Friday, August 28, 2009

The Ugly (but currently freeing) Truth: Maybe

Yesterday was good. It was quiet, uninterrupted and rather enlightening. I took a majority of the day putting together my BEAST of a tote and I slowly came to realize that there is a good possibility that selling my crafts is not the thing for me. At least, not now.

As I struggled to maneuver the heft of fabric through my sad little "home ec" machine from possibly the 1980s (Did I ever mention this? My mother bought this from my old high school when they sold their Home Economics machines for something like 20 bucks or less. It has numbers on it to show you how to thread. Very fun.), I found myself stressing rather than enjoying the sewing. Stressing about the fact that if I am going to charge someone for this it had better be darn close to perfect, and stressing about what on earth I was GOING to charge for it and was I-in the end- going to make about 50 cents an hour, and stressing about all the sewing that I really should be doing for my little family and instead I was trying to make what was likely to end up as a rather small amount for the work I was putting in.

It was then that I was awakened to a couple of realizations. One, I am way more about the overall appearance and function when it comes to sewing and not concerned enough about flubs like this which really matter if I am going to try to charge someone for my work.

I do realize that I could take all that out and fix it. But it really just doesn't sound like something I want to do. I think that this darling monstrosity is nicely suited for my jumbly house and maybe not for a price tag. I think that I had delusions of churning out beautiful things while my babes sat happily around my feet fiddling with bits of fabric and string and the reality is that they are far more likely to be stabbing at each other with knitting needles and throwing around my lovely buttons. I think, for now, I am tabling the idea of making a buck crafting and will just continue to save a buck crafting around here.

Speaking of which, I finally finished Ellerie's window shades a couple of weeks ago and I just ADORE them!

And now, joining them, is a colossal tote-instead of a plastic bin- for all the stuffies.

It seems right at home here. Oh, and I DID enjoy making it for US ;-). You never know with me, by this afternoon I could be changing my mind. I do have a nice little pile of knit washcloths started.... maybe i'll just stick to those for tagging.

It really feels good to be so decisive. ;-)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Last Day Fimming

We hit Aunt Kathy's pool the other day for what I imagine is the last time this summer.

The nights are colder now and some leaves are already changing around here. Seems in some ways like we never really got a proper summer, but time goes forward and seasons change. I feel autumn coming and it's okay. A new time is sometimes like a breath of fresh air: like peeling off your winter coat for the first time, or sliding jeans over tanned, summer legs.

Today I am taking some other deep breaths and trying to dive back into my tag sale sewing. It has been waiting so patiently for me and I think, in spite of my initial excitement, that I have been subconsciously avoiding it because I am nervous. But the kids are taking a long weekend at Nana Sue and Papa Paul's and I have two whole days to myself while Mike is at work. It would seem that I need to take advantage, so instead of cleaning my car (horribly gross) or sorting the basement (horribly jumbly and the boiler man is coming Monday) or sorting and weeding out the kids' stuff (I like to pitch things when they are away... ssshhh!), I am throwing on Summer's playlist and then Dana's and maybe my own and I am going to make something.

::deep breath::

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Busy Days

Last week was a busy visit home. I forgot my camera (*GASP*), so all these pics are courtesy of Grandma Jean. Mom and I did a bit of thrifting for the kids' back to school clothes. The kids got messy and dirty in the woods and at the creek. And the highlight of our visit was the local county fair.

I tried to get the kids to beg Mike for a rabbit, but it didn't work. Ditto on the chickens and a horse. I never get what I want ;-) Darn suburbs. But the kids got what they wanted (a ride) in spite of the RIDICULOUS cost of the tickets. Seriously? 4 dollars for one spin on the ferris wheel?!?!?! NUTS. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for indulging them a little and helping to teach them that sometimes a little is enough.

We are doing our best to soak up these last few weeks of summer, whatever that ends up meaning. Pools, fairs, mud, bug bites, even stick-tights.......bring it on! All too soon we'll be back to buses and "schedules" and earlier bedtimes, so whatever business we get into we are trying to do it with a grin.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Recent Quotables

Cal: Mommy, all you do is feed us and do laundry.


Me: You guys are just the most GORGEOUS kids in the whole, wide world!
Tate (not missing a beat and with a grin): But not the nicest!


Birdie, to just about everyone: "Wanna come WITH me?"
"I want to go WITH you"
"I need to hold you."
"Where my Calvin go?"

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Weekend Happiness

More baseball:

Followed by "firepower" (according to Miss Bird):

Ending with ice cream for lunch, if you could stay awake:

Thank you Nana and Papa!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Upon the Sudden Death of Someone too Young

I have, upon occasion, run out of pins.
Stringing up my socks in the sun
My sheets dance in the breeze
I reach in my apron to find it
I wonder why.
There seemed so many when I started.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An Art Smock Tutorial (Otherwise entitled: Why I Should Probably Not Try to Teach Anyone How to Sew)

I have been spending my last couple weeks, on and off, shopping for back to school supplies, new shoes, and clothes. I have to admit that, while I tried to remain conservative (price and amount) with what I bought, I did have fun choosing new things for the kiddos. Someday, I know, they will dictate to ME what they want. I am enjoying still being in charge!

One of the items on Cal's school supply list was a smock for art class. It suggested an adult shirt, but when I pulled out one of Mike's old ones it was just SO huge on Calvin's body it seemed to me it would interfere with his creative process. Not wanting to hinder his artistic genius in any way, I decided to take it in. I took some pictures along the way, in case anyone else wants to try it. Although I doubt most people with a sewing machine would even need these instructions and am convinced that all of my readers that sew have more skill than I do, here is my rather feeble attempt at a tutorial. You will find that my methods are very "eyeball it," so if you like precision please feel free to use more measuring and pins and such.

1. Button a large shirt and lay it, placket up, on a cutting surface. Lay a long sleeved t-shirt of the child to be fit on top of it, lining up the necks.

2. Cut up the sides, under the arms and along the cuffs generously, leaving room for seams and clothing that will be worn under the shirt. If you want to shorten it as well, now would be a good time. I didn't bother.

3. Turn the shirt inside out, opening the sleeves. Making sure to leave the wrong side of the sleeve up, turn up the edge a quarter inch or so and press.

4. Turn again to desired sleeve length and press to hem the cuff. (If you like pins, pin here, but the pressing really should do it.)

5. Sew along the fold to finish the cuff.

6. Keeping the shirt inside-out, fold cut edges of sleeve and shirt body together. Again, right sides facing. (If you like to pin, pin here. I just hold it together and adjust as I sew.) Sew cut edges together with about a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam. To ensure the sleeves come out even, start at the cuff and move down to the side seam. If your fabric shifts and you're going the other way, your hems might not meet.

7. Repeat steps 3-6 for the other side of the shirt. Your shirt should look like this when inside-out.

8. Make a few snips with your scissors at the armpit curve, being careful not to cut the seam. Press open the seam (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this, but I'll assume everyone gets that) and then close it again for the next step.

9. Following your seam line, zigzag all the way from sleeve to the bottom of the shirt to prevent fraying.

10. Now, if your shirt was very large to begin with and had a longer tail than front like mine did, you may end up with an uneven match at the bottom of the shirt hem, like this:

Because it is an art smock and I wasn't too worried about this, I only sewed to the place the two came together, then I folded over the rough edge, pressed and zig-zagged it closed. If this is something that would bother you, you might do better to shorted the whole thing to the same length and hem it in the same way you hemmed the sleeve cuffs.

So, here is Calvin in his smock! Long, yes, but it will protect his clothes. But the sleeves are sort of long and loose. Again, I fear I might hamper his creativity with these sleeves. If you have this trouble with your sleeves, or you also are worried about your budding Rembrant, try making a case for elastic at the cuff.

11. Turn your shirt inside-out again. Turn your cuff over and press, allowing a big enough casing to enclose whatever size elastic you have chosen (i.e. whatever is hanging out leftover in your scrap bin). Sew along the folded edge again all the way around, save for an opening at the seam big enough to thread your elastic through. Back stitch at the beginning and the end of the seam so you don't tear the stitches when you thread the elastic. Run a safety pin through one end of the elastic and insert in the opening you left. Wiggle the pin through the casing by bunching the fabric around it and pulling the elastic behind until the casing is filled.

12. Adjust elastic to desired circumference and bunchiness. Overlap the two pieces and pull them both out away from the casing, keeping them overlapped. Run your machine back and forth a few times over the same spot to sew them together, being careful not to sew them to the shirt! Snip the excess and tuck them back in the casing. Sew the opening.

You're done! Your school is happy and your budding artist is free to create without fear of messing those great new clothes.

*I see where I could have done some more pictures, but I am going to stick to my theory that you all already now how to do this stuff and I am just giving you a quick idea. And, wow, I am pretty sure this tutorial took me longer than sewing and photographing what I did earlier, so this is going to be the only one for awhile!

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Start of Something Big

This tree is the start of a large storage bin of sorts. Anyone been reading long enough to remember this? I am attempting a few more... this time maybe with a bit more stiffness. I hope them to be able to at least sort of stand on their own, rather than just being HUGE (20"x20"x 25-30") floppy bags until filled.

I hope I can get it all figured out in a economical and timely fashion. I only have until November for these, and whatever oddities I decide upon, to be finished. I've been invited to sell them at a semi-local tag sale. Eeeeek!

I am completely UNconfident, but I am going to do it anyway. At Melissa's advice, I'm going to jump in with both feet and fake it until I feel it. If this goes well (or maybe even if it doesn't), I might consider etsy in the spring. I hardly know what to think of any of it. But here goes and please wish me luck!

I guess if nothing sells, I'll have a lot of Christmas gifts on hand.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Summer's Day

The kids have played outside so nicely this morning. I managed to mop my kitchen floor, after the pink milk spill this morning caused me enough of a gross-out factor to abandon my usual "oh, let's just wipe it up" policy. In a few minutes my load of diapers will be clean and I'll be hanging them out on the line. What more could I ask of on a summer's day? In honor of such a day, my favorite "new" summer salad. (Thanks Jen!)

salad greens
feta cheese
sliced strawberries


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Family Outing

Last night, we took the kids to their first baseball game with Uncle Andy and Aunt Amy.

It was really fun to be there as I have always loved baseball. It reminds me of watching the Yankees on tv as a kid with my Gram or listening to a Pirates game on the radio with Meg's dad. Some people don't like baseball because it can be rather slow in between exciting plays, but I think that's why I DO like it. I can follow what is going on! The game was lost on Ellerie, but she loved the music and clapping and watching the people. Tate was half interested, sniffly with allergies, and asking to go home after the second inning until he got some million-dollar popcorn and water. He was able to follow along some, but Cal just soaked it all in. He loved that he could watch the count and tried to decipher balls and strikes. It was because of him that we stayed until the very end.

Oh, I think there will be more baseball games in our future.

Nana and Papa, are you ready for next week?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Boys' Camp

My boys were all gone for a few days. My family has, for a few years now, done a men's camping trip to the NYS Adirondack region.

Cal has been once before and this was Tate's first time.

Three days canoeing

and sleeping in the woods with few modern conveniences.

They had campfires and adventures with Grandpa and uncles and cousins.

They hiked a mountain with a gorgeous view at the top.

I'm sure Mike could have told more about the details. He was there, after all. Mosquito bites on "the box," Tate "swimming" on the buckets, Unc carrying Tate all the way down the mountain on his shoulders, giant marshmallows in the hot chocolate. I didn't see this stuff, only pictures. Boy, I feel like I missed out.