Sunday, November 1, 2009

I managed to get the last costume done just moments before I pulled it over Blue's head. She had very specific ideas about what her costume should look like. She had so many requirements, in fact, that I told her that if she was going to be disappointed if her costume didn't look like the one in her head, we should just go to Target and choose one off the shelf so she could know what she was getting and could approve it ahead of time. But she decided that she would take a chance on my rendition of a bat. Ivy just wanted to be a sparkly mermaid.

See how Blue's face is all covered up? She got that idea from a trip to a Red Robin restaurant we went to with my sister and niece in Maryland. The life size Red Robin made a big impression on her and for the last 2 months she has talked about her "all black bat costume with my face covered up like the red robin so no one can see who I am and my hands and feet are all black too."

When we were walking down the street and Blue said "Mom, this is the best costume ever." well, you know that was the best reward I could have asked for. Worth every moment of bat-frustration.

Ivy has had lots of practice holding up the skirts of her princess dresses when she walks, so she did well carrying her tail. I intended for the tail to go in back, but J pointed out that it would look cuter if she wore it in front, and he was right. Once I got over my balkiness, that is.

I am thankful that one of the businesses in town decorated so nicely for my pictures. I only wish by the time we got there the kids had been feeling more cooperative.

And yes, I am completely aware that my children broke every single one of the safety rules invented for Halloween. All black costume, eating candy before we got home, costume that you can trip over, mask that covers your face and hinders vision. Thankfully I got them little LED wrist flashlights for safety. They immediately used them to blind each other.

In other news, my internet vacation is going well. The first day was hard. The second day was easier. It is amazing how many times I have had to stop myself from going to the computer. If nothing else, this exercise is a good reminder about intentional living.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An experiment

I have been in a funk for a couple weeks. I haven't been able to quite put my finger on it,so today I sat down and really thought about it. I have a hypothesis, but I'm not at all certain that it is correct. So an experiment is in order.
Here are the symptoms of my funk:
always in a daze
can't remember things
can't get much done
don't want to get much done
am having a hard time pinning down an actual thought
unable to make a decision
don't really care about much
don't want to engage socially
seems like the world is moving in a swirl around me
can't do a basic math problem in my head
when I read, I only skim and don't really absorb anything

It took me all morning to get a handle on that list. Now, depression is no stranger to me, but my depression, which started post-partum after Blue was born and never left once it made it found a warm comfy home with me, doesn't usually take these forms. My depression is based on social anxiety and a feeling of not being able to handle anything. Plus, I am on medication which has been working well for several years.

I started looking up these symptoms as side effects of the new allergy and asthma medications I am on, and the thing that kept coming up was not any of the medications I am on, but ADD. I don't have a history of ADD, and while that does not discount it completely, there was an article I ran across that was so profoundly close to my truth that I was stunned.

Could the internet be the source of my problems? Certainly, if you are one of my 2 followers (Hi Deb! Hi Marie!) you know that my problems do not stem from too much blogging. But my Google Reader has 254 unread items in it. Last night? It was down to 0. I can't keep up with the blogs. I really can't. I see so many things that I want to do and try, yet all the time I have is frittered away reading more, more, more. My house is a mess, dinner is rarely made, my children run around half naked, my rear end is growing roots into the couch. Okay, so I really am exaggerating, but at the same time, maybe not as much as I wish I was.

It does not negate the fact that I suffer from depression and anxiety, or that I am a creative type who lacks organization skills, or that I am essentially not a very good housewife (though I am a good mother and wife), but it just might have tipped the scales.

So here's what I am going to do. For one week, I am not going to look at my reader. I am not going to troll blogs. I am not going to follow links. I am not going to partake of the internet.


I'm not sure this will be easy. I used to think of blogs as my chill-time. At night, after a long day when the kids are in bed. Or at the witching hour when I'd had enough and I resorted to a princess movie for the kids and a glass of wine and some internet for me. Zone out time.

Then it was with a cup of coffee in the morning to read the news, since we don't get television. Then it was just for a few little breaks here and there because I am always running around and I just need a minute to myself. And so maybe I really am addicted to the internet? We shall see.

Now, there are exceptions, of course. What I really want to avoid is zoning out in other peoples creativity, not cut myself off from my own. I want to avoid my antisocial behavior, not distance myself from far away friends. So I will still read my e-mail, and I will still... blog. Yup. I must be the only person in blogland who thinks that I need to spend a little more time with my blog. But it doesn't have to be my blog. It could be a notebook or journal. It just has to be something I am making as opposed to watching what other people are making.

I didn't mean for this to happen, it just snow- balled. There is so much prettiness on the internet and I love it. I do. But I need a break. If this doesn't work, and my brain doesn't snap back to its normal self, then I'll  have to try something else.

And now, there is a little girl who is calling my name with some very fancy silky crayons in her hand. I think I'll go discover what she has to show me. I'll check in with you soon, though, and let you know how things are going.

Oh, and all these pictures are mine. Just random pictures I like.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Roadside find

It isn't unusual for me to find things along the road. In fact, it happens almost daily sometimes. And then there's the 'Free Store' at the dump that I frequent. Frequent so often that I hope no one ever reviews the security tapes of the store. It's kind of embarassing. But - how are you going to get the good stuff if you aren't there at the right time? Well,  last Saturday Jason was working at home and Blue had her one-on-one working with her, so Ivy and I were driving around scavenging to get out of the way. We'd had a pretty successful day. I got a nice wooden chair with an upholstered cushion, and a funny little circular picture with a convex glass and spokes coming out of it. And then. On the side of the road. My heart skipped a beat, seriously. I thought I must be mistaken. We turned around and drove back. Yes. A kiln. A Kiln! Who loves a KILN on the side of the road? And not a crapped up kiln that would need to be repurposed, either.

One of the things I love about my husband is his agreeableness to my antics. And, of course, it is reciprocal. I called him and he immediately drove over. He had said he would bring my mother's car with the trailer, but - oops - neither she nor her husband was home. So he came in his Civic anyway. And we decided that we would just put the kiln in my car. And that is just what we did.

The kiln, while heavy as the dickens, was not as heavy as either the claw foot tub or the Vermont Castings woodstove. It was close, though, as you can see. Not an extra inch in any direction. Have I mentioned I love my car, too? It's a Mazda 5. Drives like a car, doors slide open like a van, seats 6 with the rear seats up, holds a kiln with the rear seats down.

No, I don't have any affiliation with Mazda. (See? I think that's funny. Like I'm a blogger that Mazda would pay, or donate merchandise to.)

And here's something else I'm working on. Can you say Eeew? I did pay for this. It was a dollar and I hemmed and hawed about it. I think it's coming along nicely, though.

Have you ever read Centsational Girl? I heart Centsational Girl. Our styles couldn't be more different, but she inspires me so. It was on her advice (well, not personally, but general advice) I bought my first can of Rustoleum Heirloom White. I seriously felt like I was an Heirloom White virgin. I was almost embarrassed to buy it at the store. Like I'd be stopped by the style police and told I wasn't part of that group who could buy it. And in all honesty? I went to pay and the teenage boy who was at the register said 'Wow, that's a nice color." It makes me sad to see a teenage boy knows more about color than I do. No one had to tell him it was a nice color. He just knew.

Later, I will show you how this is coming along.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Be still, my queen of hearts.

Recently I found Beth's blog The Stories of A to Z. She is a crafty mom, and though she has boys, our kids have some striking similarities which makes me feel like we are at least on the same planet. For the record, I don't always feel that way with other parents.

Beth, in turn, led me to Kathleen's blog Grosgrain. Kathleen is also crafty, and she has two adorable little girls. I am eager to read more of her blog because she is WAY more crafty than me. In fact, it might not be doing her justice to call her 'crafty'. The woman is obviously a genius. But I came to a screeching halt at the end of her post because I had to enter her giveaway. Not just any giveaway, but the most perfect giveaway ever. The Queen of Hearts and Alice in Wonderland Costume Set GIVEAWAY!!!!

These costumes are to die for. Can you believe she didn't use any patterns? Oh, yeah, the bodice of Alice's dress she had a pattern for. That's like me saying I had a pattern for a buttonhole. Sheer genius, people. And no, she didn't say the one who gushes most wins the prize.

Blue has had a thing about cards lately. She and Jason started with one card poker. Then they moved on to two card poker. Now they're up to five cards which speeds things up since when they sit down to play, they have to play until the deck is gone. Solitaire? Yup. Clock? Yup. She asked me to teach her to play Spider the other day. I didn't even know there was a game called Spider. She was happy enough to play Go Fish with me (though I had to teach her - what kid plays poker before Go Fish). But the point here is, Blue loves cards. In fact, if you give her the chance, she will tell you all about her favorite card. Yeah. Her favorite card. Ever met a kid with Asperger's*? She will tell you till all about her favorite card. Again. And again. Her favorite card is the Ace of Spades. She hides it on the bottom of the deck so she can always have it for herself. I caught her sleeping with it one night. The kid loves the Ace of Spades. But then, I don't think she realized that she could be a card. And a tempermental card at that! How can this have escaped me? She will be absolutely thrilled when I tell her. Even if she doesn't win the costume, this is an 'in' to Alice in Wonderland. I can get out the book, we can read it together, and there will be a compelling reason for her to listen. Ivy and I have been reading a short version of Alice for some time, but Ivy is a kid who sits for books. Blue, not so much. Not unless it has good pictures anyway.

So go take a look-see over at Grosgrain. I don't think you will be disappointed. In fact, I'm headed over there myself right now. See you there.

* We're not actually sure of Blue's diagnosis. It is a difficult one to make. At ages 3 & 4 she was followed by a neurologist who gave her a diagnosis of autistic disorder. More recently she has been going through extensive evaluations with occupational and speech therapists as well as a neuropsychologist and a developmental pediatrician. I am not sure they agree with her current diagnosis. So I don't know if she has Asperger's or if she's autistic or if she falls under the broad category of PDD-NOS. She started the evaluations in May and we should hear their conclusions by November or so. In truth? I'm sort of terrified. I just don't know what to expect.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A day to celebrate

If you had asked me yesterday, I would not have told you it was a good thing. But after the intensity of the situation wore off, I realized I felt lighter. More sure of myself. More whole. Can you even imagine, in a weird twist of middle-school fate, I ran into the screaming woman again. On the playground. As I rode up on my bike with my dear friend and her little Peruvian daughter who happens to be Ivy's best friend. Oh, my. As it turns out, my dear friend and the screaming woman know each other. I immediately rode as fast as I could away from there, because I despise confrontation. But as I was riding, I thought "Well, the bully scared me away from the playground, didn't she?" and I rode right back. Unfortunately, my friend thought maybe a formal introduction might help the screaming woman and me get off to a better start. I don't blame her, but I also was not at all interested in talking to the woman. So I said as politely as I possibly could (meaning, I put my fangs away) "I don't really want to talk to you." She then proceeded to bawl me out again. And I won't go into the blow-by-blow, but in the end, she called me closed minded (as if) and I once again told her she was not going to change me. I am still me, I will still be kind, and open, and admire children of all nationalities and cultures. Including caucasian children. Then, having faced the demon (confrontation, that is, I have no illusions that the screaming woman is a demon) I rode away. And it occurred to me this morning that I am glad for that confrontation. I now know that I was not wrong, that she perceived the situation in a completely different way than I did, and that her issue is just that - hers. I have told myself that ad nauseum, but only today do I really feel it in my heart. Thus, thanks to her second berating, which I was somewhat prepared for, I am free of her. But in all honesty? I am still glad we live in different towns. I'm only human.

Now I don't know how much happiness I dare jam into this post, but I'm going to push it a little. My dear friend - we shall just call her D, for dear (as opposed to B who is my best friend? Or T who is my true friend?) - Ahem! Where was I?

D and I are scavengers at heart. Last year I found - on the side of a side road - a wicker set. Chairs. Loveseat. Table, ottomans. I called D as I am not a big fan of wicker. Turns out she been looking for a wicker set going on YEARS. So we stuffed and strapped and slowly bumped all the way to her house with her treasures sticking akimbo out of our cars.

But yesterday it was my turn. Come home to Mama, my pretties!

Can you believe I found these on the side of the road? I have been waiting eons for these. They still have their stickers on the bottom that says Arvin. I think I'm feeling faint. Two of them were originally kind of a Girl Scout green, and one was dark orange. They belonged to a woman named Bertha Colvin. I know because she wrote her name on the underside of each one in permanent marker. It makes me wonder if she brought them to a pot luck or something with her hot dog casserole, maybe? But that idea doesn't quite fly seeing as they weigh about 20 pounds each.

These chairs are definitely staying with me. (As opposed to a lot of other junk I have plans for, which will eventually, hopefully, be exchanged for some green currency.)

These girls have a friend already. I found her on the side of the road as well. Not close enough to the road to be obviously free, but kind of in the brush and nowhere near where someone would like to sit and relax. After debating with myself for a few long moments, I decided she really needed to come home with me.

You can see why, can't you? So in a fit of bravery, I went around back ('cause that's the way we do it in Maine) and found the woman of the house tending her chickens. Okay, maybe that part is made up, but it looks nice in my  memory. She came out of the house and I asked her if she was trying to get rid of the chair. She told me that it had belonged to her mother-in-law and that a few years ago her husband had decided to toss it. Thankfully, she was inspired to save it from its imminent demise by setting it out front with a scarecrow in it. I expressed my (admittedly small) concern that her scarecrow wouldn't have a place to sit this autumn, but she assured me she didn't bother to put one out anymore. So this chair has literally been sitting there waiting for me. It had ivy crawling up it, and it took some serious muscle to wrench the chair from its tendrilled grasp. This lovely creature is also going to stay home with me.

I'm not sure stylistically the chairs all go together, but I'm going to think on it some to see if I can get them to harmonize. I don't like or need things to be matchy-matchy. I would say it is time for me to build a covered porch. Don't you agree? Ha. Don't tell my husband I said that.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Why no crafting?

Well I just couldn't leave that last post at the top. In the light of a new day, I realized that it was not a personal issue. I just happened to be the target of the woman's outrage. She really was in my face and it really was completely unjustified. If she had only looked at me and said "I don't care to talk about it." calmly and politely, I certainly would have respected that and no harm done. So it is reassuring to me that it wasn't actually me. It was whoever happened to ask her about her daughter. Me, probably the next person and the next. This kind of anger doesn't happen all at once.

I was talking with Blue about it last night. Thankfully she was not the one with me in the store. There would have been a LOT more explaining to do if that were the case. But I realized last night that talking with Jason about it hadn't completely eased the pain. I tried knitting, but even that was not soothing to me. And since when is knitting not soothing to me?! It was not until I had written it all down that I felt better. And I thought that was an interesting thing to tell Blue. Her reaction surprised me. She can be so much like her dad sometimes, so cool and detached regarding other people's feelings, that I was shocked when she started crying. The girl has got some serious empathy. And it just goes to prove that Jason was correct in saying she is as logical as him and as emotional as me. The many faces of autism, no? So we talked about when you are feeling bad or sad, the different ways to get that feeling out of you. An important lesson for any kid, but especially Blue, who has such a hard time with managing her emotions. Let's hope I don't forget to have that conversation with Ivy later on.

Now, the real reason for no crafting? Can you honestly believe this mess?

We had company recently and the easiest solution to not having any closets in the house (okay, yes, I do have some new closets under the kneewall, but they are very, very small) is to dump everything in my craft area. Remember how it is supposed to look?

Aaah. Tidiness. So my goal for the morning is to straighten that up. I'll give myself two hours and check back in with you at 10:39  so you can see how things are going. Okay? You'll keep my honest, won't you?

10:39 Update

You didn't really think I would be done in 2 hours, did you? While things are relatively sane around here today, Jason is working on a presentation, so he left to work at my mom's house down the street. So, I got a little distracted.

My kids have both, at different times, been obsessed with this post from Liesl Gibson of  oliver & s (whose patterns I just love). But it was the adoration Ivy showed Poochie, my old dog, that got my rear in gear. We didn't give him an IV or pull out the doctor kit, but we did remove all the intensely disgusting 70s era stuffing, wash him twice is hot water, and just now restuffed him. Next we will be creating new eyes, a new nose, and a new mouth. All of these were ripped off by Blue when she was a little younger and much more destructive. Ivy is determined that we should do that immediately, but my vote goes for watching the new Dora movie from the Redbox. And it's not as though she is putting up a big fight.

Oh, and the office? Well, it's not worse. Give me a couple more hours. Or at least the length of a Dora double header.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

An open letter to the woman who yelled at me in Target:

Dear Lady,

I can try to understand that you do not wish to discuss your daughter's country of origin with a complete stranger. What I cannot understand is how you chose to deal with me when I reached out to you. In this world, people try to find commonalities. Had you cared to, you might have found some with me. You might have heard about my love for the little Peruvian girl who is the daughter of a very dear friend. You might have heard about my sweet African-American niece. You might have found out how proud I am of them, and how much I envy their multicultural lives. But instead, you yelled at me. And after I held up my hands and backed out of the plushie aisle, you chose to chase me and hypothesize about what I might have done if you had approached me and yelled “Is your daughter from Russia?” It did not help that I thought perhaps people stopping me and asking where my daughter got her curls was sort-of the same. In your world, it is not. Obviously, you and I have absolutely no commonalities.

There are many, many unkind people in this world, but I am not one of them. You do not know me, and you did not know what my intentions were. You judged me without even seeing me. I will allow that you do not know how sensitive I am. But I am sensitive. Why then, even when I pointed out to you that there were tears creeping out of my eyes, did you not stop? That, lady, is unkind. You took my kindness and slashed it with your harsh words. You sent me a small way back into my shell. I am thankful that I finally got your ear and you stalked away in disgust when I told you that you would not change me. And you won't. I will continue to be kind, and open, and admit what hurts me. I will be friendly to and admiring of whichever child I want. I hope that people like me will continue to be kind to your child so she does not inherit the chip you have on your shoulder. Because that kind of chip is not genetic. It does not course through your blood or reside in your DNA. It is inherited through years of exposure. It makes me equally sad that you are so defensive, and she will see you being angry and insulted by her blatant heritage.

And lastly, I want to tell you that I do not appreciate being accosted and berated in the princess aisle at Target. I was publicly chastised with no chance to defend myself. You rebuked me in front of my child, and your child, too. That is not okay with me.

You, lady, are blog fodder.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Too many ideas stuffed inside one little brain

I feel like my head is about to explode. I picked this up at the thrift store the other day. Ugly, no?

I have a soft spot for both industrial furniture and recycled furniture. This chair isn't exactly my style, but I saw so much potential. And it was only 5 bucks.

With an afternoon's work, it is looking a little better. I took the brown off and recovered it in white. Next time I'll use muslin, but this was what I had. You can see the Two Young Street I'm going to cover it with.
Then I spent an entire day making  bias tape and making the bias tape into piping. My seam rippers were AWOL, and I had to tear out my seams no less than four times for various reasons. Finally I got everything right, so I cut it and sewed it into piping. I was all proud of myself. Puffed up like you can be only when a very simple task has proven absurdly difficult and it has turned into a personal thing. When my husband came home I said "Look! Look what I made!" As though he really cares about my piping making exploits. Which, bless him, he does. Love that boy. He asked me what bias tape is, and I went into a lengthy discussion about the merits and uses of bias tape. Getting puffier and puffier by the moment. And he says "Well this isn't bias tape." All I could do was stare at him. And I am pretty sure I said something exactly like "You didn't even know what bias tape was 5 minutes ago. Of course it's bias tape. I spent the entire day making it. You don't know the first thing about sewing." Um. He started pulling at one of the threads and says "See? This is running parallel to the cord. That's not on the bias." And I pull on it some more and it gets a smidge closer to the center, fraying it a bit. "See? There you go." And he says to me "That's not a 45 degree angle. That's like a 1 degree angle". Did you cut it on a 1 degree angle? I think you would cut bias tape at about a 45 degree angle." Grrr.

I put the littlest kid to bed, and when I was done, he is sitting at my sewing machine. "How do you get that foot to go down?" I smirk and show him. Next time I walk by, he is spinning the flywheel backwards and says "I think those feeder things are moving in the wrong direction. I checked to make sure the machine was doing everything right, smirked, and left. Next time I came back, he had a raggedy piece of continuous loop bias tape in his hand. To Jason it is all about function over form. 'Well that's just like mine." "No, it's not." So we put them together and compared them. We had one raggedy piece of bias tape and one long string of non-bias piping. Damn. I hate when he's so smart. And, to my defense, I have to tell you that Jason is an abstract thinker. He things in numbers and shapes, and puts himself to sleep solving complicated math problems. So I was both miffed at and fascinated by this boy I love.

So today I made more bias tape and piping. It didn't take me half as long, because I didn't have to rip it out four times. Plus, I already knew how to do it, thanks to my clever husband. 
I know I could have used the non-bias piping, but it was a personal affront by the piping, and I wasn't about to let it go. So now I have a large amount of unruly piping, and a large amount of ruly piping.
That's better.

*****By the way***** if anyone has an idea about formatting in Blogger, please tell me the secret! I thought I had it figured out, but suddenly my words are jammed up against my pictures no matter what I do. It's enough to drive a girl crazy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's coming along

Ivy's quilt is making slow but sure progress. This is my first ever machine quilting experience, and so far it is going okay. It's a lot of shifting and rolling and stopping and starting. I'm using my walking foot because I don't have a darning foot, but I think it isn't really meant for the sort of thing I'm doing. Essentially it is just really tedious.

Since the whole quilt is fairly free form, so is the quilting. I'm pretty pleased with it, even if it is not perfect. There are stripes on the sashing and the coins are - well, shorter stripes.

You can see my ambling on the back.

Here is the whole back. And can you see what I used? A big ol' slab of Flea Market Fancy.
Part of me feels like a heathen novice quilter,  but it is so deliciously soft. And while the front is a brighter color pallet, the back is slightly more sedate, and the FMF just helped pull it all together.
School starts next week. Little Ivy will be in preschool. It doesn't seem like she should  be old enough, but mama is ready for a couple hours a week to herelf. Seriously ready. In fact, maybe a little too ready.

Blue is starting kindergarten next week. It amazes me that kids are already in school. My sister is a teacher, and by now she is in full swing. I'm sure you will hear a little school bus sob story next week. It seems impossible that this time has come around. I honestly never really thought it would. I thought, in fact, that she would be three or four forever.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The big, big slide

Before Ivy was born, I made her a crib set. Alas, Ivy had her own ideas about things (thankfully we like that quality in a child) and she never actually slept in her crib. Not once. It did look beautiful, though.

In fact, her room was just darling, even though it was only 8 feet wide by 6 feet deep with steps to the attic occupying one corner. Humor me. I was so proud of my nesting prowess.
If you look back, you may notice that what used to be the nursery is now our sewing room - slash -  office. It all came down to the fact that we never really used the nursery. 
I've been thinking for awhile that I should make a quilt out of the crib set and today I got ambitious and ripped out all those seams and ironed. 
And here you have the "big, big slide". Ivy and Blue have been very into the slip and slide lately. No water running down this one, but that made it all the more fun. The slip and slide is a tad scary for two years old, even when she pushes herself to keep up with her big sister.
The question is, how to manipulate what I have to make a quilt. Her favorite blanket is 'the squares' - the quilt my sister made my husband and me, so I want to make her a quilt of her own. It would be nice if she would attach to her own little blanket or stuffed animal before we move her to her own bed at some unforseeable point in the future
I have a plan, I think, but it will require a little scrimping and pinching with the light blue. It's a fine wale courderoy which I'm hoping will be okay for quilting. I've never quilted anything before. Yikes. This will be good practice for the bigger quilt I have in mind to make. I was inspired by this quilt which is utterly amazing. And to think she did it all with squares. Crazy. I'm fascinated, though, because with just one base color, I can pick any fabric I have, or any fabric I want to buy, and make something cohesive without a big plan. I mean, I have a sort of a plan in mind. Well, I have a sort of pallette anyway. 
I'm now off to put Ivy to bed - my bed - so I can slip off to the sewing room - formerly her room - to make her a quilt for her new room, whatever that may be.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A cup of calm

My sister and I spent an entire weekend cleaning and organizing my house. In all honesty, it would have taken us a week of weekends to get it all done. But my kitchen is ever so much more manageable now, even if getting to the sewing machine is still an Olympic event. But, houses are for living in, and neatness disappears. But I made sure to take care of this little cupboard my sister organized.

Isn't it lovely? That is my "china". I got it at a yard sale for $20 when $20 was big money. It's called "Anniversary"and some of the pieces are a little chipped, but they are my 'good' dishes because I love them and they make me happy. Jason and I used to make a pot of tea on Sunday mornings before we had kids and sip from tea cups very civilly. Incidentally, the tea pot is from a friend's trip to England. It's not part of the set.
Sometimes when the house it getting the best of me, I go to the cupboard and open the door for a hit of neat and tidy and pretty. Before my sister organized, it was all shoved up on the highest shelf and I had to pull it all down to find anything. Now, I will sometimes take out a little plate and have a slice of frozen lemon cake - just to be civil.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Little Patchwork

For the past few weeks, there has been no creativity in my life. I finished the girls dresses and then... nothing. Summer is here, and the girls and I are so busy that I have been missing things. Swim class? Oops. Occupational Therapy? Oops. And that's not like me. So J and I made some time yesterday for me to do some sewing (which is a much bigger challenge than that sentence reflects). I've been curious about the disappearing 9 patch, so I decided to make a little pin cushion. I've always thought I would like a nice cute pin cushion. Ever since Blue took a pair of scissors to the old strawberry, anyway. So I got my scraps out and laboriously cut out 4 one-and-a-half inch squares. Whaaat? Nine patch needs 9 squares. Get the scraps back out. Where was my head? I just don't know. So I sewed, and I sewed, and I sewed. And let me tell you - when your squares are 1.5 inches, that 1/4 inch seam needs to be accurate. Well see? I'm learning already.

So I cut and arranged and arranged and arranged and sewed. And now I have the smallest pin cushion on the face of the earth.
I think it is so small it doesn't even show off the prints well. But it does hold pins quite well.
Part of what got me interested in patchwork was this little bit of my past. I have had this quilt since I was a teenager. I think it came from my grandparents' house after they died. You can't tell from this picture, but it is in sorry shape. I don't know if it was my storage method (I was young, I thought a plastic bag was a good idea) or what, but it has deteriorated badly. Every time I touch it, it rips a little here and there.
And here is the back. As a kid I was amazed that the back was made up of the same print in different colors, and I also wondered why the person who made it would have bothered using two different colors. I didn't come from a family that talked about fabric or quilting or that sort of thing.

Incidentally, since the quilt is falling apart, I can see that it was pieced onto muslin. I keep staring at it, trying to figure out the order in which the pieces were sewn, wondering what the person who made it was thinking about as she chose pieces. I have always been fascinated by scrap quilts and the history of the fabrics that make them up.
Now lastly, as I was looking at this quilt, something reminded me of a quilt I had started long ago. I haven't thought of it in eons, but today I managed to dig it out of a box in the attic. When I started it I had just moved to northern Minnesota (north of the lake...brrr) to live with my new boyfriend/old friend. I didn't have much of a job, and I was stuck out in the cold north woods, so I decided to make a quilt. And being me, I decided it had to be a recycled quilt. Every Wednesday I would go to the $3 bag day at the thrift store and buy a bag of shirts to cut up. I would then spend the week cutting out the pieces, one by one, with scissors, using a foam core pattern piece. Then I would sew them all together. And rip, and sew. With an old black sewing machine that I bought in Duluth for $20. 
Then we moved east, and I bought some scraps of fabric at Crate and Barrel and made some more blocks, but then we were getting married and then we had kids and the next 9 years disappeared in a flash.
I bet you're thinking I had some fancy intricate pattern I was making, right?

Nope. Just a good old nine patch. But just use your imagination for a moment and you will see me with my tongue sticking out the side of my mouth toiling over this thing. 
I put them all out in the sun for a few minutes today for pictures. I absolutely hate some of the fabrics I used. But the feel of them brings back such bright, young, falling in love memories that I don't want to mess with them. Not even the sparkly trees. Not even the lavender plaid.
So I was thinking about finishing it. I can either sew it up as is, or I can 'disappear' the squares. I'm undecided but leaning toward disappearing them. I don't actually like the look of it right now. Part of me wants to just plow ahead with something new, even though that wasn't my initial plan for it. Part of me is indecisive and terrified. I think it would be healthier to just slice them up. Or I could just shove the impotent dregs into the attic again. Wouldn't that be a shame? For me, I mean. To turn down this opportunity for growth and all that.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What have I gotten myself into now?

I just signed up for Craft it Forward on Marie-Jolie's Permission to Unwind. I am both ecstatic and terrified. I love, love, love to give things to people. It is my life's calling to make people (anyone... everyone!) happy. I will also freely admit that I am very poor in the structure/timeliness/followthrough department. Getting better as I get older, though. And once you state something in public, you reallly have to follow though. Unless you are drunk off your gourd standing atop a bar in northern Wisconsin.

So here's how it works. I accepted a craft to be mailed to me with the provision that I would mail three crafts out to to-be-determined others. So here I am posting on my blog with this offer: I am going to mail the first three people who comment a fantastic little surprise craft of my choosing. As long as those three people go over to their blogs and make the same offer. Isn't that fun? And seriously, when I signed up, I almost forgot that I was going to get something from Marie-Jolie. I was very focused on the thought of sending three crafts out to other people.

So. Don't be a lurker. I know that occasionally people make it over here. It will be fun, and I will make you something lovely. I'll even go over and look at your blog to see what kind of things you are into. Awesome. I love this game already. So hurry! Sign up now!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

So busy

I often wonder where this blog is going. Am I writing it for myself? For you? For nobody? Is it a craft blog? An autism blog? A parenthood blog? Yes, all of the above I suppose.

It has been the most hectic of weeks. Blue's first gymnastic show, preschool graduation, IEP meeting, a visit to kindergarten, a friend's birthday party. Not to mention we will be leaving for my brother's big fancy wedding in three days and Blue will be a flower girl. No stress there.

But this afternoon? The IEP is done, and I feel very good about it. And school is over for the year. And in a couple hours our in-home support person will be here to work with Blue, and she will go with us to the birthday party, which means I might enjoy the party, too. So the moment - this moment, feels okay.

Here are the dresses I made for the girls to wear to the rehearsal. They will all have matching bloomers to go with the dresses

They crack me up. I was lucky to get even one good picture. It was just before graduation and they were 100% revved up. You can't see too well in this picture, but Ivy's dress has green piping and Blue's has yellow. And they all have matching sandles, too. Blue's are aqua, but Ivy's are green and Mia's are orange. Thanks, Children's Place. How did you know?

Here is their cousin Mia's dress.

They all had fancy handmade buttons on them - until Ivy ripped one of hers off during the graduation ceremony. Maybe superglue will help.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

With a CRASH and a BURN.

I've mentioned that Blue has clothing issues. I vacillate between thinking I should sew all her clothes and thinking it's so much easier to buy all her clothes. Everything that is store bought has to be knit, which I despise, and if it feels good to her, chances are it looks garish to me. But she will wear the woven pajamas and dress I made her. So my thinking ran along this line: if Blue picks out the fabric, and I make her pants from a pattern I know she likes (or a very, very, very similar one), she is bound to like the pants I make. Right? Riiight? And she'll wear them without a fuss, right?

Enter exhibit #1: the oliver +s sandbox pants.

Look at those elephants! I love those elephants. How the whole thing came together to look like something I would have worn in 1976 is beyond me. When I saw what I had done, the song "Macho Man" ran through my head again and again. I honestly didn't think anyone could make oliver + s look so goofy.

BUT! She will like these pants, and she will wear these pants, and I will bite my tongue and ignore the fact that she looks like a disco preschooler.

Or maybe not. Because as is her way, Blue does the opposite of what I think she will do. She asks for pink pants with elephants? Yes! Yes! But when it comes time to wear said pants?

Sadly, no. She actually had the gall to tell me she would like them better if I made them out of 'some different cloth like my pajamas'. And sucker that I am? I will probably look for some softer cloth. These are made of Kona cotton, which , I admit, is not the softest stuff. But from the fuss you'd think I was trying to cram the girl into some Toughskins.

And on a better note - Mia's dress? 3T top, 4T bottom. Ka-ching!

By the way, I learned a couple little lessons while making this. The first was about print matching. This is so busy it's not awful, but I'd look closer before I did it again and line the print up better. The second lesson was: don't pink your seams when you are tired. Never, never, never.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Testing, testing

Just trying out a straight up 4T for Mia before I cut into my Moda Fresh for the coordinating cousins dresses. My thought is that she is going to need a 3T up top, and about 3 inches added to the length. I could put money on it, but I'd just end up paying myself in the end.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Reason #142 to listen in geometry class

I whipped up these Easter baskets for a couple little friends this weekend. I use the term 'whipped' loosely. But I learned a lot, and I know what I would do differently next time (though maybe not what I would do differently the time after that!)

I made a rainbow shaped pattern piece and appliqued their initials, and some eggs. I put ribbon trim on the blue eggs and puffed them up just a tiny little bit. I was pretty happy with things. Then it all got a little dicey.

When it came time to decide how big a circle should go at the bottom. I took a guess.

Mmm. Close, but too big. Pick it out and start again.

Much better but still not easy. Then I apparently got cocky. Pick it out again. I had four of these to make - two outsides and two linings.

Eventually that was done and I treated myself to a little bit of playing with the fancy stitches I never use. This came out a lot better than I had any reason to expect it would. The wider stitch was far nicer.

I don't think the girls minded the fact that they barely stand up in the end. Even though I managed to somehow iron the layers together with Wonder Under, thinking that would give them more stability (don't even ask, I don't want to talk about it).

And in case you haven't figured, I think geometry would have helped me figure out how big to make the circle at the bottom. I thought the radius probably should have been equal to the length of the edge I was sewing to it, but beyond that I was hopeless.