Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I used this pattern for her hat. It was quick and easy. Here's Child Two enjoying hot chocolate and fireworks after a busy evening of trick-or-treating.
Child Two drew on the jeans with a chalk pencil and then I spent many hours surrounded by stitch dictionaries and my boxes of floss as I embroidered them.
This is the first kind of needlework I ever learned, back when I was her age, and it was fun to just go for it without a pattern or much of a plan. She was so happy with how they turned out that she now wears them all the time. We’re going to add more embroidery to them, and I just might start a pair for myself.
Other than that, I’ve gone to a few classes I had signed up for before work took over my life: a mother-and-daughter workshop on English paper piecing, a workshop on bookmaking (the paper kind, not the betting kind), and a class on making bath products. I haven’t had time to use what I learned yet or to do much else except start a pair of fingerless gloves for myself, but now that my workload is more manageable, I have lots of plans for the new year.
Friday, October 17, 2008
I braved the mess in the craft room to look through some books and decided to make these origami cards from Klutz’s Handmade Cards (yes, I realize that Klutz kits are meant for kids, but this klutzy adult has been known to buy them for herself). While I was at it, I made one for the senior I write to through Senior Angels, since over the years he’s seen every note card I have in my extremely large stationery collection.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Tonight I got a call. She was just leaving her place and heading to my town. Could I meet her in half an hour at a certain gas station? Twenty minutes later, I ran out the door, yelling to my husband that I had to go meet my supplier in a gas station parking lot.
I really crack myself up sometimes. My kids, though, who are used to me doing strange things (like taking pictures of jam in the rain), didn’t bat an eye about the fact that I was (a) very excited about going to pick up soapmaking supplies and (b) pretending it was an illicit drug deal.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
As Child Two and I walked home, another mom—one I don’t very well—stopped me to admire the felted bag I was carrying my project in. She asked me if I’ve ever felted (I haven’t. I bought the bag at a fundraiser for Grandmothers to Grandmothers. When I’m a grandmother, I’m definitely joining a group like this) and told me I just had to try it because it’s so cool.
When you’re a crafty person, life is full of joy, isn’t it?
The soapmaking class was a lot of fun, especially because I got to wear goggles and rubber gloves and use a thermometer and all sorts of scientific stuff. Remember that group of girls who set fire to the table in 8th-grade science class? I was one of them. The only part of chemistry I ever liked was balancing chemical equations, and that was only because it’s like math and I was way better at math than at science. Who knew chemistry could be so enjoyable—and result in something more useful than a charred table, an exasperated teacher, and three very embarrassed girls?
I haven’t made a Halloween costume since Child Two was young enough to dress up as Winnie-the-Pooh. In many years, we’ve been lucky enough to get hand-me-downs. As for the other years? Well, you know that mom you’ve seen rifling through the slim selection of costumes less than a week before Halloween because somehow—even though the stuff has been in the stores for months and even though the year before she vowed that she would not be doing this again—she’s completely forgotten to buy costumes? That’s me.
This year Child Two wants to be a 1970s girl. She’s inspired by her love of the Julie series of American Girl books (if you’ve got a daughter, try these books. Each series is about a girl in a different era in U.S. history). Child Two loves all of the series that she’s read so far, but she’s drawn especially to Julie. Julie, who has long, straight blond hair, lives in San Francisco. In 1974, she’s 9-turning-10 and her parents are divorcing. Her best friend is a different race from her. All of this is appealing to Child Two because in 1974 I had long, straight blond hair (which I still grieve for); I lived just outside San Francisco; I was 9-turning-10; my parents were divorcing; and my best friend was a different race from me.
I don’t know how many years of Halloween costumes we’ve got left—or at least, how many years before I’m screeching “You’re wearing that? Put some decent clothes on!” and she’s rolling her eyes and slamming her door. Child One has stopped trick-or-treating and Two may not be far behind. So I’m happy to help her with a costume this year.
I’m crocheting her a little Juliet cap. I haven’t found a pattern with flower motifs like Julie’s (if you know of a pattern, I'd love to hear about it), so Two’s cap will be plainer, but I’ll put a shell edging on it. We’re going to buy some flare jeans this weekend and she’ll design something for me to embroider on them. She’s already got a shirt that will do if I don’t have time to make one, as well as a denim purse and lots of peace buttons. I have my mom’s “War is not healthy for children and other living things” pendant, which Child Two will wear on a leather string just like her grandmother did decades ago.
The two best things about this costume? First, she’ll be able to add all the new stuff to her regular wardrobe. And second, I won’t be one of those moms desperately searching for a costume at the last minute.
So over the next few weeks, as Two runs along the forest trails, I’ll be sitting on the playground bench with my crochet hook or my embroidery needle, talking to my friend about the things that make up our lives right now—knitting and gardening and soapmaking, husbands and kids, and work (with a little gossip thrown in, I’m sure).
Thursday, September 11, 2008
You know what? He’s right.
I knew that I missed these things. But I didn’t realize just how good they were for my soul—or for my kids.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
This photo is also being posted for Carmi's Thematic Photograpic theme of the week, faded.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
This photo is also being posted for Carmi's Thematic Photograpic theme of the week, colorful.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Inspired by the book Journal Revolution, Child Two and I made calendar journals in July. Her theme was flowers; every day she found or drew a picture of a flower.
I used words cut from magazines and junk mail to make a note about my day.
As I mentioned in a post on Always an Editor, doing this calendar journal helped me notice that I spend quite a lot of my time in rather serious pursuits, so I’m paying more attention to doing something fun or relaxing every day. The calendars themselves were a lot of fun to make and, apparently, they also make a fine place to rest.
I’m using my August calendar to remind me of one of the items on my list of things I’d like to be doing. I studied French for many years in school, and although I’ve never been truly fluent, I could understand it and make myself understood pretty well, and it was always one of my favorite subjects. (I am such a language dork that I actually love doing grammar exercises. Is that sad?) I'd really like to improve my French again; I'm determined to go to France one day, even if I'm 85 and tottering around with two canes by the time I get there. So this month I am reading something in French and recording one new-to-me word on my calendar journal every day.
I spent much of last weekend working on lined curtains for Child One’s room. I’ve had the fabric for ages (where ages = years), but for some reason I was hesitant to get going on them. I’m not sure why I was intimidated, considering I’ve made curtains lots of time and Child One is not one to demand perfection (or to even notice imperfection, for that matter). Part of the problem was not having a place to spread everything out, but now that that’s been solved, I’ve decided that I must get them done because I won’t settle down to any other sewing projects until I do. I’ll be too busy over the next two weekends to work on them, but given how long he’s been waiting, a couple of weeks more is nothing.
As usual, I’ve had some help,
although I’m sorry to report that there were some arguments over whose turn it was to guard the fabric.
I had hoped to spend a lot more time being creative this summer, but instead I’ve made major progress in my work and much-needed changes to how I run my business. It hasn’t been the lazy, freewheeling summer I’d hoped for, but the result is a much more manageable workload. If I stick to these changes, I won’t be working nights and weekends regularly and my stress level will drop, so in the long term I will get the creative time and energy I crave.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
Carmi's thematic photographic theme this week is signs. I've posted another one on Always an Editor, along with links to the other sign photos I've posted in the past.
Of all the sign photos I have, this is one of my favorites. I keep a copy hanging above my desk to remind me--especially on those days when my life seems an endless cycle of laundry, driving, and editing other people's writing--that the steps I'm taking are leading somewhere and that the path is as important as the destination.
Friday, August 1, 2008
I’d forgotten how much I love this: filling up the huge canning pot, chopping the fruit, watching the honey stream out of the measuring cup, taking the jars out of the boiling bath and setting them on towels, hearing them seal with a satisfying ping. All week long the jars have sat on my counter—it’s been raining and there hasn’t been enough natural light in the house to take pictures without the flash—and I keep picking them up, admiring their color.
I finally gave up on waiting for a brighter day. Embracing the weather, I rolled up my jeans and went outside barefoot—it is summer, after all—and took pictures with this poor sodden bouquet, which has been sitting in the rain all week. I have to say that taking clear photos while squatting and holding an umbrella in one hand (to protect the camera, not me—I was already soaked) was not so easy.
It’s a sign of how strange my kids know me to be that when I said to Child One, “I’m going outside to take pictures of jam in the rain,” he said, “Okay” without batting an eye. Just another one of those things Mom does.
Simple pleasures like this used to be part of just about every day for me. The smell of fabric under a hot iron, pausing in my knitting to look at the rows of even stitches, writing a letter to a friend (by hand!), eating cookies still warm from the oven, or kneading bread dough and feeling a connection to the millions of women who have spent countless hours doing the same thing—these things might seem boring to some, but they grounded me, slowed me down, and quieted my monkey mind.
My goal is that by the end of my Year of Living Differently, I will have once again built room in my everyday life for these simple pleasures.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
But first, a question: Whose bright idea was it to schedule a dentist's appointment for 7:00 this morning?
The winners are Hanna, Jess, Eva, and Jean. I've emailed all of you for your addresses.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Here are some projects that use magazine pages:
And more bowls
Decoupage Easter eggs
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
I'm posting this photo for Carmi's weekly Thematic Photographic project. The theme this week is "sky."
This picture, like my other entry this week, was taken on a sunny winter's day.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I’ve got several ideas for themes, but being a word person that’s what I’m starting with. For a while I’ve been collecting words from magazines, catalogues, and junk mail to use in collages and other craft projects. For each day in July, I will find a word that has something to do with my day and glue that into the square.
Child Two is joining me this month. She’s chosen a flower theme. She’s planning to fill each square with a flower image—cut and glued, stamped, or hand drawn. If she enjoys it and decides to keep going, I’m sure we’ll see a cat theme sooner or later.
I’ll post some pictures once we’re further along.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Today is also the last day of school and--although our weather is no indication of it--summer vacation has officially begun. This means that bags and boxes of partially used school supplies have come home, adding to our mountain of art supplies. Here at our house, we are up to our eyebrows in supplies of all kinds, including almost every type of writing and drawing implement from Blo-Pens to smelly markers to watercolor pencils to oil pastels. Child Two and I have set a goal of using each kind of art supply at least once this summer. I hope we'll reduce the clutter while making some fun projects that we can share with you.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Friday, June 6, 2008
I have been fully booked with work for a long time. I keep thinking it’s a temporary thing that I have to muddle through and then it will calm down, but I’ve been muddling for several years. Right now I’ve got three large editing projects going on in addition to some smaller ones—not to mention writing projects of my own, which are constantly placed on the back burner (isn't it funny how we say "not to mention" as a way of mentioning something?). Because I’m always worried about letting people down, I try to work on everything at once. Instead of making me efficient, this actually slows me down and makes me worry more. So I try harder to get everything done at once and the cycle continues.
During my ridiculous number of years at university, I constantly felt that when I was not working I should be working. And when I was working on Project A, I should be working on Project B. The work was always right there and there were few boundaries between school and the rest of my life. Self-employment can be like that too. Because I don’t have a regular work day and my work time is often interrupted, I feel like I’m never getting enough done. Between my years in school and my years as a freelancer, I have been living this way—never fully focused on what I’m doing and always worried about what I’m not—for over 20 years (I feel so old every time I say something like that).
You know what? It’s not a healthy way to live. So I’ve decided that right now the majority of my energy has to go toward work. I need to get these three big projects done—for the clients’ sake, of course, but also for the good of my own soul. Once I do, I can build the boundaries I need. I’m cycling through the projects, working on just one each day and trying my best to ignore the others until it’s their turn. I’m making significant progress and, to my surprise, I’m finding new enthusiasm for my work. I can also see that in the near future I’ll have more time for the things I love to do and because these projects won’t be weighing me down, I’ll be able to enjoy them more.
But as the saying goes, all work and no play makes this a dull blog (well, it doesn’t go quite like that). I haven’t started my sweaters yet—not even the swatches. My sewing machine is covered by a pile of almost-done baby blankets. I haven’t had much time to wander around the Internet and look for weekly inspiration. I hope the two of you who read this will bear with me. If the coming weeks are as productive (workwise) as this one has been, I’ll soon be crafting more than I have in years.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
But I did manage to wander around the Internet craft world a little bit. Here are some interesting things I found:
Tess has written a comprehensive tutorial on seam finishes for Sew, Mama, Sew’s Women’s Clothing Month. Whether you’re new to sewing or a veteran, you’re likely to learn something new. I gained a new respect for my 25-year-old sewing machine and no longer feel that my life is incomplete without a serger.
Canadian Living, one of the major women's magazines here, has an easy-to-sew cat tunnel on its website. With three cats who are currently imprisoned inside for a variety of reasons (not least of which is coyotes), I'm going to make one of these.
Margerie commented once on finding a good, long-lasting way to mark garden rows. Family Fun magazine's site has instructions for painted garden stones.
Two projects from Craft Stylish are going on my to-make-sometime list: little embroidered pincushions made from pop bottle caps and felt scraps and an incredibly easy note card (because goodness knows I need more note cards).
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I took this photo of my daughter two years ago. We look a lot alike so, Karen, if you imagine this picture going through one of those age-progression processes to age it by about 35 years, you'll have a good idea of what I would look like with my eyes crossed. Unfortunately I can't actually do it this well--she inherited her amazing eye-crossing talent from my brother.
Friday, May 23, 2008
But recently I stopped in at my favorite yarn store. I really wasn’t planning on going there and I certainly wasn’t planning on buying anything at all, much less anything for myself. I’d had a hard day and I wanted to go for a walk to clear my head; I just happened to choose a favorite walking spot that’s in the same neighborhood as this store.
I wasn’t looking for a retail therapy session, and besides, my form of retail therapy is usually very modest: a notebook or a magazine. I just planned to wander around in this store, looking at and touching the yarn. It was meant to be more of a quiet escape than a shopping trip.
But I ended up buying patterns and yarn for not one, but two summer sweaters for myself, one knitted and the other crocheted. Yikes! Neither is an in-front-of-the-TV project (as this is what tends to happen when I knit while I’m distracted), so I have to find some free time to devote to them.
The yarn and patterns have been sitting in their bag in my sewing room for a few weeks now and summer is fast approaching (although with our weather luck lately, we may still be wearing rainboots in August). I’m telling you about them in order to make myself find the time to work on them, instead of having them get buried in the to-do-someday pile. Keep me accountable, please. Just ask me how those sweaters are going once in a while.
In other news, here are some fun ideas I found in my Internet travels this week:
Kathryn Ivy has a tutorial on dyeing yarn with Easter egg dyes.
Unplug Your Kids shows how to make beads out of straws and paper. You could use any kind of paper with this project—a couple of years ago Child Two and I used wrapping paper to make Christmas garlands.
Meg at Elsie Marley gives instructions on how to make fabric covers for tin cans. Hers are embroidered and she kindly shares her patterns.
Are your sewing tools little boring? According to Better Homes and Gardens, you can paint your shears!
At Big Huge Labs, see how to print eight photos on one piece of paper and then, using their folding instructions, turn it into a pocket-sized photo-album. I’m going to send some of these to far-away friends and family.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
If you have costume jewellery or buttons that you're not using, please consider sending them to Heidi to help her continue her great work. You know all those mismatched earrings in the back of your jewellery box? And how about your overflowing button box? Declutter your drawers (or for those of us with a teeny tiny craft supply addiction, make room for more) and help Heidi at the same time!
To learn more about Heidi, her book Waiting for Wings, and her art and to find out how you can help, visit her Undone website. Her shipping address is
25017 NE 188th Court
Battle Ground, WA 98604
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I’m posting today because the Apron Queen tagged me a couple of weeks ago and one of the options was to do a Vintage Thingies Thursday post. It’s taken me a while to get to it because the vintage thingy I had planned to write about requires ironing and—alas, it’s the story of my life—I could not find time to iron and take pictures and write.
But yesterday my mom gave me some of my grandmother’s old spoons—no ironing required! These ones are my favorites:
They’re about 4 inches long and each handle has the name of spoon’s flower written in what I assume is Dutch.
Here are the flowers:
There are also several assorted spoons and forks. The longest is about 6 inches.
One is a baby fork—I know this because it has the intended recipient's initials and birthdate engraved on the back.*
I’m guessing that the other fork might have been for something like pickles and that the spoons were for coffee or tea. There weren’t that many babies in the family. The three matching spoons (and two others not pictured here because they have a mysterious red substance stuck to them and need cleaning up) are stamped on the back with the year (1947), the manufacturer (Rogers Bros.) and the pattern name (Flair).
I’m not sure what I’ll do with them all. Maybe I’ll start having tea parties!
*If you are reading this, intended recipient, I will give it to you the next time I see you. I was going to send it to you along with your favorite meatloaf recipe and a message saying "Put a fork in it!" but I didn't want to trust it to the mail.