Monthly Archives

March 2013

Inspired by Art

I’m playing along, at least for this week, over at Project Run and Play.  Four weeks, four themes.  This week it’s ‘Inspired by Art.’

I’ve been loving dresses with all-over floral prints lately and my first thought was to try to mimic a water-color flour print a-la Georgia O’Keeffe.  I’m not sure why, other than I remember my 4th-grade teacher hanging her prints all over the classroom, and trying to re-create them.  I’m pretty limited in my art knowledge.

One google image search later…and…hmmmm?  Ahhhh….oooh.  Innnteresting….  Is that a…?  No.  Wait, yes…  ???

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Moving on.  (Although wikipedia says these are not the Freudian images you think they are.  Unless you think they are iris.)

Also, I am no artist.  This was never going to happen.

So the next piece of artwork that popped into my head is that painting of a pipe that says ‘this is not a pipe.’  It is a painting titled ‘The Treachery of Images” by Rene Magritte.  Great title, no?

So I drafted a little top for my youngest, practicing a new lining method and closure at the same time.  I used the lining method where you sew the top together by the neckline and armholes (and repeat for the lining), then  stick one into the other, sew along the shoulder seams, and turn them inside out.  Well, this would have worked fine if the shoulders hadn’t been so skinny.  What a mess….I tied some thread to the shoulder strap and around a kabob stick to get the job done.  Pictures would have been useful here…  I’m not sure what the advantage is to this way or to the way of sewing them together and then flipping right side out through the bottom of the bodice…?  What method do you guys use?

Anyway, I also wanted to try out this technique from Crafterhours to make a cute little circle cut-out back.  It is a fantastic tutorial–easy to follow, easy to do!  A perfect back for a summery dress or top…

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This was my first time just making my own little pattern for a project.  It’s funny because the first time I tried this, in December, it was such a spectacular failure that I figured I would never (ever!) be able to do it.  And to be totally truthful, this is a little difficult to get on, so I need some practice, but it’s definitely do-able.

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Look at her checking out her shirt.  She’s like ‘Really, mom?  you’re putting a pipe on the front of my shirt?  Really…  Quite irresponsible, I must say.’

Oh, but… ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe.’

It is not a pipe.

Good, glad that’s settled.

Geranium, take 2

Oh, Geranium, how do I love you?  Let me count the ways…  Okay, the tally is only two so far, but there’s a lot of love in those two dresses.  This week I finished the Geranium (version B) for my older daughter.  The first version (here!) was for my toddler, this one was fit for a big girl.  Instead of a gathered skirt, it is a lovely pleated skirt complete with pockets.  (pockets!)

I really should remember the name of the fabrics I used, and maybe I’ll update it later…  Anyway, it was a sweet little pattern, with little girls and clotheslines and the such.  It was my first lesson in paying attention to the direction of the fabric (hint: you don’t want sideways people).  I did not notice this little detail until I took the first snip with the scissors.  One snip, one curse word, and back to square one.  It left me with very little fabric to use, and I wished I could have used it for the skirt of the dress, but I only had enough for the bodice.  I’ve decided cutting out the pattern is my least favorite part of the sewing process…

In the end, it didn’t matter, because it was the silhouette that I loved.  I was trying to ask my daughter if she liked the style of the dress, and started to explain that I didn’t mean the colors or patterns, and she cut me off saying, ‘I know mom, you mean the shape of it, yes I like it.’  Ahhh, that’s my girl!  She does love her fashion…

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The buttonholes went so much smoother this time…progress!

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I cut out a few of the cuter pictures to applique on the skirt…

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The skirt isn’t super full, but it floats beautifully as is required for a dress fit for a 5-year-old…

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I am so sad that this pattern ends at 5T, but I’m pretty sure I could just re-draft it for her size as she grows…  Now if I could only draft it in my size…

Hey, Chloe, what do you think of mother/daughter matching dresses????

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Okay, you win.

For now.

**linking up to The Train to Crazy Make It Wear It Thursday**and**Nap Time Crafters Friday Faves**

Bubble Necklace Shirt

Sewing has turned into quite the little addiction.  I didn’t know it would do that, but when I don’t sew or have a sewing project in process, I feel a little agitated.  Like there’s an itch in the middle of my back that I can’t quite reach.  You know, it would be much more helpful if this was how I felt about cooking.  But it’s not (sorry, Jon).

Anyway, yesterday I felt like that, and I am in the middle of another Geranium Dress, but I knew I didn’t have time to get into that, and I wanted a quick and dirty project.  A start-to-finish in under twenty minutes because that’s when the bus will get here kind of thing.

So I tried  my hand at a shirt version of the famous J. Crew bubble necklace.  It’s a year-old idea, but oh well.  It takes a little longer for trends to reach upstate New York anyway.  So I mixed up a little fabric paint and went to town.  I used these round sponge applicators, but if I did this again I would just make a freezer paper stencil.  The method I used was too hard to achieve even coverage, and the circles were a bit larger than I wanted, so I had to use less of them, yadda yadda yadda.

Not that my girl cares, she was excited to have a little gift waiting when she got off the bus, although she informed me she was not doing a ‘photoshoot’ but she would let me take a couple of pictures.  (Sure, okay Chloe, whatever you say, because you are a ham and once you decide to be in front of the camera you tend to stay there awhile.)  So photoshoot it was, complete with a flowered background that her DeeDee (grandmother) drew for us.  There may be two feet of snow on the ground outside, but we’ve declared Spring with a chalk garden inside.

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I mixed a little yellow and pink to make this springy peachy-salmon.

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I asked her to pretend to smell or pick the flowers, this was the look I got.  My mom be crazy.

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I think the necklace gave her some super powers…

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Not bad for a little eight minute project!

Rain Pants (aka adirondack mud season pants)

**Updated Tutorial Version Here**

Last week, I took my littlest for a walk.  We went to the local playground, and while there was too much snow to swing, we could play in the puddles underneath the parking lot.  It just felt good to feel weather that was in the 40’s…

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Our Spring is classified more as ‘mud season.’  Between the Spring rain (and snow) and melting snowfall, we have a very soggy, muddy, er…brown…spring.

But the kids would live outside this time of year, if they could.  There is nothing more fun than mud puddles and mud pies and buckets of water.   We can’t get enough of the warmer breezes, sunshine on our faces, and longer days.  We have plenty of rain boots for this time of year, but I thought I’d try my hand at some rain  mud pants for the kids.

I had the idea for rain pants awhile ago, but it wasn’t until I found myself in JoAnn’s with no kids in tow or husband waiting in the car, that I found myself in the utilities section.  There were several colors of ripstop nylon available, and I remember reading somewhere that it makes good rain pants because it is breathable.  Sold–one yard please.

I bought basic black to make for my boy, and a spool of heavy-duty thread and was on my way.  I asked if I needed a really sharp needle to pierce the fabric, but they recommended a heavy-duty needle, which I forgot.  Lucky for me, the one friend I have who sews is the kind of friend who hand delivers sewing supplies from her stash (oh, and  Nutella brownies!).  She’s a keeper.

Along with heavy-duty thread and a stronger needle with a larger eye (that heavy-duty thread is BIG), I also needed to increase my tension.  After I figured that out, it really sewed up very easily.  I did french seems on the sides of the legs, but left the crotch seam unfinished to see what it does in the wash.  It looks like it will probably fray, but with the heavy-duty thread, I think just running a simple straight stitch will be plenty to finish it off.

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For the waist and leg openings, I used fold-over-elastic (FOE), and I LOVE this stuff.  So simple!  Fold over the unfinished seam,and do the triple lock zig-zag and you’re done.  Next time I would add it to the cuffs before sewing up the side seams just because they were so tiny.  So tiny that I couldn’t actually do it.  I missed a section on both legs and had to go back in and fudge it.  In this case, it would have been easier (I think) to just make a casing and thread some elastic through.

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So once this snow finally decides to melt and it warms up enough to rain, we’ll be ready.  Well one of us anyway.  I made the pants for my son, and they did fit him, but I think I’m going to make him a new pair and stick his baby sister in these.  Between the lightweight fabric and elastic cuffs, these actually fit both of them pretty well, so she’ll get a few years out of them.

He’ll get a new pair, of course, he has requested blue.

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(Yes, those are supposed to be rain drops.)

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We are.

**linking up to The Train to Crazy Make It Wear It Thursday, and Nap Time Crafters: Friday Faves**

Spring Sewing (for boys!)

Well, the weather outside is looking like this….

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the deer says a snack shouldn’t be this much effort

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the view behind my sewing machine

But my sewing machine and I, well, we’re over it.  So today we sewed for spring.  And sewed for the boy, a little Celebrate the Boy, if you will.

This next project was shamelessly copied from MADE, after all imitation is the best form of flattery, and as soon as I saw these shorts I knew my little guy needed a pair.

I found a pair of board shorts that fit my son pretty well, and drafted my own pattern.  The shorts I copied were, no joke, size 2T.  (My son just turned 4).  This project should have been fairly simple, but it took a couple of hours (and 83 sessions with the seam ripper) to hold up a pair of ridiculously cute shorts in victory.

It was just one of those projects full of careless mistakes.  I think I thought it should go faster than it was going, so in my rush I kept sewing things with one right side and one wrong side together,  or sewing the waistband to itself, or trying not to go back and fix a mistake, only to put in more time and effort than just fixing the original mistake would have taken in the first place.  Luckily, it was another snow day (um, yeah…over a foot today.  @*%*#), and I had extra help.  In the end, my son was so thrilled that I want to sew him four more pair.  He insisted on wearing them under his pants for the remainder of the day, which of course, thrills me to no end.

The fabric was a checked black gingham from Jo Ann Fabrics, lined in white (the gingham is very sheer) with a strip of bright blue piping down the sides.  I was going to add back pockets, but after all the setbacks, I left them out.  I love (love!)  that little pop of blue from the piping, and it is his favorite color after all.  I have a long way to go on my piping sewing skills, but I think I’m in love.  Piping makes everything better.  Agreed?

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New skills attempted:  Piping, Sewing a flat Front, Pattern Drafting, Mock Fly (not really, technically it’s a mock-mock-fly, meaning I just top stitched what looks like a fly.  I like how it looks, and I love the flat front on the shorts).

I’m happy with how these turned out, although there are some major mistakes I would try to avoid next time.  It also felt like the waistband sizing was a bit guess-and-check, which I don’t like.  The first time it was much too big, but when I fixed the back, it also made the front a little too snug.  I’m not sure if I should try a different method, or if it’s just lack of practice.  And like I said, I do love the flat front result!

Ahhh….and now I’ll cross my fingers for some weather to facilitate the actual wearing of these shorts….  oh please,please,please…

**linking up to The Train to Crazy Make It Wear It Thursday, and Nap Time Crafters: Friday Faves**

Feather Skirts

A few weeks ago I took a little road trip to visit a friend.  She used to live five minutes down the road, now it’s more like three hours.  Boo.  On the upside, visiting her always means a fun little trek to visit somewhere interesting.  Last visit we went to a health food store and a great little consignment shop.  This time, we went to a little fabric store (boutique?).  I wish I had thought to take pictures while I was there because it was awesome.

The nearest fabric stores to me are Jo Ann Fabrics and a little quilting store that carries mostly quilting cotton from what I remember (if you’ve read my about page, it’s the same place that hosted my sewing summer camp I attended in 5th and 6th grade).  I should check it out again, although the business hours aren’t conducive to this Mama’s free hours.  Anyway, this is all to say that I’ve never been in a store such as the one we visited.  The fabrics were all beautiful….I could have spent a loooong time in there.  There were gorgeous knits and cottons, voile and laminated cotton,  and everything was so soft to the touch.  I walked out with several yards of fabric and a wistful glance over my shoulder…

Choosing which fabric to purchase was a trial.  Partly because my friend and I were shopping with a 4 month old, 1-1/2 year old, and 3-year-old.  Mine was the 1-1/2 year old and seriously in that highly difficult stage.  She just wanted to run around and wipe her nose on everything (seriously).  Luckily the shop owner was incredibly sweet and I didn’t see her cringe once.  The owners mother was also there, and quickly offered to hold baby, too.  Talk about full service!  So, we took turns finishing up and checking out, with one of us outside with a couple of kids while the other shopped.  (There was an unfortunate incident of ordering a croissant filled with chocolate to make things extra-interesting.  Sorry, Amy, I swear I didn’t know!)   Anyway, I walked out with a total of four different patterned fabrics, but the first I decided on was this feathery blue fabric.  My purpose was to find fabric to use for the Geranium dress, but I knew this fabric was destined for a simple, summer skirt.

Making these skirts reminded me of the first-ever little projects I did last year and how they seemed so confusing, and how frustrated I would get when the bobbin thread ran out because winding a new one and re-threading was still a big challenge.  I’m still annoyed when I run out of thread, but only because I’m highly impatient.  I thought I remembered, when measuring the elastic, to measure the waist and then overlap the elastic by an inch, but this method created a waist that was waaaay to big.  Maybe I just had really stretchy elastic?  If anyone has a little method they use for this, let me know…  I did use pretty skinny elastic, since that’s what I had on hand–is elastic more stretchy the thinner it is?  Anyway, I had to rip out the waist casing anyway since I mistakenly did it with a basting stitch, so it wasn’t a big deal to shorten the elastic.  I shortened it to about 16″ for my 5-year-old.  Before I did this, I could actually put the skirt on (quite a sight).

Anyway, enough of all the words.  Ready for some photos?  I hope so, because I have a hard time narrowing them down…

The first was for Lily…she has a mouth full of bribery.  Don’t judge me.

Just a simple, elastic waistband.  Easy, easy.  I cut the full width of the bolt, which was…um…42-ish inches.  I used this same width for both skirts, so it’s more gathered on Lily than her big sister.

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Here she is running from the camera….she’s had quite enough, thank-you.

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And when her big sister got home, she was happy to put on her skirt and match baby sister, but not so enthusiastic about another photo shoot.  At first, anyway.

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They are so sweet to each other… sometimes….

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And yes, the boy lives in his pajamas.  It’s good to be four.

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This is my favorite shot of the day.  Something about the sisterly interaction :)

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And that’s that.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen bare legs around here…I am so ready for some warm, sunny days!

*linked to Make It Wear It Thursday on The Train to Crazy and Nap Time Crafters Friday Favs*

Thirty-one

I turned thirty-one today.

I don’t feel thirty-one.  I feel twenty-two.  But, then again, I was very thirty-one-ish at twenty-two.  I was very thirty-one-ish at 17, for that matter.  So maybe I do feel thirty-one.

I have three children and drive a white mini-van (sexy!).

I’m not sure what the years 25-30 felt like, they were a bit of a blurry mess, to be honest.  A lot of love in that mess, but still a mess.  We had three children in the first five years of marriage, and now that the youngest is almost two, I finally feel as if I’m breaking through the surface of the water.  Life is on a steady shift, where I hover between urging it along and digging in my heels.

There are moments where I can’t wait for the next step.  To all ski together as a family, or spend the night in a hotel room without one of us up all night.  To have zero crying over spilled milk or the wrong kind of yogurt.  To not find my toddler playing in the toilet, or on the kitchen counter every time I take a moment to tackle a load of laundry or go pee.  To shower whenever I please. 

But, lately, there are so many more moments where I’m staggered by how much they have already grown.  By how many new babies have come into the world, forever making mine the big kids.  And suddenly I’m so…grateful.  So filled with wonder that these little people, with their distinct personalities are mine, it is almost painful.  I feel paralyzed, I don’t want to move and shatter the moment, I try to memorize every single detail of the moment.  I freeze so as not to break the spell.  But of course, it is broken, and I know the exact memories and feelings will indeed fade.  They already are.  I try to remember what my oldest was like at seven months, or when my son started talking, and I can’t.  In a few years I’m sure I won’t be able to always recognize exactly who is who when looking at my daughters’ baby photos.  The space reserved for those memories will be taken up by what size soccer cleats they are in,  when the school play rehearsals are,  and who is coming over for the next sleepover.  Life goes on…and so do we.

Right now, though.  Right now is good.  While I don’t necessarily feel ‘thirty-one’ (whatever that is), I feel that I am right where I am supposed to be.  I’m not waiting for the next baby to arrive, or when the next full night of sleep will be.  I look around at night and I simply think: here we are.

A family, complete.

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nine out of ten photos look like this

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victory!

My husband isn’t pictured, someone had to be behind the camera!

(Thanks for taking these, love you too.)

Little Gifts to Sew

Whenever there is a gift to be given, my first thought these days is how to make it a hand-crafted one.  But I don’t just want to give something I stitch together, I want it to be something chosen just for that person.  An item that is special because it was made just with them in mind, and preferably not something they could find among the aisles of a megastore.

This last weekend was the sixth birthday of a very special little girl.  She is my daughter’s best friend, as they’ve been little playmates since they were a few months old.  Lucky for me, that little girl has a very special Mama, who has turned into one of my best friends over the last six years as well.  Needless to say, I wanted to make something extra-special for this little friend of ours.

I could have made sweet little skirts by the dozen, but clothing isn’t typically at the top of a kindergartener’s wish list.  Luckily, I had an idea ready and waiting inside the book Little Things to Sew.  A sweet little doll carrier, perfect for pretend play, and even more perfect because this little girl just welcomed a baby brother.  I loved the thought of her wearing her favorite doll or stuffed animal in her front carrier while her baby brother was nestled in his.

So I gathered my supplies and went to work, as usual, saving this project for a time when I had the least amount of time to get it done.  Just like writing papers in college, I apparently like to work under pressure.

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 Lucky for me, I had conquered my fear of buttonholes before I tried to make this.  It was a simple project, although it didn’t sew up quite as fast as I had thought it would.  I also had three kids at home, as there was no school that day, so that could account for the slow progress.  It went a little like this:  trace pattern on fabric, get someone a cup of milk.  Start to cut out fabric, have to go wipe a hiney.  Pick the scissors back up, put them back down and go settle a quarrel, return to finish cutting only to find my toddler on top of the table eying the scissors.

But it did get done with light to spare, although it was setting fast and I had to heavily bribe my daughter to come outside and model it for me.  Why outside?  Well, when I sew all afternoon the inside of the house isn’t exactly photo-shoot ready.  At that moment there were toys on every square foot of flat surface, including our regular toys, and several feet of cardboard and bubble wrap.

But, as usual, the finished product makes me happier than a clean house ever will!  I love the simple, soft brown floral pattern.  No garish pinks here, just soothing neutrals fit for a walk with baby in the woods.

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 The reviews were good.  And by reviews I mean that my daughter requested one right away.

Reports came back that it was a success with the birthday girl, too!  And that makes me happier than a clean house ever could, too.  A clean house with drawers full of clean, folded laundry even!

Happy Birthday, Amelia!!!!

 

**linking up to Make It Wear It Thursdays on The Train to Crazy  and Nap Time Crafters Friday Favs**

The Geranium (v. 1.0)

When Rae released her Geranium Dress pattern a few months ago, I knew I wanted it, but it was just before Christmas and I just needed to stop buying all. the. things.  So I held out for a good 6 weeks, before buying the digital pattern…quite a feat, really.  I love digital patterns, because even if I’m not going to sew it right then, I love opening up the PDF and pouring through the details.  There are two versions, A and B, but you could mix and match them up to your heart’s content, and I plan on it.

I actually recently bought some beautiful new fabric with this pattern in mind, but I exercised some will-power and sewed it up in some old stash fabric for the dress, and an old sheet for the lining.  At first I was sad to be using fabric that I didn’t love, but as the dress came together, I liked it more and more.  I think it was the cuteness of the pattern that changed my attitude towards the fabric.

Or maybe the cuteness of the girl…

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I couldn’t believe how perfectly this dress fit, I made the 18-24mo. size, as she’ll be 2 in May but is pretty petite.  I followed everything exactly, including the hem, and am still just shocked at the great fit.

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The buttons are far from evenly spaced, I did some practice runs but still had trouble lining them up where I want them.  I think I figured out what will work for me, and I’m glad I finally just did it.  I had been putting it off, I didn’t even know what a buttonhole foot looked like, but it was simple.  I have an automatic foot, which means you put the button your using in the back and press a button and it actually does it all for you.  I knew it probably wouldn’t be as hard as I was making it out to be, but I didn’t know it would do it for you, like magic.

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I can’t wait to sew it up again, and make a few variations, and pick some new fabrics….so. many. options.   The pattern sizes up to size 5, so I’ll be able to make this for her sister too!

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It’s an easy dress to play in…

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…or give a few kisses in…

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In the end, I couldn’t be more thrilled to own this pattern, and once I started handing out SMARTIES, Lily couldn’t be happier posing in it, either.  But, when they ran out, all I got was this.

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The end.  Time to work on the next version…

**linking up to Make It Wear It Thursday on The Train to Crazy

Still Winter in the Adirondacks

I don’t know what March looks like where you are, but in the heart of the Adirondacks it is still winter.  The two blizzards I remember from childhood both occurred during March.

bliz·zard noun  1. a storm with dry, driving snow, strong winds, and intense cold.)  That’s not your wet, warm snowman-building snow.

Shortly, but not just yet, I’ll be done with the snow.  I won’t mind the dusting that whitens up the dirty snowbanks, but anything measurable will have me rolling my eyes while flipping through the garden issues of Country Living and Better Homes and Gardens.  Growing up, there was a florist shop at the end of my little road.  He once told my Mom that we aren’t safe from frost until June 10th (right, mom?).  I have heard long-time residents talk of snow on the 4th of July, although I remain skeptical–mainly because I refuse to believe in that possibility.

But for now, for the next week–and maybe even week-and-a-half–I still think it is beautiful.  Last week my daughter and I built a snow fort and a snowman, and last weekend was filled with visiting family, snowmobiling, and skiing.  (Well, they did all that while I locked my germ-infested, cookie-tossing self in the bedroom for 35 hours).  Ahem.

Anyway, as we wait for Spring, let’s enjoy the last bit of winter, shall we?

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