Saturday, December 29, 2007

I can't believe she is gone.

The world lost an incredible woman yesterday. Joann started as my coworker and became my friend and my mentor, but so much more. She was a woman of incredible spirit and energy, full of life and love. She "mothered" all of us who worked with us. When you spoke with her you felt as if she really understood and cared. She listened so well, and gave good advice when you needed it, whether you wanted it or not. ;) And yes she usually was right. After a very long battle with cancer, she died yesterday, 12/28/07, peacefully at home. I will miss her greatly.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lily Christmas outfit

Lily Christmas outfit, originally uploaded by michaeldog_1999.

I finished sewing Lillian's Christmas dress today! It is from Ottobre magazine, 4/2003 issue, pattern #2 for the top and pattern #5 for the dress, size 62 cm, though I lengthened the dress part 3 inches to make it wearable without pants underneath. If you have the magazine and look closely at the model, you will see that the pinafore dress is really quite short and is modeled with pants underneath. I made a previous dress in this pattern prior to her birth and discovered recently that it does indeed need the pants underneath at it barely covers her diaper. Whoops!

Link to the magazine showing the pattern:

Overall I'm pleased with the results. The shirt was a challenge for me as it was the first time I have done a placket, and that placket was tiny and on lycra knit. Overall though it was okay and the dress hides most of it anyway! Now I just need a go out and get her a nice pair of cotton tights in white and we're all set. :-)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lillian age 6 weeks

Lillian age 6 weeks, originally uploaded by michaeldog_1999.

Just a quick photo of Lily at 6 weeks. She is keeping me company beside my desk today, our little "princess" - LOL.

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea

I picked this book up on a whim quickly in the Borders, and wow am I glad I did. What an inspiring read it was. The full title is Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. This book is a New York Times Bestseller and a Kirayama Prize Winner, as well it should be. It details how Greg Mortenson, a climber who went to Pakistan to climb K2 (and failed by the way!), became interested in the plight of the rural Balti people, specifically a tribe that assisted him after his failed K2 climb. What started as a promise to that specific tribe to assist them in building a school in their village became a multi-million dollar charitable organization to assist in building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The book details just how that came to be. :-) Given the number of individuals in the book and the heavy cultural and political background needed, this book could have become a real snoozer honestly. However, the writers managed to provide detailed information in a generally interesting manner. Greg Mortenson's dynamic personality keeps the book flowing from start to finish. I unfortunately cannot find the quote that really struck me as the heart of the message of this book, but this one is also close, as Mortenson is describing a speech he gave to Congress, answering a question posed as to why schools matter when the issue is primary security in the post 9-11 times, "I don't do what I'm doing to fight terror [...] I do it because I care about kids. Fighting terror is maybe seventh or eighth on my list of priorities. But working over there, I've learned a few things. I've learned that terror doesn't happen becuase some group of people somewhere like Pakistan or Afghanistan simple decide to hate us. It happens because children aren't being offered a bright enough future that they have a reason to choose life over death." Mortenson describes that what he is doing offers the education to see the future in a balanced way and thus not be as susceptible to Taliban extremism.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More Christmas sewing

Library bag for Noah, originally uploaded by michaeldog_1999.

This I actually finished last week but am just posting. I had a small scrap of this tools motif canvas fabric left from another project so I decided to make Noah is own library book bag. The bag dimensions are pretty small (don't have it handy to measure), but it will hold 2 or 3 of his little books or chunky board books he likes to check out. This will allow him to be just like big brother with his own bag!

For the bag for anyone interested, it is very very simple to make a bag like this. You need 2 pieces of fabric the size you want the bag to be plus seam allowances. I actually used one large rectangular piece and the left side of the bag does not have a seam (i.e., I folded the rectangle land sewed the bottom and the other side). For this bag I did do French seams so the inside looked nice and finished and would not ravel. To do this, sew the seams first WRONG sides together with a scant 1/4 inch seam or less, using your judgement honestly based on the type of material and raveling properties. Then turn the bag RIGHT sides together and sew your seams again, usually 1/4 inch, 5/8 inch or whatever you feel appropriate, just making sure it is larger than your first seam. This will enclose the original seam inside the new one, leaving only finished edges. At the top, I turn down 1-3 inches (depending on the size of the bag, what looks good visually) and sew the hem all the way around. Then I attach the handles. This time I used purchased nylon webbing handles. I got the nylon webbing from Joanns Fabrics when they were 50% off. When the "notions wall" is on sale, so is the webbing. It's a great time to stock up then!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas tree is up!

Picking a tree, originally uploaded by michaeldog_1999.

On Saturday we went to Home Depot to choose a Christmas tree. Here are Zach and Noah posing before the HUGE selection of them before getting down to the hard work of actually choosing just one tree and agreeing which one!

Points site recommendation

As I was redeeming "points" for a gift card today I thought I would tell you all about it. I belong to a site called It is free to join and by doing various things on the site you earn "points" which you can redeem for gift cards to various places. I have so far this year redeemed 4 or 5 gift cards ($50 worth), so it is legit and the cards do actually come in the mail reliably. :-) Some of the things you do to earn points are as simple as clicking on a link in emails. You do NOT have to sign up at the click-through site for this, that or the other. I hate those on other sites where you have to sign up for whatever it is. With Mypoints you get the points (usually 5 points) for just clicking through to visit the site presented in the email. I would still recommend you use a spam email account of course, but honestly I haven't seen much of an increase in spam just from joining mypoints or doing the click throughs. You also earn various amounts of points per dollar spent at online retailers when you go through the Mypoints site links. In that instance it works like Ebates, Upromise or a dozen or more other sites that do the same thing. In any case, you have minimal extra time (about 10 minutes per day is about what I spend), check it out - They do indeed have a referral program, so if you are so inclined I would love to "refer" you and get points for doing so. You need to send me your email address and I'll send you a referral. You can contact me at tanya.fletcher [at], which is my spam account basically. Even if you don't want to do that, I encourage you to sign up anyway and start earning free gift cards. :-)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The old/homeschool blog

For anyone interested, my old blog, which may become exclusively our homeschool blog, is here:

Fatal flaw with Homeschoolblogger - or maybe just with me

Ok, I admit it: I really really stink at easily and conveniently linking photos into my blog. I actually had to email myself detailed instructions, which I then reread every single time I need to link a photo to my blog if I use anything but photobucket. I don't really like using photobucket as much as I like to use Flickr, so that is a big problem.

Then, today, I discovered something amazing - the "blog this" button on my Flickr photo. Huh? I clicked it (of course!) to see what that did. I can link my blog directly to Flickr and make my life a whole lot easier?! But wait, only a selection of blog sites are supported by it, blogger being one and homeschoolblogger not being one. Well that is a bit of a deal breaker on continuing to do most of my posting over at homeschoolblogger. I'll keep it and maybe do my regular and sewing posts here and homeschool blogging there? I don't know yet but this whole Flickr photo thing is fantastic - expect to see a lot of kid photos and sewing projects now! :-)

Christmas sewing

KS for Children, originally uploaded by michaeldog_1999.

This is both an update and a test of linking my blog with Flickr photos. I thought I would share some of my Chrismas sewing. This is a new set of PJs for Zach, made from the Kwik Sew for Children's book. The double sleeve comes from instructions from Sewing Mamas,

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Finished another top - sewing

I don't divide my sewing from my regular blog, so I'll just post here. I finished another maternity top today, Simplicity 4584. I posted a pattern review at for anyone particularly interested in the details. With my maternity wardrobe dating back nearly six years now to my pregnancy with Zach, it needed some updated and some weeding out of worn out items. I made a new halter-type top this week adn am pretty pleased with the results. It should be quite comfortable for this summer into fall.

I'm not experienced at all at posting photos but I will try to here:

I really enjoy sewing some items for myself this pregnancy. The ones in Motherhood Maternity and so forth are overpriced and fit poorly anyway. This is one case when sewing for myself really does save money! Plus, it is easier to find a fabric I like on the bolt than find a ready made top with a print I like in my size and price range. ;)

Now I'm trying to decide on a new project - hmmm, either another item for me or one for the boys probably. Time to look through patterns and see what calls out to me.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I'm back!

After a looonnngg hiatus from (using, I'm back. I like the community setting over there, all homeschoolers; however, after a week of not being able to log in after a server upgrade, contacting support a couple times and still unable to utilize it I give up for the final time. This is after months of having my posts eaten by a slow unresponsive server, so they really did need that upgrade. The sad part of course is that I lost my blog. I don't think I can import or anything so it's just gone. :(

The good news is that I already had this one, and I hear the html, picture posting, etc., is a whole lot easier over here. Maybe I can finally get some good pictures posted!

I'll update with the news about the family a little later.