Friday, July 29

Hello! (And a Cookies and Milk Bar)

Well, once again I apologize, but a lot has happened since I last posted, including a whirlwind surprise trip to Iowa for my mom's 50th birthday party!

Last Thursday at 5 a.m. my sister and I left for Iowa, arriving at my parents at about 6:30 that evening. That was the surprise for my mom, who was very confused at first, and then we told her about her party and we all spent the next two days putting the finishing details in place to host 150 people at my family's old car museum in the little farming town of Williams.

One of those details was a Cookies and Milk Bar, which we set up in a prominent place in the museum. It featured four different kinds of cookies, white milk and chocolate milk, as well as quite the assortment of candy and other things for people to nibble on.

On Friday my mom and I made most of the four kinds of cookies, and the photo above is when the table was half set up on Saturday afternoon.

Before heading to the museum to decorate we chose dishes from my mom's collection - mostly from her pink glass collection - to use on the cookie table. She also got into her stash of vintage table linens, doilies and hankies.

Notice the tablecloth with the pink flowers - our table was also supplemented by several thrifting stops while we were in Iowa Falls on Friday. :-)

Pink teacups held Hershey kisses, and the wood box and some of our other accessories came from my Grandma Hemken's vintage kitchen collection in the museum's loft.

We used my mom's vintage green cooler to hold ice, in which we placed glass carafes of chocolate and white milk the next day. The dairy print fabric was also a thrifted find on Friday

I had brought my tub of canvas drop clothes from Wyoming - the same ones that we used for our wedding party over Memorial Day weekend, and that's what we used as the base to cover the tables.

We put some of the doilies on top of the cake pedestals rather than below, so they could be more easily seen.

And on Saturday we left a few extra containers, which my sister Melissa filled with wildflowers on Sunday right before the crowd arrived.

Here we have all the basics in place, and this photo shows just one of the groups of paper lanterns that we hung all over the museum - they really added a lot to the decorations, and looked great with the cars.

Another lantern group...

So then on Sunday afternoon we put the finishing touches on the table, filled the platters with cookies and strung the garland I made.

Credit: many of our ideas and inspirations came from the Celebrations at Home blog. If you like party decorating, you'll love that one!

A few model dairy cows completed the theme.

I also made some cookie label signs to place by each grouping, so people would identify what they were eating. The yellow cookies are a stray plate that showed up for the potluck - my family supplied the pork chops, and my mom and I also made a broccoli salad, but the rest was contributed by the guests.

You'll have to excuse some of my photography - I've been shooting on full manual this summer, and changing between the six different lighting situations in the museum proved to be good practice! Some of these my shutter speed was still a little slow from being in the more dim areas of the building.

The cookies were a big hit!

In addition to the folded cards, we also tied other cookie cards around the jars with twine.

And here is the milk on ice in the cooler.

The little white cow in front here was a project in itself - we found it while thrifting, picked up some white spray paint in town and Melissa painted it Friday. Although the spray paint crackled on the second coat due to humidity, it still turned out to be pretty charming.

In another area of the museum we also set up a drink station, which featured vintage coolers from the museum's collection. We put bottled water on ice in the red wood wagon, and the three little coolers and one tall one held pop cans. The folding table ended up going away. Once again - canvas drop cloths served to cover the garage door on that wall. They're pretty versatile and indispensable - we ended up using the whole tub! Those green and blue rosettes were a challenge in themselves - my brother Nathan had to get involved to figure out how to get the project completed. :-)

I have more photos of the 11-piece brass band that came from Omaha, the crowd, the food and the dancing - stay tuned for more Big Band Birthday Party posts!

Wednesday, July 20

Baby Update: 34 Weeks

Well here we are, already at 34 weeks along! These summer weeks are ticking by quickly, and my sense of urgency to get a little farther along on my to-do list has not gone away.

Thankfully, all the big furniture projects are done, and what remains is mainly some sewing projects, most of which should go quickly. I'd still like to make curtains, fitted mattress sheets, the changing pad covers, etc. I haven't had any luck finding an upholstered chair that rocks. After listening to me describe what I want to several furniture salesmen, Scott is convinced that what I want doesn't exist and that I would have to have something custom-made. I might have to settle for a glider - we'll see.

As far as how the summer's treating me, everyone assumes the heat we've had over the last week or so is making me miserable, but it really hasn't. But they all have to ask, anyway. I've always liked the heat, and that is still working in my favor, especially since Wyoming has such a dry heat. The air conditioner still doesn't work all that great in my car, and we don't have any cooling system in the house, but that's fine by me. I'm enjoying the warm weather while it's here - last winter was so bitterly cold for so long, and I haven't forgotten.

During my last visit to the baby doctor she estimated the baby at above weight for its age - which makes sense, since I was 10 pounds, 12 ounces and Scott was 10 pounds. This doesn't bode well for a small baby for me! So much for low birth weight genetics...

The baby is very squirmy! And sometimes when Scott touches my belly it will react with a kick. I've also noticed that it will startle when I make a loud noise, like with a stack of bowls in the kitchen. And hiccups. A lot of hiccups these days.

We have also chosen a pediatrician, Dr. Greene, who has practiced in Casper for 32 years. I figured with a record like that he must do ok. I went and met with him last week, and am confident that he will be a good doctor for the baby.

Scott and I are still making our way through the classes at the hospital, with one tonight and then one more next week, when we'll take a tour of the labor and delivery floor, as well as the mother/baby unit on the floor below. It sounds like almost all new moms get to have their babies room in with them these days while everyone recovers from delivery, which I like.

I've negotiated the ins and outs of a baby registry at Target, but I'm not sure how successfully. :-) Had it been kitchen things I was registering for, it would have been a piece of cake, but when one knows very little about what you're buying for, it does make it a challenge. With a few 'suggestion' lists in hand, I worked my way through and hopefully have most of the basics covered. But I'm sure there are obvious things I missed. To date, I have two showers planned for after the baby comes, because they want to know whether to purchase for a boy or girl. One is the Alcova women, whose families Scott grew up with, and the other is one the office girls here at the Roundup are hosting.

I've made good progress planning out the paper for Saige while I'm away in September, and will have her prepared to take over by the end of state fair week, which ends Aug. 19, though I plan to keep working right up until the end.

So that's the latest - still not a whole lot to report, just making our way through the last weeks. As we get closer to delivery, I'm sure that Scott will not let me get too far from town, and I've already received lectures on how I shouldn't let my phone run dead in case I need to get a hold of him. I'm bad about not recharging. :-)

Project: Baby Quilts

Yes, I have finally gotten a start on my baby sewing projects! Last night I finished cutting out the top pieces of fabric for Baby Martinez's quilt, and started sewing them together. I would have taken a photo this morning, but I left my little camera's battery charging at the office overnight.

However, I realized that I never posted the final photos of Baby Ehlers's quilt, whom we now know is little miss Sophia Ruth. :-)

It all started with this stack of fabric on my sewing table...

And lots of help from Foxy...

And Lucy...

And, of course, Link, who felt the need to be in the closet shelving in this photo.

This is called a 'log cabin' pattern, and one that I found in a Martha Stewart magazine last winter. I like it because it's easy, and doesn't have multiple small pieces. I'm not that confident in my quilting accuracy, at least not yet. I'd like to try a more complicated one at some point...

Sewing the strips together...

Here the photo is almost all completely sewn together.

And all done with the top! Surprisingly, sewing the top together has been the easiest part of both of the quilts I've made so far. Getting the top, lining and bottom to all come together smoothly and evenly without bumps or shifts has been the worst part.

I chose to use the darker pink fabric for the binding.

Half of the binding is machine-sewn, while the other half, to finish it off nice and pretty, is attached by hand. At this stage I had machine-sewn the binding all the way around.

And after a couple winter evenings of hand-stitching, here it is, all done!

I'm pretty happy with the final product. I was concerned about the pinks clashing, but I've come to discover the whole point of a quilt is to not be perfectly coordinated, and both of them have turned out just fine.

Here is the previous one I made for Baby Seehusen, whom we now know is Nora Beth:

Yes, this is the one of which I forgot to take a photo of the final product before boxing it up and sending it off to Iowa.

I'll upload some photos of Baby Martinez's quilt in the days to come... hopefully I'll also get those baby room photos taken that I promised several days ago. :-)

Tuesday, July 19

Summer Work

Since I've been doing lots of random things lately, working off several to-do lists, I figured I'd share lots of random photos with you today. :-)

First and foremost, let's point out that top cow dog in the photo above. :-) That's Lucy working cows last Saturday morning when we were up at the ranch to brand late calves and turn our bulls out. Lucy continues to be a good hand to have around, and she's very eager to do her work. She would work cows all day long every day if she had the chance.

We got up to the ranch about 5:30, but still didn't get too early of a start. It's been pretty hot lately, so it would have been nice to have been an hour ahead of where we were.

Scott, Jamie and I gathered the cows off the meadow, which is a small pasture close to the house, so it didn't take too long.

When we got down in the bottom Trav and Bob joined us, also.

The grass in the meadow is still very lush and green and pretty.

And here we are about to the corrals, which are on the right edge of the photo.

And here is an accidental shot, but one that shows how much my belly sticks out now - to the saddle horn.

I've been riding Deets this summer, since my mares are on nursery duty. Most times people don't like to ride him because he's so tall and almost impossible to mount without a step, but I figure I need a step for any horse these days, so I might as well ride him. And once I'm on, I'm on, and everyone else has to open the gates. :-) This photo marks 33 weeks of pregnancy.

Once we gathered we had six calves to brand and a few to dehorn before turning the cows back out. Bob grilled steaks for lunch, then Scott and I headed back to town for a nap before heading to the county fair's rodeo that evening.

Sunday morning I woke up early and made my favorite pancakes - the whole wheat ones with no sugar and the beaten egg whites that give them fluff. They're delicious. The recipe is for blueberry, but this time I made them 'mixed berry' because I had partial bags of blueberries and raspberries in the freezer. The bummer about frozen blueberries is that they turn the whole batter blue/green, and then your husband is suspicious. :-) I have yet to make them with chocolate chips, but I'm sure that would only take them up another notch. Someday I might remember to post the recipe here - I have it on a card in my recipe box.

Since it's been hot during the day, Scott and I did some yardwork before Sunday heated up, and then took it easy the rest of the day. I edited a group of photos, and we watched a new show on Netflix instant called "American Pickers," which is actually a couple of guys from eastern Iowa who travel the region, sifting through people's barns and sheds, looking for good junk. I also got started on the log cabin-patterned quilt for our baby, of which I've already made two for the new babies of college friends earlier this year.

This was last night's project - waxing Scott's black truck.

Isn't it pretty? We really should have taken before and after photos, because for some reason our vehicles are covered with tree sap this summer, and it was pretty dull and awful before. Our theory is that the cottonwood trees drip the sap with the high heat - last summer we didn't get nearly so hot for so long, so it didn't happen to the vehicles before.

Now the question is - when will it be the poor white truck's turn? Perhaps next week, as the rest of this week and the weekend are pretty scheduled already, with another baby class, a wedding in Meeteetse, etc.

Scott and the pups take a break with some sun tea after waxing the truck. We've been making lots of sun tea this summer, and it sure is delicious on the warm summer evenings. Notice how green the lawn is, though! I've been working hard to keep it deeply watered, and it's doing pretty well through the dry heat and scorching sunshine.

And I'm not complaining about the heat, because I know we've got about another month of summer before the temperatures will cool and we'll trend quickly toward winter again. I'll take all the 90s I can get!

Saturday, July 16

Nine days?

Has it really been that long since I've posted?

As you probably assumed, things are still keeping pretty busy around here, with looking after the paper, preparing for baby and everything else that tends to come up in the normal progression of life.

In the last nine days I've been out of the office to Sheridan and Buffalo, gone branding out at Trav's west of Casper, attended a couple more baby classes at the hospital, put the finishing touches on the Roundup's State Fair Edition and finished waxing and putting the final touches on the baby furniture, which is all moved down to the baby room, as of last night! I really like how it's coming together.

This is a little taste of what we were up to this evening, following a morning of some cow work at the ranch, like branding several late calves and turning our bulls out. Tonight we went to the short go - or final performance - of the Central Wyoming Fair Rodeo. It was a gorgeous night to be out and about.

I promise I will take some baby room pictures tomorrow! Now that the major furniture work is done, it's time to start sewing...

Thursday, July 7

Priorities: To Sleep or to Clean?

As usual, things are very busy in my part of the world, between looking after my responsibilities at the Roundup, preparing for the baby (only eight weeks to go!) and all the other day-to-day activities that I used to have plenty of time for...

The above photo was taken while we were on the late-June tour of the Fieldgrove Ranch near Buffalo. Liz of the Wyoming Stock Growers was kind enough to send it to me yesterday, and it shows my baby bump as of week 30 of pregnancy... since then I've gotten a little bigger, but I'm still not all that huge.

Since crossing the 'two months left' point, I've tried to kick it into gear with getting projects done, but it's still slow going. Because I've had baby classes the last two evenings this week, I still haven't had time to put the wax on the furniture that's outside. I'm looking forward to the point when we can move it downstairs, and I can actually start putting the baby room together. Right now it's still pretty much in disarray.

Yesterday I did make it to the fabric store here in town to make my selections before the 50 percent off sale came to an end. I chose these six fabrics, and have plenty of yards, so this should take care of whatever I dream up - or have time - to sew. I'd for sure like to do a couple fitted crib sheets, curtains, changing pad covers, a cushion for a small rocking chair that my mother-in-law gave me, some burp cloths and maybe a few other things if I get to the end of that list...

This week at the Roundup, in addition to having a short week because of the holiday on Monday, we're working on our State Fair Edition. So far, so good, as I have good help and everything is coming together nicely.

So, with my never-ending to-do list on my mind, I sat on the couch this morning eating my cereal after Scott left for work at 5:45, debating whether I'd get some more sleep or clean on the house. The to-do list won out, and I ended up sweeping and scrubbing the kitchen floor, basement stairs and basement floor before coming to work. I figure, that way, tonight I can go to work on the furniture projects and not worry about cleaning. So here I sit, a little sleepy, but working on getting the regular weekly and special edition articles done today. Wish me luck!