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.

Mo Mobiles

A friend and I had a craft morning this morning, our goal being to make mobiles like the beautiful ones from Blueprint magazine that I admired awhile back. They came together fabulously. I made two and now they are hanging over our bed. I love the simplicity of these. Right now the circles are all moving just ever-so-slightly, gentle little rotations in their own space.