Allow myself to introduce... myself


Sunday, December 30, 2007

It Really IS a Craft Blog!

I think I mentioned before that the problem with posting craft pictures before Christmas is that most of the gift recipients have a chance of getting their surprises ruined if they happen upon the blog. So I've been patiently waiting until the day that I could show you that yes, I have been sewing again with a gusto, and I even have the fruits of my labor here to prove it. Let us all cross our fingers and consider this to be a sign of the things to come for 2008, and consider the 6 month hiatus from creating a distant memory from the disastrous second half of 2007. And with that I present to you...

One little boy who wanted nothing more than to dress like Santa for ChristmasAnd yes... that IS a Target clearance red hooded sweatshirt ($3.48) with 2 yards of fake fur basted on (for easy removal after the holidays) and some black knit gloves ($1.48). The look on my son's face when he saw this ensem' was indeed priceless.

Like most workplaces at the holidays, ours traded names for a Secret Santa exchange. I happened to draw my friend Sara, so in order to throw her off the trail I made this lovely pillow with her initial. In real life it squashes itself down in the perfect imitation of a very lovely '2', but Sara was nice enough to say she loved it anyway. Her real gift was this little gem which is based on a very inappropriate game we play. The people that know the game thought this was hilarious...

I needed a gift for our janitors, a lovely Russian couple who I don't really know too well since they usually come after I'm gone. I have no idea whether it was a hit or not, but I'm certainly proud of how this turned out since it's not really my style at all. It seemed sort of perfect... but who really knows?
I made this for my boss, and luckily she appreciated the wisdom... which is a direct quote from Homer Simpson. Everyone deserves a boss who appreciates truly genius wisdom.

Boo and Baby each received handmade gifts from me this year also, and I have to say with no small amount of pride that I think they were also a big hit. It's a wonder I never thought to do this before...

A jacket for Luna; why did I never make her one before? I've made probably 30 of these for strangers...

This is the quote on the inside left front of the jacket, the rest are on the outside
Luna has her jacket, and Sol was ecstatic about meeting this little guywho was knit from a pattern I found here. The monster himself is very nice and well-behaved, however he was (excuse my language) a bitch to knit. It doesn't help that the pattern and I had a bit of a misunderstanding, hence the monster's freakishly large head. If you click on the link to the real pattern you'll see a much better formed monster... luckily my son has not seen what the monster should look like, and therefore has no idea that his mommy is a knitting reject.

I didn't get pictures of the Urchin hat I knit for my sister out of a beautiful soft baby blue thick and thin yarn, or the lampshade I knit for my Mom that, after an hour of help from my local knitting store, actually turned out amazingly fantastic. I've included the links for THOSE patterns here also in case you're feeling productive.

And so with the holidays over, I've decided I need to kick my butt back into gear and get back to focusing on making things to sell. I am a single mother who would like to develop a very nice yarn stash after all, so I better get to work. I have a goal to make 5 things to list on Etsy before I go back to work on Wednesday, and here's what I have so far:
It's a small start, but it's a start. Now if anyone has any really great quote suggestions I could really use some!

I am SO grateful for new beginnings, two wonderful kids who also happen to be my favorite people in the world, spending the holidays with family, Kyle still safe and grouchy in Iraq, and Travis finally making it to L.A. My world is good.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

O Christmas Tree!

My Mom goes ALL OUT when it comes to decorating for Christmas, so I feel like I've spent the past week in some kind of show house... which is what it actually was, since my Mom's mini-town does a Christmas Home Tour ever year of which she was a part. So for your viewing enjoyment, I have a small sampling of the splendour that is Grandma's Home for the Holidays...

The french doors from the living room to the sunroom, where the tree (and presents!) were:

This is our Santa, Guardian of the Christmas Tree. This year we let him sit down, but normally he stands about five and a half feet tall holding a lantern. My Mom made him a few years ago

The view from the living room coffeetable (which my Mom made over 30 years ago) toward the sun room

Can you believe this is just the spot over the kitchen sink?

This is the dining room...
Doesn't every house have a snowman collection in the dining room?
Shouldn't every house decorate with cake domes?And of course no Christmas would be complete without plenty of Santas...

Um... does anyone else decorate their bathroom also?
So I was fortunate enough to spend my holidays surrounded by all that you see here (and more!), knitting. Could it get any better than that?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

This, That, and the Other

I KNOW I need to be better at posting to my blog, if for no other reason than that it helps me see things in a humorous light. But are any other crafty bloggers finding it hard to blog about what they're doing right now because they're making gifts for people who read their blog? I mean honestly, if I blogged all the wonderful projects I'm working on, Christmas would be ruined! So let me dig through my pile of possible-things-to-blog about and see what I come up with...

Ah yes, I know just the thing! The sewing room extreme makeover (well for me anyway). Those of you in the know may remember that I foolishly decided that it would be a simple weekend job to switch out my sewing room and my office, so the sewing room might actually be a ROOM (gasp!) with a DOOR (shock!). Who knows how many months later, I was finally able to begin sewing in my lovely new space last Friday. Now everything is not as perfect as my head like to think things up to be, but I am finally able to share with you all what I have. But first I want to start with the material I bought to make a quilt sometime after the holidays, because I am so absolutely in love with these colors:The quilt will be for a guy, so I hope I've straddled the line of masculine and amazingly gorgeous well.

Any material that has a very specific project picked out for it now resides here, in this cabinet I stole out from around my meager collection of sheets for the actual beds in our home.
Now the sheets are probably laying in a corner in a pile somewhere, but doesn't the material look lovely? The bit of material hanging down the front was a wonderful gift given to me by my friend Tif. It's a bit of silk covered in hand embroidery that she found somewhere, and I have to admit that the back of it is my favorite part to look at (and I get to see the back every time I open the cabinet... see, GENIUS!).

The material that I stare at when I'm trying to figure out what to make next, is all arranged nicely like this now, and I can get to every single piece without reaching past a table or going on my tippy toes!
And just so that I never have to worry about one of my cutting tools going AWOL (it happened to Tif and the very thought of such a thing had me losing sleep for weeks), I "repurposed" ( a new word that spell check does NOT like) an Ikea candleholder to make my piece de resistance...

"I don't know much about art, but I know what I like".

I dug this out of a box and have displayed it proudly, in case I ever forget what I'm supposed to be doing when I'm in that room:(My art book of Botero is hiding behind the giraffe, the giraffe is from OrangeWillow on Etsy)

And just in case I STILL need inspiration, I hung one of my very own Qubicle Quilts
And when I'm done sewing for the night and it's time to turn out the lights and close the door... I have my friend Andre to hand me my coat
Andre once had a distinguished career at the Bon Marche, but sometime around 1987 or so that once esteemed shopping mecca determined that Andre was past his prime and no longer worthy of their employ. He found a new home in our house on Hunt Road, and has moved around with us ever since. Now Andre is really feeling the years, and seems to be stuck in a permanent pose which requires some sort of vertical assistance to maintain full upright-ness.

So that's the new sewing room. It won't win any design awards or a spotlight in Quilting Arts, but it's not too shabby for a single Mom in Pleasantville. Not too shabby atall.

And now for my gratefuls: The stack of books I've been able to read now that I'm not falling asleep in front of the TV every night, my new glasses so I can see when I'm driving in the rain and not do that driving-by-Braille thing anymore, Great kids who really should be asleep right now but who I still hear talking, and an hour of text messages from Iraq disputing the texture of lobster.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Obsessive Knitting

It’s been in my head lately that Christmas is right around the corner and I have **NO** presents for any member of my family or friend circle bought, made, picked out, or budgeted for. I’ve been entertaining fantasies of finishing up my sewing room move for some time now, and I still have yet to replace the broken chair that I need to sit in while sewing that some of you may remember from my blog several months ago. I console myself with the fact that I’ve been nudging my way back toward my creative endeavors, albeit somewhat obsessively, by picking back up my needles and knitting away...

Unfortunately all I’ve been knitting lately are black hats.
I haven’t dissected this yet with any of my panel of advisers, but I’m pretty sure they’ll call me on my wackiness. And the reason for my manic knitting spell? One of the Great Loves of my Past(insert melodramatic hand-to-heart gesture here) has been sent off to Iraq in the last couple of weeks, and this time I’m determined to be the dutiful friend sending off well timed, appropriately astonishing care packages full of the perfect items that he doesn’t know well enough to ask for. That was the aim of course, but somehow I’ve been sidetracked into maniacally knitting black hats. This one’s too soft, that one’s too itchy, this one’s not machine washable… you see the point? And yet I’ll be just finishing up with what I SWEAR will be the last black hat, and another yarn combination will pop into my head and I think I simply MUST try it out. Cotton, wool, cashmere, bamboo… I just know the perfect fiber combination to keep someone immortal is out there. For some reason all the fear and paranoia I feel at having one of my oldest friends over there has manifested itself in this incredibly impractical way. I mean honestly, how many black hats can one man own?
I am grateful for: text messages from Iraq, growing kittens, visiting Sedro next week with Tif, getting back in the creative spirit, and two amazing kids who can just be kids. Life is wonderful.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Practicing Random Acts of Kindness (for selfish reasons)

There's a story here, but I suspect before we get to it that the path might meander a little. Bear with me Dear Reader(s), there might be wisdom to be had (um... but I'm not making any promises).

The thought has occurred to me that 80's television may had an adverse affect on my upbringing. In the 80's we had a neighbor that had kindly rigged us up some cable television (with Showtime!), which we promptly sat in front of for hours on end. When we moved out of that house we didn't have cable again until I bought it as an adult a year and a half ago. I was thinking about this last night while watching Honey I Shrunk the Kids on my own modern day cable. I remember watching the movie when it came out at the movie theater, and having fantasies of my own that some errant scientist-invention-gone-awry would shrink me and the neighbor down so we could fall in lust with each other. No wonder I have problems with relationships... I grew up on a diet of Knight Rider, Mr Belvedere, Small Wonder, and Who's the Boss. Let's not even discuss the damage that years of watching Cheers and The Cosby Show back to back caused me. I think somewhere along the line I must have figured I could have it all... and I've spent my life looking for that perfect combination of Sam Malone and Cliff Huxtable in one man. Ugh! And let's not even discuss the irony involved in finding out that apparently in real life Ted Danson is a much better husband than Bill Cosby. This will take me years of therapy as reality and fantasy get mixed up in my mind, and I think that a man like Sam Malone can change into a man like Ted Danson with the right love of a good woman... Because the day I realized that the "allegations" against Bill Cosby and his sexual proclivities were true, I felt like I'd just found out there was no Santa Claus.Are you still with me, because I promise I'm getting to the story...

Eighties TV sitcoms were big fans of the dilemma plotline. A crisis of conscience in which our beloved main character has a choice between doing the right thing or the wrong thing... in the first two acts it looks like they might choose the wrong thing... but then... whew! After the last round of commercials they would pull it out of the hat and claim victory over temptation. What I believe I picked up from this story arc is that we usually don't want to do the right thing in the beginning, but that if we do it eventually, we'll still get the karma points. Given any tough decision, I have about 22 minutes to figure out the right way to go. And so it was yesterday while waiting in line at the Starbuck's drive-thru. With a full day of cleaning to go before the arrival of the ex (long story), the kid's and I needed a pick-me-up at coffee mecca. After telling the speaker my order, I pulled my gigantic SUV (if I could afford a Ford Escape HYBRID I would have one) as close to the car in front of me as possible, in order to make room for the gigantic SUV behind me to pull up to the speaker and shout their order. APPARENTLY I wasn't able to pull forward far enough to suit the yahoo in the Yukon, because the driver honked at me. Now because of the angle the driver may not have been able to see how I was almost touching the bumper of the tiny car in front of me, the driver may not have even been ABLE TO SEE the tiny car in front of me... but to my way of thinking, honking at another car in the Starbucks drive-thru in the middle of sunny happy latte land is definitely bad form. I won't lie, I looked through my rearview mirror into the pouring rain to see if the driver was big enough for me to open a can of Whoop-Ass (patent pending) on, but I couldn't see through his or her tinted windows. Seeing my wonderful children in the backseat though caused me to pause for reflection (a seething reflection, but I DID at least pause). When Boo asked why the car behind honked at us... I actually answered "maybe they're having a bad day". And then something happened... I actually started to believe what I had said. I thought to myself that even though I in all my infinite wisdom would never DREAM of taking my own bad day out on an innocent caffeine addict, perhaps their bad day was bad enough to cause them to display such a complete an utter lack of decorum. I wasn't going to let completely go of my own anger yet, but I thought maybe there would be a way for me to turn the situation around, and thus be a Hero Mommy. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to get to the altruistic moment though... I sized up the SUV behind me and noticed it was much newer, bigger, and shinier than mine. And since the median income of the households in my town is $80,000 with only 7% of the houses run by single mothers, I had a feeling the person in the car behind me had WAY more money than I did. BUT in the interest of being HERO MOMMY, I paid for their drink order. By doing so I was able to release all the bad energy inside me, and either help them with their bad day.... or make them feel guilty they were such a schmuck. Is that so wrong?

Of course there's always the chance they just bumped the horn with their elbow, but then what would I have to blog about?


Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Sucker for Strays

And the day started thusly: one kiddo wants to ride the bus, the other wants to be dropped off at school so he can sleep in a bit... not too much of a problem there as I have an appointment across from the school at 9am. So 5 minutes before we have to be out the door I decide to scoop the litter box which is now in it's new location, without the benefit of a door to shut it behind. Let me just tell you folks, when I bought this litterbox I went for the absolutely supreme deluxe model. The litterbox not only has a dome over it to hide kittywaste, it also has stairs going up into it, so I don't have to see the kitty poking it's head out making grunty faces. It takes about forty pounds of litter a week, but it's well worth it (or so I thought). So I ask Baby to get me one of those little plastic grocery bags so I can change the litter, but when I lift the dome I see that kitty #2 has been ripping the plastic liner with her wee bitty kitty claws. So I make a split second decision to change the bag also, which means lifting the forty pounds of SOILED litter out of the litterbox, and squeeze it (for security) into the plastic grocery bag. All went well with nary a grain of spillage, so I prepared to heft my load down the stairs, out the door, and into the garbage bin. Luck of all luck! On my way down the stairs (2 minutes before needing to leave the house) the bag broke and about twenty pounds of soiled litter and CLUMPS (you cat owners know what I'm talking about) went merrily rolling themselves down the stairs. With Baby standing not two feet behind me I'm ashamed to say that all I could do was stand there and say SHIT! about a hundred times while the mess unfolded itself in front of me. Now here's the good part; all I could think about while cleaning up this mess was that I finally had something worth blogging about.

Now THAT my friends, is healing.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Halloween... And then there were POP TARTS

I haven't been the best Mom when it comes to Halloween (I've been told by well meaning adults). First of all in Alaska where the kids spent their early years it's too darn cold and dark to go trick or treating. Then there's the fact that I'm not a big fan of candy gorging, and that I hate the idea of begging at the houses of strangers, and then you'll get to why this is the first year the kids have ever gone trick or treating. It started when my Mom had the kids last weekend, and called me asking why they don't have any costumes. I do believe she was horrified when I admitted that I was trying to let Halloween pass by unnoticed. So two costumes later...
It was up to me where to take this beautiful "I don't know" and her gallant knight. So during work on Wednesday I did a google search and realized that everything fun had happened the weekend before Halloween. Just imagine how happy I was as the candy-hating-Mom to see that Whole Foods was handing out things to kids in costume. "I can kill two birds with one stone!" I thought, always trying to do just that. So I raced out of work and dressed the kids up, then tore over to the Whole Foods to parade them around with their free Whole Foods Trick-or-Treat bags. But midway through something happened. I started to feel guilty at trying to short-change the kid's Halloween experience about the time Boo took a sample of grapes from the omni-present Whole Foods sample dome and Baby said (with a mouth full of sample pineapple) "Mommy this is the Best Halloween EVER!". So we went trick or treating in the neighborhood of my dear friend Sara, who actually had troops of trick or treaters tromping around everywhere. I hadn't seen that kind of Halloween activity since I was a kid, so I know I must've hit upon Trick or Treat mecca.

So now we're at today. I've arranged a delightful and healthy breakfast (cherry pop-tarts count as fruit, right?)
Hey... I had to bribe the kids for a day spent moving the sewing room into the office and the office into the sewing room. Hold on kiddos, mama's gonna start sewing again!

It has to happen now, because the kitties are taking over...