Sunday, November 28, 2010

what comes around

Of the many perks that come with four sisters, all of whom have great taste, the Rotating Boxes is definitely top five. Possibly even top three.

Rotating boxes? you might ask. What rotating boxes?

Why, the boxes of baby clothes and kid clothes and off-sized adult clothes that make the rounds between us. Three of these boxes came my way after baby #6 was born, which turned out to be extremely helpful, since we gave all of our baby stuff away after #5. Among the piles of undershirts and outfits was a bumper pad and crib skirt I made for my sister Nikki when her first was born. They look lovely on the white crib a friend gave us, don't you think? Even if I didn't get around to ironing them before putting them on (shhhhh, don't tell my mom that last part . . . )

Friday, November 26, 2010

To every thing (even overalls) there is a season.

When I met my husband, I owned six pairs of overalls. By our first anniversary I had relinquished all but one.

I admit, overalls transform bodies into shapeless masses. But it also must be conceded that they are the most comfortable item of clothing in existence.

My husband and I have come to a compromise - overalls are acceptable in one scenario: pregnancy. And so my sole surviving pair of overalls stays hidden deep in my drawer until month three or four when I gleefully don them and practically live in them for the next six months.
These were possibly the most unflattering overalls in existence when a friend passed them on to me: the legs were tapered and there was an excessive amount of roominess in the belly area. I created triangles of woven denim and inserted them into the sides of the legs. With that, plus my nicely rounded belly, they are perfect.
Pictures taken by Gail Pomare

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

color and shape

This past summer we moved from the midwestern cornbelt to the mountains, and the change in scenery has definitely marked a change in creativity for me. I find myself drawn to new colors and wilder shapes, and am constantly picking up a sketchbook or a notebook or a needle and thread. So for wednesday, a picture or two of my new muse: the Rocky Mountains, 100 yards from our home.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Flour Sack Pants

My mom loves rummage sales. She works as a volunteer for one at a local church and gets first dibs on the goodies. When she spots potentially useful items it is practically impossible for her to pass them up. My great-grandma, intimately acquainted with the Great Depression, lived with her family and instilled in my mom the importance of reusing, saving, and not letting things go to waste. I am in complete agreement regarding items one already owns, but am loathe to introduce excess into my home in an attempt to keep everyone else's things from going to waste.

The result of my mom's frugality is a house that is brimming with her finds. I chide her occasionally regarding all her odds and ends (all nicely organized and hidden away in closets and attics, of course). I tell her how much simpler life would be if she had less - less to clean, less to organize, less to maintain. I have the right to do this since I am her daughter and, as we all know, daughters know everything and mothers know nothing (a baffling phenomenon that is developing a bit too rapidly for my taste in my own home).

But this is where my logical assertions are confuted: when I go home to visit, what is one of my favorite activities? To sort through my mom's bins of fabrics, buttons and old clothes. Why, you might ask? To help her organize them or mercifully convince her to let me throw things out? No; on the contrary I am searching for brilliant items to use in my own projects.

And so my patient mother politely listens as I tout the virtues of a clutter-free life, whilst simultaneously raving about the treasures I find in her boxes. Can I reconcile this behavior with my ideals? Not really. Instead of dwelling on my cognitive dissonance or worrying about the likely scenario of my own daughters growing up without a treasure trove to sort through, I will move on to the topic of one of my favorite acquisitions via my mom.

When she offered me the use of some flour sacks she picked up at the rummage sale, I was thrilled. These pants were the result.
I love the charming mixture of old and new fabrics. Best of all they are already pre-stained, pre-mended in threadbare spots, and ready for carefree wear.

Monday, November 22, 2010

a mobile for the baby

Our new baby is about ready to make the switch from moses basket in his parents' room to crib in the kids' room. The crib just so happens to be located directly under the loft bed of the 9 year-old, which, for the record, offers the best array of mobile-hanging spots ever seen. The only trick was deciding what to hang, our previous mobiles having long since headed off to other people's homes.

Happily, plenty of little hands around here wanted to help make something new. The 4 year-old searched for "just the exact right" stick, the 11 year-old constructed origami shapes (including a praying mantis -- here's hoping the baby is soothed by insects), and the 9 year-old picked ribbon and decided which end is "the head side of the crib."

Et voila, a new mobile.

Next up, stronger cord to hang the Babolat tennis racquet the baby is mesmerized by on the "other head side of the crib."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Little Desk for the Artist

My four year old is competing heartily with me for the title of Resident Artist of the Family. The truth is, I can't compete. How can a person dedicate that much energy to constant creation? She is tireless. Her little brain never ceases scanning the objects in her vicinity and formulating new ways to put them together. Magazines are snatched up and cut apart for use in collages, unused envelopes are sliced open into oddly shaped canvases for drawings, paper towels and sticks are transformed into flightless kites, napkins are scissored into paper dolls and monster teeth. I am in awe of the volume of projects she conceives of and produces on a daily basis. If only I could keep up!

Unfortunately, in an unfair world where slacker mother artists have entire study nooks devoted to creative pusuits, our resident artist didn't have a permanent place for her art supplies or creations. Until I happened upon this antique child-sized secretary desk on Craigslist.
I used the leftover paint from the girls' dresser to spruce it up a bit. I have never seen Junie so thrilled with a project of mine. The charming compartments in various sizes and shapes seemed to have been designed solely to hold the treasures she forages outside.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Flying South for the Winter

My one-year-old is obsessed with birds. The birds I have drawn for her must number in the hundreds at this point: birds on the white board, birds on the blackboard, birds on my planner, birds on every scrap of paper she spots. At first I mindlessly drew the same old bird shape - a little sparrow or something of the sort (I'm not, despite what Olive might think, a bird expert) with a duck thrown in every once in awhile. Then, when Olive was no longer satisfied with one bird per drawing session, I had to get creative. My birds probably don't resemble any actual species, especially when I try to incorporate the scribbles with which Olive has already decorated the paper. She's usually pleased with them, but at times my drawings seem to infuriate her. She requests bird after bird and then yells, "No! Bird!" as I self-consciously present each one to her for her approval. Her limited communication skills leave me in the dark as to whether she is actually displeased with my bird drawing abilities or just desperately needs a nap.
Since our move to California, even as my husband basks in the prospect of no snow this winter, I have missed the telltale signs of fall: a dark gray sky with brilliantly colored leaves contrasted against it, particularly blustery days spreading a new layer of leaves on the ground, and, perhaps most of all, the honking of geese flying overhead as they migrate south for the winter. Northern California still has some fall color and cooler weather, but I have yet to hear the geese.

Olive's fascination with birds and my fond reminiscence of past autumns inspired me to create some more permanent bird art for her. This shirt had been sitting, unworn, in the girls' closet for a few years now. I cut off the sleeves and added a string of geese making their way across her collar.

Olive is happily making due with these birds this fall.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Work of Art

Two years ago I slaved over Juniper's Halloween costume for two weeks. Life was a bit less complicated - Olive was still in-utero - and so I granted myself the luxury of making a really great first costume for my offspring. She wore it enthusiastically two years in a row. Halloween this year was due to be the first year that Juniper didn't wear the costume I made.

Junie, however, had a hard time settling on an alternative. After my first creative costume triumph, I was privately dismayed by her clich├ęd brainstorms such as a skeleton or a pirate. (I fully admit and mourn my costume snobbery.) She eventually committed to being a "scary robot." My husband seemed enthused by the idea, so I happily handed the project over to him. She and her dad spent Saturday morning covering boxes with tinfoil while I was out running errands. The result when I returned was great! They even perfected her robot moves in time to the lyrics "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto" sounding in the background.

Then, about five minutes before we were due to leave for our first Halloween festivity of the weekend, she decided that she "just [didn't] feel comfortable" in the robot costume. (This is her most recent tactic in our battle of wills: "But Mom, I just don't feel comfortable going to bed right now.") She donned her old costume without a second thought, and left her dad's genius robot creation sitting forlornly in the corner. Thankfully, my husband's personal sense of accomplishment doesn't rely on public displays of his creativity (hopefully I'll eventually arrive there as well), and so he simply dressed in his coordinating costume and off we went.
Andy Warhol and his creation.
 I think this will be the last year Junie will be a can of soup. I am, however, placated by the fact that Olive is still young enough for me to have complete control over what she wears. Can you guess her costume reference?
Clue #1: My coordinating costume.
 Clue #2
Clue #3
 Salvador Dali and his painting, The Persistence of Memory.

I don't think I'd be amiss in saying that our costumes thus far have, in fact, been works of art.
But I suspect these two strong-willed kiddos will thoroughly stomp on my costume snobbery next Halloween - probably for the best.