.

We are staying in a hotel since housing is not ready for us, and while it is a challenge with two little boys (and a lot of luggage) in a cramped hotel suite, it is also a blessing.  Since we were assigned and traveled in about three weeks, we have no sponsor to help with the transition and it would have been brutal to find a grocery store at 1 am in a foreign city.

Advent1In the spirit of fresh starts, I’ll confess that I didn’t do so well with gratitude month here on the blog.  I did keep a journal though – promise!

Let me also share some other blank pages.  The advent calendar above is currently filled only with the wrinkles it acquired in my luggage.  I am frantically working to make an ornament and sew a pocket during nap time and after bedtime.  Instead of getting to do this when they get up, the boys will hang a little ornament at bedtime.  I’ll share our progress throughout the month.

Happy December friends.

A Little Help from my Friends

_DSC6574I’ve been re-reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, one of my all time favorite books.  Since I have more free time now than I have ever had as an adult, it got me thinking about what it is that makes me happy and what I enjoy doing.  I’m definitely at my happiest when I’m reading, studying and learning new things.  Books have always been my favorite things, and my best helpers.

To keep myself happy and busy I have settled on a course of study.  I always thought I would have been a professional student given the opportunity.  So, with the phrase “why not” firmly in my head, I have started my own university right here at home.  I am taking five classes.  My criteria was that it had to be something I would enjoy, and that the resources to do it had to be (mostly) free.  Shopping on my own bookshelves was very fruitful indeed.

I have assigned myself reading – two chapters from each book per month.  There is also supplemental reading, homework, and practical assignments.

1. Home Organization.  I’m a bit of an organizing junky,  love making something out of nothing, and order out of chaos.  My textbook for this class is One Year to an Organized Life by Regina Leeds.  I am also a huge fan of Project Organize Your Entire Life.  And of course, my nemesis, Pinterest.

2. Personal Finance.  I may not enjoy this, but I will enjoy the end result.  While I know more about this than any of the other topics of have chosen, I have not implemented it as well as I could, especially for our changing lives.  In the past three years, we had two children, moved internationally, and went from two incomes to one.  My textbook is Suze Orman’s The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom.  I will supplement this with a few favorite frugal living websites – The Frugal Girl comes to mind.

3. PE. My textbook is I Need to Get In Shape Now What.  The title of the book says it all. Running is really not such a great exercise option around here, so my PE class includes swimming lessons.  Thankfully, the swim instructor is VERY nice, and has the patience of a saint.  This is probably the only time I cannot use the excuse that I have no time.

4. Mindful Family Life.  It is sometimes hard to be the intentional mom and wife I want to be.   I love doing activities with the boys, but don’t always know where to start.  I’m always inspired by Amanda Soule at Soulemama, so I’m using her book The Rhythm of Family as inspiration, and adding Every Day’s a Holiday by Heidi Kenney and The Toddler Busy Book by Trish Kuffner to come up with new activities.  And again, there is always Pinterest.  In this case, I have decided to plan one indoor and one outdoor family activity a week.  It doesn’t have to be a new activity every week.

5. Photography.  I have a lovely camera, and two gorgeous kids.  There is no excuse.  None.  I’m using Nikon D3100 From Snapshots to Great Shots by Jeff Revell as my textbook.  It has assignments.  Goody.  I will also put up a new website with weekly pictures of my kids.  A kind of “52 weeks” assignment.  Details to follow.

What do you do to learn new things?

For the kitchen


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I’m back to the never-ending struggle to organize my house, starting with the kitchen. The biggest mess always seems to be caused either by my desire to go green, or my epic failure to go green. Yes, I’m looking at you plastic shopping bags!

Throwing them out doesn’t really work so well since there is no recycling here, so we subscribe to “re-use”  for garbage pails, the grocery store, dirty diapers, wet clothes… Basically everything I can think of.

I used this tutorial to bring a little order to the plastic bag collection.  (Easy to follow, even for me.) Since I was at it, I also made one for the rags we use to replace paper towels.  Much more successful at that bit of greening since we simply don’t buy paper towels.

blog-5284I didn’t have any particularly lovely fabric to waste on the project, and I am obsessed with bunting of all varieties, so I carved a flag shaped stamp from an old eraser and got creative.  Who says functional can’t be fun?  I stamped the flags and letters with fabric paint (use a sponge brush to paint the stamp – much easier.)  The whole thing was done over the course of two weeks, so I can’t say exactly how long it took.  Ah, the crafting life of a mamma to small children.  If you wanted to, you could probably do the sewing in less than 30 minutes, and the printing didn’t take long either.  I like the end result – cheerful and contained.  (Next up – clean that switch plate.  Yikes!)

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A Christmas banner

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Christmas banner 2Elfing continues here between work, raising children, and hosting cookie swaps.  And eating too many cookies.  We don’t have quite enough Christmas decorations for this much larger living space so I was scrambling to make it look a bit more festive.

So here’s a quick project for you:  cut triangles from scrap fabric – mine are about 9 inches tall and 7 inches wide at the top.  If you cut with pinking shears you won’t have to do much else.   I zig-zagged mine to a few lengths of ribbon – one spool was just to short, and two overlapping looks nice.  You could just glue your fabric triangles to ribbon.  Leave enough ribbons on each edge to tie to a hook or another ribbon.  Hang with command hooks (my weapon of choice since we don’t own this home.)  I made this in the hour before guests arrived for the cookie swap – quick and easy.