Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Timing is everything

Yesterday I took Liv to visit my grandfather for lunch. These days, he's so weak that he's only awake for meal times. Anyway... the last time we had been there, a woman came to our door. She said that her husbad was in the room caddy-cornered across the hall and could hear Liv talking and laughing. I immediately apologized for the noise, but she said that it was not a problem at all. Her husband loved little kids and had been enjoying listening to Liv's little voice, and had sent his wife across the hall to meet the little girl that he had been hearing.

We ended up going across the hall for a quick little visit with her husband and to introduce Olivia to him. Let me tell you, my little girl made me so proud. She isn't phased in the least by the fact that he's old, or frail, or talks slow. Instead, she just sweetly stands in front of him and tells him, "My name is Olivia. I'm 4," and then talks to him about what she was playing in the room across the hall. It was a really sweet visit to a complete stranger.

Fast forward to today. It's just a little over a week later and I've brought her up there to see my grandfather again. As we were walking down the hall to my grandfather's room, I peeked in the room caddy-cornered across the hall. I expected to see the old man sitting on his bed, or in a chair, but the room was completely empty and someone was in there doing a deep cleaning on the room.

He had died less than a week after Liv's little visit. I never caught his name or really had any kind of long conversation with him, but I am oh, so proud that my little girl could bring him joy in those last few days of his life. It really kind of underlined to me also that sometimes the smallest of favors on our part can be the hugest of blessings to others. You never know when that time will be, or if you'll have a second chance at it. All you can really do is look for the situations when you can provide simple human contact or small kindnesses, and take them as the opportunities they are.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Best laid plans...

Before I start my blog post, I just gotta share this. This morning as I'm drinking my coffee and catching up on my Google reader reading, I noticed that Alexa over at The Swell Life gave me a shoutout. How cool is that???

Anyways, go check it out. And check out the rest of her blog, too. She's got some really cool photography up there, as well as accounts of other crafty ventures and random musings from her life. Altogether a really good read.

Now back to the regularly scheduled blog post...


Okay, so it's like day one million in our heat wave here in Arkansas, or at least it feels like it, and we were faced with yet another day around the house. At temps predicted to get above 100 degrees, it was too even for the pool.

Given that we were stuck inside the house for most of the day, Liv thought it would be a good idea to make cupcakes. What the hell, I thought, why not? But we're out of cupcake liners so I thought it would be fun to give our new cake pans a try.

Well, new to us cause really they're pretty old, got them at an estate sale and all. It really was a cool little estate sale treasure. It's a set of three nested pans, with the largest about 8 inches in diameter and the smallest 4 inches at most.

I pictured in my head that we could make the cutest little miniature tiered wedding-cake styled little tea party creation, but when it was all said and done Liv didn't want me to stack the cakes. I think the small-medium-large thing really sunk in her head because she declared that these three cakes were birthday cakes for baby kitty, mama kitty, and daddy kitty (all stuffed animals).

I tried and tried and tried to talk her into stacking them, but when she gently placed her hand on my arm and looked squarely into my eyes and said, "We can make a stacked cake the next time," I caved. So instead of the fancy girly-girly stacked little number, we ended up with this:

The smallest cake really looked more like a pale yellow iced ball than a cake, but she was pleased with our little creation. Especially after I let her put a few candles in it. It's a birthday cake for baby kitty, after all.

And of course after we put the candles in, we had to light them and sing happy birthday to baby kitty. My mother was there and joined in, and it was all big fun. Then we cut the little cake and Liv sat in her "big toy kitchen" and had a little party with the kitties.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fresh from the oven - Olivia Pot Pie!!!

Check it out - Liv's new Etsy shop, Olivia Pot Pie, is officially open for busines.

And don'tcha just love the name??? Yeah, I do too. I can't take credit for it. That's some Henhouse genius there. She suggested it in one of her comments to a previous post, and I kind of stuck in my mind. Liv loves saying it. She says it with real emphasis on the p's, kind of exploding p's or something. So a big thank you goes out to Henny for the name.

Anyway, go check out Liv's little shop. She's very proud of it, though so far there's only one item - a pink spider pig. It has the face and tail of a pig, but 8 arms like a spider. Only from the mind of a 4-year-old... Seriously, she is so much better at this than I am. I tried one little softie doll, and while it is very cute, it is so literal. Nothin' like a bright pink spider pig.

As soon as I can get a few other projects off of my sewing table, we'll start working on some more little softies. Cause I don't have enough going on already, right??? Hah.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

And I thought I was cool...

...making softies inspired by my child's drawing. This chick makes CAKES! Seriously.

I am now humbled.

And hungry.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

So much prettier in person!

So remember this post??? Well... the goodies came in the mail and I have to tell you - the pictures don't do them justice at all. And yet I still post a pic because how can I resist???? Look - Liv is holding the real Mittens and the artistic interpretation of Mittens. Marisa, you've captured Mittens little spirit so perfectly!!

The colors are so vivid and the shading so perfect. She's captured all the little details, from the butterfly on the face to the little heart tattoo between the eyes. The background of the field of flowers is exactly where I imagine Mittens would live. It's absolutely perfect!!!

Along with the original artwork, Marisa (Elegant Bloggery) sent us two full-size prints, 1 scrapbooking tag, 1 notecard, and 8 gift tags. It is truly an embarassment of riches! I find myself opening the envelope over and over just to look at all the goodies and hold them all in my hands. This is truly a treasure!

We went to Hobby Lobby last night to try to find a frame for the original to hang in Liv's room, but none of the frames there seemed to do it justice. I think now the plan is to check out an estate sale later this week to try and find a large ornate frame that I can spraypaint hot pink.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

OMG I'm glowing!!!

Why am I glowing??? Cause... check out what Elegant's done!

It's custom artwork created from your own child's illustrations. Isn't that the cutest thing ever??? I'm floored by her genius to come up with such a killer idea, and the artistic way in which she has executed it. And she chose Liv's picture of Mittens as her first project!! AND she's sending a package of the finished product over to us!!! Seriously. I'm so excited I can hardly stand myself!

My mother was over at my house when I opened the page, and I swear her mouth hit the floor. Same thing when I showed Tony that afternoon when he came home from work. And I showed the link to Liv this morning and she got this huge smile on her face and her chest puffed out a little.

Thank you such much, Marisa!!! You've made me one proud mama. I can't wait to hang the picture up in Liv's room!!!

You're gonna sell the you-know-what out of these packages.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Viva Las Elvis!

Many of you already know that my little Liv is a huge Elvis fan. She dressed up as Elvis for Halloween and had an Elvis-themed birthday party. She even went through a phase about a year ago when she would pretend that she was Elvis, complete with insisting that I call her "Elvis" when addressing her. Real fun out in public. Last summer she told some little boy that her name was Rick, we think after the name of a character played by Elvis in a movie.

Anyways, Sunday afternoon my friend Janna called to tell me that an Elvis impersonator - um, I mean, tribute artist - was going to be playing at an old theater just outside of Little Rock. So out came the old halloween costume. I was glad that when I made it, I left an extra huge hem in the pants legs and that I had pinched out some extra length in the torso. The child had grown so much in the last 9 months that I needed every extra inch in length that I could get.

The kids got such a kick out of sitting next to each other, rather than with their respective parents. Before the show started, the big entertainment for them was flipping the seat bottom down so they could watch it swing back to the up position. I had forgotten what a novelty movie theater seats are.
Here they are hamming it up for the camera.

Then, the show started. The two of them stared at the stage, wide mouthed. I'm not sure if it was the flashy jumpsuit, or the music, or the fact that he was really hamming it up, but the kids were completely transfixed. Liv kept her hands over her ears throughout most of the performance because she doesn't deal well with loud noises. The combination of wide-mouthed stare and hands over her ears just totally cracked me up.

Zach loved all the Elvis pelvis moves. He thought it was so funny to see someone wiggling their hips like that.

Near the end of the first half of the show, Janna and I took the kids up front for a closer look. We were up front for maybe a song or two when "Elvis" called them up on stage with him! He gave both of the kids their own Elvis scarves. And he had Liv show her costume to the whole audience, and everyone cheered for her.
She's not typically a shy child - she can walk up to anyone and start a conversation and make friends. But she does get weirded out when lots of eyes are upon her. So when he gave her the mike she said, "I want my mommy," and ran to me waiting at the side of the stage. Zach, however, stayed up there for a song and tried out some Elvis moves. He was pretty good, too.
(Notice the hands over the ears, even on stage. Notice also the resulting highwaters.)

Here's Little Elvis and her daddy during intermission. Awwww....

You would think that 2 1/2 hours of Elvis music would be enough for anyone, but when we got to the car, Liv asked if we could put in the Elvis CD. And would we bring it in so she could listen to it all night long while she slept. We obliged.
Viva Las Elvis!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Another Livvie kitty!

Thank you so much for all of your kind words to my last post! It really does mean a lot to have the support of so many friends during this whole process. I went to see my grandfather today, and he was awake only for the time that he was eating lunch. As little time as that was, it did give time for Liv to give him a quick kiss and hug. His eyes always dance when he sees her.

Yesterday we took a break from all of that and just had a day around the house. We watched some TV, went to the pool (in between rainstorms), and Little Liv also designed another stuffed cat. Same drill as before, starting with the concept drawing and and choosing the fabrics, me cutting and sewing, her stuffing. I think a little Etsy shop is in her future, whatdya think?

This one is a gift for some dear friends who just had their first baby. I told Liv that it needed to be a smaller kitty so that a little baby could hold it. Liv decided his name should be Goo-goo Gah-gah, since that is the word that babies say.
Here she is drawing it out. Notice the little dolly sitting next to her in the booster seat. Please DON'T notice the little bits of food still all over the dining room table. Apparently we don't believe in wiping down tables at our house.

This guy is probably 7 inches tall if you include his legs. At his widest (his face) he's probably 3 inches wide. His body is probably around 1 1/2 inches - 2 inches wide.

Lemme tell you, that narrow little torso made for some difficulty when trying to sandwich the tail, the legs, and the arms all between these two very narrow layers. I ended up breaking my own appendage/hole rule and had to put the turning hole at one of the arms. I did this so that I could leave one of them off until it had been seamed and turned. Then, after stuffing, I added the second arm and stitched the arm on and the hole shut.

See the little flower on his chest? Liv drew a big flower there in her concept piece, so I cut one out of felt and appliqued a little circle right in the center. (First time I ever did hand-applique, too. Yay!!) And that narrow little torso also proved difficulty here. The flower was too wide to attach to the torso before it was stitched and turned. (If I had, the edges of the flower would have been caught in the side seams.) So, I had the sheer pleasure of handstitching it down through denim on a curved surface with a hook-like head getting in the way of my hands.

Oh and here's a picture of his little backside, with a tail. It kinda looks like he's humping the blanket, but I couldn't figure out how else to photo him.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Where have I been???

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Things are a bit... umm... unpredictable around here at the moment. I think I've posted about this before, but my grandfather is in increasingly failing health. He has endstage congestive heart failure, and we've had him at a hospice facility for the last several months where he has received the most awesomest care. After having dealt with his various hospital stays earlier this year, all I can say is that this place is literally like an oasis.

Things have progressed along to the point that it is very near to the end now. I've started daily visits up to the hospice, with Liv in tow each time. Needless to say, it's draining much of my attention and emotion right now. I can tell it's getting to be a drag for Liv as she's only 4 and though the room is private and has ample sitting room, it's still a place where she has to be relatively quiet and where the world revolves around someone other than her for a change.

Up until this point, I've never dealt with death in my own family before. Friends have passed. Relatives of friends have passed. I've certainly mourned these losses, but it's kind of been an after-the-fact thing. I've never really watched the process so up close and personal before. It's odd that what you expect the process to be like is very little like what it is in reality.

Take tonight, for instance. We're all sitting around in the room - me, Liv, Tony, my sister & her husband, my mother, my grandmother, and my uncle. My sister, brother-in-law, and I are standing around my grandfather's bed while the others are scattered in various chairs around the room. While my grandfather is trying to impart religious conversion to the three of su (BIL, my sister, and I), my mother is cuddled on the little couch reading "Pinkalicious" to Liv, and my uncle is sitting in a side chair doing the crossword puzzle. In between my grandfather's admonitions I hear bits and pieces of Liv's story mixed in with calls for assistance with crossword clues. Tony is lounged in the window seat reading some geeky fantasy novel. We were a happy, almost lively bunch. We'd had many a same scene around a Thanksgiving table or a family dinner.

From the outside, the process seems so somber, so grave (no pun intended). But what I'm finding is that it's just like the rest of life - parts are painful, parts are happy, parts are tired, parts are funny. Being a perpetually awkward and tongue tied individual, I have dreaded these days, when I'd have to come up with just the right thing to say or just the right way to act. Those words and actions never seem to come to me. Strangely, though, there's little pressure about that. It's not words that he needs, it's comfort. And that's easily given by standing by a bed and holding a hand. I'm finding that I'm learning to know my grandfather (and my whole family) in a new light.

Sorry for the long post; I guess I just kind of needed to unload some things. If you've read down this far, thank you for lending a kind ear (or set of eyes, I guess is more accurate).

I promise my next post will be about something crafty!

Sunday, July 6, 2008


So recently I've been hit with the bug to make some earrings again. I used to make them waaaay back in the day. As in, this was one of the ways I earned extra cash in high school. My parents apparently had a problem with me working a regular job, but no problem at all with me lugging my handmade jewelry to the flea market at Barton Coliseum with all kinds of creepy fellas coming by my booth hit on me and try to get my phone number.

My sister, my father and I all made jewelry, actually. It was kind of a strange little family venture. I think my father's intentions were that it would bring us closer, but instead it kind of became a playing field for all sorts of family dynamics. I enjoyed making the jewelry, but I hated the rest of it. Sometime during my senior year of high school, I packed away the beads and never really touched them again.

So it was kind of a big deal when I realized that I wanted to pull out the pliers and start making things. My father has been wanting to put his earrings out on Etsy and he asked me, "Do you ever make jewelry any more?" Which got me to thinking. And I realized that I really DID want to make some earrings again. Though this time with no craft fairs or family competition built in. Just for fun.

Anyways, I ordered some new beads from Etsy and I made these little guys to wear to a 4th of July party. Red, white, and blue - get it???

There is absolutely nothing fancy about these earrings. They're just plastic and glass and really cheap silver-COLORED wires. And my wire working is nowhere near as polished as Idyll's. But I do think they're kinda fun.

And now that I've made one pair of earrings, it opens up a whole new category for supply hoarding! Yay!! I get to start buying beads again!!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Tissue paper collage

I'm guessing that's what I'd call it. It's kind of a franken-craft, a smattering of this technique and that all kinda ramshackled together to get this:

It's basically layers of sewing pattern tissue and die-cut shapes from colored tissue, with some drips from stamp pad reinkers for extra color. It's layered on acetate so it's a little see-through. (I photo'd it on top of some patterned paper to help show that.)

I'm really pleased with this effect. The pattern tissue makes the colors all warm and golden, and the mixed colors of tissue paper shapes and the reinker drops give it kind of a random effect, as do the printed lines here and there. And what you can't see in the picture is how SHINY this thing is. *sigh* It just makes me happy.

I actually ended up liking the composition on the one above so much that I'm a bit reluctant to cut it up. However, there were a couple of other sheets that I was more than okay with cutting up. They ended up as greeting cards

and bookmarks.

This bookmark is gonna have a gold grommet through the top, as soon as I can sweet talk hubby into setting it for me. Pitiful, I know, but I'm not one to be trusted with things that can smash my fingers or inflict damage to body.

Oh, and I just had to post the picture below. This is what happens when the little girl is unplugged from any electronic babysitters and left to her own devices for playtime.

She's sporting a paper headband that she designed and, except for the taping bit, executed all by herself. Her outfit was chosen because she and her pretend friends were going on an "adventure." The picture doesn't show it, but she's wearing fur-lined boots. And that jacket is very pink and VERY furry. Fine attire for July in Arkansas, I know, but I do love seeing where her mind takes her, and I love watching her conceive of a project and then complete all the steps necessary to make it happen.