Friday, January 29, 2010

Free-for-all Friday: Sweaters to Blankets

It's been a week of illness in our house and I don't even mean the cancer-related variety. We've had food poisoning (my husband and I, thankfully not the baby), fevers, lots of runny noses, and now pink-eye. My husband and I cried over taking our little boy to daycare, but he's barely been there. Needless to say, I haven't done much of anything except wipe noses and eyes and snuggle all day.

It occurred to me this week that I often say to Kandyce when she calls, "I can't talk, the baby..." (fill in the ending with anything from "is sick" to "is playing with playdough"). I have never, in all of these years, heard Kandyce pick up the phone with "I can't talk." And she has eight children! My husband and I can't believe how consumed we are with our one child sometimes. Until this morning when my husband generously stayed home to let me go to a coffee shop for a writing break, I started to even forget there is a world outside of my little house of illness. That's not a good thing.

So, my project today combined a little bit of charity with a little bit of Spring cleaning. I have wanted to do something to contribute to the Knit-a-Square project ( we'll keep that button up on the left under "We Wanna Help"), but I neither knit nor crochet. This charity asks for squares that will be made into blankets and donated worldwide--what a great cause! When I checked in with them recently, I found they have added a felted square option. I just happen to have a stack of sweaters that are not in good enough shape for Goodwill that I didn't know what to do with. So, I felted them by running through the hot cycle several times and then cut them into 8x8 squares. I'll be sending them off next week. You'll find the mailing address here.

Even though my project this week was small and didn't take any creativity, it just felt good to think of someone other than myself-my husband and I have spent a lot of time this week talking about our daily grind. I have decided that I will dedicate Fridays to projects for charitable giving and I'll share these ideas with you. So many of you are doing/planning great projects for Haiti and we'll be sure to post links and participate as much as we can.

Speaking of giving, don't forget that this is the last week to comment on any post this month to be entered into our January Giveaway. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

one small change: wipes no more!

If you haven't heard, over at Hip Mountain Mama there is a challenge. A challenge to make one small change. A change that will bring you closer to being the green mama you've always
wanted to be :)

My one small change came unexpectanctly. I had wanted to participate, but didn't want to bite off more than I can chew. One day, last week, as I sat down to change a diaper (the story of my life for the past 13 years! not bitter, I'm just saying....) and called for someone, anyone to bring me baby wipes. A sad call echoed back, "We're all out, out, out..." Now, this is not the first time I have been in this place; a squirming, naked adorably fat baby in one hand with a, ahemm, less than clean rump and nothing in the other.

this rump is clean :)

Normally, I would feel a sense of panic, carry said baby to the bath tub, wash and dry as needed, then proceed to the store where I would purchase the industrial size of much "needed" wipes and vow to never let this happen again. Well, not this time! This time, I called for a wet wash cloth and did my job. No panic, no bath, no trip to the store. It was lovely. And then a revelation, I don't need those wipes! I was just fine with out them! This is my one small change! "It's over between us wipes! My dependence on you is through!"

So, what to do? In my newly liberated state ideas came quickly. I took a thrifted pillowcase, cut it in half, long ways,

sewed up the cut side, added some elastic to one end and a handle at the other.

And what to fill it with? Well, after 8 little ones,
I have more receiving blankets than I knew (catch the tense change :) what to do with.
I tore them into wipe-size rectangles and voila! lovely soft reusable wipes.

Now when I call out for wipes, there is a small stampede because everyone wants to use the new contraption. I know their enthusiasm wont last long, but I'll enjoy it while I can.

I really love this new system. It is so much easier than I could have imagined. The transition has been painless. I believe I owe the handmade challege a load of thanks for transforming my way of thinking.

What to get rid of next?!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Project Monday: Picture frame and quilt

Monday's project is done:

This project has taken me a few weeks to finish. Before I tell you what I did, let me explain what this odd little framed quilt with buttons is for. Over the holidays, Garden Mama created the beautiful blog, the Wellness Tree Project that inspired many of you to make handmade ornaments to send to me and my family. These ornaments (over 50!) lifted our spirits and really made me feel how many women are out there praying and hoping the best for me and my family. I was so touched by these little creations, that I just couldn't put them away after the holidays. My husband and I agreed that we would find ways to display all of them--they really are works of art.

The first idea I had was to use simple vine wreaths that could really be for any season. Ornaments now hang permanently on the glass doors that open between our family room and dining room. Here is the bird wreath:

And the outdoors, little critters wreath:

Our son loves for us to hold him up to see each ornament. He especially loves the owls (he was an owl for Halloween if you remember) and ringing the bell dangling from that wonderful blue bird at the top of the first wreath. I am planning on making some kind of children's wreath or some other display for the ornaments made by children or that are especially child-like (a sweet, tiny little sweater, for example). There are so many more ornaments!

The idea for today's project came to me when I was thinking about how I could rotate different ornaments and other wonderful things above my desk. On a framed quilt with buttons, of course:
The project was simple: find an inexpensive frame and paint it until you like it. I like to prop up anything I'm painting on cans. I started with a grayish color, then decided to try a product that promised a crackle finish. It was a strange texture--kind of like plaster. I put on vinyl gloves and just smeared it on. It did crackle, while also looking a little like stucco. I really wanted to try liquid silver leaf, so I painted that on next with the sea sponge (the silver leaf was the original main idea that came from our theme). When that dried, it was a little too shiny, so on went the gloves and more plaster paint. The second coat didn't crackle as much, but I liked the old, peeling-paint look.

I made the quilt top using Moda Turnovers (which reminds me, check out fresh squeezed fabrics on Etsy for really wonderful fabrics!). I am a beginner, so I just "stitch in the ditch" and sometimes it's more like stitching up onto the curb. When I was done, I rummaged through my jar of vintage buttons and added eight across the quilt. Now I have the perfect place to hang my new handmade treasures from.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Free-for-all Friday: The Offspring

I have nothing to show for Free-for-all Friday.
It's been a crazy week:

a birthday

a sick, grumpy baby

and meals, always meals

But some of my children have been quite productive. And, you may have noticed, I love sharing the awesome creativity of my children. Did you know I have the most creative children in the world? I think it could be scientifically proven :)

Lulu, the 3 year old, did this project inspired by this...

and by her big brother, Gabe (11) who was working on

He must have been in a cheetah phase because then came...


Then taking a break from the 2 dimensional, he moved on to...

It's the beginnings of a squirrel. It is, clearly, a W.I.P. so I'll post more when it is done.
But, because carving takes time and needing some instant gratification,
he took a broken one of these

and made...

and so you can better see the hanger piece in there

That is a piece of a hanger, cardboard, wire, paper and
some little metal piece he found at the park.


He blows me away with what he sees in things.
I love it!

Yesterday, I found...

I think we are moving into a Rhino phase :)

 Josh (10) made this paper collage.

One is a Northern Cardinal the other a Red headed Cardinal
(we had those in Hawaii).
I especially love the detail of the feet of the flying Cardinal.

Miss 13, armed with her new camera, has been taking photos.

Isn't she beautiful?

She's got an amazing eye, especially for shadows. I think this camera may have been the best gift ever. And thank God for digital, for these are just a few of the 685 pictures in her folder!

So, though I have been a crafting slacker, my children have picked up my slack and run.

Just the way it should be :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Project Monday: New Leaf Installment 2

A New Leaf.

The possibilities were endless. So many things came to mind. But none felt right. Then I met a woman who called herself an artist. When I answered back, "me too", I suddenly felt like a liar. Am I an artist? I was one. What kind of "art" do I do? I'm not working with clay. I'm not painting. I haven't altered anything in forever. Nearly everything I have made this past year has had a purpose.

I have changed.

I took up sewing, felt work, toy making. I took the handmade pledge and have tried to live it. I have learned how to be creative and to have lovely, usable, functioning items in the end, which, honestly, is much more realistic for the season of life I am living. I have enjoyed every minute of this new way of thinking and being and, really, nothing is changing. But, it wasn't until I remembered the artist within, that I finally figured out how "A New Leaf" was going to materialize. So, at least, for this months project, you have the artist's take.

This is a leaf.
(I took the literal road.)

First, the how. I made the leaf out of sticks, craft paper, tissue paper and paint. It hangs from a string of twine in a cardboard Nectarine box. One side is meant to look old. The other new. In front of the old side dangles a tag that reads, "turn me over". The box was first painted black and then ModPodged with paper bags torn into random, irregular shapes.
The stick on top of the box anchors the leaf.

Now, the why. I simply liked the challenge of making a leaf. I am very pleased with the outcome. I especially like the old side. The new side, as you can see from the pics above, (please ignore the hideous linoleum floor, it's days are numbered) went through a couple different looks. When it was green, it didn't seem "new" enough (though amazingly real). It looked too natural. I like the gold.

Going deeper. I want to be this leaf. I want this year to be a turn around year. There are so many personal changes I want to make. I'm hoping this leaf will serve as a reminder.

In writing this post, I have realized that though I have changed, it is not in the, "Oh my gosh I've lost myself" way I initially thought. The artist isn't gone. She's just... broader, more versatile, more mature. I am so pleased and so happy, so amazed. This gives me hope for the ways I'd like to grow in the year to come :)

Here's to 2010!

Turn me over.
I'm ready!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Free-for-all Friday: Fabric Bowl

While we'll post finished projects that fit with our monthly theme each Monday, Free-for-all Fridays are reserved for any side projects, finished or unfinished, that we're working on. We might also show you what other creative mamas are up to for a little inspiration heading into the weekend. Feel free to post links to your own creative projects in your comments!

Since my sewing machine and I took a break from crafting this week to rest, I thought I'd show you what my own crafty mama was up to. In addition to baking for her own blog, she made this bowl from scrap fabric and clothesline. You can find directions in the book, It's a Wrap: Sewing Fabric Purses, Baskets and Bowls. The bowl cost under $10 to make and that was mostly for thread--what a great gift!

I'm finishing up my week of relaxation by going to afternoon tea with a good friend. We have an elegant tea house here in Lexington, Ky with a delicious menu. This week I did manage to print out this menu and laminated it to add to my son's tea set accessories. He's having a lot of fun hosting afternoon tea parties:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Project? Tea Time

It's project Monday...and I don't have a project to share. Here's where this blog of ours crosses over between our crafting lives and the messier stuff. If you've been following along, you know that I have breast cancer that metastasized to my liver. My liver is doing great--happily regenerating every day according to the scans. The problem is, I feel like the chemo is killing the rest of me. After my dose this past Tuesday, I quickly developed neuropathy, basically nerve damage. I've been experiencing numbness in my fingers and toes, but it's now more like burning pain. I'm also having eye problems. You can imagine how frustrating it was trying to thread my sewing machine to make a little tea cozy for my son's new tea set. It just didn't happen.

I was disappointed and cried, I admit. But then I thought, why not learn something from this month's theme? I need to turn over a new leaf, so to speak, a new way of thinking. Did I mention we're putting out 18 month old boy in day care for the first time this week? There's just a lot happening that I never would have imagined for my life. I can cry and agonize over it all (and I still will occasionally), or I can take a deep breath and take it easy.

While my little angel was taking his afternoon nap, I made some tea and just sat down.

Cinnamon Ginger Tea:
4 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

Bring water and spices to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. I added a little Agave Nectar and a splash of soy milk.

Ginger Green Tea:
4 cups water
2 mint green tea bag (I used decaf)
1 piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
lemon juice
honey or agave nectar

Bring water and ginger to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add tea bags and steep, covered for another 5 minutes or so. Add lemon juice and honey or agave nectar to taste.

What is tea time without a little treat? My mom was served these cookies, called Biscoff on the plane home from my house and loved them. So, she ordered enough to last through this century and sent me several bags worth. I should really say that she sent them for her sweet grandson who loves a little afternoon cookie snack. Who doesn't? Ari actually discovered dunking this week. I gave him a Biscoff and glass of milk and, without any prompting, he dunked the cookie...a huge grin spread across his face followed by the sound of pure joy. I experienced the same joy today. After fighting with my sewing machine, struggling with my numb fingers and ever-sore throat, I decided I deserved a spoonful of vanilla bean ice cream on a Biscoff. My throat and soul were soothed.