Wednesday, August 31, 2011

wednesday's ode

To beautiful surroundings.

Monday, August 29, 2011

seduced by fat quarters

I try not to go to fabric stores too often, especially tight little shops where absolutely every bolt on the shelves is screaming out my name. Take me home! they cry. You neeeeed me! I try not to go in because I know I can't help myself; inevitably I'll come out with something. The laundry room is already home to two full bins of fabric, and does not have space for a third. If they start spilling into the garage, and the sewing and cycling worlds collide, who knows what mayhem might ensue?

I'm sorry, I try to tell the little fabric bolts along the wall, but I absolutely do not need to take you home.

Ohhh, but I do.

So in an effort to simultaneously assuage guilt and give in to desire, I have turned to the pre-cut quarters. Have you noticed how they tend to quarter the best bolts? And have you further noticed that a quarter tends to run a measly two or three dollars? I'm sure this is a sly marketing technique to draw one back for the whole bolt, like those little taster spoons at the ice cream shop or the ten seconds blips on iTunes. But as I happen to be extra-resistant to all forms of inducement (ahem) the fat quarters satisfy me just fine. I get to bring something home (maybe even two or three little somethings, if I've been extra good), and I get to spend very nearly no money. Perfecto, all around.

And to top it off, I've even found a good place to use those quarters. With three girls, a lot of skirts have made their way down the line in this family. Depending on just how fat that quarter really is, I can generally get a whole skirt out of one -- a neat little rectangle with a machine stitched hem and elastic waistband. Half an hour from off-the-stack-to-done. Tops.

If the quarter is more wide than fat, I might have to add another quarter to the bottom (so as to cover that little bottom). Two-toned and sassy in forty minutes, tops.

Now if I could just figure out a way to get a fat quartered skirt around (and covering) me, we'd really be rolling.

Friday, August 26, 2011

a little baby no more

By some miracle, the sweater I began last month is already done. After pulling it off the needles and blocking it yesterday, I laid it on the ground and immediately thought I've made a big mistake. It looked enormous. Maybe "making it extra big" on the assumption it would take me six months might not have been the best idea.

Then I put it on the baby.

Turns out this little boy has grown extra big as well. Not only is he walking and talking (does it say something about this crowd that his first word was "no"? In our defense, he has been saying some slightly intelligible variation of "what's that?" for at least a month), but he fits this sweater pretty well. There is still plenty of room to grow, and generous space for underlayers, but in general it fits. Oh my.

The only thing the sweater still needs are some buttons. I haven't got many on hand these days, and the votes are split around here on these options. What do you think?

Buffalo Nickels

Pewter Rings

Light Wood-Toned Plastic

or Puppy Dogs

Thursday, August 25, 2011

around the house: bonations, if you please

Some new decor has cropped up around the house since that girl of ours started horseback riding lessons. In the bathroom, the kitchen, the hallway, her room -- everywhere we turn there is a sign or box encouraging any and all to join in her cause.

[Please make donations . . . for a dream horse.]

[Lucie's mony for biying a Horse. Pleas keep out. Theanck you. bonate mony if you Pleas.]

[Small donasus to Help Lulu by a Horse.]

[for Lucie's berem Horse bonat Here].

[for Lucie's dberem Horse dbonat Here.]

I am happy to report that the whole family has been thoroughly supportive, bonating up a storm (voluntarily or vicariously through the medium of a scavenging five year-old sister). After nearly an hour counting the other night (mainly pennies), she was thrilled to find herself already over the $10 mark.

Keep it up, my girl. It's only a matter of time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

wednesday's ode

To beautiful surroundings.

Monday, August 22, 2011

date night

We went on a date friday night, leaving six kids in the care of . . . themselves.

Having older kids certainly comes with some perks. No more calls to a babysitter that include phrases like, "Hmmmm, how many of them?" or "That depends on which ones." These internal babysitters are significantly cheaper (free), they always do the dishes, and once in a while they even put themselves to bed before midnight. Excellent deal, all around.

So friday night we got out some food for the baby, started a couple of movies on various levels of the house, and headed up the hill. Six minutes and we were passing the reservoir; thirteen minutes and we were parking at the foot of half a dozen state park trails.

My husband and his mountain bike headed up one trail, and my camera and I headed up another.

I realize that spending the evening in different canyons might seem to negate the idea of "date night," but not so my friends. In the best sense of the term, date night for us is a regrouping and a release, an opening up of space to breath. Sometimes date night is spent on the couch reading separate books and sometimes we climb a hill and talk together for hours. Once in a while dinner is involved, more often a little dessert.

And sometimes we head up separate canyons. To each week its own date necessities.

That night we needed mutual solitude and slightly different motion. He needed to re-ride the course from the race he had flatted in on tuesday; I needed to take pictures that didn't involve wrestling the baby for the camera.

Come to find out, it's just a whole lot easier to take pictures with two hands I control, as opposed to a whole bunch I do not. An hour of slow walking, distressed orange light on the hillside, a few handfuls of crumpled blue spruce needles infusing the air with sap-smell. By the time we both got back to the car the sun had dropped behind the western slope and the deer were grazing the roadside scrub. We dropped the windows and turned on some music and let the car crawl slowly homeward, just like we used to in high school. Just like a good date night should end.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

another budding horse lover

Because surely nose picking and licking count as love . . .

wednesday's ode

To beautiful surroundings.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Paper headband tutorial

My daughter lives, breathes, and dreams art. Everyday objects in her hands are transformed into collages, tape-stabilized sculptures, hats... The other day a narrow roll of paper, initially just a medium for her pen drawings, made the jump to clothing via her busy hands and even busier imagination. I adored her paper rosebud headband.

She and my husband graciously put together this tutorial (Q & A style).

How did you make this craft?
I ripped it a couple times. Then, I twisted it. Tied it in two knots. And then I tied it around my head. You have to tie it a couple times. That’s all.

What type of person should do this project? Young/old? Boy/girl?
I think Kiara would like it.

How long did it take you?
Shorter than Henry’s awake.

What materials do you need?
Paper. Just rolls.

I'd better get creating - this girl is giving me a run for my money.

Monday, August 15, 2011


This second girl of ours has been waiting a long time for the chance to be consistently up on a horse. From the time she was a baby, it was visions of Horses Horses Horses dancing through her head. Costumes and toys and birthday visits to the stables -- everything and anything with an equine theme.

Seven years is an awfully long time to wait, but she's weathered it like a champ. Friday night we drove her west of town for her first official weekly riding lesson.

"I've never had a new student pick this up so quickly," the teacher remarked. "This girl is a natural."

We could have told her that.

Friday, August 12, 2011

from the same mold

The closest I ever came to despising sewing was during my massive cloth diaper project. My husband, sometime after the last piece of velcro was finally attached, said "You could sell these." I'm usually flattered by a comment like that - my handmade item good enough to be sold to the general public? This time, however, I laughed (a bit bitterly, it must be said) and said "Not in a million years."

At some point in the past, sewing, for me, was a frugal way to reproduce the clothing in stores I couldn't afford. This often ended in frustration - my finished product wasn't exactly the same. Only in the past few years have I finally embraced the gap between my creations and the goods offered to me on a rack of gleaming uniformity.

I carved this stamp to make tags for the clothing I create. The result was variable - the ink sometimes a bit heavy on the "S", sometimes too sparse on the spoon handle. But looking at the ribbon of imperfect stamps gave me a thrill that the piles of identical cloth diapers never did.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

vicarious farming

We don't have a farm yet.

I like to say "yet" because it gives me the sense that it's coming. Down the road; on its way. I've wanted acreage and horses and dogs and chickens my whole suburban life. But in reality, I don't know if "yet" really is down our road or on its way. And to tell the truth, I'm not even entirely sure how I feel about that.

Part of the problem is cashflow, of course, but that pales in comparison to the problem of the schism in my brain. For example:

I want to live on a farm; I want to live downtown.
I want to be way out of town; I want to be able to bike to the grocery store.
I want to live in a 200 year old house; I want to build a sleek, minimalist, eco-friendly place.
I want to have animals; I want to be nomadic all summer while school is out.
I want a huge garden; I want to be nomadic without the garden dying while I'm gone.
I want to stay here forever; I want to move around and abroad.

See what I mean? And that's only a small taste of my dream extremes. I shot the whole long list at my husband the other night, when trying to explain why I don't mind renting at present, since I have no idea where I'd want to be otherwise, and he was stunned.

"I think you think too much," he said.

No kidding.

But in the meantime, while I try to sort through this muddled brain, we're enjoying vicarious farm life at community gardens and local farms and the county fair. And for now that's definitely good enough.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

wednesday's ode

To beautiful surroundings.