Monday, April 29, 2013

Jane Austen Ball in Pictures

I'm still too tired and drained to have much to say, but I wanted to show you the pictures as I promised of all the finished gowns we did for the ball last Friday night. The girls were so beautiful and enjoyed themselves so much. My hubby and son were SO handsome--I'm scheming ways to get them in tailcoats more often! :)
Enjoy the pictures. Please ask questions in the comments if you have them.
~april

C and her little brother. I love that smile!

The whole girly crew. I made ALL those gowns!(that astounds me for myself, really! lol.)

Sisters. Up close view of bodices. Both of these girls had full sheer gowns over full petticoats. The Redhead's petticoat was pink(of course!).

In true JA fashion, there was a shortage of male partners. That did NOT stop the girls from dancing every dance, however!

This was a good view of the back of C's dress with her silver shoes peeking out.

Eeek! They're so pretty! Totally worth it!

My little Mr. Bingley. What a kid! He was SUCH a good sport!

When they arrived at the ball.

Sisters, sisters....

My handsome guys. Too bad the good camera's battery died before the evening ended. We snapped this on his cell phone; thus the poor resolution. I still think it's a framer!


One pretty shot of my J. She is a force in motion most of the time--her gown was lovely on her; perfect for her hair and complexion.

To answer any questions about why I am not in the pictures: my gown needed literally 45 more minutes to complete, and we had to GO!
*sigh*

It was still worth it.




A thank you note to my children

It's not normal to start a thank you note with an apology, but I tend to want to. Usually upon my realizing the NEED of a thank you, I also realize I've waited entirely too long to become grateful for whatever the gift is...

That said, to C, J, Redhead and the Boy--
I am sorry for all the times the past four years that I have belittled your choice of a Mother's Day gift to me in 2009. I have ranted and joked and told other moms and other dads and children that kids(or husbands)should NEVER give a living creature to a mom for Mother's Day--after all, moms have our hands full. We don't NEED another mouth to feed or another being to clean up after...

or do we?

Four years ago on Mother's Day you sweet girls(especially C and maybe J helped?)pooled your money and suckered your mamaw into taking you to the pet store to buy ME a baby cockatiel for a gift. I was shocked that you did that, as it was a HUGE sum of money for a 12 year old to want to spend on her mom for anything. It showed a great deal of love and concern for me, as we had just lost Rosy the cockatiel a few months before. I know you were trying to make me happy. I appreciated the IDEA but not so much the BIRD, you know?

Little did we know how much that baby bird with the noisy squawk and fat tummy would affect us, right?
We made her food mix, outfitted her with bibs, fed her through a syringe, and THEN we caught her eating out of the food dish! Silly girl just wanted ATTENTION.
What a great mother's day gift.

You had no idea how much work she would be to care for till she got used to us. You just thought it would be fun to have another bird. You had no idea how stubborn she would be about EVERYTHING to do with being part of our "flock", or how she would amazingly do all a little bird COULD do to make herself likeable and more companionable--including trying to not mess up our clothes while she had good, long sits on her favorite shoulders.

You had no idea how much she would love us, but you loved me, and you gave me a precious gift. Yes, Doodle, but more, your love in action.

Let me thank you now, LATE, for the sweet gift of Noname(who ended up with more names than any other pet!). She was a PERFECT Mother's Day gift--what could be better than a gift of love that just loves and loves and keeps on loving till her very last breath? (I think when she died she was doing her best to wait by the cage door for us to get her out so she could snuggle and say she loved us--possibly for US, not for her?)

You were smarter than I was on that gift. Thank you for blessing me.

All that said, I am so thankful for the gift of YOU four--being your mom is a huge undeserved grace-gift straight from God's heart to me--and YOU keep on loving and loving and loving me. I am so blessed, blessed daily in ways I never could have imagined.

I love you all.

~Mom

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Our sweet cockatiel Doodle-bird--also known as Noname, Ducky, Lardfeather, and a half dozen other names--died today. She had been sick for almost two weeks; we had taken her in and she had surgery and was doing better when we got home with her, but then she took a turn for the worse and just got sicker and sicker yesterday.

We will miss her terribly. She was the sweetest thing. She loved to snuggle and to have her head scratched, she made the sweet "eek" sound when we turned off the light at night. J had trained her to answer with her special "squeak" when she called her, and we will miss her calling us from the back porch when we pull into the garage. She was our own personal welcoming party.

She had even allowed herself to learn to "poo" on command so she could sit in her favorite spot--your shoulder. She picked up on that accomodation herself, learning that we WOULD allow her there and that she WOULD get fussed at if she messed up our clothes.

All she did was love us for four years. What a sweet baby. Both vets we took her to said they'd never seen a sweeter cockatiel. I know that's because my J spent so much time pouring love into her--they were the most special of friends.

She was, as my son said yesterday, "unreplaceable."

So while our hearts are hurting for the loss of a sweet friend, we will be thankful for the happy times we had with her. There were plenty.

Thank you, God, for Doodle, and how she taught us to persist in loving those around us.
Help us love more persistently too.

Doodle's last picture taken 4-25-13
~april

Friday, April 26, 2013

Y'all, I could probably be certifiable this week. Really. We have been sewing like crazy girls for two weeks now, making MORE Regency gowns for the Jane Austen Ball TONIGHT.

When I went to bed at 3:30 this morning(it's so hard to sew before dark; I should take on these projects in the winter when the nights begin earlier!), I STILL HAVE NOT FINISHED the dresses! C's gown is complete...two out of eight!(If you count each petticoat and overdress as a complete gown.)

What's worse, I totally messed up the sleeves on the Redhead's white chiffon gown, and now am OUT of enough fabric to cut more...no time to run into town today....still brain storming on that one.

Meanwhile, MY dress needs hemming, trimming, sleeves hemmed, and all the fastenings attached.

J's dress needs more fasteners and the sleeves hemmed.


The Redhead's needs sleeves AND buttons.

Another little last-minute number still has to be hemmed.

My son's tailcoat and my hubby's waistcoat are not finished.

ONE reticule has been made.

I need to make finger food to take, and am out of ideas!

My downstairs area looks like we were hit by a whirling thread and fabric scrap dervish...something along the lines of the Tasmanian devil of Looney Tunes fame!

On top of that, we had Doodle the cockatiel at the vet twice in a week; she had surgery and is home recuperating VERY happily, but that was a lot of stress and time spent elsewhere.

Oh, and I decided to do a blog post.
:)

Did I mention I've not been in bed before 2:00 a.m. in about a week?

The cat, at least, has been enjoying our chaos!

Anyway, when it's all done I will hopefully have very tired girls and very many pictures of giggles and smiles.
Detail of C's gown bodice. This sheer cotton was tough, but so FUN to sew!

Can't wait to share it with you!

~april

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Readying the yard for Spring--and for a garden party




We had my daughter's birthday party EARLY in the season for springtime, even with our temperate so-called "winters". March 9th.

Things had only begun to think of greening up at that point. The grass was still brown and only the tentative knockout roses, a few early azaleas, and the occasional brave daffodil and snowdrop had begun to bloom.


 However, we NEEDED color and for the yard to look cared-for if her party was to be actually PRETTY.

Here's what we did and on a VERY limited budget:

Bombed the front flowerbed.
I have a love/hate relationship with this flowerbed. It is 8 feet deep from the sidewalk to the wall, and measures about 20 feet long from the driveway to the turn in the front walk. It also has the worst soil ever for trying to grow anything, since it is "fill dirt" as part of the foundation we raised for the house. It has been through at least three major overhauls since we moved in here 7 years ago. The only thing that grows well here is weeds!

We weeded--hoe, hands, rake. The weeds were strong from much neglect. Our weeding was helped by the second part:


Dug a small fish pond. I had been thinking a water feature would be a good space filler as well as a point of interest here for quite some time. We opted to keep it simple. Pond liner. Pump. Flagstone edging and "waterfall". Goldfish. The pond is likely not technically deep enough to be "right" by any professional standards, but we are pleased with it so far.

Container plantings. Two small galvanized tubs at $12 each filled with blooming annuals and perennials just added a couple small bursts of color to the edge of the walk. They will last all season and likely some of the plants will overwinter if we are careful. The tubs themselves will last probably 5 years in the weather. Pretty good investment, and since we have galvanized containers elsewhere, they fit in well.

Built a new fence to enclose the front yard more "cozily". This wasn't just for the party, but the party did lend a deadline. I had been wanting to fence the front to keep the dog OUT for some time. She is a destructive force when it comes to cushions and pots and rubber boots--or anything else I may care to touch out in the yard. We have enjoyed the new fence, even though the chickens DO fly over when "free ranging".

The new fence has a sweet gate: antique iron panels we had welded for hanging. I love the little hearts!

We shopped the house and yard to accessorize the newly-mulched flowerbed areas.


Small rickety garden bench, pots for herbs by the driveway(western exposure--rosemary and thyme will love that!). Chipped teapot and inexpensive cup/saucer serve as sweet planters and fit our theme to a "tea"!

Bought a tent.
This may seem extravagant, but if you think about our prone-to-inclemency weather, coupled with the number of girls in the family AND the number of birthday parties we do here, chances are good that the tent will be re-used many times. It wasn't that expensive, and setup was surprisingly easy. It even did well with the blustery March winds we had the day of her party!

The tent served several purposes: Provided shelter in case of rain(we had very overcast skies that day, but no rain, as it thankfully turned out!). Provided sun shelter--all these fair-skinned young ladies don't want to be freckled! Provided a place to hang pretties overhead for the party decorations.

It also lent a bit of protection from the wind and screened the more "unimproved"  side of the yard from view for the party!


Everything turned out well, and I am pleased to say that the pots of plants have filled out beautifully. The pond needs a cleaning after the pollen invasion from our oaks and pines, and we've lost a couple of goldfish to newly-established-feature water quality issues, but the water lilies are filling in, and the roses are blooming. It's beautiful!

Hope you enjoyed my little tour of our front yard. Come again!

~april