Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Around here

None of us can believe that summer is coming to an end.  We have been so busy, which always seems to make the days roll by more quickly.  We've had some long, lazy days at home, which are my favorite kind...with bread baking, knitting, playing board games, and reading on the couch.  But for the most part, these late summer days are busy and full of activities, as we try to squeeze in as much as we can before school starts.  Last week, Romney hiked King's Peak with his scout troop, and Taylor went to New York City with Brandon.  They had a blast...but I was a bit jealous of both, I'll admit, as I've been feeling a bit of wanderlust, and longing for a travel adventure.  Or maybe I'm just looking for another break from housework.  Sigh...

While the boys were away, the girls and I spent the better part of last week at Hannah's first soccer tournament.  She did well and enjoys playing so much, even in the soaring summer temperatures.  We spectators tried to stay cool underneath our new Sportbrella, which inconveniently buckled over and nearly flew away a few times in the gusty wind.  It was a hassle driving thirty minutes to the playing fields every day, and then carrying that big umbrella, chairs, blankets, baby (don't forget baby!), food, water, etc. to the sidelines, for every game...especially without my big boy helpers, on whom I rely so much!!  But even with the hassle and heat, we enjoyed ourselves well enough though...the girls lugging backpacks full of coloring things and toys, and I had my knitting.  And our sweet Mary happily sat on the blanket and played and smiled.  She is an angel, I tell you, that girl.  I love to watch my girls play soccer, and Hannah has improved so's fun to see her work so hard! 

The garden is still a jungle, and needs more attention than I am willing to give it.  But it is yielding some very pretty and tasty things, and we are enjoying growing some of our own food.  The boys spent a morning last week picking apricots for me (bless them!), so we have about four brown grocery sacks half-full of them.  The girls helped me pit and divide some, and we made a yummy apricot cobbler for Sunday dessert.  It was delicious with fresh whipped cream, and I ate too much of it!  

Even with the hot daytime sun, the Utah mornings are gorgeous.  I have been cycling around town for exercise, taking a break from the six weeks of boot camp that I did before our beach vacation.  How I love to bike out in the fresh, cool morning air, and gaze out at the mountains and trees.  It really fills my soul.  I love to listen to audio books while I ride, and I've been listening to Little Women lately.  I had read parts of it before, and I've seen the movie and the play.  But wow!  This book is absolutely wonderful in every way.  I am learning so much from Mrs. March, with her wisdom, dedication, patience, and motherly love.  And her darling daughters are full of charm, wit, and generosity, and seem to teach me about goodness and virtue, even as they learn about it themselves throughout the novel.  I have relished every word, as I've cycled, washed dishes, driven kids to and from activities, and occasionally sat knitting quietly (bliss!).  

Summer has been wonderful.  We will miss it when it's gone, and as we dive into the busy fall months.  But fortunately fall is my favorite season, with so many festive, happy times, beautiful cool weather, holiday preparations, and so many opportunities to celebrate as a family.  Our fall will be scattered with birthdays, sporting events, weekend trips, and lots of homework.  And it will be splendid!  But we are relishing the end of our summer.  Hope you are too!    

Monday, July 22, 2013

July Garden

I took these pictures of the garden last week.  I haven't been super diligent in weeding this year, so it's a pretty little jungle out there.  But almost everything is growing nicely, and I am happy to be harvesting herbs, radishes, and lettuces for our summer meals.  The fruit trees are looking gorgeous, and everything seems to be ripening so quickly!  I can't believe summer is almost over!!  The small pear trees are loaded with pretty fruit.  I only spy a handful of apples on the big, old apple tree.  We have only had one good year with that sad tree...and it happened to be last year, when we had moved out during the remodel.  So much of the fruit went to waste.  The apricot tree, however, has never had so much fruit.  We will be going out to pick it this week, before the birds get to all of it!  I'll be on the lookout for apricot recipes...apricot jam sounds delicious!

We are heading out to the garden this morning to weed and make trellises out of tree branches.  The house needs tidying up from a busy weekend as well, so there will be some cleaning before lunch.  The boys will be studying all afternoon, and the girls and I will come inside for some crafts and knitting.  Monday is laundry day as well, so I am running load after load to get through as much as I can before dinnertime.  I still do at least one load per day the rest of the week, but the more I get done today, the better!  Tonight is soccer practice as well, so the three big girls will work hard in the heat, and then we'll come home for dinner and Family Home Evening. 

It's going to be a busy Monday, as usual.  Not my favorite day, but the rest of the week will be great if I can tackle today's chores and to-do list effectively.  Off to work I go!  Happy Monday, friends!!   

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer naps, learning, and tea parties

Summer is in full swing around here.  The girls are playing in the hose and picnicking out back, all dressed in matching striped dresses.  They just came in and are looking for male dance partners for their "ball."  The boys aren't too keen on volunteering.  These boys have been getting up at 5:30 am to lift weights and play basketball with their dad, so they are catching naps on the couch right now.  Well deserved rest, I think!  They have also been studying for several hours a day to make sure they are ready for fall semester to start…and well, because some of them are a little behind in math.  Playing catch-up in the summer is no fun at all, but it’s a great time to get a jump on studies, while everyone else is out playing.  (Says the mom, not the kids...)  They have extra motivation this summer, because they are venturing off to public school come fall!  For the first time ever, my boys are enrolled for full-time school.  They will attend the brand new schools being built up the street...two in high school and one in middle.  They are super excited for their new adventure!  The girls will still be homeschooled, but the boys want to have a school experience, so off they go.  I think they’ll rock it!  And I think we'll have a grand time at home, just us girls.  I see lots of crafts, baking, and girly read-alouds on the horizon!

So, while I typed this, the girls just had their own ball, and are now having a tea party in the kitchen.  They know how to have a good time!!  Hope your summer days are full of enchanting moments!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

cherry lemonade and cherry yarn

Mary is feeling a little better this week, so I think we are past the worst of it!  However, she still isn't sleeping very well.  Yesterday, after having been up with Mary from midnight until 4:00 am, I was upstairs trying to get her down for a morning nap.  The kids could hear her crying while I rocked and nursed her, and they decided to surprise me by cleaning up the house.  When she was finally settled, sleeping in her crib, I made my way down the stairs and saw sweaty little bodies bustling about with cleaning supplies in hand.  They had picked up and vacuumed the entire main floor of the house, and scrubbed the messy dishes and kitchen.  What a great moment!!  The tiredness instantly felt less cumbersome, and I sat down with a cup of tea and my pretty knitting, in our nice, tidy living room.

In the hot afternoon, we made frozen cherry lemonade.  We used the juice of two lemons, a couple of handfuls of frozen cherries, ice, some vanilla, and a little coconut palm sugar.  Mixed up in the Vitamix, it was the perfect summer treat!  

Also, I am loving the Cherry colorway of the Madelinetosh yarn I'm using for Mary's Sunday Sweater.  Loving the pattern so much too.  That Ginny is a knitting genius!  (Go visit her blog today for her Wednesday yarn along and see what amazing things she's up fun!)  It is so soft and the variation of reds, pinks and purples is gorgeous.  Eliza is knitting a doll scarf, and the other two girls are beginning projects as well.  We have started collecting supplies for Christmas gifts as well...I know it's early, but we will be making most of our gifts, so we want to get a head start!  Plus, the planning is just as fun as the making, right?

The girls and I started listening to the audible version of Austenland by Shannon Hale, and of course we are smitten.  Anything remotely related to Jane Austen...we swoon!  We are about to turn it on while we fold laundry now.  I'm also plowing through Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov on Audible.  I think I'll start reading the book as well, because it's hard to get all of the characters figured out at the beginning.
Thanks to Jami's post, (isn't she awesome?!) I have been pulling out my DSLR camera more this week.  I love the picture quality, after having used my iphone pretty exclusively for the past several months (my Instagram here).  I hope to be blogging more often as well!

Have a fantastic day!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Guest Post: Jami on how to take better indoor photos of your kids

Hello friends! I hope you had a fantastic weekend! Today I bring you a guest post you don't want to miss. Jami is a professional photographer based in Utah. She has taken our family photos several times and is absolutely fantastic. (She took the photo on my sidebar and my Facebook profile pic...she rocks!)  She is a mom of five boys and an entrepreneur, who teaches photography classes and runs She is also a blogger, speaker, and TV contributor for a local TV lifestyle show. (Yah, she's pretty much amazing.) So read on for some great tips on how to use your camera!  

Here's Jami:  

Today we are talking tips on how to take better indoor photos of your kids. This is one of the subjects I get asked about the most. People say they do not have light in their home. Their kids don't cooperate, and they feel uncreative. Well, I am here to give you a few tips to help improve your photos. 

Tip 1 - Change your angle/Shoot from above
I love to lift my camera up above my kids (or in this instance, Tricia's kids--ok how adorable are they?). This might be easier with a baby in her crib or on the floor. But can also be done with older children. Try it...what do they do on a daily a legos? 

Tip 2- Look for the light
I always hear "I have no light in my house."  No matter how small your light source is, you can use it. Moving your children closer to the light source makes it larger and softer (like a giant softbox). Here, there was a small window in the girls' room and I chose to put the girls as close to the window as possible. You can see the light coming in from the is beautiful soft light. 

Tip 3- Frame the shot
In these photos, I noticed there was a box of light hitting the wall where the bunk beds were set up. I knew I could set one of the girls there and frame her in the nice soft light, with a pretty shadow behind her. I also knew if I changed where I was shooting from I could frame my shot with the ladder of the bunk bed. So I was framing my subject twice- does that make sense? I loved capturing Tricia's little girl with her doll (that supermom Tricia made). It was obvious how much she loved her doll. I wanted to capture that, and framing the shot just adds to the creativity of the photo. 

If you have any questions, visit our Facebook page, and post any questions you have. I hope you are inspired to get creative, have fun, and enjoy taking photos of your children!

Happy shooting!