Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Merry

We took a quick one night trip a few days ago to Stubbs L. Stewart State park and stayed in one of these sweet little impeccable cabins for the night. Nobody was around, well, except for the hosts and a big group of inmates working on planting at the campground. (Yikes! Glad I didn't know that until we were leaving). The weather was crisp and cool, even snowed for a bit. We also enjoyed a great hike the next day. The park itself has a lot of growing up to do to be more to my liking forest-wise, but all in all has some good facilities. I would highly recommend such a cheap and delightful change of scene.

I took a day to myself yesterday and spent from 9 am to about 9:30 pm out of the house. I got my hair cut and colored, had lunch with my aunt, did a little fabric purchasing at Bolt, went to a friend's birthday party at a studio where we got to play around making art, and then went and saw Juno! It was a really. Good. Movie. Please see it sometime if you can.

Wow. I can't believe Christmas is two days away. I'm in awe of time. And because I spend most of it moving 90 mph it's pretty much my own fault. From now until New Years there will be a little less frantic activity on my part and a whole lot more relaxation with the fam. (After a trip to drop off a TON of stuff I cleared out of our toy closet/playroom today to Good Willy's!)

A happy one to you and yours!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Christmas Craft Mania

Things have been truly craftastic around here lately. I know some can relate to the crafting compulsion, aware that it CAN happen, it can get done, amidst the hustle and bustle of busy family life. Me, I've been using spare moments during nap and after the kids have gone down at night to get things done. I do it because of a compulsion, yes, but also because making things makes me. And so, a report:

There is some definite homemade goodness going on for some of the kiddos Christmas presents. I made felt cookies kind of likethese that still need beady sugars adorning them for Jooge as well as a Little Pea for Avery, who loves the book so much she has taken to saying, "Plech," whenever she's not into a food. I have finished one scarf for Jooge in a lovely pomegranate red, am working on another pale pink scarf for Avery, am planning to make several "head scarves" for Jooge (per her request) as well as some of these felt barrettes, and a Raggedy Anne for Avery. I also made two of these. (The ones I made are above).

Each year we get together with my friend Donna and her daughter Jenna near the holidays. The kids exchange Christmas books and we do a little something for one another. This year we made a day of it and did these and the kids made these(with our help of course). We ate brownies with mint frosting. I saw this post and was inspired. My brownie recipe is from cooking class in high school and recipe for butter cream from a Mary Englebreit book that never fails me, plus a bit of peppermint. They were SO. Good. Yum.

I got my Christmas cards made during a "viewing" of this movie. I found some adorable paper similar to this at Oblation, bought blank cards, and got to cutting and gluing. Happy with the results. Next will be the photo to put in the cards.

I also tried silhouettes this year, after getting a great idea here. They turned out fairly well and though I didn't attach them to plates I'm hoping to put them in oval frames. I made extra sets too that could be given as gifts.

There will come a lull in all these flying fabric scraps. There could be a "plech" thrown in there when they open stuff. But I'm hoping for happy. That will be my present.

Welcome Little Tree!

It is up. It is decorated. It is aglow. And it's one of my favorite trees ever.

This year I wanted to find a different kind of tree, one which appealed to me a bit more than the usual Oregon noble. And wouldn't you know it, we found it at the first and only place we planned to go, a tree stand, not our usual tree farm. There was only one. A Frasier Fir. Just the right size (last years' towered a bit at 8.5 feet). This one's daintier with a lovelier shape, shinier needles, more fragrance. In the words of Parenthood's Cool, "It's good. It's shiny."

The husband did the lights. The kids and I did the decorations. I'm really pleased with it and plan on lying beneath it tonight to recapture the feeling, you know, the magic of being a child, lying on the ground and looking up, colored lights painting branchy shadows all over the ceiling.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Happy Wednesday

Woah, what a get up. Woah, what a smile.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Driver's Seat

Avery is getting rear molars and it's making for some peak whining let me tell you. She seems to spend her days paging through a pile of books and peeing on various non-toilets and then sometimes on toilets, but usually pooping on toilets. Oh yeah, and she's been ripping the pages of library books again, to the point that I'm out of packing tape. I send a great big long sigh her way and have banned her from being alone in her room with anything but a board book during her "nap." And, might I mention that getting that child out the door in the morning when it's time to take Jooge to school tests my patience to the max? I read in "Your Two Year Old" that when a kid is two and a half there are often so many battles between parent and child in just one day that it's worthwhile to bring in some back up. Mind you, I have a very sweet and endearing and smart two and a half year old on my hands but wow. I need to learn that whatever I DON'T want her to do, I must phrase it as a "Do." For example, "Hey, color on the walls! That'd be great!" For sure she would rebel and our walls would remain marker free.

Speaking of parenthood as the challenge incarnate, I saw Dan in Real Life and loved it. It's like Little Miss Sunshine meets The Family Stone. Great soundtrack, too. It made me think about my girls turning into teenagers. Gulp! Also, we saw Into the Wild. What a story. I thought about it a long time afterwards. Nature is a truly unbeatable force, all of us vulnerable in its grip. Speaking of which, it's been a year since the James Kim tragedy which I followed so closely last year. If the reminder of that isn't a good dose of perspective, I do not know what is.

Jooge is asleep so I must go and cut her nails, as it is the only time nail cutting is allowed between she and I and they are getting rather dagger-like.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Love Lives of the Preschool Set

Jooge is crazy about a new male schoolmate, we'll call him, "J." She told me she likes him because he has curly hair like her, twenty teeth like her, and he can stand on one foot, like her. He came over the other day and she was BEYOND pumped. It sent her into a frenzy actually, and she put on her princess dress and princess music and asked him dance to with her. Cha! He sat in the chair and loved it but hated it, you could tell. Another day we were going to school and carpooling with J and she was telling him about how she likes to wear her hair in braids. He was such a good sport, responding with, "So it doesn't get in your face?"

Tonight we are babysitting another of her friends who is a boy, we'll call him, "T". He's her original main squeeze. Though they are in her room tucked into her bed they are nowhere near sleeping, so when his parents pick him up he will be wide awake. But I'm not even trying to fight it. Instead, I'm listening to their priceless conversation.

Him: "I told you you could marry me."
Her: "I'm not going to marry you, I'm going to marry...(other boy she's into)
Him: "How 'bout you marry both of us, please?"

Him: "So, are you going to marry me?"
Her: "No, I'm going to marry both of you."
Him: "But I'm so good, first marry me, then marry...."

It soon turned into expressions of love.
Him: "I love you with my belly and my whole body,"
Her: "I love you with my eyelashes."
Him: "I love you with my voice."
Her: "I feel so good now!"
Him: "Me too, now let's go to sleep."


The 'ole hubs pulled out my kind of humor last weekend and hit me with it hard. He had been growing a beard over his week-long vacation. I love facial hair on guys, and he looked very cute with his. So I came home from running errands and the kids came running outside to meet me, shouting something about there being a "musician" in the house.(I later learned they meant magician). I'm bringing stuff in from the car, putting it away, half paying attention when suddenly my husband uses his announcing voice and bursts forth from behind a door, sporting his former beard shaved into a NEW shape......a "Franz Josef" beard. (This illustration is later found on the computer screen....)I haven't laughed so hard in awhile. We contemplated doing an "Olde Tyme" Christmas portrait but that would have required velvet outfits, so instead we just laughed a lot.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Grateful and Thankful

My brother Ryan did this picture when he was but a wee lad. (He supposes he was a first or second grader). It hangs in the bathroom at home, calls out, "Here's a family." It is the original bunch from which I came: my dad, mom, my brother Ry, me, and my brother Andy. Some of us are smiling, some of us are serious. One of us is smoking a pipe. I just love it. It is us.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Here sits my finished felted tote. Yay! It was so exciting to take it out of the washing machine this morning and see how it had transformed. I'm really happy with it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Being a Knit-Wit

Last year I took a felted tote class at Joann's. It lasted a few weeks and in the course of those I barely got anything started let alone finished. I'd imagined it to be one of those classes where you emerge, knitted tote in hand.

Not so.

For me, it was a frustrating experience because though I knew how to knit, I had definitely never constructed anything. That and I knit continental style, so whenever my teacher would show me something I was confused, because she did NOT knit continental style. She was a really sweet and patient woman, and an excellent teacher. But I couldn't even make an I-chord. It was slow going, lemmie tell ya and for me that's really hard because I don't like to be new at stuff and struggle and mess up. The other class member was GUNG. HO. about knitting and each week she'd come to class miles ahead of me, which was fine, but I wished I'd progressed further before I was set free.

So I finished the class and brought my just barely started knitted tote home on my round needles, which I'd just learned to use. I had my directions and I knew I had to knit a few more rows before doing something new but at some point along the way me and my tightly knitting self really mucked it all up to the point that I could NOT knit any further. When you knit in the round your knitting slides onto the little transparent connector "wires" when it's not being knit and somehow due to my terrible tension I really tightened that part and so you couldn't really even slide it on the needles. That and I'd bought needles that were too short so everything was bunched up all funny. All in all, my knitted tote didn't seem to be headed anywhere. It sat in my knitting bag forgotten.

Then a friend of mine, a fellow preschool mom friend and her daughter came over for a play date and she brought her knitting, because she was knitting a tote too. She was SO patient, worked on my knitting, took it home and fought the good fight, and brought it back to me the next day all better and ready to go again. She had to loosen it somehow so it would slide along the needles. She had to fix a few dropped stitches too. I tell you, everyone needs a good Knit Doctor and dag nabbit if I haven't located mine.

Since then I've been going great guns on my tote and it's getting somewhere! I'm really enjoying it. I've made some changes in my knitting, like actually writing down each row so I don't forget whether I knit or purl it. I am also keeping it loose, very loose. It's hard to abandon the white knuckle way I used to do it, but now I am able to slide my knitting along the needles and that is a good thing. I also bought longer needles so that my work is actually not bunched up on them. It's amazing how a year later a forgotten project can gain momentum again.

I'll show you how it turns out when I finish it.......

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Taming the Leaves

They're doing it again:
Taming the leaves.
Trying with rakes
and leaf blowers
to tidy nature.

But I prefer the mess.
In autumn's dry day
they have their glory.
Perfect papery shapes;
everywhere, flashes and sparks.

My leaf crusade is strong this autumn,
perfection beckoning,
color catching my eye.
I think of writing letters
on their smooth brown skin.
I think of giving them as gifts,
("Here, have this leaf,
and don't forget to smell it.")

I'm running but a leaf makes me stop
because it looks like leather.
And upon sniffing,
it's the smell of earth and maple and life-
Do the tamers stop to sniff?

I preserve them under heavy books
to be flattened and to dry,
that in the taking...
I'm taming them myself.

it's an afterlife
better than grey mush,
depressed and clogging the drains.
I'm not loud
like a leaf blower,
and I'm not killing them
like milk murders wheaties.

Selected carefully,
they travel home;
bright colors like fine art
in my hands.

Their destiny? Simple.
on a colorless winter day.

-Me, 2000
(ending modified 2007)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fall Bliss

The past two days have been beautiful.

Fall at its finest.
We just HAD to get out into that air. We hit our favorite park, which we call The Blue Heron Park for the blue heron we spot there sometimes. The light was perfect, the air was fresh, the kids got to galavant and pick up sticks that looked like Y's and pedal their trikes like maniacs. All was well with the world. Those moments you've got to grab and run with.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Uh, Just a Little Veklempt

As parents we teach our children by example. They inevitably absorb so much of who we are. It's reason enough to set the bar high, to do lofty things, things they can someday aspire to do too, noble, amazing, wonderful things.

Yesterday, my husband ran the Portland Marathon. It's a huge feat for so many reasons, but one of the coolest things about it is that he set an example for our kids. They believe themselves to be like their dad, so they will believe that they can do things like this too. He ran a marathon and planted little seeds in their minds about what felt good and what was possible.

There was that and there was the experience of knowing a participant. Being amongst all the silver space blanket clad finishers was electric. Downtown the girls and I found a clearing along the race and watched, amazed as runner after runner went by. They were young and old, big and small, tentative in their movements and steady. It was a windy day, there were plastic garbage bags circling in the air above us, giving the air a mystique and filling us with a thrill. We waited and craned necks until here he came, past the opera music's crescendo, clad in navy blue and looking great. Seeing him made me whimper a little, thick in the throat and teary. Emotion crossed his face and he stopped and kissed me and bent down and hugged and kissed the girls. Oh, what a wonderful moment. Afterwards he gave his medal to the Jooge, his sapling to Avery, his rose to me.

I will never forget that day. Our proud hearts, the awe we felt watching him accomplish his first marathon bolstered us as a family. Thank you for doing something so ambitious in front of us, for setting an incredible example. I love you!

I Haven't Forgotten About Bub

Miss Avery hasn't been featured here much lately so here are some of the things she's been up to lately. Lemmie tell ya, this two and a half year old knows how to par tay.
This is her (sitting glued to my side) on a horse drawn carriage ride during a recent trip to Salem. I mean if you're going to roll, a horse drawn carriage is the way to go, dog.
And if you're as curious as she is, what better thing to do than investigate a mysterious tunnel at Enchanted Forest. Wow. Times have changed since that place came to be. Many a dark tunnel to twist one's ankle in, many a freaky display, but all in all, so glad it's still standing, for I too went there as a wee one and remember it still as magical.

One of Avery's favorite things to do is go camping. We have a trip planned for this weekend and she asks about it nearly 500 times a day. Let's hope that highly anticipated event doesn't get rained out......

And yet, travelling to a destination is not required for a good time for Avery. NO siree, Bob. She's just as happy picking up pom poms with a lint remover. OR, when mommy isn't looking, disrobing and filling the sink with warm water so she can climb in for some fun.

Now Lola?

Julia (ehm, I mean, Laura) should really be called Lola because she has started speaking with a very distinguised British accent, just like Lola on Charlie and Lola. We watched this show very regularly for a long time, and only recently have seen just a few episodes, so I'm assuming she's imitating Lola though I can't be sure. I wish you could hear it, you'd be amazed at how she's grasped the nuances. Every "OO" sound is more like a "OOR." Incredible. One day she is going to be an actress, donning roles right and left, a prairie girl one day, cartoon character the next.......

Friday, September 28, 2007

Conversation in the Car

Jooge: Becky is a nice name. I like the name Becky.

Me: For who?

Jooge: Someone in our family. Maybe we could call Daddy Becky.

The hilarity.

Role Call

Tonight we got home from having dinner at IHOP and there was a message on our machine from the place where Jooge is taking ballet every Saturday.

The lady said something to the effect of:"We're just calling to find out why Julia hasn't been in class. We hope everything's okay, we just wanted to make sure. We hope to see her in class tomorrow."

I said to myself, "Hmmm, we've been to ballet every week thus far. Wonder what's up." So I called them and said, "Hey, just wanted to let you know, Julia has been there every Saturday so far."

And then it hit me. Julia has been there, but LAURA is taking ballet. You know, Laura Ingalls, Jooge's new nickname? Yeah.

Mystery solved.

Once we got it straightened out, her ballet teacher got a real kick out of it. She said, "Yeah, I was thinking, what a coincidence that there was a Laura Ingalls, but...." I kept wondering who she was thinking Laura belonged to these past few weeks, (was she thinking "the Ingalls" had just started sending her but forgotton to register?) but no matter. Her teacher at school now calls her Julia Laura, and I heard her friend tentatively approach her and pause before saying, "Um, Laura?"


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Oh Yeah, My Blog

The 'ole blog hasn't been getting much attention as of late and I feel that I am in a blog-rut, even thinking, "maybe I'm done." I don't know, has it run its' course? Am I through? The best part about doing a blog is that it gets me writing. The worst part is that for me right now it's at the bottom of the priority list so when it gets that far down, why bother?

As far as our latest and greatest, the Jooge is back to preschool and now attending three mornings a week, which is excellent. She is so happy to be back and it's been a nice adjustment because though we filled our summer, there towards the end I think she was really missing school for the stimulating, social, important place it is to her. I saw an immediate change in her after being back so for that I am glad.

Her first day was Monday and when we drove up to the church where our preschool has been housed since the late seventies there were cop cars and a crime scene vehicle. Just what you DON'T want to see driving up to preschool on the first day. The church had been robbed about an hour prior so the crime was fresh and the burglar was still running around somewhere with whatever he'd ripped off from the church office (one of those ski mask wearing burglars, yeah). It freaks me out but we will go out into the world where caution tape is hanging and there is dust being brushed on fingerprints. There's no other way to live your life.

Not only has the Jooge added another preschool day this year but I have taken on more responsibility. Being a co-op, it's run by parents and all parents have support jobs. About 12 of the support jobs serve on the board. As Class Rep I am on the board now. It's fun to be more involved but you definitely must draw the line as far as how much attention it gets. For me it's busy now and then at various intervals throughout the year. Anyway that's something new getting my energy, and probably has indeed replaced the blog at this point.

Avery is about to become 2 1/2 and is in the most mommy-clingy phase EVER. I have never been good with clinginess. Today we went to the park and she didn't even play she just sat by me on the bench, which was fine but what fun is that for her? The irony is she picked a book out of the library today called "You Come Back" about leaving and returning, sort of an assurance for little folks who don't want their parents to leave. I don't know what's up, if she's reacting to me being gone a few nights in the past few weeks for preschool meetings or what but it's been hard on both of us. Now that Jooge is back to school we will have more time just she and I and I'm looking forward to that.

If you don't hear from me for awhile, just know that it's because I'm momming, preschooling, wifing too even. Keeping busy indeed.

Sorry little blog.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Cabin

When I was 8 or 9 my dad and his dad built a cabin in a gated community out of Yelm called Clearwood. It is really a vacation house, but it is on a beautiful forested and private peninsula, overlooking Clear lake and Mount Rainier. I always thought it would have been cooler to be going to Disneyland on vacation, but looking back I have nothing but the fondest memories and I feel really lucky that my parents gave me that, much more lucky than if I'd been to Disneyland.

There we hunted for tiny green tree frogs in the sinks, swung out on rope swings over the water wearing boots that got filled with water, (my grandpa jokingly accusing me of "walking on water") rode in canoes and rubber rafts and looked down at the eerie huge logs that had fallen below the water, spied blue herons and bald eagles and ran from snakes, relaxed during summer afternoons in the hammock, walked to the store with my brothers to each spend a dollar, planning what we were going to buy on the way, did the penny dive and the jacuzzi jam at the pool, boogied with friends we'd brought to the labor day dances, swam in the lake and jumped off the dock onto boat cushions, explored the smaller lakes teeming with swimming salamanders, rode bikes everywhere, played tennis, hunted for pollywogs, rode our little scooters around, (our very very loud scooters). The memories go on and on.

In what was a perfect last hurrah, we went to Clearwood for the day this weekend. My parents, my husband and my kids and I were all together walking the trails and swimming the waters. There were the same frogs jumping into the water when we approached, the same logs extending mossy over the lake, the same huckleberries sprouting from stumps. When we went to the cabin bonds were strengthened with family and with nature. I want my kids to have that. It is one thing I was given that I want to give them.

Someone is renting our cabin, so we didn't get to experience THAT, but what a way to end our summer! I even got a bit of a sunburn, something that hasn't happened all summer. My parents talk about retiring there, and I would love it. It would truly feel like coming home.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Melting Away

Julia will smile for any picture if you say, "Don't smile!" first. She can buckle her sandals and now puts her face in the water during swimming class. She is really missing the frog we met on our camping trip, whom she has named Buttercup. She'll burst out with, "I miss Buttercup" at the most random times. She's big into coloring these days, that kid that wants, needs, excites in coloring in the lines. As always is her ability to assert her own will, right down to scripting my speech. Tonight on a bike ride she said, "Please can we run among the grasses? Say, 'I'll think about it.'" She wears only dresses, and doesn't want to be called cute, only "beautiful." She tells me I'm the best in her heart.

Avery rides a trike like nobody's business. She is also pooping and peeing on the potty pretty regularly and with much pride. "Want to come see it?" She sits and reads to herself nonstop. She is really into drawing and the people she makes, with huge eyes, arms and legs, are priceless. Over and over again, using sheet after sheet of paper she will draw these people and I will marvel at them. After swimming she gets really excited about standing under the hand dryer to dry her hair and most of the time she is shoeless. Tonight when I was tucking her in she said something like, "I am going to grow up and have blue eyes like you and I will be your mommy and read to you and tuck you into bed."

We made this together. Doesn't it look like a jelly-fish? It's made of metal thrift store kitchen utensils. The breeze makes it undulate and tinkle.

It is hot here and the evenings are warm, like summer showed up to give us a goodbye kiss before it disappears. I want to stop and breathe it in because it's fleeting, as are purple popsicles in the park after a neighborhood parade and days with young beauties, learning, breathing growth and possibility into each day.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Latest Sewing Project

Sometimes, I just feel like such a copycat wannabe when it comes to crafting and then blogging about it. But, there are so many people doing so many great creative things in the land of blog. For a compulsively creative person, I become inspired a lot and want to try things. Having my new sewing machine only encourages this.

This blogwas such a source of inspiration when I was planning our summer a bit, and recently inspired me again when she talked about her zest for making pj bottoms for her kids. She used thrifted sheets for a few of hers, and it got me thinking about all these cool muslin thrifted pillow cases that I have. Voila, they are now super soft pj bottoms for Jooge. I didn't have to race out and buy a pattern because I already owned one that I'd subsequently bought for a pajama making endeavor that ended before it began. Pillow cases ended up being just enough fabric to make a size five PJ bottom. I also found a thrifted Garnet Hill sheet and used two other thrifted sheets for other pairs.

I used Simplicity NEW LOOK 6421, and it's for both a nightie and regular ole PJ's with a button down shirt and simple bottoms. I realized the size was a HUGE range (from 3-8) so I'll be able to use this pattern for awhile and, as Blair did, make new sets as they grow. Maybe I'll even attempt the tops, though I like the idea of just getting a bunch of t-shirts to go with the bottoms. I cannot stress enough how simply easy this project was, and how, like Blair, I was hit with a huge crafting, well, boner, for making PJ bottoms. They go together zip zap (it is very unusal for me to not use a seam ripper when sewing and I did not need one once) and are so dang cute and Jooge definitely needed six new pairs of pj bottoms now that fall is nearing.

I am a virtual stranger to Blair, but again, I must send full credit to her for her inspiration for these. The details are lost in this picture so you might want to click on them to view their full splendor! (Such a proud mama I am).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Here We Go With the Vacation Post

Friday we got back from four nights of camping in the wilds of Washington State. My husband has spent many a night in his one-man mountain tent while backpacking, but this was our summer to do it up car camping style as a family. We got ourselves a tent, a camp stove, busted out the iron skillet and got a portable french press, bought comfy new bags and sleeping pads and away we went on a Sunday night, praying to find a campsite at Twanoh State Park where sites are not reservable, and where they ended up in fact being quite plentiful.
Twanoh has incredible history for me. If you've never been to the Hood Canal in Washington, go. It's beautiful. When I was about five we did our first camping trip there, returning a few times over the years. We have some of the richest pictures of my mom, pregnant with my youngest brother, (wearing a maternity shirt with an arrow pointing to her that says MOM and the sweetest homemade plaid maternity pants EV-ER munching blankly on a carrot stick as if to say, camping is hell). But for us, camping never felt like hell. And with our little ones in tow it wasn't hell. It was really fun. (Yes, my husband did all the cooking).
Twanoh is great because it has a forested campground but on the opposite side of the road there's a big saltwater beach with oyster and clam shells aplenty. We did a bunch of "beach combing" one of the days, uncovering big oyster-encrusted rocks to reveal hermit crabs, crabs, even a mini-eel that was, uh, kind of a surprise. You can just bet that the teacher in me was EATING UP all the chances to teach the kids about stuff we saw, like the tides, and the sea life, etc. etc. There's a trail there that we explored, spotting our first ever in-the-flesh hopping frog. We also did some trekking through the sweet stream by our campground. We found another frog that mommy captured for Jooge to hold. Good times.

The second two nights we headed north for an exciting ferry ride to Orcas Island in the San Juans and camped at a site at Moran State Park. We had no clue how gorgeous it would be, no clue how we would score on our huge, gorgeous, old-growth crowded campsite, but we did big time. There we communed with deer, swam in the lake, explored Mount Constitution and overall felt at peace and in tune with the beauty. The kids were SO. GOOD. Not every moment was perfection, but I've deduced that we have ourselves some very adaptable happy campers on our hands. And can I just say, I love the San Juan islands!
On our way home we stopped in Seattle for a stay that lasted less than 24 hours. Our luck with driving was incredible, sailing into Seattle right at 5, then sailing into Portland the next day right at 5. Ironically we hit our slowest traffic near Centralia of all places. Hello! While in Seattle we hit Pike Place Market, ate a Piroshky admired the pigs everywhere. We did the Aquarium and Ivars for tasty seafood, and then the dusty trail called us home right in time for a nap that nobody was used to taking and a nap that nobody did take. It's so good to get away from home, so good to return.

Friday, August 03, 2007

My First Smock

For my birthday my husband totally surprised me with a new sewing machine. I had my former machine for a good five years and there really weren't any complaints about it, but I'd recently had the conversation with him that there would come a day when I would want an upgrade. He took that and ran with it and now my machine reads: Viking Husquavarna instead of Kenmore. I think it's a lot more solid,(way less vibration) with more stitch choices, and even a needle-threading feature! Wow. It keeps tripping me up the way the top spool of thread is on its' side. (There must be some reason for this!) but I am really pleased with it overall. My old one will be there when friends need a machine to borrow or I want to sew side by side with someone, perhaps even a daughter one day. Oh the luxury.

I, like everyone online, recently bought a copy of Bend The Rules Sewing by Amy Karol. If you don't know who she is, I came across her blog at some point and love it. Her book is just like her blog, fun to read, something I go back to again and again. In both, she reveals wise tips, (about crafting and life) a sense of humor, and a brilliant sense of creativity and taste. I consider myself a medium level seamstress and though her book is geared for beginning sewers, I've gleaned many a worthwhile tip from it, as well as refreshed my knowledge of basic sewing methods. It's also SO PRETTY. Check it out and prepare to be inspired.

Armed with a new machine and a book full of 30 amazing projects, it was time to dive forth into a project and I chose to make Amy's adorable and simple smock. The biggest challenge, seriously, was having the pattern copied at 235% at Office Max. Other than that it was totally simple and straightforward. I used thrifted fabric, and for the pocket a piece from a Ralph Lauren bed skirt that I demolished and made into valances in Julia's bedroom. I modified the pattern by making the pocket long with tiny little segments to hold little clothespin friends, as Amy had suggested here.

For me the bias tape finish is genius but I still struggle (despite the special foot my machine has) with getting it on completely (especially if it's narrow) and sewing it neatly. I'd like to be more of a precision sewer I guess. I think it's a matter of sewing more often to perfect my skill, and slowing down or, putting less pedal to the metal. My machine will no doubt lift me to the next level of my sewing and carry me forward for the rest of my sewing life. Did I mention its' substantial feel? It totally makes me excited about sewing.

Overall, I think this little smockaroo turned out fine for my first. I want to make a few more in new fabrics, as this one is a gift for a friend's soon-to-be one-year-old. It will be pretty roomy on her, (the proof being that it was big on my two year old) but there will be lots of time to grow into it.

Yeah. Me likey.