Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Earth Day Tutorial

I made 24 reusable sandwich/snack bags for 5th grade no trash lunch day. I also sell them in my little store.
If you are sew inclined, you can make your own.

Cut 2 7" squares of cotton. Press down 1" on top of each.
Cut 1 6" piece of sew on velcro and align across the 1" of cotton you pressed down.
Stitch close the both long edges of the velcro and repeat for other piece of cotton.

Put 2 pieces cotton right sides together and stitch using a 1/2" seam allowance, turning at bottom corners to sew along three edges of bag.

Clip corners, turn, press and think you are wicked cool.

Don't feel sew inclined. Visit fourcorners to buy yours...buy one get one this week. Oilcloth are listed, but cotton will be posted later today. Share a bunch.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's a Gateway Craft

chalk cloth coasters...write your guests' names on these babies so you don't drink someone's cooties.

sweet little thank you notes perfect for any day

this amazing little bag would fit a nice gift of chocolate or something small and amazing, like jewelry or Mary Kay...Just saying.

When I say I love this new machine, the Cricut Expression, I do not understate the intensity of my emotion. I dreamed about it last night. My heart races just a tiny bit when I'm watching it cut out cool new things. I watched the intro video today (good projects at the end, but those presenters need presenting class) and figured out how to do some more cool stuff.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Yippee Yahoo Hooray, it's play with my Cricut Day!

So, I got a bee in my bonnet about this Cricut Expression machine. Got ridiculously obsessed with it. Spent most of last Saturday skimming ebay because I had to have one. The problem with "winning" an auction is you have to wait for your goodies to arrive.

I started looking for the postal guy on Monday, pacing in front of my windows, desperate for a growl from the doggies alerting me of its arrival. Really. Like a kid at Christmas.

It finally came yesterday. Look what I've been up to! It is so exciting, I wanted to skip 3rd grade OK History Day. I had to tear myself away. Tell me what you want; I will cut it for you. Yea!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An Equation

A little math problem for you. What do you get when you combine the following.

An old dog who can barely go at half speed for maybe 50 yards with a full bladder, a young dog who thinks he's qualifying for the Olympics with a full bladder, and a frustrated woman who wants her exercise, trying to balance the ipod, the phone, a heart rate monitor and a full bladder.

Answer: a very unsatisfactory walk.
Let's not forget that the said walker forgot the plastic doodoo bags so when the dogs dumped their waste in the neighbor's yard, I promised, to the windows, that I would return.

Old dog tired at 10 minutes. Heart rate not really all that steady. Young dog flying after squirrels and ripping skin off my fingers as well as his leash. The walking poops, which totally gross me out, the pee in every grassy patch which are many. (This is the dogs, okay?)

Finally reach home, after figuring out how to hold it all. Drop off dogs, grab the bag, run down the street, grab the poo, run back to the house with poo slapping against my leg.

I will have to think this through.

Say Hello to the Best Graphic Designer I know

Mary Kay Edwards, stationary and graphic designer extraordinaire, is a funny, engaging and super interesting woman. Her work is extraordinary, fast and well-priced. I met her through her fantastic and funny child Sydney, who makes me laugh every time I talk to her. I want to share MK's work and ideas with you.

She agreed to an interview via Facebook. Transcript of our discussion below. An important note, her last sentence is a good one for us all to remember. My asides, because I can't shut my mouth, are in italics.

Do you have a design background?
Not really. I've always liked doing it though --I just didn't call it that.

How did you decide to start doing design? How long have you been at this?
I've always liked doing my own "projects," but didn't really take myself seriously. When I was younger, I would often "hide" how much I worked on something because I thought people would laugh at me like "You need to get OUT more, girl!" all the while secretly spending hours enjoying working on creative projects for school or home. Eventually, friends would say "Hey, make me one a those things you made..." and I'd do projects for friends. Once I got married and had kids it was even MORE fun because kids are such visual learners -- I would make little charts for chores or star charts to earn privileges. Pretty basic stuff, but looking back it all helped me learn. If I came upon something I didn't know how to do I'd just fiddle with it till I figured it all out.
How many of us do this with the thing we love, the thing that drives us. Quit making excuses and go get it!

How would you describe your work?
Most of the money I make comes from specific paper projects such as stationary, birthday invitations, note cards, wedding invitations, birth announcements, programs, etc. Those are the projects that I do as my "paying job," if such a thing exists. But as far as my life's calling, I just love to make things cool! Whether it's a labeling system for my closet drawers or name tags for the kid's backpacks or whatever, I just like to make things funky and fun. I've "designed" scavenger hunts for birthday parties, theme ideas for events, table decorations, etc. I'm currently working on a slideshow for my big kid's 8th grade graduation. It's too much fun!
MK is totally fun and funky. Her house's design lends itself to that, as well as her expert hands-off parenting. (She designed much of the house herself. Yes, that is how cool she is). I admire so much about her. Her work room is glorious and so smart. Can you tell I like her?

What is your favorite project?
Good question.... Hard question! I like anything that requires me to learn something new. I also like helping people out, so it's really fun when someone in a jam calls and says "I need 20 birthday invitations for a mermaid swimming party -- Just HANDLE IT!". I like it when people trust me to take their general idea, and run with it.

How did you learn to do what you do?
I'm self taught, so trial and error is a great teacher.

Where are your products available?
I've been fortunate to have friends who support my need to express my creativity. I don't advertise -- most people just hear about me by word of mouth.

How do you balance your family and your creativity?
Baaaahahahaha! Balance. That's a good one! No, my family always comes first. Ok, usually... if I'm not busy playing computer. The joy of it is that I can work late at night or when the kids are at school. The nature of my "business" is that it is, at it's most fundamental nature, my hobby! And I squeeze it in whenever I can. It's also fun because my kids like what I do, and like to learn about it. They sometimes surprise me with their projects, too.

Is your family involved in your biz?
Yes. They are free labor, and I'll use them! My husband is SO supportive and proud of anything I do. He's great at cheering me on. And my kids are a terrific resource of what's hip and current. Plus they're just the right height to load the printer!

Where do you get customers?
Friends, word of mouth, people who have received something I've done as an invitation or as a gift.

What tips do you have for others wanting to pursue this?
Well, philosophically , keep doing WHAT YOU LOVE. Even if you don't get paid for it. On a more concrete level, I always try to give my customer a tiny bit more than what they order. Sometimes this is in the form of a few extra notes than they ordered, or coming in a tiny bit under budget, or delivering their job a few days before deadline. I just try to go above and beyond what is expected.
This is so true of her. She designed my logo with just a tiny bit of thought from me. Then when I decided I was ready for business cards, she placed the order and got me some cute stickers too. When the package arrived, it was beautifully wrapped and the extra goodies were legion. I got a huge magnet for my car, a pen, and a key chain. All with my little logo. I felt so important.

What have you learned?
Great satisfaction comes from doing an excellent job at something you love!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Make your Own Oilcloth Key Fob

Don't you just love the word "fob."

A fun little project anyone can do...with the right tools.

I had scraps of oilcloth left from myriad projects. Cut into strips 2" by 12". Fold the long sides toward the center and finger press into place.

Stitch using long machine stitches with oilcloth down the lenth of both sides. Right sides together at short ends, stitch several times across to secure.

Turn right side out and finger press. Using a small hole punch, pierce a hole near the stitching on the short end. Set eyelets according to package directions, but remember to work on a hard surface and use a good hammer and a good grip (at the end of the handle).

Open keyring with gloriously fake nails and slide into place on eyelet, cursing if your fakies break or get pockets...but I digress.

Voila! Your very own key fob.

Or you can buy one at my etsy shop.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What's So Good About It?

If we had been there, surrounding Jesus during his last hours, I know I would have been confused.

First there's this party; then there's a feast where Jesus washes 12 stinking sets of feet, beautifully referencing his ultimate service. Then there's a trudge to the garden in the middle of the night, the admonishment to stay awake, the arrest, the scatter.

More confusing and painful events will occur for these lowly followers.

My 5 year old asked me about Good Friday this morning. As I began to tell him the story and his soft little boy fingers stroked my face (and kind of got on my nerves), I realized not for the first time the complexity of the story. So much had to align; so many layers of meaning converge; so many people were involved in different ways with differing motives.

The thing I want to focus on, though, is that as they witnessed the foot washing, the praying, the arresting, the healing, the disciples DID NOT KNOW Sunday would be so amazing.

Again I try to put myself in their sandals. Their leader, their friend, their teacher again did not live up to human hype about rulers. Rulers don't serve, they thought. Kings don't ride donkeys, and they sure as heck don't get arrested on trumped up charged, especially without a fight.

But I think the most painful, confusing part for them would be hearing their King say, "It is finished," hang his head and descend into death. They did not know SUNDAY was coming.

Removed by centuries we easily gloss over Good Friday. We know Sunday is just a matter of days and hours. We know the war is over; we know the end of the story. We read the last chapter.

So as I move through a day where there's no school, no work, nothing big planned, I pray that I am called back to the followers' spot in history. To reflect on what they felt as they watched him die. I have always appreciated the disciples for their humanity. They are prideful, eager, sometimes a little slow, impetuous, ambitious. In short, they are people. They are not always painted in the best light, but isn't that most accurate? They did not know Sunday was coming.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

This Isn't What I Had In Mind

For Christians, this is kind of a big week. I don't mean getting new spring dresses and hair cuts for the kids (although I do have a good story about handmade dresses and my Grandma...). It's a big week because without it, Christmas would be irrelevant.

I woke this morning thinking about the disciples. If we were there then, it would be four days, just four little days, removed from this biggest hullabaloo...when Jesus rode into Jerusalem to a spontaneous riot of joy.

They knew he was who he claimed to be; many of them knew from the moment they met. What were their expectations? After Palm Sunday where hoards of people shouted "Hosanna," (save us) at him and symbolically recognized him as King, I'm thinking their expectations were not met, ultimately.

They were most likely floating along on a bubble of inclusion, inspiration, joy, excitement...good things. Then comes Thursday and during the feast, Jesus washes their feet.

Wait. Huh? How? Why? Why would this person claiming to be king take on the role of a servant? This alone is stark enough. Then he hints at his betrayal. This cannot be what they had in mind. I imagine looks of consternation flashing about the group. They've come a long way from Sunday...

Is what He offers, what He delivers ever what we have in mind? In my experience, no. But the alternative is always, always better than anything I could plan.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In the Numbers

Okay, social networking is all the rage these days; bloggers are blogging about how they blog, tweeting about how they twitter, and writing and talking and blahblahblah about the benefits of our new apps.

Twitter has been fun and useful for me as a smalltime crafter. I am able to direct traffic to my sites efficiently, purposefully and usefully. Most of my followers until recently were either existing friends or interested in my work. I had developed chatty relationships with several of them and I got a lot of daily joy out of their tweets.

Then I got greedy. Searching through other's pages, I saw their huge amount of followers compared with my lowly low 100s. One of my favorite tweeters wrote that she had garnered hundreds of new followers overnight; I wanted that. I wanted oodles of peeps hanging on my every word. I wanted "followers" to want to experience my genius. I wanted it all.

The site she suggested seemed fairly easy; it was basically a service whereby every member agreed to follow at least 90% of the other members. So you just click through and follow, or you wait two seconds and your inbox will fill with "new follower" emails. And then, in theory, you follow them all back.

At first, my head swelled in proportion to my number of followers. Despite the stipulated reciprocation of the set up, I felt spurred on, encouraged to share every little detail. I knew they wanted me, not just my number....didn't they?

Within two days, I had over 200 followers, but I didn't cultivate them, find them, talk with them. They were data in an index, not faces and stories. And to be honest, I'm fairly sure most of them don't care what I write either. There are so many updates on my homepage that I can't navigate to the ones I really want to see and the ones I do see hold little interest to me.

I unsubscribed at the end of the second day, and went through my "following" list, deleting those who add no value to my experience...I want to pick my friends, not sign up for followers. I want to be engaged in a real and intentional way. Adding people willy nilly is not the way.

It's what I tell my children: its not the quantity of friends that counts, its the quality. I know it's trite but it's true.

Fabric Choices

I've had some interest in custom orders. I wanted a quick way to show what I have available right now. This will change over time as new fabrics catch my eye and I tire of old ones. My rule is that I buy what I like. If you want something else, just let me know.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Still There

Third slab leak in a six month span. Fight with the hubby about something so dumb. Worries about one kid's physical health and another one's heart.

The one constant is God. He's still here. He's still God. He is in the ebbs and flows and ups and downs. He is still there, even when I shake my fist at him in rage intended for someone else.

He is still there. Still here.

Mama Can I Snuggle with You

Without getting into a whole debate about parenting "styles," I'm thinking about one of my all time favorite things: Snuggle Time.

My eldest is 11; she no long snuggles me. She will tolerate my hand in hers for a while. She is far too cool for lip kisses. She was not a huge snuggler when she was a baby. In fact, every time we tried to swaddle her like they tell you babies love, she would wriggle until her arms came free. Then she'd hold them out to the sides in her infant airplane game. All. The. Time.

Miss Middle Child is a hugger, but not a snuggler. She loves hugs. And she does love to snuggle her Aunt Michelle. She describes her as comfy. She will cling in a hug for far longer than you think a child can do anything. The taller she gets the easier, and stranger, it is. She comes to my chin now so it's easy to do while standing in the kitchen. How did this child come to have the same size feet as her mama?

And my little man. Oh, my little man is the best snuggler. He is a heat seeking set of limbs and soft breath. Our daughters never slept in our bed. Ever. Little man comes to my bed at least three times a week in the middle of the night. Most of the time I'm far too tired to do anything but grunt assent and roll over to make room. I know my husband does not like this but I find myself incapable of sending my son back to his room.

I think it's because he's my last baby. And he's no baby. He'll be starting Kindergarten in the fall. Someone still needs his mama, even if he's sleeping the entire time. But when he crawls under our covers, bringing maybe a favorite toy or a blanket, he slides easily into a space and his body gravitates toward the other warm figures lying next to him.

It's like a drug, his slow deep breathing of sleep. He sleeps like he's got nothing on his mind at all (why wouldn't he?). There is no creasing between the eyes, no tense shoulders, no twisting and turning. He completely gives himself up to the rest. He teaches me how to breathe so I too can fall into a restorative slumber. His fingers curled in mine tell me to relax my muscles and let go of the thoughts of the day.

His waking, too, is magical. He wakes ready to take on another playground adventure; I wake to a stream of worries and cares: wishing I'd started the coffee the night before, will I get the kids out the door on time, did I finish the laundry, will she find her shoes, did I forget to pay that bill, and how am I going to make it to every item on the unholy list of things to do.

He sighs a huge sigh, as if inhaling his dreams to carry with him through the day. He rolls over. He smiles at me. He pops out of bed and starts being him.

It won't last much longer. Soon he'll be too big for snuggles and too big to squeeze into our little bed. I can deal with that, but I will try to soak up his lessons and his dreams while I am still welcome to them.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Free Fabric Giveway

Hey, if you want to win four fat quarters of Heather Bailey's Freshcut line, visit this blog and enter....just saying.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

LaRue's New Digs

We call our daughter B Fifi Larue. Her little brother started calling her Fifi out of the blue when she was in Kindergarten. He must have been 2; he could say her name, he just chose to call her Fifi.

The name has taken many variations over the years. Fee, Feef, and now Fifi Larue and its short form, Larue. (I just discovered there is a performer who goes by the name Fifi Larue. Did not know that.)

Larue told me she likes it when I call her that. I will do pretty much anything to make my kids smile and so I call her Larue. Larue plays soccer and Larue likes bling.

I made this shirt for Larue by placing a bajillion tiny swarovski crystals around a soccer ball pattern and applying them with heat to a shirt we already had. She is happy; another way I can make her smile.