Sunday, July 31, 2011

I did it...



I did it...I said I wouldn't.  I said I couldn't afford another thing in my life that wasted my time encouraged me to find new projects and inspiration.  I read all about it, vowing not to get sucked in...  But, I did.

Pinterest Logo

I joined Pinterest.  If you haven't heard about it, Pinterest is a great way to store all of your ideas and likes from all over the internet.  You can make virtual "bulletin boards" that you pin all of the things you love to.  If you find a picture anywhere on the net that you like, just pin it to a board.  You can have many boards or a few.  You can have tons of "pins" or have restraint.  You can view other's boards to find people with similar style and repin from their boards.  It's simple to use and great for visual people.  And it's completely free!

You have to be invited by someone already on there, or request an invitation.  But no worries, I requested an invite and was signed in and using it 20 minutes later.  And I have dialup!!

So my sewing progress this weekend is slower than I would like, but my boards are filling up!!  I've got boards for quilt ideas I had been saving as bookmarks, but now can see exactly what I love.  I've got a board for holiday ideas, home decor goodies, inspiration signs and sayings, yummy treat recipes, and more!  It will definitely fill any void of time you'd like to not have back, that's for sure.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Follow me if you want to...But I warn you, you will love spending way too much time looking!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WIP Wednesday

  So, I'm home from vacation and just got my machine back from the shop yesterday afternoon.  I took it in to be serviced while I was gone so I wouldn't miss any real time with it.  I've got so many ideas, my list of WIPs is growing by the day, and since I have actual progress to show in them, I'm ready to link back up with Lee and her WIP party.

  I'm knee deep in the Summer Sampler QAL (quilt-along).  I missed all 3 of last week's blocks while I was gone and since I just got my machine block I missed Monday's too.  So, that's 5 blocks to make up counting today's, but I'm making 2 of each, so I've got 11 to get made since I only made one mosaic before we left for the beach.  It sounds overwhelming, but, I'm really enjoying the blocks so far.  And I've never properly paper-pieced before (only string quilt blocks), so I'm actually really looking forward to it.  Here are my fabrics all laid out to make it easier for me to choose what I want for each block and some of my blocks cut out waiting on some sewing.

  I've also got a "secret" project I'm working on for Jenny's upcoming Sew Chic Refashion series at her blog.  She's asked a bunch of bloggers (many who are much more famous than me) to participate and we'll all be sharing a refashion we've done.  You should check it out.  I'll remind you.  :)

  I've also got fabrics layed out for some other projects I've got coming up, so while they're not yet in progress, they will be soon!

  Be sure to visit Lee and check out everyone else's WIP.  Great inspiration...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ready for the water

  A few weeks back I saw that Dana had posted about a new pattern she'd created...the Beach Robe, and I knew it would be perfect for my two for our trip to the beach.  A robe is perfect for the beach because you don't have to worry about keeping a towel on and your hands are free to do other things.  Plus, it covers more than a towel which helps both with drying and sun protection.

  The pattern only goes to size 5, so I emailed Dana and asked if it was easily sized up, she said she thought it would be and since Emma only really needs the length sized up, I bought the pattern.  Dana is amazingly good at breaking down each step and explaining a pattern like she's in your sewing room with you helping out.  And after my last experiences from Burda, this was a welcome relief.
Love this kid.  He's so silly and funny.  Chris said he looked like Obi Wan in his robe.  He thought that was great!!
    I let the kids pick out their towels, bought some bias tape and got busy.  Well, actually the towels sat in my room for a week while I "got around" to making them, but do we really need to go into details here???

  I would highly recommend this pattern to anyone who is familiar with a sewing machine and has small children.  The pattern comes as a pdf so you print the pattern pieces at home and tape them together.  I measured the pieces up to Emma and Oren to make any alterations to them before I cut my fabric.  I ended up adding 2 inches in length to both and widening the armscye (fancy word for armpit hole!).  No one wants a tight fit in the armpit!

  And the pattern is very customizable.  I went with partial ties on both robes (because I didn't want to fool around with cutting out enough to make a full tie that went all the way around).  Emma wanted short sleeves on her's and Oren wanted long sleeves.  Emma said she didn't want a hood, but I decided for her that she did.  I lined both hoods which took about 1 extra minute and makes it look so much nicer.
Pa (my Dad) snuck up on them and posed behind them.  They didn't even notice till he grabbed them.  

  I would fully advise reading the directions carefully before beginning and when she recommends getting 2 towels, get 2 and that way you don't have to put the robes on hold until you can get back to the big city to buy another towel in each color only to find out that the towels Oren picked are now sold out so you have to finish Emma's until you can get to Walmart to let Oren pick out 2 new towels.  Also, when she says 3 packs of bias tape, you'd be smart to get 3 or 4...You can always take it back if you don't need it, and it's a bummer to only buy 2 and get about a foot from finishing when you run out.  But I wouldn't know from personal experience or anything...

She was not thrilled with getting out of the water for some pictures by the way.  Emma is like me...she'd live at the beach from morning till night if we let her.  No going up to the house for her!  ;)
  At any rate, I definitely think this pattern is a keeper and would use it again for gifts for the kids' friends with summer birthdays and things like that.  Both kids used them at the beach with success, although most of the time, they just air-dryed, being kids and all.

P.S.  I wish I was a big enough blogger that people would assume this was a paid-for post.  These are completely my own ramblings, I just wanted to spread the love.

P.P.S.  Does anyone know why sometimes blogger accepts pics great and sometimes they come out all grainy-looking even though you saved them looking good?  HELP me and my pics, please?!?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Made it by Monday Challenge on Tuesday

Hey everyone,
  We are having a great time at the beach and loving every minute of our time together here with family.  I wanted to link up with Jill again for her Made it by Monday challenge this week. 





  Her challenge this week was a shoe revamp.  Easy enough, right?  I was thinking I could glitter, paint, or at least "beautify" one pair of the many hanging out in my closet.  Then I remembered I recently gave away every pair of shoes I couldn't live without to a friend who took a trailer full of donations to Alabama after the tornadoes ripped through there a few months back.  Oh, and don't worry, I still have plenty, I just wear them all as is!
 
  So I looked around and decided it may be best to buy a cheap pair of flip flops to alter.  So I bought some white ones to match the pair Emma has and brought them and a few craft supplies to the beach.

  But then, life happened.  See these cute sandals I bought at Target?  I have a white pair and these black ones.  I just bought the black pair a week or so ago, but hadn't worn them.  Sunday morning we were rushing to get ready for church and while I slipped my foot into the left one just fine, the elastic strip in the back split away from the plastic leather on the right shoe.  I went to church with a broken shoe!  The fit was great, so I decided to just go with it...I'm on vacation, right??

Please notice the back strap on the back foot is just sadly hanging there.

   I had plans to just sew or glue them back together when I got home, but my Mom suggested just cutting the straps off altogether.  They were obviously fine without them since I'd worn them to church and grocery shopping with one shoe strapped and one shoe without.  So I went with it.  I'm revamping these sandals into flip flops!

  So, easiest DIY shoe revamp ever:
1.  Gather supplies:  sandals, scissors
2.  Cut back straps off each sandal.
3.  Model new flip flops and glory in your one of a kind shoes!  :)

Thank you to my sister for the awesome photos!  :)
What do you think??  I like them.  They're different, and since I have a white pair of the same style, now I have two separate pairs of shoes instead of 2 in different colors.

 As I said, I'm linking up with Jill today.  Go over and check out the other linkups and do a shoe revamp of your own to link up.  It doesn't have to be difficult or involve fancy tools.  See what you can make your own today.  Oh, and for further ideas, Ashley is doing a flip flop refashion series at her blog right now, too.

Oh, and those cheap flip flops I was going to make...I made a prototype and have learned what I can do better to make them cuter.  I will definitely post about them soon.  If only all shoe-making and fixing were this easy, I could have been a cobbler!  Oh well, I'll stick to sewing, probably!  ;)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer Sampler Blocks 2 & 3

  So I had the post for block 2 written up and ready to post and promptly forgot about it yesterday!  Oops...so I'm just adding Block 3 to the end of it and saving y'all some reading, 'kay??  We are headed to the beach for a week in the morning, so I have a few posts that I HOPE to post, but I'll have to play it by ear with the internet service there...me and the scheduled posts don't always get along...

Block 2:  Greek Cross
  Faith brought us our block today (Wednesday) and it's the Greek Cross.  She is doing her sampler quilt in all solids and I love it!  I almost waited till I could order/buy some solids to make mine like that too, but in the spirit of destashing I went with stuff I already had.
   Here's Faith's.  Don't you love it??

Greek Cross block courtesy of Fresh Lemons

  So, like Monday's block, I made two.  I think I'm going to double the quilt (making two of each block) so that I'll have 24 blocks to work with.  That'll give me a 4 foot x 6 foot quilt roughly if I don't add borders.  I'm not sure what I'll do with this quilt yet, but I just don't care for square quilts unless they're for babies and the kids don't need a 3 foot x 4 foot lap quilt.

  Again, I'm using a Make Life... layer cake with coordinating prints and solids thrown in.


  Just like the first block, these were super easy and I think they would be great as a one-block quilt, where this block was repeated over and over again.  I think you could do something special with the diamonds that form in between the blocks.

Block 3:  Mosaic
  And today's block is from Lee.  I love Lee and her style.  Here is her block:



And here is mine.  I only made one tonight because although this block is not difficult, I still have a ton of things to do before we leave tomorrow including some dessert with my kids.  I'll make the other one in the morning before we go or when we get back.  I'll be 3 (or 6 in my case) blocks behind when we get back anyway, so what's adding one more, right??


  Here are my five blocks altogether.  The gray I used today came in the layer cake and I used it all up...There's a gray with a small pattern that may read close enough if I want to continue to use the same "solid" for each block.  We'll see...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why I love linkups

 You know how I'm always going on about the inspiration you can find at linky parties.  Well, a few weeks back, I saw this skirt from Katy at Sweet Verbena.
photo courtesy of Katy @ Sweet Verbena


 I thought it was super cute and EASY.  So I bookmarked it and the next time I went to the fabric store I picked out some cute knit fabric.  Yep, I bought some knit and made something with it.  Sure, I've used knits before, but they were usually t-shirt refashions or adjustments to store-bought clothing, etc.  But, I have braved the world of knit and come back to brag about it.  (haha)


  Honestly, the hardest part about this skirt was stopping long enough to really use the amount of pins necessary to keep these layers where they were supposed to be.  I am a non-pinner in quilting when I can get away with it, but this material is so slippery, even when pinned it would move, so a lot of pins was my key to success.  The construction couldn't be easier!


  I didn't hem it at all, and I did leave the underlayer just a little big longer.  I didn't like that it is definitely the wrong side of the fabric showing in that under layer, but I did like that it added just a little extra length and the idea of more coverage.  And to flip it was going to require cutting and more seams, so no thanks.  Because of the slipperiness, the bottom layer is a little longer than I was going for.  I was going for a quarter inch longer so that they would kind of roll up together.  It looks like I ended up closer to an inch, but whatever.  When I asked Chris to take pictures he took a few and then asked if it was done.  Like, wasn't I going to finish the bottom of it?  I take it he's not a fan of the bottom layer...



   So, what do you think?  Keep the bottom layer or cut it even?  I like that it's a bit different and adds some interest to it, but if it looks wierd, than I don't want the interest in the skirt to be that it looks messed up.


P.S.  I wanted to make sure and say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Dad today!!  I am extremely blessed to have such an awesome guy to call my father.  He is funny, kind, loving, and completely supportive.  Have a great day, Dad!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Sampler

  With all the clothing construction going on around here lately, I've really been missing quilting.  And while I have 2 quilts that need to be basted, I decided to join in on the Summer Sampler Quilt-along hosted by 3 awesome bloggers:  Faith from Fresh Lemons Quilts, Lee from Freshly Pieced and Kate from Swim, Bike, Quilt!  
Swim, Bike, Quilt

   It's a simple sampler featuring 12 traditional blocks.  They'll each be doing one block a week, so we only have to do 3 blocks a week.  Haha, I say only have to do 3 a week as we get ready to go to the beach for a whole week.  I'll be behind in week 2!!  But I like the opportunity to tackle some traditional blocks and some paper piecing that I wouldn't otherwise.  

  I'm using a Make Life layer cake I had with some solids and other scraps thrown in, as I'm seriously trying to make a dent in my fabric stash (so I can buy all new fabrics, but whatever...)  Kate gave the first tutorial yesterday for the Star of Virginia block, which is ironic, because a couple of weeks ago I bought fabric to make a quilt for Oren with this design even though I've never made it.  
***One of my first posts was about the quilt I made for Emma's 5th birthday, so I'm making one for Oren too.  Emma didn't get hers until after she turned 6, so I'm not at all feeling bad that Oren turned 5 in March!  :)

  And back on subject...here's my block.  Well, actually blocks.  This was seriously so easy that it took me like 15 minutes to make 2.  Plus, I got a little trim happy on the first one, so now I'm covered if that one's a little small.  I decided not to trim up the second one tonight...  I thought I might make 2 of some of the blocks so that I can widen and lengthen the quilt.  Chris is always saying how lap quilts aren't long enough for tall guys like him.  Sorry about the picture quality here...it's been a long day, so I just threw them on my sewing countertop and snapped...the finished thing will be MUCH better!  :)




If I had it to do over again, I would definetely add some contrast to the 2nd block.  I didn't realize how light it all was till I was done.  I already had the white cut so I went with it.  Oh well...they'll all work together in the end I hope.

This was fun...can't wait to see what block tomorrow holds.  Although tomorrow is our anniversary, so I don't know how much sewing I'll be doing.  We're dropping the kids off with Grandma and spending the day out on the town.  :)
  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Make it by Monday Challenge



  I love a good challenge, don't you?  It gets you out of your comfort zone, gives a push in a certain direction and holds you to completing something.  Well, Jill at Made it on Monday agrees with me.  She competed in both So You Think You're Crafty and Crafting with the Stars and she missed the weekly challenge format that the contests provided so she's set up a non-competitive version on her site called Make it by Monday (nice play on words, Jill!)
make it by monday

  Our first challenge was "Outdoor Games and Activities."  It's so broad I wasn't sure where I wanted to go with it.  At first I thought of something for the beach (since we're going next week!!!!!!!) and then I thought of something to do right now like an obstacle course or something.  Chris suggested weeding the flower beds and getting the kids to help, but I didn't think that was quite what Jill was going for...

  After some thought I kept going back to tie-dyeing something, I don't know why.  But the thought of tie-dyeing with a 7-yr-old and a 5-yr-old on my back porch made me cringe a little.  Then I remembered an idea I'd saved from Family Fun magazine when Emma was little.  I found it online to make sure I was remembering it right.

  And then, if you can believe it...neither kid had a plain white tee shirt that I could find to get started...so a trip to Walmart later and here we go:

You'll need:
  a tee-shirt for each child (preferably white or light colored)
  cardboard to put in each shirt so the dye doesn't run through
  1 cup flour
  water
  a 4-cup measuring cup
  a squeeze bottle
  Fabric spray paint (I used Tulip Brand)
  a sunny afternoon

Steps:
1.  Prewash your shirts so there'll be no funny shrinkage issues later.  When dry, put the cardboard inside the shirt to make sure your design stays on just the front!  Our cardboard didn't quite fill in all the space and neither the flour mixture or paint made it to the back, so this step is optional, but I would recommend it just in case.
2.  Mix together your flour and just enough water to make a thick liquid (FF said it should look like mustard...) and then pour it into your squeeze bottle.
3.  Squeeze your design onto the front of your shirt.  FF used a sunburst idea, but my kids went with a peace sign and a monster truck.  (I have to admit that the part of me that is a control-freak that usually stays hidden came out and I drew on the design as the kids told me what they wanted.)

4.  Leave the shirt in the sun to dry for a couple of hours.  So,  there was absolutely no sun when we did this because of the tropical wave that has been hanging over us, so we did this part indoors and I used the blow-dryer...


5.  When the flour paste mixture has dried and hardened on the shirt, begin spraying on the color.  We did this one kid at a time, one color at a time, and laid down LOTS of newspaper first.  (I will also admit that we did this before the flour paste was all the way dry and in retrospect, that was the best choice!!)



7.  Leave the shirt to dry again.  This time we left them on the back porch so the heat would dry them but I got impatient and used the blow-dryer again.  I mean, really...who has 4 hours to wait when there's a blog post to be written???


 8.  When the paint is fully dry, pick the flour mixture off to show off the white underneath.  This was harder than you might think where the flour had fully hardened.  The softer parts were doughy and messy, but much easier to peel off.  And yes, Chris and I did most of the peeling.  It was a family affair!




9.  Launder as your fabric paint recommends and wear with pride!!  And we obviously haven't laundered yet, but I let them wear them for the picture.  The paint actually says to let it set for 72 hours before laundering.  


  So these shirts aren't the most fashionable thing around, but the kids thought this was SOOOO fun.  Since I bought a set of 6 shirts, I told them we could make more at the beach next week using the sun to dry them instead of Momma's hair dryer.  Oren's already decided his will have a shark on it...

  In all, this was a fun and easy project.  The kids had some trouble with the spray bottles, their little hands weren't quite strong enough, but they thought it was great fun.  I think I'd like to make one using a stencil of some kind...I may be using my silhouette to cut something to take to the beach with me too!!  :)

  Thanks for the fun challenge, Jill.  I might not have got around to doing this otherwise and it was really a great time.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Another Dress for Me

  When I ordered the Twisted Bubble Dress from Burda, I also ordered a tiered mini dress.  By mini dress I guess they mean above the knee, because I saw the same dress on there with an extra tier and they were calling that one a maxi-dress.

  I liked the basic style of this dress and how many options there would be to use it as a base.  You could change the strap design, add pockets, change the bodice to take out the buttons or add a ruffled area, add the extra tier to make it a maxi, remove the bottom tier to make it a top, etc...

  For this dress, I chose an Alexander Henry fabric I had stashed that Chris loves.  All of the other versions of this dress on Burda's site used tiny prints or solids, so I wasn't sure, but I figured if Chris liked it that was good enough for me.  I cut into it and went for it!



   This dress, like the other, had minimal instruction and they did things much differently than I probably would have, but it works.  There are a few places I'm unhappy with.  I didn't quite get what they wanted me to do attaching the straps and they're a little wonky, and my button placement is a little off.  But overall, I am happy with it.  Chris really likes it, so that's good.

I should have turned more, but the back is a racer back-style, but with sharp angles instead of a curved line.
  I have all kinds of ideas floating in my head about alterations to this pattern.  Wouldn't it be cute with a solid front bodice piece instead of buttons, but then adding an insertion of ruffles or lace or something to the front middle.  I'd like to make a maxi version too out of knit...that would be a big step for me!!


  I haven't made clothing for myself in so long that this spring and summer have been enlightening.  I've re-learned a lot about clothing construction (since the old 4-H days) and what fits me and what doesn't.  I've learned that a full bust adjustment is a MUST for me and is worth the time to make sure what I'm going to make fits even if the pattern measurements says it will...

This picture is just for family...Oren acted as my photographer before Chris came out and  then he wanted to get in on all of the photo action...
  I'm happy with each step I take to becoming a better seamstress.  Maybe one day I'll be ready to venture into the land of making clothing for other grownups, but for now...I'll stick to making clothing for other kids.  Kids are straight you know...much easier to work with than all of our grown-up curves.  :)

**Check out "Where I party" under my header to see where I'll be linking this dress up this week.  These parties offer so much inspiration, they're a great way to find a new project or 10!**

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bandanarama

  A friend of mine's Dad had a stroke this spring and has lost a lot of the use of the right side of his body.  This has been rough on him and their family as you can imagine.  To raise funds for some of his medical bills, some friends of theirs hosted a team roping event this past weekend.  (I did say I was from a small town in rural Florida).  They also had an auction at the event.
  Well, I'm no roper, but I certainly wanted to help out this family that we care about, so I asked if she thought an outfit might go over well for the auction.  She said YES, but I had one day to make it, so I came up with this.  Super easy and I thought it fit well for both the rodeo and upcoming 4th of July (well it was upcoming when I made it).

  I used an old bandana I'd been keeping for a (one-day when I get around to it) flag quilt I've got in mind.  But I didn't mind parting with it for this.  I used Vanessa's tutorial here although it's so simple, you don't even need a tutorial.  I basically just looked at her pictures and went for it.  The bottom band is from Connecting Threads (I don't see it at their site anymore).  For the top, I bought some tank tops at Walmart.  My first attempt at embroidering a boot on this tiny tank top went awry, so in my hurry I decided to just embroider the boot separately and then sew it onto the tank top.  It worked perfectly.  When the boot was done, I just cut it out and pinned it on the shirt where I wanted and then sewed around the outline in the satin stitching with a matching thread.

  I made this to fit a 5-year-old roughly.  Well, at least the shirt is a 4/5 and I measured the elastic around Oren for the waist.  But it fit my skinny minnie perfectly, so...I guess the size is a little flexible.

  Emma's reaction to this outfit:  "OOOOOOHHHHHH, can you make me one just like it????"  She was more excited about this outfit than most of what I actually make for her.  And my friend's little girl actually said "Mama, is that for me?"  I took that as a good sign...and I was right.  This outfit sold for $70!!!!  I couldn't  believe it!!  I was so excited and glad to help out.  It feels good to use my hobby and talents to help out a friend.


  Making this outfit made me count my blessings.  I am so thankful for my health and the health of my family.  I am thankful for my family and how much love we have for each other.  I am thankful for friends and the support we give to each other.  I am thankful that an activity that I enjoy so much (sewing) can help others and make others happy.  I am thankful to have a God that loves us so much he gives us all of these blessings each day to enjoy.

  What have you made that brought joy to both you and someone else?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th!

Today is a great day.  A day when all Americans are celebrating what it means to be American.  But that got me thinking...What does it mean to be American?

It means being free.  Free to choose your life.  Free to choose where you live, what you do, who you are friends with.  Free to choose how you worship, or if you worship.  Free to wear whatever you want.  Free to eat whatever you can afford.  Free to vote and support or criticize your government without repercussions.  Free to visit 49 other states than the one you live in without passports, stops, or other hardships.  And let's not forget that this freedom comes from the wonderful men and women who volunteer to fight for us.  THANK YOU to all of those that serve or have served in our armed forces!!!

Being American means enjoying baseball, football, and basketball...or not.  It means working hard and playing hard.  Enjoying apple pie, chocolate chip cookies, cheeseburgers, and Coke.  Shopping Malls and traffic jams.  Any kind of music you might be into from Country and Bluegrass to punk rock and classical.

Being American means celebrating in the middle of summer when it's super hot and blowing up really big explosives up in the sky for all to see.  It means time with family and friends to slow down, enjoy the moment and all that makes America wonderful.

I hope each and everyone of you (American or not) has a day filled with happiness and freedom.  May we always remember how blessed we are.  I hope your 4th of July makes you glad for today too.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ice Cream Week Finale--Peach

  Sorry to skip a few days, we had some family fun that ate up most of our time...we spent yesterday in the big city seeing Cars 2, shopping for a new ball glove for Emma, buying Wipeout for the XBox (hilarious!!!) and then came home to welcome home Chris' Mom who had spent 10 days in Ireland  (and she brought me back this awesome wool/silk scarf!!).  Well, actually she got home 2 nights ago, but we had her out for dinner last night and after all of that, we did some night swimming in the pool.  I don't know what it is about swimming when the only lights are from the pool itself that is so magical, but you'd have thought we'd told the kids we were going to the moon they were so excited!  I didn't take a single picture the whole day, but it was a great one.

  Well, Thursday we made peach ice cream, and I should really say I made it.  The kids are wearing out on the ice cream making, so we are stopping at 4 flavors for now and that way it'll still be something they look forward to later on.  For the peach ice cream, I used the same recipe as I did for strawberry, just switching to peach puree instead.  This is the easiest and yummiest recipe.  It made 3 quarts after we all had some to "taste test."  We've already ate one pint of it and gave one to my MIL as peach is one of her favorites.  So our freezer is fully stocked but growing smaller every day as we chow down.

  And now that ice cream week is over, I can get back to showing you some of the sewing I've been up to.  We've settled into a routine now that summer is half-over and I've got some sewing done and things to show for it lately.  Yay!!!

  But first, let's enjoy this weekend and tomorrow...HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!  It's one of my favorite holidays for many reasons.  Fireworks, grilling out, family time, celebrating all that is great about our country, people sharing with each other, and a chance to slow down and enjoy the summer around us.  Yep, a great day.  We'll be keeping it low-key here, swimming and relaxing together until around dark when we'll head to the coast for some fireworks.  Can't wait!!!
  And just for fun, I'll leave you with these.  Every year on the 4th of July, I take the kids' picture on the front porch of our home.  Here are the last 3 years worth...Man, have they grown.  I told Oren he's not allowed to turn 6...he said he was going to anyway.  The nerve of these kids...  :)