Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The science of cleaning up

So this morning I was moving a little slow so I parked the little one in front of the TV while I had my coffee. I know, bad mom. Whatever. We keep the TV on PBS at least.

Anyway, after watching an episode of Sid the Science Kid, she gets up and goes to the computer and pulls up the website for the show. After clicking around a little she comes to me, bright-eyed with ideas. Seems she wants to make a chart. A chart of what, I ask. Of food, she says. In my big toy kitchen.

Whoa... Mama wakes up and has to do some quick thinking. Her room is a total pigsty, as is the den, and the last thing I want to have happen is her getting out more piles of small objects.

The wheels start turning... Hey, I say, I've got an idea for a chart. "How about we make a chart of all the stuff on the floor in here." Her eyes light up. I go in for the kill. "We'll make a mark for each thing we put away, and when we're done we'll know which kinds of toys were most on the floor."

She took the bait.

And so she drew out this chart. I wrote in most of the labels, but she did write in the words "cat" (for all her stuffed kitties) and "science".

Based on our chart, it seems that there was more dress-up left out on our den floor than anything. Art stuff comes in second, and science pulls third place.

If you've got little ones around the house, or not, check out the science songs over at Sid the Science Kid. (Sorry I can't provide links to the individual songs. Their website is set up with a scrolly navigation thing that makes it where I can't.) They're kicky, fun little ditties. Be sure to check out the ones about:
  • Charts. This was the inspiration for today's cleaning activity. "I'll be checkin' out charts, cause charts rule. A chart is a handy-dandy scientific tool. It gives you information you can see with your eyes. Charts help you vis-yooo-ah-liiiize... You get the picture, so do I."

  • Decomposing. "De-caaaay.... De-caaaay.... Nature happens that way. De-caaaaay.... De-caaaay..... While you were dozin' they were decomposin'"

  • Estimation. Sounds like a tween angst song of sorts, but it's actually about estimating. "Cause that's my.... best... guess.... Guess I mean more.... or... less..."
Gawd, I love PBS


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pillows are done - ALMOST

So I set a goal of getting all of the pillows made by Christmas. And I made that goal - almost. I had made the one pillow earlier so my client would have time to ship it to her brother. That left 5 more pillows to make. Really, only 3 of them needed to be by Christmas morning, as one of the pillows was for the client and one for the daughter who had helped her plan the project.

Anyway, I was able to get all 5 pillows pieced, stitched, and turned by the 23rd. I stuffed 4 of them and stitched them shut. Then, oh then, the unthinkable happened. I notice a small tear in the bottom of one of the ties on the 5th pillow. A small tear with big consequences, as it was the result of pressure of the stuffing on silk that had degraded with time and staining.

Because the tear was at the bottom, at first I thought I could enclose the tiny tear within a new bottom seam line. But when my sister came over that evening to offer her advice (she's an expert with old fabrics) she tells me that the entire tie is bad. If I try to keep it in there, it will continue to tear. So now I have to take apart the pillow and replace the one stripe.

Not so bad except that all the stripes are pieced on to a muslin foundation (for added stability). Oh, and the side seams of the pillows? All reinforced for extra strength and extra trouble to rip out.

Luckily, the pillow that was damaged was the one meant for my client personally, which meant that the Christmas deadline was flexible. I devised a plan to rework the pillow, which I'll post about tomorrow, and called the woman to set up a time to deliver the 4 that were complete.

Before I handed the pillows over, I took pictures of each of them so I could share them. I worked hard on these and I'm darn tootin' proud.
This is a pillow made from the same set of ties as the first one I made. (I took photos of the piecing on the front and the back.)
This one was made for the client's mother. The difficulty on this one was using all these ties with very strong diagonal stripes. I couldn't put them next to each other because it was just too much on the eye, but I only had one tie that would go in between - and much of it was damaged.

This is the one for the client's daughter. Her house is decorated in more muted, beachy tones so we chose grayish, bluish ties for her pillow.

Finally, this is one that was made for the client's sister.

This afternoon I got the final pillow fixed. Tomorrow morning I'll stuff it, photo it, and post it out here. Then this project will be done done done done done.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas chaos, the good kind

With all the rush of end of semester, pillow making, last minute shopping, cookie party preparing, I've been feeling like Christmas is happening without me. Swirling all around me with it's craziness, but all the good stuff going on while I'm busy trying to keep all the pieces up in the air.

This Sunday provided the perfect antidote to swirling, out of control Christmas craziness. It came in the form of the live nativity at our church. During the Sunday School hour, all the kids met downstairs and got costumed up in the form of shepherds, angels, sheep, donkeys, etc. Some came in already dressed up, but most were costumed out of a collection of sheets and fabrics and tinsel and sashes. It was such a beautiful chaos.

Children and animals alike held court in the altar area of the sanctuary. There was a donkey, several goats, a sheep, somebody's pet chickens (in a cage), two dogs, and a puppy. One of the goats was wearing an elf hat, and one of the dogs was wearing a shepherd costume. Not exactly historically accurate, but full of good cheer.

The children and the animals stayed up front throughout the entire church service. Every now and then a toddler angel might take off wandering around, only to be shepherded back into position by an older angel or beaming parent. There was the rather stinky load dropped by everyone's favorite donkey and you could tell the exact moment the smell wafted up to the choir, and the goat that nearly drenched a little girl when he relieved his bladder. Mary had to keep shooing the animals away from 4-month-old baby Jesus. The animals, enthralled with the baby, kept their backs to the congregation which gave us all a great view of a row of goat butts.

Not exactly a Norman Rockwell scene, and yet it was absolutely beautiful. It was just what I needed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cats really will pee on everything you love...

...including the Christmas tree.

'nuff said.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

An ambitious undertaking

Remember when I vowed not to make myself crazy this holiday season? Well, Christmas is nearly here and I have -once again- bitten off more than I can chew. This time, though, it wasn't the birthday party or the Halloween costume or Thanksgiving.

It's from this:

This pillow is part of a larger custom job I've taken on. My client (ooh, I love saying that - it sounds so PROFESSIONAL!!) wants a set of 6 pillows made from her father's old ties. She's going to give one to each family member on Christmas morning. The one pictured above is the one I had to get done early so she could ship it to her brother. The remaining five need to be done before Christmas Eve.
This project, along with the end of the semester (which was last week - WOOHOO!) and my new gig as Sewing Editor at Craft Gossip has turned me into a crazy woman the last few weeks. The good news is that I'm over half way through with the large pillow order, I posted my grades last week (WOOHOO!), and our Christmas shopping is all done.

Sewing machine is beckoning. Toodles,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A new venture for me

Lately my crafting pursuits have been taking me deeper and deeper into the world of fabric. Really I guess I should say I've been pulled -back- into fabric, since really that's where a lot of my crafting obsession originated.

Anyway, this pull back into sewing has gotten me reading all sorts of sewing blogs. I have no idea how many blogs I subscribe to in my Google reader now, but I have a feeling it borders on being obscene. I spend far too many otherwise productive hours of the day trolling the blogs seeing what everyone's been sewing while I've been, well, trolling the blogs seeing what everyone's been sewing.

Which brings me to my newest venture.... Yesterday I started at Craft Gossip as their Sewing editor. Don't believe me? Here's a link to the sewing blog itself. See the little picture at that top right? That's me!!!! (Sorry, I'm just a little bit excited...)

Feel free to subscribe to it with your own Google reader accounts. Hint, hint. :)


Monday, December 15, 2008

Merry Christmas to me!!!

I know it's been a whole week since my last post, but I've been a very busy girl! Between the normal holiday madness, a large custom sewing job, grading finals for my writing class, and something else which I will announce tomorrow (no, I'm not preggers, sorry to disappoint...) I've hardly had time to breathe, much less post to my blog...

BUT I got the most wonderous present in the mail yesterday and I just have to share!!! Remember the AREtsy swap that I posted about last week? Well, I got my own present in the mail and all I can say is,


Lookie! It's a gorgeous scarflett from none other than Idyllhands herself!!

I am so in love with this! It's warm and soft and snuggly and the colors are just fab!!! I'm so cold natured - this is going to keep me warm this winter.

I am indeed one lucky girl. If you're insanely jealous of my scarflett (which I'm betting you are) and you want one of your own (which I'm betting you are), head on over to Idyllhands' Etsy shop and get one for yourself! Just don't go trying to steal mine cause you'll have a fight on your hands...


Monday, December 8, 2008

AREtsy swap - check!

Simply Stacy Jewelry - if you're reading this hide your eyes!!!

This time two days ago I was thoroughly convinced I'd be the last AREtsian to finish her swap. But a conversation with my good friend Denise and a hot and bothered evening with my sewing machine, and I've now completed my swap present. YAY!!!!

I'm posting it here cause I'm just gosh-darn-it proud of it and I don't think my swap partner reads my blog. I'm hoping she doesn't.

In case you're wondering what this fabric wallet looking thing is, it's a notepad cover. Inside there's a 4x6 notepad and a pen. The black line thingie across is the elastic that holds it closed.

I love this so much that I'm already planning to make one for myself, and my mother, and my sister, and my mother-in-law. Christmas, anyone? I'm thinking this will also make a good addition to my Etsy shop, though I'm thinking they won't make it there until after Christmas.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Writing practice

Not mine, the little girl's.

She brought this to me yesterday and proudly told me that she wanted to practice writing so she copied some words out of her Garfield comic book.

I'm keeping this forever.

On a totally unrelated topic, I was finally able to pitch these shoes into the trash this morning.

What's wrong with them, you ask? Well, let's just turn them over and have a look-see at their soles.
Umm.... yeah, those are HOLES in the bottom of the shoes. I now have a new pair that looks suspiciously the same from the top, but no worn out holey soles. And some pretty dressy shoes, and some very warm brown suede numbers that are super warm, super comfy, have a full heel, and - get this - FUR LINED even. Yay!


Monday, December 1, 2008

Emoticon in the sky

This is so totally not craft-related, but sweet husband just sent me a link to this news article about the smiling face that will be in the night sky over Australia. Their diagram is so cute - it's like an emoticon in the sky!


Thursday, November 27, 2008


If the only prayer you ever said was, "Thank you," that would suffice.
--Meister Eckhart

Looking at my blog history I'm seeing that it's been 10 DAYS since my last post... OUCH.
Here's a little peek at what we've been working on the last few days. I think this is one of my favorite projects I've ever done with Olivia. It's a garland of things that little girl is thankful for.
She put so much of herself into this project. We spent one afternoon to cut the leaves, one night to paint them, one morning to write the words and create the garland. She's really getting into writing letters now, so I let her write the words herself.

And close-ups of each of the leaves showing what she's thankful for:

Paper and hearts

Dad and mom


Yellow (her fave color)

Friends (note the upside down F)


a close-up of the smaller leaves

Ever thankful for all the gifts in my life,

Monday, November 17, 2008

I knew it'd happen sooner or later....

...I was just hoping it wouldn't be this weekend.

Liv had just "rediscovered" one of her stuffed kitties, the one she had gotten for her birthday two years ago. She stroked its soft lavender fur and hugged its neck. Then she starts inspecting, as kids often do - looking first at the ears, then the big stuffed bow around its neck. Then she sees the tag.

Liv: Why is my name on this tag?
Me: Because you took it to school last year for nap time and we had to label it.

Liv looks closer at the tag and then her face lights up.

Liv: Oh, look at this! (pointing to the label) It's a DISNEY kitty!

Yes, little girl has learned to recognize the ubiquitous Disney logo, stamped on everything from stuffed animals to lunchboxes to bandaids. And apparently this little Disney logo makes the items more valuable.

We had the little "do you think this makes this a better kitty?" followed with "it's just a word they put on the tag" talk, but it was all lost on her. The logo-twinkle never left her eyes.



Thursday, November 13, 2008

Inspiration: Paper Box Tutorial

Take a look at this paper box tutorial by Sweet Miss Dasiy at Sassy & Sweet! I know, there's lots of tutorials out there for making any number of sizes and shapes of paper boxes. But I liked this one for how easy it will be to customize and how perfect it will be for holiday giftiness. She shows it with fancy tea packets, but it could also totally rock with hot chocolate, cookies, soaps, craft supplies, anything.

I also like the thriftiness of this. The base is plain cardstock and the fanciness is one strip of patterned paper. If you used 12x12 cardstock for the base, you could get this box out of one piece and still have some scraps left over.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I'm still knee-deep grading papers, but the good side of that is my avoidance of said papers has resulted in a cleaned studio. Semi-cleaned I guess. Okay, so my mother would refer to it as "a good start," but for me it's clean enough to work in. Funny how a clean work table and the absence of clutter on at least 1/2 of the floorspace results in a flurry of creativity. It's like viagara for impotent crafters.

It was on the heels of my cleaned studio high that I went into the local Target store. There, in the dollar spot, they had a bin full of these wooden games. You know, the ones where there's a little picture on the back, and you have to roll some little ball bearings into holes spaced around the picture? Anyways, they looked like collage fodder to me, so I bought one and took it home. What can I say, I'm a big gambler - the whole $1 and all.

Guess what, folks? With a little bit of prying, you can take these suckers completely apart! Dissassemble, paint, collage, bead, and then reassemble them into little shadowboxes. Like this one:

I went back that night and bought a dozen more little games - I mean, shadowboxes. I would have gotten more, but I don't have room to store them in my semi-neat studio.

Viva viagra!

Grinning in my crafting afterglow,
PS - Did you notice those little smears around the top edge of the glass? Apparently E6000 has some sort of paint thinner as an ingredient. I also noticed that it was crazing the silvering on the backs of my little acrylic gems. I love me some E6000, but this paint thinning thing is causing me to rethink it as my stand-by. Anyone know a better all-purpose super strong adhesive?