Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanks Giving

One of our volunteers at the library says "Thanks for all the fun and games" when she's getting ready to go home. Another one I like from her is: "If I had been born smart instead of beautiful..."

So our Thanksgiving was spent in the big city of Boston, with family on both sides, and notably missing was Jake's last living grandma. Still, there were 22 people gathered around two tables, lots of reaching and talking over, serving and passing, laughing, relaxed, fun people who welcome anyone, if they're up for the experience. No they won't care if you don't dress up, or spill gravy on your shirt. The boys spent time with their only cousins (2nd cousins), playing video games and riding scooters. We ate seconds on dessert because we had to, with one cherry pie, two pumpkin, two apple, one cranberry, one pecan, and Helen's fudge cake.

I guess I'm over my fear of pie crust, officially.

We visited the New England Mobile Bookfair, which I love to hate for the fact of its absurd method of organizing books by PUBLISHER, then alphabetically. Really, just take a moment to imagine yourself navigating this sprawling footprint and tall shelves, with absolutely no prayer of finding the book you want unless you 1) ask for help or 2) look the title up on a computer to find the publisher's name, and 3) then try to find where in the store that publisher is located. Can you imagine a library organized this way?!
It's better to go there with nothing in mind, and let chance decide for you. As in the above title, bought purely on the title, because I happened by it, and on the fact that it was the recipient of numerous international awards including the 2007 French Librarian's Award for Culture. I love it so far.
Finally, on a 3 mile walk around Newton with my dad and stepmom onThanksgiving Morning. A sign I have always loved and the light was perfect.

100th Post!

Detail: Art in the Mail.

Remember back in October when I saw the 100th post milestone approaching? I decided to celebrate with an ATC Jam! Well those little chickens are coming home to roost now. (Remember, I made up the backgrounds and then sent them along to arty friends to add their bit, and then they sent them along to one of their arty friends, and now the cards are finished and back with me. I will send one card back to each of the artists who worked on the series!) I decided NOT to ModPodge the cards, which is the usual finishing process I add, because of the uncertainty of the materials...not knowing if a pen is smudge-proof, etc....and NOT wanting to ruin any little bit of this.
The cards are trickling in, some still in process, so I will update this post as they come in. Here's what I have to date, on November 30:

Art in The Mail
Iris, Amanda, Caroline

Do the thing that you think you cannot do. ~E. Roosevelt

Iris, Robinsunne, Ginny

Oh My Goodness! Beauty Abounds!
Iris, Carrie, Ella/Jenny
December 6~

Iris, Kimberly, Joanie

Dutch Apple Love

Iris, Erna, Kristel
(interested in ordering your own unique handmade stamp? this new-to-me blogger can help!)

And so, art friends near and far, keep me in mind for the art adventures of your own dreams. I like to play along and hope that Santa is bringing me more hours in the day.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Reusable Shopping Bag #2

Just my kind of Sunday: in my bathrobe until 3 p.m., lots of sewing time, some chores, watched a a fabulous art video by Traci Bautista, and was just mostly thrilled to be home all day long hearing the sounds of my family singing snippets, listening to the Beatles White Album Listening Party on the radio, weatherizing the windows, and constructing block/Playmobil castles.

So I finished Bag #2, and the learning curve is flattening a little! Things were easier! And check out my little innovation for finger-pressing the top seams (since pinning seemed wrong):
Handle seams came out straighter this time around. But the width between them is slightly more than 1) the pattern asked for, and 2) it was not on purpose. Oh Well.
Inspired by the amazing mixed media artist Bautista, mentioned above, I decided that my seams don't all need to be perfect-looking. Yup, here they are, NOT PARALLEL! Get this, Traci doesn't even pin stuff down when she is art-quilting!!!! I love it and can't wait to try.
I was watching the video because Robinsunne and I are currently dreaming up possibilities for more art in the Rockport Public Library in 2009, and we are considering Art Journals (remember Jonas's Travel Journal I made him?). Yes, amazing, creative, and sometimes alive with potential that it's a little overwhelming for us planners. More fun is obviously beckoning and we need to work out the details now.

I am most thankful for loving my life and work, being surrounded by people who make me laugh, always making time for my creative outlets, getting three eggs from our chickens yesterday (who mostly think it's too dark to lay more than the occasional egg lately), a husband who loves my quirkiness, an exercise class that rocks my world, one boy who twinkles, and one who doesn't want me to become "shrinkled." Have a happy happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Got My Vinyl Mojo On

Here's the golden light of middle November, 4:50 pm, on a very chilly day.

From the title of this post, you may be expecting pictures of some kind of wacky 1970s swinging outfit. Sorry to disappoint.
What I mean to say is that this afternoon I rewarded myself with some fabric preparation time, after a full morning of being quite productive on my schoolwork. My second go-round with the iron-on vinyl for the next Alewives Fabrics Reusable Shopping Bag was positive. I am learning how to best tame the vinyl animal. Working at the kitchen counter helped. Having two very busy and creative boys, drawing for hours on a collaborative city also helped.
Good lighting ALWAYS helps. You're saying, well, DUH.

Here's the nest of scraps at the end of my work period:
Now, to make supper for my two boys and one beloved extra. Maybe I will get a shower sometime today. Vacuuming, maybe not.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blogs, Book Tag, Busy---Oh My!

This is the morning To-Do slate around our house, which I write out the night before. It's an attempt to give fewer reminders verbally, or in the worst cases, what we call nagging. Jonas, a reader now, has words---some of which may need explanation, like "girls," meaning the chickens (not all girls, we have some roosters, but we used to have only hens and it stuck), and "drainer," meaning the morning chore of emptying the dish drainer. Sylvan, a pre-reader, gets pictures (and a couple of words because I didn't think that even 3 years of art school would result in a realistic-looking pile of clothes to be put away, using chalk), which left to right are: lunch, putting the silverware away, rainpants, and toothbrush.

But the real headline of today is:
Sylvan lost his very first tooth!

In Blog News...
You may have noticed a new Favorite Stop, over at the right: Miss Smith at Home. I feel like I have encountered my Southern Hemisphere soulmate down in New Zealand! Yay Miss Smith, for leaving a comment and letting me discover your wonderously fun blog. I have been parceling out the archives, trying not to consume too many, too quickly, to make it last!

I was inspired to try this delicious sugar-free recipe for Muesli bars, that I first saw here. I overcame the celcius to farenheit conversion, as well as deftly adapted grams to cups, thank you very much. Sweetened with a combination of dried fruits and freshly squeezed OJ, full of yummy oats and cinnamon, they were deliciously sweet enough to satisfy everyone here. And no one was wound up unneccessarily before bedtime. (Susan and Matthew S. and Jenn, if you're reading, you better try these at home!) Perfect with my tea tonight!

Playing Book Tag
So then Miss Smith tagged me in a Book Tag. Here are the rules:
Go to the closest book to you, not necessarily the book you have just read, or your favourite, but the closest. Turn to page 56 and copy out the 5th line, followed by the next 2 to 5 lines.

This was hard, I did so want to cheat, for something fiction-y. But honestly, here is what was closest:
Life Lists for Teens by Pamela Espeland, subtitled "Tips, steps, hints, and how-tos for growing up, getting along, learning, and having fun." It's awesome, so full of great information for teens to have, like "Top Ten Reasons Why You Look Hot," "7 Ways to Tell if You're Flirting or Harassing," "Twelve Reasons to Tell the Truth," "12 Ways to be a Great Guest," "10 Reasons Not to Get a Tattoo or Body Piercing" followed by "...And 10 Things to Do if You Decide to Get One Anyway," "25 Quotes on Goal-Setting," and my librarian's freedom fighter heart goes pitter pat, "10 Books Some People Don't Want You to Read." I plan to leave this book lying about in a few years, hoping that some teen in my house will find something in its pages.

So, page 56, 5th line followed by the next few (more than the suggested, I couldn't help it), in the section "If You Live with Someone Who Drinks Too Much or Uses Drugs:"

"...the help you need to feel better and to have a safe and productive life.
Remember the 7 Cs:
  • I didn't CAUSE it.
  • I can't CURE it.
  • I can't CONTROL it.
  • I can take better CARE of myself by COMMUNICATING my feelings, making healthy CHOICES, and CELEBRATING myself."
Pretty great advice even if you aren't living with an addict, just as general rules for living with other people in a complicated world.

So, Chris (Muddy Puddle Musings) and Heather (Beauty That Moves) are you up for playing along?

And one last P.S.
I have just been accepted to graduate school to continue my library science passion; since I am almost done with my bachelor's at very long last, why not keep the fun coming? I will be studying online at San Jose State University beginning in January! Hooray...and GULP!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reusable Shopping Bag # 1

Well, hooray! It's done, my little free pattern from Alewives Fabrics. My first foray into reusable shopping bags is complete, and just handed off to a very dear friend as an early Christmas present. Why postpone joy?

The iron-on vinyl was a little fussy, but I didn't hyperventilate. Too much.

If this bag doesn't help you remember your reusables when you head off shopping, I am not sure what will. And to boot, I think it might actually inspire a new kind of verve in the grocery store.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm a Winner Again!

Wow, fortune smiles... I entered a comment at the Share and Learn portion of the website at UrthChild and I won their October giveaway! The folks here are all about providing carefully-selected products that are non-toxic, organic, and made to last: a cool, eco-friendly, kid/mom-friendly web-business that specializes in great toys, natural body care products, and my family's favorite stop for kids' wool long johns. The question I answered was about how to reduce the use of plastic in our daily lives. I like it that UrthChild is connecting folks who care about living sustainably. Here's what I won:
Lovely Druide body care products! And since some members of this family have winter eczema, the lovely lady who runs this company picked out some products to help out. And she threw in some extras:
Thank you, Anthia!

Their November Giveaway is perfectly timed for the holidays. All you have to do is write a review of one of their many products and your name is entered to win three Holtziger wooden animals. Each time you enter a review, your name gets entered additional times! Take a minute and check them out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Home Day!

Tea and a scone, apple cinnamon (made by Husband at Home, while I lazed about in bed).

A few days at home and I am feeling so full again, ready to face the next few days out in the world. Today there is a lot of subtle straightening, laundry (all parts of the process), putting away of random items, hanging pictures that have languished too long unhung (or in the wrong place on the wall), etc. I have one Alewives Fabrics Vinyl Shopping Bag almost done, pictures soon.

The busy autumn nature table, by Sylvan:

I washed and hung up the wool items, in the warm dining room. Kids' woolie long johns and my favorite hand-knit socks:
I spent a lot of time trying to locate sandpaper to make the edges of this heart smooth, for a newly-turned (today!) 2 year old. Still haven't found any.
I sharpened some pencils. I know that sounds silly, but I am the only person in this house who seems to think that sharp pencils matter. And it also seems I am the only one who ever thinks about sharpening them:
In blogger news...
Ravenhill's Lilly got the tiny purse (remember, that's what started me on the sewing thing?) I sent! And a little Blij Als Mij inspired bookmark.

Erna, of Blij Als Mij, posted a teaser picture on her blog of the 100th post ATC project! Here it is in process...Can't wait to get a look in their finished form. Thanks for playing, Erna.

And finally, check out this post from PinkCrowStirrings. My girl Carrie in Chicago rocked the Obama acceptance speech last Tuesday, yup she heard it in person. And I love her photo of the swarming celebrants.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Filling up on inspiration

Today was my weekend! Mama Time spent with one of my nearest and dearest partners in all things creative, Joanie. We went down to lovely Damariscotta Mills to Alewives Fabrics (a blog also, and soon to be online with their inventory!) to fill up our souls with color and stock up on some inventory for holiday gifts. Gorgeous homemade reusable shopping bags---free pattern! And you can make any fabric spill-proof with this nifty iron-on vinyl:
Here are some bags waiting to be made---you may recognize some fabric from the stash:The store is so nicely arranged and well-lit, check out this Amy Butler heaven:
These folks have lots of classes, and in one of them they are working on a simple quilt, the Turning Twenty Quilt:
You buy a stack of 20 fat quarters, like this, and you are ready to get started:
This stack, above, had us thinking of Nikki McClure and her amazing papercuts and color choices. And it's the stack I kept going to, even though my bedroom would be happier with a more greeny-blue palette. I bought the pattern and am contemplating dipping my toes into a BIG sewing project like this quilt, since ours is now threadbare and showing its cotton batting. (Now, see, this is just what good retail therapy should be about!)

By the time I have grandchildren (and we hope for at least one girl), maybe I will be ready to make things that have to actually fit a person. How's this for adorable?
There were books, too...Sigh. And cute Amy Butler little notebooks and Lotta Jansdotter (remember her from this post?) notecard sets.
Such a great mood in the place, and honestly, who wouldn't be a happy worker, surrounded by all that color, working on sewing projects between customers?! Here are my piles and bolts, getting ready to check out:
I am all filled up and itching to get started, ready to go to work tomorrow, and ready for Sunday through Tuesday single-parenting with kids home from school (conference day and Vet's day).
I feel so lucky.