Sunday, November 29, 2009

Painting Pottery

You would think that I have all the time in the world to get crafty since I'm not working, doing any housework, or cooking. But, I really haven't done much of anything expect sleep, lounge on the sofa, and play with my son. Thankfully, after a month and a half of chemotherapy, a round of antibiotics, and a blood transfusion, I'm starting to have some energy and I'm getting the urge to make some gifts! My mom is a gifted paper artist and she has also been going a little crazy (though she won't admit it) without her craft and sewing studio. She takes care of my son, Ari, all day and then sleeps on a little twin bed in his playroom. Sure, she paints and colors with him and we've both been enjoying playing with homemade playdough, but she has no space or time to herself.

So, I set up a date day just for me and my mom to go to a local paint-your-own-pottery shop to give some time together and to use materials and make a mess without having to worry about clean up. We had so much fun! I made a pencil holder for Kandyce's kids art table (sshh! Don't tell) and my mom made a platter. I'll post a picture of the pencil holder once I finish the other part of the gift--I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I think the best lesson from this day is that I don't have to come up with the most original, totally homemade gift to enjoy myself and feel rejuvenated. My mom and I had a lot of time to talk, help each other, and admire each other's work. I was reminded of my old preschool teacher motto: process, not product. I'm looking forward to trying to make a little quilt next week with my mom's help, but I have to say that I would go back to this pottery ship. I think I would even go alone. It was very meditative and satisfying in an unexpected way.

Kandyce--I am aware that the pencil holder may not make it long on your art table. I made it knowing it will be enjoyed, but may also break and that's fine too:)
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Friday, November 27, 2009



Now is the time when all our preparations take on a deeper meaning. As the light time shortens and the dark time lengthens, we illuminate our nights with twinkling lights. Our house is getting dressed in purple(the color of waiting) and pink(the color of joy). Stars, snowflakes and lanterns will dress our branch and our tree. Advent. It is the season of waiting. It is a season of joy. A season of hope. A season of feast days. Nicholas', when we put out our shoes. Lucia's, when we greet the day to a candlelit breakfast made by KT. Ambrose's when we will make beeswax candles in honor of the patron of bee keepers. And two Marian feast days where we honor the woman who said yes. All of these things, so appropriately preceded by a day of gratitude help to direct our focus outward and upward, as we prepare our hearts and our homes for our baby King. Over the next few weeks, I will share with you our family's celebration of the season.

p.s. Please check out Garden Mama before noon on Wed. for a precious two part give away!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I love this time of year. I love how the cold and the snow keep us inside and focused on being together. I love how our family is maturing and developing. I love the family we are becoming.

As a child, I had the kind of Christmases Walmart's dreams are made of. The amount of stuff my sister and I received was totally and completely out of control -especially since most of it was never again touched after ripping off the paper. Ugh!!

Partly because of finances, partly because of having a large family and mostly because the desire to be less materialistic, DH and I, long ago, decided that was not the road our family was going down. We began by limiting the amount of gifts each child got to three in honor of the three gifts of the Magi (I know that event didn't technically happen on Christmas, but it works). This didn't include "stocking stuffers". Friends, you'd be surprise what you can fit into a stocking 3' x 1'(he,he, he... I was trying). Each year we have gotten better and better, arriving now at this year where we are making all our gifts. This has really helped us to focus on the giving, instead of the receiving.

This weekend, we decided, as a family, to purchase a goat and two chickens for a family in third world country through World Vision International. When I explained that this gift, for someone else, would be in place of our usual large family gift, not one complaint was uttered. I was and am so proud! They immediately set about trying to decide what our gift would be. It was a close call between the goat- chicken combo and the stocked pond-fishing kit combo. We decided that next year will be the fishing gift, as it was over twice the price of the goat one, and we will make a poster of some kind to help us to focus and save for our next years gift.

There are two charities, that I know of, that have these kinds of gifts for people to give. There is Heifer Project International and World Vision International. I am so grateful for these two organizations who provide us with ways to love others from afar.

P.S. For loving those less fortunate, near by, we are working on a plan. More on that later.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It has begun

... the mad dash to get all the Christmas gifts finished. Six weeks. Six weeks! You've got to be kidding! I have 8 children! Katie at matsutake says it best here. I know this is normal for many, but this is my first ALL handmade Christmas. The past two years, the children have made handmade gifts for each other while Ben and I have always purchased our gifts.

Not this year.

Not ever!

We are consumers no more (not totally, but you understand).

No, I have taken the handmade pledge and gosh darn it, I mean it!

I have found many resources to help with ideas for handmade gifts.

See, the list is almost endless.

And yet distraction still manages to weasle in...

this is the first Christmas thing I have made.

It turned out better than I expected. It makes me so happy when that happens!

What's that you say?

"But it's not a gift!!! What about your list, Kandyce? What about your 8 children and 10 nieces and nephews, Kandyce? What about your Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother (yes, she's still around), in-laws, and friends, Kandyce?!!!!"


I have a plan!

1. Some friends and I are having children-less meetings once a week from now till Christmas to get any covert crafting done.

2. The kids and I are schooling the first half of the day and crafting the second.


3. I have back up, quick and easy gifts just in case.

See, it's all under control, right? Right!?


p.s. check out GardenMama's wonderful, new giveaway. Now, that is something worth buying (if you don't win!)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Healing Art

This beautiful piece of artwork was drawn by Kandyce's second oldest, Gabe. It arrived rolled up and tied with a ribbon with all of my other handmade, healing gifts from this talented and thoughtful family. If you haven't figured it out yet, this is actually a cancer-eating dragon. I just think it's amazing. My mom framed it for me and we hung it right across from my bed so I can see it when I am recovering from chemo days.

There's more to this story: see the index card in the right hand, bottom corner? That's from Kandyce's dad's desk. He wrote inspirational sayings on scraps of paper and the family found them when he sadly passed away a few months ago. Kandyce was so generous to share one of his notes. It reads, "Courage is doing what you've got to do in the presence of fear." It just seemed right to frame these words with the dragon who is eating my cancer.

On the day my mom hung this picture, I had a Reiki session on the bed in that same room, right across from the picture. My Reiki Master came in and told me she had to leave her pager on because she is in Seminary and is working at the VA. I had no idea. Halfway into my session, she told me she felt like I was not going to have cancer one day and that I have an angel here with me helping. Mr. Bell (Kandyce's dad--I always called him Mr. Bell), was a very religious man who helped anyone he met. I knew right away he was there with me in the room and letting my Reiki Master sense him too. I wish I had a picture to post of my angel--you'd see that, like the fiery dragon, Mr. Bell did not look like someone you'd want to mess with (picture: ex-football player)!

I wanted to write this post to pay tribute to a great father we all loved who is still watching over us today. I also wanted to show how important art is. Children's art is so honest and bold and can really make the best healing gifts. If you have an ailing friend, artwork made in your home may prove to be very special and powerful to that person.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

First of many...

I hope. I completed my first project from the Alabama Stitch Book (forever more affectionately referred to as ASB). I picked a head band.

The headband project in the book used stenciling and beading. I really wanted to use the reverse applique technique they use in other projects.

So I did.

First there was the deconstruction of the t-shirts.

Then the cutting of the band pieces and the stenciling.

Then came the sewing.

I love the rawness of this technique; the exposed knots and seams.

I can't wait to make something else. Really, I can apply this technique to anything. I'm thinking of making a shawl next. There is a beautiful one in the book. I'm feeling a little neglectful though. I haven't crossed off as much as I'd hoped on my Handmade Christmas list. Actually, make that nothing. Oh well, maybe I'll just change my list and make everyone headbands!

I'm sure Grandpa would like that.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Garden Mama's Three Part Giveaway!!

Please check out Garden Mama sometime before Friday evening. She is hosting a great giveaway! Perfect Christmas gifts for some lucky little one.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A New Favorite

For my birthday this year, I indulged myself and bought a hefty box load of craft books.

I love books and love creating so what better gift?

One of the books I purchased is The Alabama Stitch Book.

To be honest, I thought it was different type of book when I ordered it and upon opening it, I was (it hurts to admit this now) disappointed. Well, the other night, for some reason, I picked it up and hopped into the tub to escape the lovely, albeit stir crazy children I had been trapped in the house with for two days (massive snow dumping). To my awesome surprise, it is phenomenal!!! Come and look...

All the projects are hand sewn, with great, basic hand sewing directions, and drum roll please, made from deconstructed t-shirts!!!! Yes t-shirts! I wish I could go page by page with you and show you the lovely detailing: applique, beading, reverse applique! Gorgeous, gorgeous stuff. I can't wait to finish hedgehog #2 so I can start on a project from this book.

UPDATE: Hedgehog #2 finished and also on matsutake!