Tuesday, August 27, 2013

'City Slicker' Driveway

Contrary to popular belief, Oregon does have seasons. They just aren't the regular seasons that you're used to elsewhere. Here in the Pacific Northwest, there are four seasons - rainy season, cold rainy season, warmer rainy season, and construction season. You gotta make hay while the sun shines and you gotta get all that road work done before the rain inevitably returns. That was a random, rabbit-trailing sort of introduction for the point I'm making here - we don't have a gravel driveway anymore; it's chip-sealed. 

For twelve years, we've lived and survived with our dusty gravel road. You don't even bother with washing the car since it'll just get dirty again on your way home. By the end of summer, you could probably grow a garden on the bumper of your car, so much dirt had accumulated. It's pretty funny when you get the occasional summer rain shower turning all that dust into mud. You just clean the windows so you can at least see and go about your merry way (meanwhile looking like the country bumpkin that you are). When delivery trucks drive up, you see a huge cloud of dust from them flooring it up the road. For the most part, we were all tolerant of our driveway, but the conversation would come up every now and again about getting the road paved when we needed to order more gravel for the road. No one ever got around to doing anything about it. Until now. 

Yep, we've lost a signature part of living in the country - the gravel road. 
After all the 'chips' get ground in, it will look like a back county road, just without the stripes and reflector things in the middle of the road. Now we just need some 'Fresh Oil' and 'Loose Gravel' construction orange signs at the bottom of the road so people know to take it easy. No pealing out, no gunning it and making a dust cloud to annoy the neighbors, no turning the wheel while stationary, etc, etc, etc... Just takes all the fun out of having what little gravel is left. ;) 

The road guys came a day early, and they had equipment issues all week. (During the lulls of waiting for a rental piece to come, they took naps - yes, naps - in the shade. Can I get paid to sleep?) They've been working fast and furious all summer to keep up with all the jobs that they need to do. This was the only company that would do a private road; every one else was already booked with government jobs.

With all the banging and scraping going on, the toms would get all excited. They gobbled all day all week. I wonder if the construction dudes realized what they were doing to the big birds. 

The oil is 150 degrees when it's put down. 150!!! o_O 

Dusty, dusty, dusty.

Aw, it's a little roller. 

Eli wanted a closer look at them working. He loved having all the big boy toys coming and going all week.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Picnic at Pemberly - a Pride and Prejudice Ball

The day finally arrived. Time slows to a crawl once you've finished your dress for the ball (but speeds up exponentially if you procrastinate until the day of). We met up at a friend's house to get ready (ribbons, curls, and bobby pins oh my!) and headed off to the ball. 

I interrupt this story to suggest that you turn on the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack by Dario Marianelli. Finding the whole playlist would be even better. Okay, you can keep reading now.  

But wait! We need to stop at the store to pick up the lemonade!
We get to go shopping in our Regency dresses! xD We ended up going to two stores and buying them  out of lemonade.  
Responses to our get-ups? 
Besides the second glances, stare-downs, compliments, questions about our unusual garb, and a gal helping us carry lemonade to the car, we also caught snippets of funny conversations about us
Little girl: Mommy, why do those people have so much lemonade?
Mommy: Honey, I think they just really like lemonade.
Dude to his friend: Don't worry, you're in Portland now. You're going to see some pretty weird stuff.
Some dude sitting in his car whistled at us. 
It's not every day that you see a gaggle of giggly girls dressed up in 'unusual' clothing pushing a cart full of lemonade

So. After our little shopping trip adventure, we were :really: on our way to the ball! It was for real this time. ;) My guesstimates puts the guest total to 200 (just in case you were wondering while looking at the pictures).

The littlest dancers

I loved the location

Someone ditched their shoes. The poor lost soles...
Mari's Wedding with a double circle
One of my favorite moments of the evening? 
Gentleman #1 asks me to a dance. Okay, nothing weird there. Part of the dance involved doing an 'orbit' around the set. Still nothing new there either. It's when Gent #1 was 'traded' with Gent #2 (who was nonchalantly walking by) during the orbit. Come in for a two-hand turn, and it's not the person I was dancing with before. Haha! Okay, got me! They then proceeded to trade off during each of the 'orbits' for the rest of the dance. We all had a good laugh afterwards. What I don't know is if it was pre-planned or not. Hmm...
Update: They had plotted the whole thing. They had looked at the dance list to see if it would work with any of the dances, and then they looked for someone who would be able to take the joke. 

Venue - Summerfield Farms in Salem, OR
Pictures are from ECD Oregon, Noah Holte, and yours truly

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Historical Sewing: Regency Crossover and Spencer

It was 2009 and graduation was coming up. Being the off-beat, homeschooler that I was, I wanted a Regency dress for the event instead of a cute, trendy summer frock. No, I needed a Regency dress. It was my second 'big' sewing project, the first time I would be doing it on my own without much in the way of mentoring, and the first time I had worked with a pattern so... drapey. A friend of mine let me borrow her pattern from Sense and Sensibility Patterns. It looked pretty straight forward and simple enough, so, true to my style, I dived in without really knowing what I was getting myself into. But I wasn't ecstatic about it. It felt frumpy and baggy, and the closure on the front just wouldn't cooperate. I still wore it to the graduation, and I even wore it to a bachelorette tea party. I decided that crossover Regency gowns weren't my thing because of the kinks in the pattern that wouldn't seem to work themselves out. The dress landed in the farthest corner in the costume closet as more structured dresses were added to the collection.  
Graduation day. 
Fast forward to just several weeks ago. I got my sister and myself tickets to an upcoming Regency ball. And I hadn't a clue what I was going to wear. Anything that I would choose would have to be altered (loosing 30 lbs. will make your entire wardrobe not fit anymore). Now would be an excellent time to see if there was any hope for that light green damask crossover dress. 

I checked out books from the library and scoured Pinterest for ideas. It didn't take much research to find bits and pieces that I wanted to incorporate. But first, fixing that darn closure and those funky sleeves. I wish I had a before and after picture of that closure. It was a mess before. Some ribbon here and some stitches there, I'm much more pleased with the final results. But, as a whole, it didn't seem complete. 

I had enough time to spare before the ball (it's still several days away) to make that something more that the dress needed. A spencer! I had the pattern, fabric, trim, buttons... everything already in the stash (and it was all given to me by different people at different times o_O) I did a mock-up, and somewhere along the line, I decided to make it sleeveless. There are sleeveless spencers out there; just check out this beauty. After doing Jacob's coat, this project went really quick. The only kink that I ran into along the process was the ribbon on the waist that I had on my dress - the spencer wasn't long enough to cover it up. A 1 1/2" waistband needed to be added in the front and 3" to the back. After drafting some pieces and adding a seam allowance, the problem disappeared. 

I took a step back. It was finished (before the day-of). And I loved it. 
Now to figure out what I'm doing with my hair for the ball. ;)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Generally, we aren't too freaked out by spiders (unless you're a certain sister of mine). The general rule of thumb is that if it's in the house, it gets squished. Outside, you're invading their space. There are exceptions to this rule. Cleaning the garage for instance...
It's already a nasty job - cleaning the garage. But it needs to be done. You're already not wanting to do it, then a spider comes out. Oh, it's just a daddy long legs? No biggie. Then another spider crawls along. Suck him into the vacuum as well. Then something black and slightly vicious looking comes creeping out. BLACK WIDOW!!!! Never before have I seen my mom freak out about a spider; I guess there's a first for everything. Well, after that, we had the heebie jeebies. We'd get chills at random moments. We looked up black widow bite symptoms because we, as a committee, couldn't decide if they were lethal or not. According to Dr. Google, you'll get stiff, become feverish, vomiting, nausea, and get extreme abdominal pain. One bite probably won't kill you, but you'll probably wish that you were dead. Now we're scared to empty out the shop vac... we just might have another vacuum on standby just in case. Our grand kill total that we know of? 4 spiders and two egg sacks. So far. We're not done with the garage yet. Then it's on to the basement.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


It's called a mudroom for a reason. The sole purpose of this area in the house is to hopefully catch most of the dirt that inevitably gets tracked in on a daily basis. Now, I'm not saying that those footprints are mine or anything... 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Smoke Rises

A fire truck went by, lights all on and sirens blaring. Hmm... Mom looked North and West to see if there's anything amiss that might be worthy of note. Nothing. Back to business as usual. Until another fire truck came blowing by a few moment later with the same hustle. Looking to the south this time, there was smoke rising from the ridge behind us.

We called the neighbors to see if they could see anything since they're higher up on the hill. Was it really as close as it seemed? They called back, and yes, it was truly that close, but the fire crews had it under control. They had several tanker trucks along with all the fire fighters dousing out the flames.

After the initial excitement wore off, and we deemed it safe enough to check out, my siblings and I took a little trek up the ridge to see how close close really was. It was close. All that was between our property and that fire was a 'forest' of overgrown, sickly noble firs and a hedge of blackberries (the creek isn't running this time of year) and the wind was blowing straight for us. Based on where the fire was (a combined wheat field), and the time of year that it is (harvest season), we suspect that the fire was started by machinery working in the field, but that's just speculation. At this point, we have no idea how it started.

Thankfully, no one was hurt, and the fire was quickly put out.

The text we sent Dad. Scary text to get while at work...

Friday, August 2, 2013

Berry Season

Berry cobbler with fresh goat milk ice cream.
A fresh glass of strawberry lemonade.
A handful tossed into a smoothie in the morning.
Yogurt mixed with maple syrup and more berries.
A bowl of berries here, a bucket of berries there.
Berries for fresh eating.
And bags upon bags of berries stashed away in the freezer.
Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries.
When it's berry season, you pick. 
That's all you ever do. Pick and pick and pick.
Because if you don't, you'll regret it come those dark winter days when you crave the taste of summer.
So you sit there with your buckets with a plink and a plunk until it's all full. Then you start again.