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Costumes 2016

Happy costume day!!  Our family loves coming up with elaborate group costumes each year, and this year was no exception! Say hello to the cast of Tangled!

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Our almost-five-year-old daughter is really into Rapunzel right now, and our almost-two-and-a-half-year-old son really loves the movie, as well.  So it seemed only natural to choose to “play” characters from the movie for our costumes!  It’s pretty obvious that V is Rapunzel! B is dressed as Pascal, Rapunzel’s best friend and pet chameleon.  Husband is Flynn Rider, and I am dressed as Maxiumus, the royal guard horse.  (I didn’t want to play a kidnapping, conniving, selfish and lying old woman, even if her dress was prettier!)

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Starting at the end of this week, and going through next week, I’ll have posts featuring each of our individual costumes, with all the details about how we made them.  Stay tuned!

Rapunzel
Maximus
Pascal
Flynn Rider

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My eventual plan for my Disney World scrapbook album is to highlight our family’s favorite moments with traditional 12″x12″ scrapbook pages telling their stories.  I have a big stack of photos that I printed from our trip to Disney World, but I’ve used a number of them for the mini-albums I made for my son and daughter to highlight their special memories. That means the photos for some of our special stories need to be reprinted, so I’m working on the stories that haven’t been highlighted in my kids’ albums.  I’m not scrapbooking the stories in chronological order, but in the final album, the stories will be as close to chronological as possible.  I’ll have pocket pages telling the smaller stories interspersing the 12″x12″ layouts.

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Even with my big stack of photos, I was still having trouble figuring out what to work on next.  I asked my husband what some of his favorite memories were, and he mentioned meeting Chewbacca– perfect!  That was the next story to work on.  This is the second layout I’ve made for my 2016 Disney album!

I took Shimelle’s weekly challenge– to use her layout for inspiration.  If you click through to see her layout, you’ll see that I actually followed the obvious features of her layout pretty closely– except for the fact that I arranged my photos vertically rather than horizontally.  I chose to change this to make sure that the background paper could still shine through.

Funny thing– I loved every single paper in the Starshine collection… except this moon-over-a-skyline one.  Not that I disliked the image, because it’s very pretty!  but because I didn’t have any idea how I would ever use such a paper in my own scrapbooking.  But my mind has completely changed!  I think it is absolutely perfect for this layout.

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I loved the idea of glassine envelopes enclosing tags with the journaling (from Shimelle’s page).  Since I didn’t have individual envelopes, I cut down a glassine bag I’d received in a scrapbook kit and die-cut shipping-style tags with my Silhouette to slip inside.

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I used the tear strips from the paper pad (sheets I’ve already used) and  strips from the cut-apart sheet, then added strips of washi tape for even more layers above and below the photos.  To emphasize the translucency and texture of the glassine bag, I added some unevenly pleated tissue paper, as well.

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The title ended up being the hardest part of the layout for me.  I knew what I wanted it to say, but I had some trouble figuring out which alphas to use and how to make them visible.  In the end, part of the title is on the paper strip layers over the glassine bag, and the main word (“Wookiee”) is in glitter alphas on the dark blue background so that it would stand out.

 

 

Supplies:
patterned paper: Shimelle Starshine 12″x12″ paper pad
embellishments: Shimelle Starshine ephemera, Studio Calico wood veneer stars, Studio Calico wood veneer cameras, The Paper Studio enamel dots, Bella Blvd washi tape, The Paper Studio washi tape, tags cut with Silhouette SD
alphas: Shimelle Collection Fitzgerald Thickers teal glitter foam, Jillibean Soup Blossom Soup, Glitz Designs Uncharted Waters aqua stripe teeny alphas
other: glassine bag, tissue paper, Scotch ATG, Therm-O-Web foam adhesive, Project Life 0.3 black journaling pen

 

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This is another layout that I started planning while I was pregnant with my daughter.  In the months/weeks before we had her, I knew that I needed to take notes about many of the things that we’d done “before kids” so that they wouldn’t be forgotten.  I went so far as to write out journaling and sketch out layouts (including planning photo sizes and printing them!) for the stories I wanted to add to my albums.  I didn’t know when I was going to get back to those stories to scrapbook them “properly.”

In 2011, my husband attended a collaboration meeting for the research project to which he contributed as a postdoc, and he went by himself.  Ever the scrapbook-y wife, I requested that he take photos for me!  He complied, and did even better!  He saved me not one, but two city maps, as well as his nametag and lanyard.  When he got home and told me about the things he’d done while in TX, I took notes on one copy of the map.

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my original plan for the Austin, TX layout, as “designed” on June 15, 2011.

Originally, I planned to use the whole map in a landscape orientation.  When I was planning the page, I even took a photo to show how I intended everything to look!  But when I pulled out these photos for this week’s challenge at Shimelle’s blog, I realized that it would drive me crazy to have the map on its side.

I hemmed and hawed, and finally chopped off a portion of the map so that it would be oriented vertically on the page.  I pulled out a patterned paper pad of Pink Paislee paper (“Pen Pals”) that I’d purchased more recently (I don’t buy that many scrapbook supplies! This is something that hopefully will change in the near future) on a great sale because I loved the color palette and patterns but that I’d never yet used in my scrapbook projects.  This is my “new” product.  I combined it with embellishments that seem to have been in my stash forever (the little bat sticker from a Little Yellow Bicycle Halloween collection; round epoxy stickers from a MAMBI scrapbook kit given to me years ago; the brads that I used as map markers, which were Christmassy, but I have no idea where they are from; and a very old sheet of dark red patterned paper to mat the map) to satisfy the “old” product criterion.

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please note that in “real life”, the background patterned paper is nice and straight.  The map *is* tilted on an angle, and so is the bottom dark blue chevron strip and the red/pink patterned layer.  I have to work on my skills at photographing 2-page layouts from above.  It’s tricky!

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This was an interesting challenge for me, since to many people, everything in my stash is probably “old!” Haha.

In order to add the journaling, I cornered Husband and had him tell me everything he remembered.  I think I must have intended to make this page sooner or later, because I hadn’t written anything down in 2011.  Thankfully Husband has a good memory (and was able to look a few things up), and so I basically took dictation of what he told me!  The page is in my handwriting, but it is his words.  The journaling card is from the Jade edition Project Life kit, and the labels by each set of photos are modified from a Silhouette store label set I’ve had forever (and love).

When I finished the layout and showed him, Husband admired it, but I thought the highest praise was when he said to me: “I’m touched that you scrapbook memories that aren’t even your own!”

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Squid

This handsome fellow was a surprise Christmas gift for Husband.

Stuffed Squid made from IkatBag Menagerie pattern

 

His name is Qubit, and he is a squid.  Or SQUID, if you are a physics-y kind of person.  😉

Indulge me while I share some more beauty shots.

Stuffed Squid made from IkatBag Menagerie pattern

Stuffed Squid made from IkatBag Menagerie pattern

Stuffed Squid made from IkatBag Menagerie pattern

Stuffed Squid made from IkatBag Menagerie pattern

Stuffed Squid made from IkatBag Menagerie pattern

I used the simply fantastic Menagerie pattern by LiEr at Ikat Bag to make this handsome sea creature.  He is made from two shades of solid-colored fleece that I bought on an extreme sale (it turned out that when I had to buy a spool of lighter green thread for matching topstitching on the eyelids, I spent more on it than the fleece!).

He came together so quickly!  I absolutely loved using the pattern.  Every step was well-explained, and the amount of information provided is fabulous.  I am really looking forward to the chance to make more animal variations.  I highly recommend this pattern to anyone who wants more whimsical animals in their life.

Qubit is now at Husband’s office, overseeing his work there, and providing some squidsperation.  I hope he gives Husband a laugh or smile whenever he sees him!

 

P.S. Happy birthday today, Husband!  I love you.

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I have to admit, I was just plain excited to make a big, floofy queen gown for myself for our family costume.  I am playing the part of Queen Miranda, Sofia the First’s mother.  (And it was really fun to get to wear my bridal crinoline again with this gown!)

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The dress is sewn from brocade and gold costume satin using Simplicity 1728.  It truly took three yards of boning to structure the bodice!!  In sewing the gown, I learned how to insert a lapped zipper for the skirt (THIS tutorial is fantastic!) and a separating zipper for the bodice.

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A little backstory about the fabric.  The pattern calls for a whopping 8 1/4 yards of 45″ width fabric for the entire gown (assuming a one-way design/nap).  I really didn’t want to have to purchase that much, so after seeing the brocade (45″ wide) in the store, I came home and set about laying out the pattern in the most fabric-efficient way possible–disregarding any directional qualities to the fabric.  I also shortened the skirt length by 3″ on all of the pattern pieces.  I knew that I wanted to do a contrast panel in the front of the bodice and the skirt, so I was also calculating the yardage necessary for the second fabric as well.  I had everything laid out and I wrote down my numbers (4 7/8 yards of the main fabric plus 1 1/3 yards each of the main fabric and the contrast fabric to do the skirt insert) and got myself back to the store.  I made a beeline for the brocades, and I discovered that in the few days since I’d been there to do “research,” quite a bit of the fabric I’d wanted had been purchased.  Uh oh.  When I got to the cutting counter, there was exactly 4 7/8 yards left on the bolt! It was amazing–exactly the number I’d written down for myself.  I had to change my plans for the front insertion, but it turned out to be just fine.  I just replaced the entire front panel of the skirt with the contrast fabric–much easier, and it looks just as nice (or nicer) than my other plans.

I think this dress represents the most efficient use of yardage I’ve ever accomplished.  The scraps are tiny– and I even pieced the skirt’s waistband so that I could fit everything onto my 4.875 yards.

The front gold panel is interlined with white cotton for stability (costume satin is pretty flimsy), and the whole bodice (not the sleeves) is lined with that same white cotton– more upcycled bed sheet!  I used yellow extra-wide bias tape from my stash to finish the bottom edge of the bodice.

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Husband strung beads on wire and attached them onto an old headband of mine to create my crown.  I wish I had a closer photo of it!  It is really pretty.

Speaking of Husband– he, of course, was in costume, too!  We are re-using Husband’s Mr. Darcy costume and adding his old FFA and speech medals from high school to transform him into King Roland.

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Thank you for indulging me and looking at three separate spotlight posts about our costumes!  I’m very proud of the work that I did for them.  And as an extra bonus, I was so surprised and honored to be chosen as the winner of the 2015 BurdaStyle Costume Contest!  Thank you, BurdaStyle!

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We made a Prince James costume for B (James is Sofia’s brother on the Disney Junior show “Sofia the First”).

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I made the jacket by modifying this lovely free jacket pattern from House of Estrela to make it less feminine and more like James’ suit coat.  First, I widened the front panels to create a double-breasted effect.  Next, I enlarged the collar by making it wider (and a tad longer) and exaggerating the points a bit more.  Finally, I added rectangular tails with a small pleat.  I was really impressed with the quality of this free pattern!
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The only thing I bought for B’s costume was the buttons!! They are just for show: there are three snaps to close the coat in the front.  The outer fabric is an upholstery-weight fabric I had in my stash (thanks, Mom!), and I lined the coat with the leftover lining from my own red coat that I made this summer.  Yes, my 16-month old son has a leopard-print lining in his prince jacket.  Ha!

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To give a more princely look, B needed a little medal, so Husband hunted up some of his old awards.  B is wearing a band medal that Husband received in high school!

Husband was an awesome help on this costume as well.  Since we were pretty limited on the amount of time that we had to actually make the costumes (and I was busy keeping up with the PhD ornaments at the same time!), Husband willingly did any task he could so that I could focus on the sewing.  In fact, while I was working on some other aspect, he laid out the jacket lining pieces and cut them out for me.  I’m telling you, I just need to get him to sit down at that sewing machine….

I used an old pair of his khaki pants and hemmed them shorter to encase elastic and create a breeches effect.

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Now, we need to find more occasions for B to wear this little jacket!!

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Our family costume this year was inspired by the fact that we are going to Disney World in January.  V LOVES the princesses, and I have this grand plan to live vicariously through V and dress her in a different princess dress each day that we are there (we already knew I was crazy, so let’s just leave it at that!). As I discussed with Husband how much work this would be, we developed the plan to overlap Halloween with the first princess dress.   I am glad that I started so early, because this dress took almost all of my free time in September, plus more time in October to finish the details.  It turns out that there are a LOT of details on Sofia’s dress!

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I began with Butterick 6113.  Let me tell you, it is a terrible pattern.  I immediately started modifying it.  In the end, I had essentially re-engineered the entire dress, with help from Husband.  I replaced the bodice entirely with the bodice from Simplicity 1507, and the petal-shaped overskirt and peplum were shaped by Husband (I got so frustrated, I had to call for reinforcements!   He’s pretty awesome, even though he won’t touch the sewing machine himself).

The outer dress is made from violet polyester glitter satin (JoAnn’s Casa Collection), and I used white cotton (upcycled from a bed sheet) for the lining and underskirt.  There are yards of white pom-pom trim stitched onto the skirt edges, and I sewed a darker violet grosgrain ribbon parallel to the hem of the underskirt.  Husband painstakingly traced the shapes for Sofia’s distinctive petals-in-circle emblem, cutting them out of white cotton and fusing them with double-sided fuseable webbing onto each petal of the overskirt.

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I used a satin-stitch to “embroider” the loop design on the bodice:

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Of course, Sofia needs her Amulet of Avalor.  Husband took a lot of time to choose just the right cubic zirconia pendant and amethyst beads at the craft store, and he added pearl beads that we had at home to string the necklace.

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At the very last minute (literally an hour before we went to the pumpkin patch, while V was napping), I whipped up a crinoline to go under her princess skirt to give it more fullness…but I might write more about that in a later post.

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Geeky birthday cake

For Husband’s birthday, I made him a dark chocolate cake with orange-flavored buttercream.  This time I made the buttercream recipe that was passed along to me from a friend (thank you, Jen!!) and was exactly the style of buttercream that I was hoping for when I made my daughter’s birthday cake (and that frosting wasn’t).  This buttercream is delicious and frothy and white and sugary and has a lovely satisfying crunchy crust.  And with the orange flavoring, it was divine.

I did not, however, do nearly as good of a job on the decoration of the cake.  ::sigh:: I am such a perfectionist, and when I envision something in my head, it kind of stings when it doesn’t come out right in reality.  I have a LOT to learn when it comes to cake decorating, so the chances are pretty good that my cakes are going to look very amateurish…  And that was definitely the case this time.  Not only did I have a more basic fail in the baking of the cake (expired baking powder!  I should have known better!!!), but the decorating leaves a lot to be desired.  There are no do-overs with white frosting and bright green piping!

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But I’m showing it here because 1) I want to make it perfectly clear that my projects do not come out well every time! and 2) the idea was fun.  It was Husband’s idea, really, to have the gaming dice on the top of the cake to add to his birthday year.

 

I did a lot of practice drawings to try to get the dice just right.

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Multi-sided dice are hard to draw!  I practiced a ton on scraps of paper, but even so, they came out a bit wonky.  I have a new level of appreciation for the precise piping that professional decorators do on their cakes!  I just cut the barest tip off of the corner of the zip-top bag I used to pipe the words and drawings.  I also played with one of the other fancy tips that came in the package I purchased when I did my daughter’s cake to do the border.

Practice makes perfect, right?  I’ll just have to make a lot more cakes! 😉

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One of our favorite family projects is our costumes each year.  As fall progresses, we inevitably begin discussing what our family costume could be.  This year, we had our idea pretty early, but without a real reason to put the costume together, we had sadly decided to just let it go this year.  With a 4-month old and an almost-3-year-old, our time was too valuable to spend on a costume that we’d never really wear anywhere.

But that all changed when an invitation to a Halloween party arrived from our friends!  We had about a week and a half to put together our costume, and we forged full-speed ahead!

Introducing: Lego Movie family!

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We decided to be the “real-life” versions of the characters (rather than make ourselves into minifigs/blocks).  P.S.  Thanks, Amanda, for your help taking photos!

I absolutely love this annual project that Husband and I do together (in the future, I’m looking forward to our kids’ increasing involvement!).  I really feel like we work so well together for our costumes; it is a true collaboration, and we have so much fun!

Husband was Emmet, of course.

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We made a construction vest for him out of orange felt and reflective duct tape (with drawn-on pocket and pen, just like Emmet’s vest!).  Husband also made an ID tag for himself.

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I was Wyldstyle.

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I found an image of the graffiti-style artwork on her jacket by doing a search online, and we turned it into a Silhouette cut file so that we could make a freezer-paper stencil.  Husband did a fantastic job tweaking the stencil to fit properly on my jacket and lining up the two colors!

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The part of the costume I was most looking forward to was adding color to my hair!  Unfortunately the inexpensive “hair mascara” we found wasn’t quite as vibrant as we’d hoped, but it did an okay job.  Now I think we’re going to have to find more costumes with colored hair for me! 😉  I’m considering just putting colored streaks in my hair from time to time…just for the fun of it!

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Our daughter was Princess Unikitty.

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The most important part, of course, was a headband with ears and a unicorn horn.  We created the horn based on some photos of cute unicorn horns on Etsy, and made the ears with stitched triangles of pink felt.  The horn is attached to the headband by a “strap” of felt sewn into its base, and the ears attach with loops of elastic.  It’s a bonus that the horn and ears are removeable; it just worked out that it was the most effective way to attach them.

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I also made a tail.  I spend hours (literally) nursing my son, so I have a lot of time to visualize these sorts of things in my head, and I was pretty excited that my idea to use a gusset to give it a squared-off shape worked the first time!  The waist straps are based off of a tutorial for adorable dinosaur/dragon tails that I have pinned (I really, really want to make some more tails now! ;-))  I added the pink tutu at the last minute because I am convinced that if Unikitty were a human girl, she would most definitely have a tutu.  Plus it made V’s outfit more “costumey.”

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What had clinched the idea for this particular family costume was that we had a hat for our little boy– it was Husband’s when he was a baby, and it was absolutely perfect for Benny the Spaceman!

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We found a blue onesie at Hobby Lobby and purchased some blue pants elsewhere.  I did another search online for the Lego Space logo and turned it into a cut file for my Silhouette.  We stenciled a solid white layer first, then added the yellow and red once it was dry.

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How about some action shots?

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Spaceship, spaceship, SPACESHIP!!!!!

Spaceship, spaceship, SPACESHIP!!!!!

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Turns out, having a baby takes a lot of time!  Add in a smart and energetic toddler/preschooler, and things like writing blog posts take a back-seat role for a while 🙂

I’m popping in today to share part one of a few wrap-up posts about the garden this past summer.  I took photos throughout the summer, but it proved to be too hard for me to get them edited and posted on the blog in anything close to real-time.  So I’ll share some now, with some things I learned and want to remember as I plan my future gardens.

The three photos below show what my garden plot looked like in mid-July.  On this particular day, I harvested one zucchini– the very first piece of produce from this year’s garden!

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cucumber, pepper, zucchini

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Let’s talk about the zucchini first, shall we?

I had two varieties in my garden, a Lake Valley seed company variety and a Burpee seed company variety.  I got a grand total of one small zucchini (a strangely-shaped 1/2 pound one) from the Burpee plant, which surprised me.  The Lake Valley plant grew to a monstrous size and gave us 10 fruits!  Yum.  We grilled some, we made fritters, and of course we made zucchini bread!  The plant got quite unwieldy by the end of the summer, and started breaking when we harvested.  However, this is the first summer where my zucchini harvest even approached the “feed your neighborhood” quantity touted on the packet!

Cucumber

The cucumbers were underwhelming this summer.  After last year’s amazing yield, I was super-excited for cucumbers to come out my ears!  But they seemed to get started late, and the vines never got very full.  In fact, I got half the number of fruits off of approximately twice the garden “real-estate.”

Carmen pepper

our first carmen pepper

Also in the “disappointment” category are the peppers.  I didn’t expect much from my from-seed-seedlings, which was good: they died almost immediately (or got trampled??).  But I had high hopes for the store-bought plant.  We ended up getting two red peppers from it.

The tomatoes, on the other hand, were plentiful!

Indigo Rose tomato

Indigo Rose tomato

The Indigo Rose tomatoes (purchased plants) were beautiful to look at.  The flavor wasn’t anything spectacular, though, so I don’t think we will get them again.

Bonnie Grape tomato

We absolutely loved the Bonnie Grape (purchased plants) tomatoes.  They yielded like crazy, and we could hardly keep up with them.  The flavor was fantastic and they were perfect for salads.  Usually I am loathe to cook with delicious home-grown tomatoes like this, but we had so many that I actually tried them in a soup recipe that called for cherry-type tomatoes!

We got only a few tomatoes from the plants I started from seed (Best Boy and Fourth of July varieties).  In comparing them to the other varieties, though, we did decide that we liked the fleshiness of the Best Boy fruits, especially for things like sandwiches.  The flavor of the Fourth of July tomatoes was much better than the flavor of the Indigo Rose fruits.

Well, you can tell which half of the herb box is under the overhang...  whoops.

My herbs were a bust.  I don’t think I even used any from this box!!  How disappointing.  I was good about watering them until the baby was born, and after that, they were dependent on the rain.  As you can see from the photo above, part of the box is shielded by the second floor overhang of our house.  Bummer.  They all dried out and died really quickly.  I’m glad they were freebie seeds or I would be even more sad than I already am.

gorgeous harvest from our garden today

quite a harvest awaited us in the garden when we got home from our trip!

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We got some really beautiful harvests this summer.  The colors were gorgeous, and even though I was picky about the tomatoes’ flavor, I really did enjoy the luxury of home-grown produce.  I am most thankful to Husband, though, because he ended up doing almost all of the work for the garden this summer.  In the first part of the summer, I was so pregnant that I couldn’t even get over the fence easily, and in the second part of the summer, I discovered that if I went outside, especially into the garden, I got eaten alive by mosquitoes.  I got bitten in at least 19 places to collect the tomatoes shown in the photo with the kitchen scale!  Husband seems to be mosquito-resistant, so he graciously harvested for me.

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