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Mini Tutorial: Hand Embroidery

I kind of feel like a poser posting a tutorial on hand embroidery when I’m so new to it myself, but then I thought maybe it would better if a newbie taught a newbie, you know?

My great-grandmother was skilled at embroidery.  My mother can remember going to visit her and watching her do intricate embroidery without a pattern.  Do what?!  I can’t even get my stitches to go in a straight line when I do cross-stitch, much less on an unmarked piece of fabric.

I am nowhere near that level of expertise by far.  Not even close.  I’m still learning the different type of stitches and tonight I’m working on a split stitch.  And for who else but MM.

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Supplies you’ll need: iron, fabric, & iron-on transfers {or you can trace a design onto tracing paper}. Preheat iron for five minutes on the appropriate setting for fabric being used. Do not use steam.

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Place iron on transfer; hold for five seconds. Do not slide iron. Carefully lift one corner of transfer to see if the design has been transferred to fabric.

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Use three strands of embroidery floss {this is color #3325} and come up from the bottom of the fabric.

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Go back down through the fabric.  {This is a total “normal” stitch}

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Now, this is where it gets a little different from normal sewing.  When you come back up through the fabric you pierce through the center of your last stitch, splitting it in the middle.  And taa-daa! you’ve just made a split stitch.

I love how thick hand embroidery is.

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I love how substantial hand embroidery is.

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And I love how heirloom it looks.

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I’m not finished with the pillowcases yet {surprise, surprise}, but I’ll be sure to show pictures when they’re finished.  In fact, they’re the last things to do before her big girl bed is ready.  We’ve already got the bed frame, mattress, comforter, shams, sheets, and bed skirt–everything.  And once these pillowcases are finished, it will be all ready {but the question is: am *I* ready for her to have a big girl bed?  I’m honestly thinking it will be a few more months before we’ll both be ready.}.

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Roosters Roosters Everywhere!

Many things have been passed down about my great-grandmother but the one I hear the most was about her cleanliness and how important it was to her for her children to be clean as well.  She made sure that all the children were tidy even if they didn’t have the newest or the nicest clothes.

My grandfather was one of eight…and one of the youngest.  Each morning his older brothers and sisters’ teacher {yes, there was just one–she taught all the children in their community of Hog Mountain, Georgia, in a one-room school house}, Vinie Lee Wallace, would stop by their farm and walk with them to school, but Papaw was still too young to go.  He was probably about the age seen in this photo of him taken in 1934.

 

papaw, ca. 1934

Well, one morning my papaw hadn’t washed his face.  Miss Wallace saw this and said, ‘Why, Douglas!  Why haven’t you washed your face and ears?  Your mama wouldn’t like that!’

And Papaw looked her straight in the eye and said, ‘Well, Miss Wallace, roosters roosted in my ears last night and I haven’t gotten around to cleaning it up!’

Everyone laughed and it became a story that was passed down.

A few weeks ago Mother was trying to wash MM’s face one morning and MM was having none of that.  {She hates having her face washed.}  So Mother said, ‘Ohhhhhh, Mary Margaret, look!  You have roosters in your ears–let me get in there with this wash cloth and get them out!’

And MM sat as still as she could and let my mother clean both her ears, her neck, and her whole face.

Mom knew she was on to something.  Though MM has never seen a rooster except on TV or in her books {after all, we have only hens} she knew she didn’t want them–whatever they were!–in her ears.

So now every time we need MM to sit still all we have to do is tell her there are roosters in her ears.  Cruel?  Perhaps, I guess.  But you can tell she’s not scared…she just doesn’t want them on her or inside her ears.  Who would?!

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And lately after you clean her up or put her shoes on her or give her medicine, she’ll immediately stick her fingers in her ears like, ‘I’m not going to let those silly roosters back in here!  No way!’

keeping the roosters out

 

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Just What I Needed

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This weekend I spent three days with some of the girls that know me the very best.  They knew me when I was just a fresh-faced college kid with her eyes open wide, a girl who watched ‘Golden Girls’ between classes while lounging on the downstairs couches in the sorority house talking with people as they ate lunch, a girl who didn’t have a mortgage or a job–just a twin bed with a stack of textbooks {that she didn’t read}, and a girl that didn’t have a boyfriend let alone a husband or a child.  A girl who would never say no to going downtown, loved her sorority with her whole heart, and loved her friends like they were blood sisters.

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Eleven years.  More than a whole decade.  Amazing.

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This weekend we shared old memories and crazy stories–plenty of: ‘Can you believe we did that?!’ and ‘Remember the time…’  and ‘I wonder what happened to…’  We updated each other on our lives and gave support when needed.  We reiterated–through smiles, laughs, looks–that we would be there for each other the rest of our lives.

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Goodness.  I love those six “girls” {we’re all 28-30 year old women, but in my mind we’ll always be 18 year old girls} and know that joining a sorority eleven years ago was one of the best decisions of my life.  Not only are they my closest friends, but the one pictured above introduced me to my C.   And I introduced the one below to her husband.  So when you think of it like that, I owe them so much–they were my life back then and helped to create the life I have now.  I am so very lucky and so very proud to be their friend.

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And a sad note about the pictures I took.  I left my camera at home Friday and only had it for a few hours on Saturday when we went to the pool before the battery died.  We didn’t even get a group picture together.  So sad!

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How I Met Your Mother

C. and I met on January 23, 2003.  I remember the night well because I had just gone through Confirmation at the Episcopal Center and returned to my college condo that I shared with three roommates when one of my sorority sisters called.  She told me to meet her and her boyfriend and one of his frat brothers at the coliseum for a men’s basketball game.  She had been telling me about this guy for months.  About how much we were alike–I remember her saying he was a male version of myself and how our backgrounds were so similar.  She was sure we would hit it off.

And boy, do I remember him that night!   Wowza!  He had on his North Face, a beat up baseball hat, blue New Balances, and his Ray Bans on a Croakie strap around his neck.  Basically a whole ‘lotta frat and a whole ‘lotta yummy. But we didn’t have much to talk about and when he did talk it was all about himself {Now I know he was nervous and was just trying to come up with conversation…and he does like to talk about himself too, hehe}.  Honestly though at the time I thought he was pretty self-absorbed and I think I called him a jerk afterwards.

Needless to say we didn’t talk after that.  We went on with our lives–who knows what kind of lives would have been like if we had stayed apart.

Then we were given another chance.  After a day of After-Christmas shopping with my friends we met again in December of that year in Atlanta.  He had since graduated college, moved out of Athens, got a job.

And the chemistry the second time?  The second I walked into the room we locked eyes and were inseparable from then until…well, until now.I know this sounds corny, but it feels like my life was just on autopilot until I met him and then once he was part of my life I started to really live.  He is honestly my soulmate and my partner.  My confidant, my sounding board, my past, my present, and my future.

I feel so blessed that we got our second chance at meeting.  He has changed my life.

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In March 2004 in Savannah.  We had been together less than two months, but already knew we were going to get married.

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Crying as he watched my dad walk me down the aisle at our wedding.

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Holding our daughter the day she was born.

And if you’re here from Kelly’s Korner and want to know what this teacher thinks about teacher gifts, read more. Continue Reading →

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Time Tested

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 My great-grandmother’s name was Linnie.  She was born in 1890 and died when I was seven.  I remember going to visit her when I was little at the family’s old homeplace about five miles from my house.  She wore house dresses and put snuff in her bottom lip and I loved playing with all the cats that lived outside.

When I was a teenager my mom would tell me about her.  Her mother had died when she was a child.  She and her two sisters were lately sexually abused by their father so her grandfather took them and raised them.  When she married she became a wealthy woman, but her husband was killed in a buggy accident.  Her next husband was a kind, but poor, farmer–my great-grandfather.  She had six children later in life and five survived infancy.  She worked hard in the fields like a man since her husband had lost one of his arms while helping to build the railroad in Georgia.  She made everything her family needed, including sewing their clothing from feed sacks.   As her children grew up and moved away (but all within 30 miles) she retired to her chair.  She sewed, embroidered, crocheted, and tatted.

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She made this pincushion for my mother when she was in high school, around 1965.  She tore up one of her old dresses for the fabric and because she didn’t have a sewing machine (and hadn’t in years), she sewed it all by hand.  In some places you can see those beautiful little stitches.

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Every time I sew I use this pin cushion. It makes me wonder if Granny knew when she made this that her great-granddaughter would use it almost fifty years later.  And maybe that’s why I love to sew so much.  I know that not everything I make will last for four generations like this little pincushion, but I do have hope that some of the things I make for MM she will keep.  And that maybe, just maybe, in fifty years my great-granddaughter will wear a dress, or a pair of pants, or a pinafore I made for her grandmother when she was a baby a long, long time ago in 2010.

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A Day in the Life of Future Me

The first Friday in March last year I went back to work after being gone exactly 19 weeks.  Yes, almost five months.  Those eleven weeks of bedrest crept by, but once my maternity leave began time began to fly.  Every day I thought about returning to work.  Every day I pushed it to the back of my mind.

I could not bare to think about it.  And when I thought about it huge tears would instantly fall down my cheeks–it didn’t matter where I was.  I would cry about leaving my baby anywhere–on the couch watching TV at night, in the car, in the pediatrician’s office.

{I never was one of those women who was dead set on being a stay-at-home-mother.  Quite the contrary, actually.  I always assumed I would “just” go back to work after my maternity leave.  Simple as that.}

C. had an overnight work trip the day before I was to return to work so my mother spent the night.  I’ll never, ever forget that morning as long as I live.  I got dressed in total darkness so as to not wake my mom or the baby who were in the room and the whole time was willing myself not to cry.

I made it as far as the hallway before I doubled over and cried what I can only describe as animal-like sobs.  I really felt like my heart was broken.

People say it gets easier–Lord knows, I’ve heard that a million times this past year–but it doesn’t.  It may get routine, but it does not get any easier to leave your child.

But you know, it’s going to make this coming summer so much more of a blessing to me.  I am going to appreciate, treasure, and not take for granted the days I get to spend with her.  Yes, I’ll still be working forty-hour weeks every other week, but for half of my life I will be a stay-at-home mom.

We can spend the days in our pajamas if we want.  We can take our time eating breakfast.  We can slide down her play slide over and over and over.  We can take naps together.  We can go to Chick-Fil-A for lunch just because we want to.  We can go to the indoor pool in the middle of the day.  We can build forts and bake cookies and cuddle.  I’m crying just thinking about how wonderful it’s going to be.

I think that’s why God had me wait seventeen months for it to happen–so I could realize just how precious a gift it is to be with your child.

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MM’s First Tree

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When I was little my grandfather would go out and find me a scraggly little pine every Christmas.  I would decorate it with lights and strands of popcorn and put it in my bedroom in front of the window.  Every night I would fall asleep watching that little tree.  It was so magical.

And even though MM won’t remember this holiday season, I wanted to start the tradition with her also.  So, Sunday night at dusk she, C., and I headed out to the field at my parents’ tree farm and found her the perfect little tree.  It was so small my parents hadn’t even priced yet, but it was just perfect for her.

Tonight she and I decorated (okay, okay, she chewed on her teething rings and watched) it with blue and silver ornaments to match her room.  I put the lights on a timer so that, like me, she could fall asleep watching them sparkle.

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And for the rest of our tree hunting experience, click here.

Continue Reading →

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Babyland General, 1986

Yesterday’s post really got me traveling down memory lane so I decided to show y’all some pictures from my sixth birthday (December 6, 1986) when I got to adopt Dixie Lee.

I actually remember that day well.  My parents had talked about the trip for weeks and I was beyond excited.  They stressed how important it was to take very good care of my doll because I was adopting her (which really meant a lot to me since I’m adopted)…and I think the hefty price tag played a part in all the emphasis of caring for her too.

It was a cold, sunny, Saturday morning when we made the hour trip to Cleveland.  I was wearing my favorite rainbow sweater and had brought my Cabbage Patch kid, Pearl, with me to help her choose her new sister.  (I hope MM brings Gracie Bea one day too when she adopts her baby.)

I narrowed it down to three preemies.  Then two.  Dixie Lee and Farrah Rose.  Dixie had a beautiful white gown and Farrah had a light pink gown.  I really wanted Farrah, but since I couldn’t pronounce my /r/ sounds it came out “Faw-Wah Wose” and I wanted a doll whose name I could pronounce.  So Dixie Lee it was.

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I really wanted dimples so they took Dixie back into the operating room while a doctor performed the surgery while I watched from the window.  She was given laughing gas so she didn’t feel anything.

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Then it was time to adopt her.  I had to raise my right hand and give an oath.

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Afterwards, I held my new best friend.  For years I loved on that doll and took her everywhere.  A lot of my friends had real Cabbage Patch dolls, but their parents wouldn’t let them play with them since they were so expensive, but not my parents.  I was allowed to take her wherever I wanted.  And I did.

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Here’s Dixie today.  A little stained, yes, but very loved.

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And something else I noticed yesterday.

Remember this picture of MM with the dolls?

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Well, here is a (very scary) Santa and me in the exact same spot almost 23 years ago!  (Look at the columns–everything else has changed except for them)

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And for anyone who wants to see a cabbage give birth there are tons of videos on YouTube.  They are actually so funny to watch for all the puns they use.  C-Section means “Cabbage Section”, instead of a baby being born breech they are born “branch”, etc.  This is a short one I found.

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